As an instructor in a library school I’m always excited by the ideas and innovations that students bring to class discussions. The students I teach are great thinkers and are ready to advocate for teens through library programs and services, as well as within the communities in which they work (or may end up working some day.)
But, sometimes I wonder, what happens to that excitement and energy when a student goes from the somewhat insular world of library school to the world of real live libraries. It seems that once out in the real world the day-to-day policies and procedures of a library hinder, and sometimes even kill, what I was able to catch a glimpse of in the library school classroom.
So, that makes me think librarians that are in the world of real-life libraries need to better support students, both when in library school and when just out of that rarefied environment. What can we “old-timers” do? We can:
- Give students and new librarians opportunities to try out ideas that might be outside the box of what is typical or traditional in the library. Instead of saying something like, “We tried something like that once but it didn’t work.” What about saying, “That sounds like a really good idea, let me know how I can help you make it happen.”
- Work with library schools to make connections with students and find out what happens in library school classrooms of the early 21st century. Then begin to figure out ways to integrate those ideas into teen services today.
- Just like teen librarians need to talk with teens about the programs and services teens want and need from the library, librarians need to talk to library school students to find out what those students want and need. Also, it’s important to find out what current library school students envision for the job they will end up in when out of library school.
- Put yourself in the role of a student by taking classes either in a library school, through YALSA, or through another institution that focuses on teens and/or libraries. Find out what new ideas are out there. Get energized by the ideas and possibilities that current library school students are being exposed to.
Don’t forget that YALSA has a Student Interest Group that is geared to supporting the needs of library school students. The group can also provide a way for “old-timers” to connect with students and build relationships for the future.
Anyone interested in the Student Interest Group can contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information. Students if you have ideas about how current librarians can help you as you start your new careers working with teens and in libraries feel free to comment here. Let us know what your thoughts are.