Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

10 things I didn’t expect to learn by becoming a librarian (but I did)

1. How to make memes and animated gifs


There’s lots of easy ways to make them. My favorite is using Photoshop. DPLA has a list of resources on how to here and they run a boss contest every year with some great results like this one: 




2. How to make book earrings 

Library fashion is the best fashion, y’all. It’s so much fun, and it’s not all book related. (Though there is a lot of that). 


3. What the semantic web is

I don’t know that I’d even heard that term before, and in general, I didn’t really get how much of librarianship is about technology and playing well together in the sandbox with every other information provider in the “digital age.” I’m not gonna explain the semantic web here, but it and RDF and linked data and all the good stuff that comes with are super interesting and worth finding out more about if you don’t know about them yet. Oh, on this note, I don’t think I expected to learn some coding either, but I have. Woot.


4. The drama that ensued between families over who “owned” Emily Dickinson’s work after she passed away

And other stories that you get to learn when you’re describing archival objects every day. It’s like a historical People magazine but without context, so you have to pull those stories together in your head. (well, plus in the case of Dickinson and many other materials there’s also lots of other research and context out there to help you figure stuff out). 


5. How to pretend like I’m on the Star Trek Enterprise

If you’ve got access to an academic library’s resources, they often have media labs which may even include a greenscreen room. Awesome, right? I did not have access to a greenscreen room at the time, but a blue quilted blanket hanging on my clothesline in the backyard did the trick. Obvi, Picard, Worf, and Wesley are waiting on me as their leader to decide what’s next. (oh, by the way, this was for a video- if it was just a picture I wouldn’t have really needed the whole greenscreen thing).


(background image from Star Trek TNG episode)


6. What recto and verso mean

Yup, I didn’t get this before, and it actually comes up very often for me in cataloging and doing metadata. Also, there’s a lot of times people “misuse” it. (I put misuse in quotes because language is meant to be fluid, so I’m not generally very prescriptive when it comes to it).  


So, you’ve got a piece of paper in your hand right? Okay, now fold it, write some stuff on each page. How many pages do you have? Well, if you wrote on all of them then it’s a 4 page thing now, right? But it was one piece of paper with one front (recto) and one back (verso) to begin with, yes? Books are made the same way, the sheet of paper is a leaf but each half is a page. These are concepts I didn’t get pre-LIS school, and didn’t know I needed to get for librarianship. Can’t know you don’t know what you don’t know, right? 


7. What copyright law is, what it’s real purpose is, and where to find stuff that’s cool for you to use

Spoiler alert: copyright wasn’t actually created just to protect the rights of people publishing stuff. It was and is meant to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” (Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution.)

The first time I read that, I was like 


(this image c/o giphy & product hunt)

​It’s for progress, y’all! 


My first teacher to mention open education resources had already piqued my interest in that area because I don’t buy textbooks (unless I am totally in love with them and will use them after class for a long time). I loan them. This seems normal, I am a librarian after all. But that initial interest relating to my tendency to be frugal turned into a lot more; I started thinking about the tenets of librarianship, equity of access, and why I was changing professions. And now I’m all about fair use and all the opens (Open Access, Open Education, Open Data, and so on). It’s the same drive I had before I knew what to call this way of thinking about sharing info, I just now know a bit more about how to share ethically and legally. 


And on that note, there’s lots of good ways to find things that are licensed so that you can use them like this one: I am a big fan of the Free Music Archive especially. Plus many digital libraries have public domain and CC0 (look up creative commons for more) materials you can use.  


8. How much librarians love cats 

Okay, I know pop culture is big on cats anyway right now, but dang. There are a lot of librarians, especially LIS students it seems, who really freakin’ love cats. I like cats, and dogs, and lots of other animals, but I do not reach the level of cat love that seemingly most of my co-students are at. Especially because my hubby is pretty dang allergic to them. 


9. A bit on the history of photography

Similar to learning about the drama over Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts, I didn’t expect to learn stuff like what daguerreotypes, cyanotypes, glass plate negatives, or stereoscopics are. Or about different film types like 35mm, 4×5 sheet, and 120mm. Or about brownie cameras and why the perspective on some photos is different than what we normally see now (because they shot from the hip, partner). But I did learn about this stuff because I a. needed to be able to describe it for my job or b. because my classmates are awesome and have all different types of backgrounds (including photography). 


10. It’s totally cool to still be in to puppets or stuffed animals, or whatevs

I mean, as long as you’re professional about it. But I’ve made video tutorials on using the website for library patrons (geared towards kids with families) and even shot a scholarship entry using puppets and/or stuffed animals (like the kind you play with, not a bear rug). ‘Cause it’s good to have your things that you care about or that you’re good at or that you love that don’t necessarily pertain to librarianship at first glance. Whether it’s that you like to shoot puppet videos or love arts & crafts or are a runner, you may find opportunities to use that in your work. Arts & crafts day at the library anyone? 


Libraries are full of all types of resources from War & Peace to People magazine, right? So it makes sense that the librarians in them are just as varied and well rounded. 


Until next week friends, 




This week’s The Great TP quote: 

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”
― Terry Pratchett, Diggers