How Community Engagement Influenced My Final Exam

This semester I’m completing my final exam for my Masters in Library Science. It’s a stressful time (as we all know), but it’s also really exciting. It’s exciting because part of my exam asks me to look over my work in the program and pick three projects to highlight. Off the top of my head, it was hard to identify my best projects, but once I started looking over my coursework, they jumped out at me…And most of the projects I wanted to showcase involved community engagement. This surprised me because I always thought I worked best alone. I thought I preferred working on my own schedule, with my own ideas. That might have been true in my more solitary undergrad English degree, but librarianship just seems better when you work together.

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A group in my Information and Communication Technology class developed a staff intranet together. This is a project that would have been very difficult to do alone, as each of us had different skills—one was good at thinking of what elements were needed and why, one was good at graphic design and web layout, and one was good at doing behind-the-scenes work like composing intranet training and relating everything to ALA competencies.

I partnered up with an excellent librarian in my Youth Programs class to develop a themed storytime for every age level, including babies, preschoolers, elementary schoolers, and teens. This was initially a project I thought I would tackle on my own, because I had an idea for the overall theme, and specific ideas for the preschooler program. When my classmate reached out to me, I was initially hesitant, but she was very open to my ideas and we were able to compromise. This worked perfectly because I prefer working with preschoolers and teens, while my classmate’s strengths were with babies and elementary schoolers. While I could have come up with some sort of program for those age levels, it wouldn’t have been as good as someone who is truly passionate about those groups.

It’s not hard to search for library program ideas and find a wealth of resources online, which proves that librarians are willing to work together for the same goal: exceptional library services for everyone. I’m eager to get into a library and see what kind of collaboration and engagement my coworkers and I get involved with, as well as reaching out to the community at large. In the meantime, I’ve signed up for YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ, where members come together to share library program plans, evaluations, and support each other.

About Allison Renner

Allison recently graduated with her MLS and is a new teen services librarian in Memphis, Tennessee.
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