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I'm responding to the list only because I think that this is an important
issue that most new librarians find themselves in each year and I wanted to
share some insights.  I was hired before I received my certification /
degree and one of the positive aspects of the situation was that it gave me
"real life" experiences to bring to the classwork, the readings, and the
classroom discussions.  It is extremely difficult for many people who are in
the program to understand some of the concepts in many courses only because
the theory and the practice often don't match.

The harder aspects of being hired before receiving the MLS is that you are
often working with issues that you haven't been exposed to before and
you have to make decisions based upon your experiences and education as a
former classroom teacher----which may not always be the same responses that
a librarian would make.  Issues such as censorship, challenges, selection,
etc., are difficult without some type of background knowledge and
theoretical understanding of the "big picture".  It is also one of the most
difficult times for new librarians (and some older ones) when they start to
realize that personal opinions often have to be "checked at the door" and a
neutral and often, broader view of an issue will need to be allowed to help
shape the final decisions.

While I think that being hired as a librarian before receiving the MLS is
perhaps a difficult situation, I also believe it is one of the BEST
situations only because it allows the librarian to have a lab-like
atmosphere to practice some of the principles, the techiques, and the
examples shared by others from the course work.  If someone is offered the
position as a librarian by a school district on the contingency that they
continue toward their MLS, I would highly encourage them to pursue the
career path.  Experience is perhaps the best teacher and for a school
librarian working toward the MLS degree, I think it is essential.

Finally, I would HIGHLY recommend that this individual be paired with a
professional, experienced, and highly qualified library-mentor within the
district (or perhaps outside, if possible).  This would allow the new
librarian to have someone with which to discuss issues, talk about problems,
ask questions that relate to the job, the environment, the situations, and
to help provide guidance.  I believe EVERY librarian within a new school
district (regardless of whether they are experienced or just beginning)
should be paired with a mentor librarian (not a teacher...a librarian).
This helps the new librarian to "get-up-to-speed" much faster, learn the
system, be introduced to specific people, processes, and problems, and have
someone to turn to when things don't go well.  As the only person within the
building (usually) who does that particular job, it is vital for the
school librarian to have someone who can help them learn the profession.  It
eliminates the isolation and helps to build a network of professionals that
will be there for them later.

Just some thoughts!

Shonda Brisco
Assistant Professor / Curriculum Materials Librarian
Mary L. Williams Curriculum Materials Library
001 Willard Hall
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078

"Digital Resources" columnist
School Library Journal

"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get
you through times of no libraries." ~ Library Poster

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