Making Connections IRL at the SLA Student Swing

By Rebecca Meng, DLIS Student

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) hosted their sixth annual ‘Student Swing’ panel on Sunday, September 24th, at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Library (St. John’s University Manhattan Campus). The panel was hosted by Emma Davidson, President of SLA’s New York chapter, and moderated by a great law librarian whose name I don’t remember because she was a last-minute sub and therefore not included in the program. The panelists were: Walter Schlect, Librarian at Goethe-Institut New York; Lisa Nazzaro, Rutgers Graduate interested in Digital Asset Management; Brian Hasbrouck, Correctional Services Librarian for Brooklyn Public Library; Amanpreet Kaur, Health-Sciences Librarian; Melanie Locay, Research Study Liaison at NYPL; and Taryn L. Rucinski, Law Librarian for the Southern District of New York Libraries.

During the panel discussion, there were many topics covered that highlighted ways students could make themselves more marketable when it comes time to apply for library jobs. Some of the conversation points included: how internships can lead to future jobs, how papers from grad school can become publishing opportunities, the importance of networking with professionals already in the field, and the benefits of getting involved with Student Associations. Conferences were also a hot topic during the discussion. Advice for students included:

• Attend small conferences, as ALA could be overwhelming.
• Go with a friend. It’s easier to go forth into strange territory if you have a buddy.
• Some conferences even have buddy programs in which they will assign you, a newbie, with a seasoned conference-goer who can show you the ‘good stuff.’
• Volunteer in organizing conferences; student input is actually appreciated since we bring a fresh perspective.
• Go to the social events/happy hours—good way to network.
• Bring business cards & resume, even if you’re a student.
• Look into student scholarships.

When asked about what they wished they’d learned in library school, panelists mentioned conflict management. They also discussed class topics that would be beneficial for students in the workplace, such as “data science,” “rights management,” and “library instruction.” Panelists also stressed the importance of peer mentorship as well as professorial mentorship, because “our peers will be in the library workforce with us, unless you plan on getting a PhD and teaching info science, in which case your professors would become your peers.”

Overall, the experience was fruitful, and provided MLIS candidates with great insight into the field. Those students interested in becoming Special Librarians after graduation should look to attend future SLA programs.

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