Sunday, 4 November 2007

We owe it to our profession

I was reading Jill's post the other day about her follow up with work placement students that she hosts. What a great thing she does - following up on students not only allows you to see where you have influenced them in their career, but can also be a way to motivate those that have lost their drive.

Have I followed up on work placement students? Yes I have and it has been very rewarding seeing how the students have grown over time. However, I don't believe that we, as a profession, should only stop there. We need to engage with the younger generation more and encourage them into the profession. In many ways, we are given these opportunities on a platter and don't utilise them. What are the opportunities? Work experience students from high school. We have the potential to create a positive experience for these students, which can in turn influence them to choose librarianship as a potential course of study, and then subsequently a career in libraries. Instead, so many work experience students are given boring repetitive tasks on a daily basis. If they weren't interested in a career in libraries when they started the programme, chances are they are less interested when they finish it!

Yes, tasks such as shelving and shelf reading need to be done but they don't need to be done because a better programme wasn't created. Sitting in on Storytime is ok for one session, but not four - why not turn it around and have the student present a session after sitting in on the first? Or have the student create the next one that they can then deliver? Why not have the student shadow someone on the circulation or reference desk (many libraries are set up in different ways) so they can be exposed to the wide variety of questions that we are asked?

At the moment I am part of a workgroup that is developing a template/guidelines to help create an exciting and worthwhile work experience for the students, so that, at the very least, it changes their perceptions of working in libraries , and at best, they would consider librarianship and/or encourage their friends to consider the same.

After all, we owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our profession.