A Day in the Life of a Library Graduate Assistant

By Kat Baumgartner, DLIS Student

Working as a graduate assistant in the University Library might sound like a straightforward job position, but it is in actuality a conglomeration of many different positions. The GAs would not have it any other way, since moving around between various departments not only helps to break up the day but also gives us practical field experience in many areas of Library and Information Science.

Here is what a typical Tuesday looks like for me: I begin at the circulation desk, chatting with my coworkers and assisting the few students who are put together enough to actually seek out books before noon; I then head upstairs to spend an hour at the Information Desk, redirecting students who need help with paper jams and getting a caffeine kick from the DLIS office (thanks, Michael!); the next hour is spent in the Asian Library, where students quietly and diligently plug away at their readings and essays; finally it is time for lunch before heading back to the third floor, this time to help Lucy at the Reference Desk, looking up court cases and sending students to the right location for books on World War II; my last hour and a half of work is spent back in the Asian Library. Thursdays are slightly less chaotic because my time is split only between Serials and Instructional Services.

Others have similarly split schedules, which may seem difficult to keep up with, but by the second or third week of the semester, when our schedules have been committed to memory and we know where to go and who to look for at each hour of the day, work becomes enjoyable. Through my assistantship, I have become acquainted with dozens of people I definitely would not have met otherwise. Because the MSLIS is primarily online now, I am 99.9% sure that I would not have traveled to campus except for the occasional blended course. Had I remained at home, I would have missed out on all of the wonderful personalities and smiling faces of my coworkers, and would not have become as close with my classmates as I am now.

Though the social aspect of the position is extremely important, as it allows me to discuss issues in the field and share experiences with like-minded individuals, even more beneficial is the way the assistantship complements my work in the LIS courses. For example, since I was working at the Reference Desk while taking the Introduction to Resources and Services course, I was able to apply all that I was learning in the course to my interactions with St. John’s students. Further, through speaking with professionals working in the field, I was able to become comfortable with the jargon used and learn about the realities of the field rather than the ideal situations presented in textbooks.

Overall, serving as a graduate assistant is an extremely busy but extremely rewarding position filled with opportunities for wisdom, friendship, and hands-on experience.

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