There’s a reason that the practicum is done in the last semester of library school. The point is to give students an experience that will round out their classes. That’s how the practicum was for me. During my practicum, I was able to utilize the skills I’ve learned and interests I’ve developed throughout library school.
I became interested in Flickr during LIS 753 and LIS 768. During those classes, I was fascinated with the ways libraries were using this tool, and using it as a new type of library outreach. I wanted to do my practicum at Schaumburg Township District Library because of their reputation as a library at the forefront of technology. They are doing all kinds of great things, and I wanted to be a part of it.
I worked at the reference desk on Monday nights throughout my practicum. This was a very good experience for me, because I was able to see how things worked at a reference desk in a large library. There was a huge variety in the types of questions that the reference desk got. There were the typical questions, like “How do I find this?” or “Where is this?”, but there were also a lot of research type questions. STDL is known as having an excellent business reference section, so there were many questions that had to do with business. I would answer many questions about finding research for papers that students were writing. When answering those questions, I would always try to show patrons how they could find the answer using the online databases. I hope that now they can find the information on their own.
I really enjoyed working on the STDL Flickr project. The project goal was to create a presence for STDL on Flickr, and I accomplished that. There are 1,026 photos on the STDL account now. I started the project by creating an account for STDL. After that, I looked at what other libraries have done with their Flickr accounts. This was very helpful to get ideas of what to do with the Flickr account for STDL.
Most of the photos I uploaded to Flickr were not digital. I spent a lot of time scanning photos to upload. At the beginning of the project, I was able to get digital photos from staff members. This did make the uploading process much quicker, but in many cases, I still had to get the photo details from staff. During the process, I ran into some issues while trying to upload the photos. IT was able to work with me and figure out the problems. After doing some workarounds, I was able to upload the photos without any other problems.
At first, I had some problems obtaining photos from staff. It seemed as though staff members were unwilling to share the library photos with me. I’m not sure why this happened, or the reasoning behind it, but eventually my site supervisor was able to help me with this issue.
It was important to have a large variety of photos that represented the library. I made sure that I included all aspects of the library like patrons, staff members, the main library, and both branches. People of all walks of life are also represented, as well as all age groups.
Organization is so important when working with Flickr. Tagging photos and organizing the photos into sets and collections was something that I spent a lot of time on. I wanted to make sure that the photos on Flickr could be found in many different ways. There were several helpful articles that gave me ideas on how to effectively tag photos. Some good tagging ideas I used were using library acronyms, the library’s location, and library departments. I used the following tags: STDL, Schaumburg, Schaumburg Township District Library, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Library Programs, Library Patrons, Library Staff, Teens, and Youth Services. The sets and collections I created represent many aspects of the library.
I was surprised when I was asked to teach a Flickr class for patrons at STDL. I was also nervous, since I had never taught a very long class before. I am very glad that I took Library User Instruction last semester. That helped me immensely. The Flickr class was at the end of March, and was at a good point during the practicum. By that time, I was comfortable enough with Flickr to be able to teach others about it.
Kristine Kenney, Training and Instruction Librarian, was my site supervisor. She was an excellent supervisor. She was very good about helping out when I needed it, but at the same time, not micromanaging. I appreciated how she was willing to work with staff members on my behalf when I was having trouble getting the photos I needed. Throughout the practicum, she was very supportive. I am very lucky to have had her be my site supervisor.
Michael Stephens was my practicum advisor. I was very excited when Michael agreed to be my advisor. As “Mr. 2.0,” Michael is very passionate about using technology in libraries to provide library outreach. He was such a big help to me. He was always willing to give me feedback about questions and ideas I had. Since I wanted to focus on technology in libraries, I knew Michael would be the right choice for an advisor. I am very lucky that he agreed to do it.
Overall, the practicum was valuable, and it was an excellent way to round out my library school experience. I will be able to take away a lot from the practicum and use the skills I’ve learned in my career. I am sad that it’s come to an end, but am happy with how things turned out. My experience is something that I can be proud of.