Professional Partnering Program: the view from the other side

Last year I told you about the Professional Partnering Program, organized by students at McGill’s School of Information Studies. I told you about my fantastic partner Jared and how great it was for me to have the chance to get a taste for what an academic librarian really does and to see an academic library from behind the scenes. I enjoyed the experience so much that I recommended it as one of my tips for surviving library school.

This year I’m happy to have the opportunity to participate in the program from the other side; now that I’m a professional (wow, it still sounds strange to call myself that), I’ve been paired up with a first year SIS student. Her name is Christie Silkotch, and we first met at the PPP kick-off event in October. Unfortunately, we had some trouble matching up our schedules at the end of last semester, but finally this week I was able to show her around a few branches of the McGill Library.

Christie is keeping an open mind as to what sort of library she would like to work in, which I definitely think is the best way to go, especially in your first year of library school. The only disadvantage to this approach is that when I introduced her to my colleagues, many of them asked whether she had a particular interest in their area of librarianship, to which she had no firm answer. She was quite easy going about it, though, as I was when I was in the same situation; I knew before I started library school that academic librarianship was for me, but even now I’m quite open to a variety of positions. It’s understandable that librarians are excited to meet students with whom they share common interests, but we have to keep in mind that many (perhaps most) people come to library school without knowing whether they want to be cataloguers or political science liaison librarians.

As I introduced Christie to some of the people I work with, I was reminded how much I like librarians. Although there can be quite heated debates when it comes to policies, procedures, and the best ways to serve our clients, most of us became librarians because we want to help people. We’re especially willing to help out students, perhaps because we can remember how overwhelmed we felt when we were in their position.

We only managed to visit a few of the branch libraries, so I think we’ll try to set up a time to see some more. Christie says she found it helpful, and I enjoyed spending time in some buildings (and seeing some colleagues) I don’t have the chance to visit as often as I’d like.

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3 thoughts on “Professional Partnering Program: the view from the other side

  1. I am so grateful that McGill’s Professional Partnering Program exists to give professionals and students the opportunity to learn from each other! Thanks, Benjamin Girard-Bond for organizing it this year! I completely agree that, in general, professional librarians go out of their way to help SIS students. My own professional partner, a cégep librarian, has met with me several times this year to discuss current trends in librarianship, the rewards and challenges of managing a cégep library, and how I can best present myself in my C.V. or in an interview. Graham, I’m glad that you’re giving back to SIS students now that you are a professional librarian. Hopefully, next year, I’ll also be in a position to do so!

  2. Yes, we should definitely all thank Ben for doing a great job of organizing the program this year. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback since the program started in 2008/09 (though to be fair, I should admit that the people I talk to tend to be the most motivated ones).

  3. I think this is a great way for Christie to be introduced to the human side of being a librarian, and how important it is to make library patrons and teachers feel comfortable there.

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