Today we have our third edition of “Notes from the Field.” Each month we’ve brought you a guest post from a student currently completing their field study requirement. This week we have Carol Ido who is conducting her field study work in the Learning Resources Division at the University of the District of Columbia.
We’d also like to take a moment to remind those of you registered for one of the field study courses this spring that that the Field Study Database is available to help you identify a field study site. Remember that postings in the “Additional Opportunities” area are typically for specific positions within an organization and have an application period, and those sites in our “Institution List” are continually seeking iSchool students to work with them–They REALLY LOVE iSchool students.
If you’re interested in writing a guest post for blogMLS, field study-related or otherwise, please contact Lindsay Sarin.
And now Notes from the Field…
Coming to the iSchool to get an MLS, a field study was part of my plan from the start. Having been out of the work force raising a family for several years, I felt an especial need for fresh work experience. Field studies and internships are a great way to gain that experience and to make professional contacts.
My field study is at the University of the District of Columbia, in the Learning Resources Division. The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a Historically Black University, and has a diverse faculty and student body. UDC offers programs of study ranging from workforce development, to associate’s, undergraduate, and graduate degrees. The Learning Resources Division (LRD) is on the main campus, conveniently located two miles from my house, close enough to walk.
In my field study, I am doing work in reference and user instruction. The Learning Resources Division is housed on four floors of Building 41 (for some reason, that always makes me think of Area 51). Two of the public floors where I do most of my work offer lots of comfortable seating, open space, and natural light. The reference desk is on the top floor of the building. The view from there is fantastic; one can see treetops, the embassies in Van Ness, and the towers at Fort Reno.
At the reference desk, I have answered questions from faculty, staff, UDC students, and students from other area universities. I’ve provided reference service in-person, over the phone, by email, and the other day (at last!), by chat. I’ve helped users find books, ebooks, and articles on a variety of topics, and once was asked by an instructor to compile a list of videos on the design and production of textiles for the fashion industry. Most often, people using the LRD need help with the public computers, or printing. Many times I can help them myself, but often I must refer them to circulation desk staff or other LRD departments, such as the Center for Academic Technology or the Blackboard Office. The staff in the Center for Academic Technology and the Blackboard office are very helpful and will troubleshoot user’s problems on the spot; I feel responsible for users who come to me, and am happy to send them along to people who will take care of their needs.
The other part of my field study is focused on user instruction. So far, I have conducted five “one-shot” information literacy instruction sessions requested by course instructors. The requests have been to orient students to the library and teach them how to search for articles in online databases. After observing two librarians’ sessions, I planned my own instruction sessions and created handouts. Three of my sessions have been held in computer labs, and two in a lecture hall. I had expected sessions in the computer labs to be superior to those in a lecture hall, but have found that both types of sessions can be effective. In the sessions in computer labs, students could get started on gathering resources on their individual research topics. But some students did other things – I caught one student watching YouTube videos. Although we covered less content overall in the sessions held in the lecture hall, group activities in those sessions kept all the students engaged and “on topic”. Getting to teach is so cool, I learn something new each time I do it. Note to self: Build group activities into future lab sessions.
As the semester progresses and demand for instruction sessions wanes, I will spend more time working on developing assessment strategies, and on updating Libguides. I am having a great time at my field study, enjoying the work in all its variety, and gaining invaluable experience. I am so thankful to my site supervisor, Rachel, and the other LRD staff who have been welcoming, generous with their time, sharing of their expertise, and also tolerant of my newbie questions and mistakes. I don’t want my field study to end, because I will miss the staff and users in LRD, and the instruction and reference work. If only I could do this kind of work all the time, maybe even get paid for it…