How do you get a job in Reference and Instruction without hands-on experience? Now that I’ve decided that this is the direction I would like to take my career, I have to make a plan on how to get there. Many of the skills that I do have are transferable and relevant to this area of librarianship but nothing can replace practical experience.
I’m lucky that my current place of employment supports professional development both financially and with opportunities to “try out” other jobs within the library. In addition to my main function in Interlibrary Loan, I am able to sit at the Reference desk for a few hours a week. This 80/20 arrangement keeps work interesting and has allowed me to polish my skills at the Reference Desk. In addition to gaining more experience at the Reference Desk, I’m currently working on an online tutorial using Captivate. I noticed that we had a few tutorials using screen capture software on our library’s research page and asked my supervisor if I could create one on how to submit an ILL request. He loved the idea and it was as simple as installing the software on my computer. I’ve written my script and practiced a few times and am all set to record the tutorial next week. If that goes well, I’d like to work on creating a LibGuide.
In addition to the practical experience I’m getting at work, I’m signed up for Library Instruction Boot Camp. Once I made the decision to focus on Reference and Instruction, I began to look for Continuing Education or Professional Certificate courses in Library Instruction. I was lucky to find this one offered by my alma matter and since I’m an alumnus, I get a little discount. I’m really looking forward to taking this course and hope to get a good theoretical background as well as gain some practical knowledge via the exercises.
Finally, I’ve been trying to build a collection of blogs, articles, syllabi, and even job descriptions related to Information Literacy/ Bibliographic Instruction. Here are some of the highlights:
Jason Puckett (my soon-to-be instructor of Library Instruction Boot Camp) Contributes to the podcast and is author of Librarian X.