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October 28, 2013 / Caroline "Charlie" McNabb

Hack Library School Day in the Life: Monday

It’s that time again- Hack Library School Day in the Life!  This week, I’m joining dozens of other library school students around the world documenting our lives as students of library science.  For more information about HLSDITL, see the wiki or blog.  I am currently in my final semester of library school, in the San Jose State University online MLIS program.  I am taking a Reference course and working on my capstone project, known as the electronic portfolio or e-portfolio.  In addition, I have a student job at my local university processing archival collections in the Special Collections and University Archives, and have also begun a national job search.

Today I spent most of the day preparing for my first professional interview.  The position is as an academic librarian at a liberal arts college, mostly doing technology-focused instruction and outreach.  A significant component of the all-day interview is my presentation, which will be a one-shot instructional session on an academic research tool of my choice.  A prompt this broad gives me both a feeling of freedom and anxiety: I have free reign to choose whatever tool I want and present it as I wish… but what if the tool I choose seems cliche or too “easy” somehow?  I decided to use the power of social media and crowdsource some advice.  I posted on a few librarian and library student forums, asking members to think back to their undergraduate research experiences and tell me what tool they use now that would have been most helpful then.  I received a lot of interesting responses, but the clear winner was citation management tools, which was a relief because that was the first thing I thought of when I read the prompt.

So today’s preparation mostly involved exploring the citation management tool I use to discover new ways of using it, consider how undergraduate students might best benefit, and begin building a pedagogically-sound instruction session.  I’m unsure what technology will be available to me during my session, so I took tons of screen shots in case there’s no wifi to demonstrate live.  I also investigated the library’s website to see their suggestions to students regarding the research process.  I was pleased to see a section about proper citation and a brief mention of the tool I’ll be demonstrating.  That means my topic won’t be completely new, but also hasn’t already been exhaustively promoted.

The other major excitement of the day was turning in the last pieces of my e-portfolio.  As described here, the e-portfolio is one of two culminating experiences for my program, the other being a thesis.  As I wrote a thesis for my previous Master’s program, I elected to do the e-portfolio.  This project involves demonstrating mastery of 15 core competencies of librarianship: ethics, organizational settings, demographics, management, databases, collection development, cataloging, technology, reference, information seeking behavior, teaching, research, communication, evaluation, and philosophy.  For each competency, I wrote a short essay defining and describing the topic and how I’ve engaged with it through my academic and vocational career.  Then I provided evidence for each, in the form of projects, papers, articles, and so forth.  I found the e-portfolio to be a highly useful reflective experience; I searched through all the assignments and projects I’ve done over the last two years and was surprised at how much I’ve accomplished.  In articulating these competencies, I feel more confident in my abilities–and also better prepared for job interviews where I’ll have to do the same.  I’ll find out in the next few days whether I passed with no revisions, or if I’ll need to do any edits. 

Stay tuned: tomorrow will be a full day of homework and more interview prep!

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