Community Senses

One of the main reasons I wanted to get into the library profession was the sense of community I felt when I was working as a page in high school. The librarians and staff were friendly, cooperative, and supportive of everyone who walked through those doors. That’s the kind of environment in which I see myself thriving and growing as a person. And it’s that sense of community that drives my professional development. I want to start finding ways to be involved in my community and making it that friendly, cooperative, and supportive environment that I myself enjoyed for many years. I want that to be a common theme throughout the rest of my life.

I think that being in school gives me a unique opportunity to see this sense of community in practice. In this paragraph, I’m switching from the community of people in which the library exists, to the community of people that enable libraries to exist: the people who work in them, for them, and just generally keep these organizations running. The connections that run throughout this community of librarians are strong and varied. I’ve been lucky enough to hear lectures from a member of OCLC, a HathiTrust librarian, two of the NPR librarians, a public librarian from Chicago and another from Seattle, and the head of the Drexel library. And that’s only to name a few!

Yeah, sure, there are a lot of things that need to be amended about library school. But being exposed to this sense of community, interaction, and collaboration is one of those things that reminds me exactly why I wanted to be a librarian and reinforces my passion for this profession.

And, to talk about some of those things that need to be changed about library school… I’d like to see my program learn from this idea of community. And maybe do something where they collaborate for classes, or at least classes that are related, like the 4 core classes we are required to take. Everyone complains that there is so much overlap with what we are learning in each class—and it’s true! I’m taking all 4 classes at once (the usual is 3 at a time) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve learned the basics of Dervin’s “sensemaking” model or Bates’ “berrypicking” model.

What I would like to see is professors getting together and talking about what needs to be taught, how to teach it, and when to teach it. I want there to be less overlap in my classes and more discovery of new territory. I understand that a certain amount of background needs to be covered in introductory classes… but I’d like to see a new way of handling that specific problem. And I think the solution for that problem is a better sense of community between my teachers.

In all fairness, I believe my program relies on adjunct professors quite a bit—which does make the fostering of a community a little harder. That’s not to say it can’t be done, however. If an organization like ALA can organize collaboration across the nation, can’t my program organize meetings for professors to organize classes to be the most productive for students?


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