Having spent the first 30 working years of my life as an engineer I may have a different perspective on the expectations many current students (and hiring managers) have for post-graduate education. You see, I was hired as a process engineer after spending five years as an undergraduate earning a BS in Chemistry and a BChE in Chemical Engineer. I went to work in a nuclear facility, where fuel was processed for weaponry and the waste product was stored because we had no better technology to figure out how to handle it. There was absolutely nothing I learned in school to be able to solve these complex problems. And my employer didn’t expect me to solve them myself. What I did learn in school was how to approach problem-solving, how to work with other smart people in teams where we would solve problems together, and how to be curious and tenacious to make sure the problems got solved.

Do new hires today have the latitude to learn to navigate the work environment? To apply their intellectual acumen to work problems? To join with their new colleagues to apply the latest theory (what they learned in school) to a real life work situation (what their work colleagues have learned from the cultural, financial, and management environment they are in)? This creative tension is what brings about higher level value so we don’t succumb to the “we’ve always find it that way” trap, nor do we fall for every new and potentially impractical idea that comes along.

Graduate school is not the same as training. Plus, there is no substitute for experience. But experience without growth through learning can cause stagnation. Growth happens when you do new things, typically outside your comfort zone. Trying new ideas require accepting some risk. And all of this is quite okay, I’d even say necessary.

I joined the Twitter Chat On Sept 16, 2015 to discuss: What do you wish you learned in Library School? And, what will you have to learn while you are working? Check out #interlibnet #libraryschool to find the lively discussion.

International Librarians Network

Day 29: Studies by Snugg LePup. Used with permission CC BY-NC 2.0 Day 29: Studies by Snugg LePup. Used with permission CC BY-NC 2.0

What I wish I’d learned in library school.

Is there a topic closer to librarians’ hearts? However, it’s not unique to librarians – ask any professional in any job from journalism to veterinary science and you will find most have something to say about the value of on-the-job learning over theoretical training.

The way you become a librarian varies from country to country but usually involves some sort of formal education (a diploma, undergraduate or masters degree), often before you start working in libraries.

“What I wish I’d learned”, or a variation of it, has been popular on library blogs for many years. From a 2008 rant by the Annoyed Librarian about office politics (rebutted nicely on the ACRL blog with a list of things that the author had learned in library school) to an offering about the need…

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