The Opportunity Exchange

I was lucky with the library school I attended – location (New York City) and teaching philosophy (all in person classes) led to numerous professional and social opportunities. Coupled with my high energy, try anything once, personality, Library Land was my oyster.

A conversation with an online friend reminded me of this blessing. She’s in a small LIS doctoral program at Emporia State University – 100 percent online studies, and a very small cohort (10 students). Coupled with where she lives (Arkansas), it’s very difficult for her to find opportunities for professional growth, publishing and speaking engagements, and networking.

It led me to wonder what we are doing – on personal and institutional levels – to create and exchange ideas? Listservs and social networking are great for sharing ideas, but are we talking to our like minded peers and letting those ideas grow into formalized projects? Are library schools showing students the variety of opportunity they have with the LIS degree or just pigeonholing them into the library building? Individually, are we taking risks to share ideas (controversial as they may be) and seek out growth opportunities when our personal situations are less than ideal? It’s one thing to “like” a friend’s library article on Facebook, but it’s another to express your opinion on that article.

In my three years in this academic sphere, I applaud the warmth and openness of my peers. Nowhere else have I felt so welcome, even when still a student. But nothing in life is perfect, and there is still room for growth in this profession. I watch the events in Egypt with a cautious eye, wondering what lessons on creating change we can take from the energy and perseverance of these protesters. They risk arrest and perhaps death for sharing their views, but they press forward. We have less in our profession on the line (at least in the First World) and all the chance to make it happen. Are we?

Thus, I ask these questions: What are you doing – personally or institutionally - to create opportunity? And is it enough?

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when I got my degree... BUT, what was most valuable was watching others work.. checking to see which books they used and what papers they submitted. these are things you can do online, but it's not the same as being in the same room as someone who is working her ass off to produce a 20-page paper.. some competition gene kicks in and makes you work harder.
there is much to be said for "being there."

Library consortia strive to provide the types of professional opportunities you mention. Although most are local and/or state funded (and are taking a hit from the economy), these local consortia are expanding their efforts to provide virtual services and opportunities, through webinars and virtual meetings and events. As an employee of such a consortium, I appreciate getting feedback and ideas from members and non-members alike and encourage students to get to know their local consortium and let them know what they need professionally to succeed.

Tom Nielsen
Member Services Manager
Metropolitan New York Library Council

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