We talk fondly now of the reactions we get when we say we are going to school for library science but at one point I was the one stating, “You have to have a master’s degree to be a librarian?!” Now I am on the other side of the conversation justifying and teaching others about the profession and why I have chosen to pursue it as a career. When I decided to go to library school, specifically online library school, I was concerned about what my experience would be because I thrive off of the personal interaction with my professors and was fearful that the virtual environment would impede on the opportunity to create these personal relationships. I think because of my concern of not being able to create personal relationships in an online environment that I took extra effort to create a personal connection with classmates and my professors and I have created connections that I will carry with me the rest of my professional career and even lifetime.
When I first started the MLIS program at SJSU in the Fall of 2011 I had no idea how it would change my life and the relationships I would create. As I spent hours going through course work and reading past discussion posts I realized that the amount of information I have taken from this program is much more than I ever anticipated receiving. This is not to say I thought I would not get much from the program but that I heavily underestimated how incredible this profession is and those who teach it.
It is with endearment that I complete this program, endearment towards my professors who had passion and desire for the profession. What first captured me in libraries was the staff I worked with was so helpful. At first I thought that was just because of the environment and school I was working at but throughout my journey towards my MLIS degree, I can assuredly state that those who work in the library profession are passionate about their field and love to help and share this passion with others. I too have evolved into this and every opportunity I get to teach someone about what it is to be a librarian I take it.
During my stretch in this program I have: served as a peer mentor, completed a virtual internship, worked as a lead assistant on the transition of the LMS, presented workshops and participated as a guest lecture in student orientations. I have also the opportunity to work on multiple group projects, led team projects and complete high caliber projects that I am proud of and have used in job applications. I have enhanced my online presence without losing the personal human touch. I have written papers and proposals that have been used within my professional career to enhance library spaces. I have learned what it is to write professionally for the web, have a steady professional blog, designed multiple websites and published several web-pages. I have honed the process of tutorial creation for a diverse population and been introduced to amazing technology projects and programs. Most importantly I have created relationships with some of the most amazing peers that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to.
I come out of this program with the ability to create strategic plans complete with literature reviews, SWOT analysis, environmental scans and missions and value statements. I am capable of designing a full-fledged website from scratch incorporating general programming and integrating web 2.0 and 3.0 tools. I have experience working with multiple major library management systems (Desire 2 Learn and Canvas) and content management systems (Drupal, Joomla and WordPress). Along with these skills I have a greater understanding of library management including addressing sensitive situations with care and understanding while still holding true to professional ethics and necessities. My reference services have increased exponentially and I have been introduced to more resources then I will ever know what to do with.
My time at SJSU has been focused on web development and creating a better digital user experience, my plans for further professional growth are focused on the same concepts. Just as my concern that the online environment would hinder the development of personal interaction with professors, I have focused on helping libraries create an experience for the user that would cultivate the personal interaction and cultivate further collaboration with others over information.
It is amazing that this journey has gone by so quickly. It has been the best decision I have made for my professional career and has been highly satisfying. I find myself getting excited thinking about the next step in my professional career and this confirms to me that I am where I need to and want to be, as an information professional.
I, Whitni Watkins, hereby affirm that:
- All introductory, reflective, and evidentiary work submitted is mine alone (except where indicated as a group or team project), and has been prepared solely by me.
- I am protecting the privacy of the contents of my e-Portfolio by password protecting it or by sharing the URL only with my e-portfolio advisor.
- Before making my e-portfolio public I will respect the privacy of others by removing mention in this e-Portfolio of information that could lead to the identity of individuals (team members in group projects, internship supervisors, interviewees, etc.) and institutions