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Location: New Castle, Indiana

Thursday, July 13, 2006

MLS or on the job training?

I had a nice surprise visit this morning from one of my professors from library school. My library was hosting a regional FOIL roundtable and she was here to attend that meeting. I was happy to know that she remembered me since we haven’t seen each other since I graduated a little over 3 years ago.

She just stopped by my office to say hello. She mentioned that she was happy for me when she read that I had been placed in my position of Assistant Director straight out of library school.

She asked how it was going and if I was using the things I learned in library school or if it was more on-the-job training. What a loaded question!

Of course, the answer is both. I am a huge proponent of the MLS. I think it is so important for librarians to have that formal training to act as the backbone of our professional knowledge. Having that training allows me to see the larger scope of libraries as invaluable institutions in our communities. We are all about lifelong learning, literacy, service, and place. Many people, particularly non-library users, don’t see us that way. They think all we do is check out books and they wonder why I have to have a Master’s degree to do that.

A lot of what I do has been learned on the job. I didn’t learn how to do a public library budget at IU. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even understand where the public library gets it funds from when I started this job. I didn’t learn how to hire, train and evaluate employees in library school. I didn’t learn how to plan and host a regional library conference which I’m learning on the job right now.

In order to be a successful professional librarian it takes a mix of formal training and the willingness to learn on the job and through continuing education including staying current by reading professional literature and attending conferences and workshops.

So, I proudly display my MLS diploma in my office. And I’m thankful to work for a director who is a great mentor and is a believer in continuing education.

Overall, I’m thankful to God for the journey He’s taken me on to get me to where I am know. Looking back over the past 6 years since I’ve started on my library journey, I see His hand leading every step of the way.

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