Reflections on being an Inspired Library School Student

Back in my student days.

Before my blog’s former life as The Inspired Library School Student fades into a distant memory, I would like to share my thoughts on being a student blogger.

As you may know, I started my blog in February 2008, during the second semester of my MLIS, after seeing a presentation by John Dupuis. I have always enjoyed writing (having a writer as a father and a teacher as a mother probably helps with that), and I had already started reading library blogs on a regular basis, but the thought of becoming a blogger had not crossed my mind until I watched that presentation.

My plan was to write about topics that other students would find exciting, especially the things they don’t teach you in school. And boy, did I ever write. I posted 20 times in my first full calendar month of blogging, which honestly blows my mind now. Of course, many of those posts were quite brief, but I think it still reflects the fun I was having with my new toy.

It wasn’t long before I began receiving comments on my posts from well respected and established bloggers. This usually happened after I had left comments on their blogs and included my URL in my signature, but it was exciting to get a positive response. I quickly developed a sense of how welcoming and encouraging the library blogger community could be.

When I attended the IFLA conference in Quebec City that year, I printed up business cards for the first time (at moo.com, which I still use to this day). As a student, making business cards is a bit awkward because you don’t have a job title or an institutional logo, but I found that including the URL for my blog was a great conversation starter. Shortly after that, Jessamyn West linked to my post-IFLA write-up and sent my stats through the roof, which is pretty much the most exciting thing in the world for a new blogger.

Soon I began receiving emails about my blog from around the world. Many were from the proprietors of websites of dubious integrity who wanted me to link to them, in some cases even offering to write guest posts in exchange for links; naturally, I turned these offers down. Some were from people who had enjoyed my posts and wanted me to write more on a certain subject, such as Zotero or why I decided to go to library school; I did my best to accommodate these requests, though sometimes I felt I had already written as much as I was willing to write on a topic. And some were from prospective students, asking whether I would recommend McGill, and current students in other parts of the world, thanking me for sharing my experiences in a Canadian MLIS program; these emails really made me feel that I was helping people, and I always responded with any advice I could give.

I began encouraging other students to become bloggers and join the community. I wrote a short article for my program’s newsletter describing the benefits of being a student blogger, and later, as a librarian, I presented on more than one occasion to students and recommended starting a blog. I strongly believe that blogging is a fantastic opportunity for students to put their thoughts into writing, connect with the online community, and develop a reputation for being thoughtful and insightful. Of course, this goes for professionals as well, but students in particular are often looking for ways to take their experience beyond the classroom, and blogging can be a constructive form of self-directed learning.

Although I sometimes struggled to stay motivated, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. Blogging was a valuable part of my education (indeed, more useful than many of the courses I took), and I feel it made a positive contribution to shaping the professional I am today.

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