3 Benefits for Joining ALA as a Student Member

Every year the American Library Association (ALA) sends out its annual call for volunteers for committee work. Last week, I was happily reminded why I love being a part ALA. I want to share my journey on how beneficial it is to be active in the professional organization. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Library Science through the University of North Texas’ online program.  The benefits of my online LIS program is that it has given me the opportunity to become mobile and take advantage of library fellowships, internships, and leadership programs.

3 Benefits for Joining ALA as a Student Member:

CHALLENGE

I joined because I wanted to get involved and learn about the library profession in a holistic way. ALA is an organization that seeks to speak about the various aspects of the library profession, from technical services, public services, career development, information literacy, research/statistical assessments, diversity initiatives, etc. My participation as a 2010 ALA Emerging Leader (Group D), was invaluable because I had the opportunity to learn about the Assn. for Library Collection and Technical Services (ALCTS), a committee within ALA. It was through my EL project participation, I was offered a volunteer position as a webinar technical assistant with the ALCTS CE Technical Subcommittee.

NETWORKING

By joining ALA as a student, I have met wonderful people along the way who have encouraged me to take on projects and have served as wonderful role models. I wanted to meet people in the library world and build professional relationships in the field. Through my experience as an ALA Student Member, I feel like my expectations have been met by my affiliation. I have taken advantage of ALA-sponsored webinars related to career development, job searching strategies, and internship opportunities.

EXPERIENCE

I have taken a unique path by not having professional library experience before entering my library program. I do not regret not having library experience prior to attending library school. I am not discouraged about the literature reviews or reports about library hiring trends. My curiosity, motivation, and active participation in ALA will give me the experience I need in the future. My participation as a student member in ALA has allowed me to develop skills in technical services and has kept me aware of current trends in the library world. So my advice to students….don’t wait until you have your degree to get experience start now! Become Active Now!

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Personal Librarian…..My Thoughts

I would like to explore more into Annoyed Librarian’s recent post discussing the recent trends of Drexel University and Barnard using the Personal Librarian model to connect First Year students to library resources. During my freshman year, I had the opportunity to live in a Freshman Hall and take part in its First Year Cohort Program. I enjoyed the benefits of having a hall mentor on my floor to review my papers, refer me to the Freshman Resource Center. I believe my commitment to the program and access to the Freshman Learning community had a positive impact on completing my degree.

I agree with AL that the success of the program will rely heavily on students’ behavior when they are contacted by librarians. Recently, I saw a job announcement for an academic library position in a university resident hall. What is the role of the Residential Librarian? Again, the idea of having a ‘personal librarian’ brings up the question…what will be their role? Perhaps Drexel and Barnard are using this framework to answer this question. If educators, librarians, professors want students to achieve the learning outcomes of a 21st Century Learner, creating more innovative projects like the ‘Personal Librarian’  model should be explored. A benefit from the ‘personal librarian’ could open more doors for employing librarians at the academic level.

Burst the Interview Anxiety Bubble

Do you get nervous talking in public with strangers? Do you get excited while talking and sometimes lose your train of thought? Are you selectively sociable or considered shy by others? Well if you answered yes to at least one of these questions, then we both have something in common.

The last six months of my life have been filled with job search activities such as searching online job boards, completing job applications, and interviewing for entry-level library positions. From my experience with reviewing online content about preparing for interviews, I found limited resources about preparing for in-person interviews. The following is my personal advice for preparing for interviews.

5 Tips for In-Person Interview Preparation

1.   Research the company

BEFORE you apply for a position, research the company. Try finding someone who works at the institution to ask about the organization climate. If this is not possible, try using public company profile tools such as Hoovers – Review the website. What is the organizations’ mission statement and how does it relate to your personal values? Talk about how your values will help the organization meet their mission statement

2.   Remedies for Nervousness

REACH OUT to fellow friends or mentors to help you prepare for your interview by role playing a Q&A session. Often times hiring committees like to see how you handle stress so prepare yourself  by reviewing interview question books as guides for preparing answers. Avoid too much caffeine and arrive at the interview site 15 minutes early. Take a copy of your application, resume/CV, and reference list.

3. FOCUS on Your Value

Your value as a professional is evident by the fact that you are one step closer to getting the job. You have secured an interview. Talk about your value as a professional and give specific details about situations where you have had to demonstrate [technical, interpersonal, supervisory] skills. Talk about volunteer positions or previous jobs where your job responsibilities relate to the position you are applying for.

4.  AVOID Negative comments about former manager

As tempting as it may be to make comments about dealing with difficult managers- NEVER do it. By providing inappropriate comments or stories- this shows that you lack professional courtesy and are not capable of working in a team environment. My golden nugget for having a successful working relationship with management is having open communication.

5.  ASK questions

NEVER leave the interview without knowing the next steps in the interview process. Ask what the timeline is for the process. AVOID asking about the benefits. This shows that you are more concerned with the benefits rather than doing the job. I often ask about the history of the job, what is the goal for the person in the position, opportunities for additional job responsibilities. I always like asking the hiring committee why they like their jobs.

Additional Resources

Beshara, T. (2008). Acing the Interview: How to Ask and Answer the Questions That Will Get You the Job. New York: AMACOM

Cambridge, S. (2010, Oct 28), Fifteen Ways to Knock Yourself Out of the Job Search Race, Retrieved from http://www.employmentdigest.net/2010/10/fifteen-ways-to-knock-yourself-out-of-the-job-search-race/ (2010, Nov 1) Employment Digest Net Blog.

Deards, K. (2010, Sept 14), Breaking into Academia: Acing the In Person Interview, Retrieved from http://libraryadventures.com/2010/09/21/ipinterview/ (2010, Nov 1) Library Adventures of Kiyomi

Fry, R. (2009). 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions. Boston: Cengage Learning.