Fieldwork & Work Study Experiences:
How did you learn about your directed fieldwork
opportunity? How did you know what type of DFW you wanted?
When I started the program in 2000, I started to
think about what kind of library I wanted to work in. The more I learned
about special libraries, the more I felt this was the fit for me.
I have been a long-time subscriber of the Utne Reader, and just after
(or maybe just before) school started, I got an issue and realized
they had a librarian. I thought that must be just about the coolest
job on the planet. So, when I started thinking about directed fieldwork,
the only thing I could think that I wanted to do was work at the Utne
Once you found out about the organization, how did
you go about setting up your DFW?
I contacted the librarian, Chris Dodge, and inquired
about the possibility of doing an internship there. They didn't have
anything formal set up for library students, but he was really interested
in having an intern, and I wasn't the first one to approach him. However,
I was the first to actually set up an internship and complete one
there (for librarianship)!
How much interaction did you have with your supervisor?
I felt that I had a lot of interaction with my supervisor.
Not only did we have regular times where we talked, but Chris was
amazingly generous with his time, and always willing to talk with
me whenever I had any questions (which I had a ton of).
What kinds of things did you get to do?
I got to do just about everything that would happen
in a regular library. Having said that, however, I spent most of my
time sending out requests to publishers for sample issues of their
journals that the Utne was not currently receiving. I also got to:
catalog, develop the collection development policy, select books,
conduct research, and I think I even did a reader's advisory!
What did you learn during the experience?
I think the biggest thing I learned was that even
though my supervisor is a solo librarian, he does not work alone.
Perhaps the most effective librarians are extremely well networked;
every time we had a question, he knew exactly who to go to so that
our question could be answered.
What kind of training did you receive?
Mostly I received "seat-of-the-pants" librarianship
training. Due to the nature of the environment, many of the things
I had been learning at school did not prepare me too well for Utne's
environment. Their technology was considerably different and not as
sophisticated as what had been learning at school; perhaps being flexible
and learning quickly are two of the biggest things I learned from
Do you feel that this experience has helped prepare
you for work in a professional setting?
Yes, I did feel this experience helped me prepare
for a professional setting. It was good to see how the theories I
had been learning apply in "real life" and I felt that my
choice to come back to school for this particular field was greatly
Did this experience make you want to take any additional
seek additional training?
While I know many other students felt clearer about
the path they needed to take educationally to prepare themselves for
the professional world, I sadly did not get any clearer about what
courses I needed to take.
Any advice to other students seeking fieldwork experiences?
Figure out what you are passionate about and find
out how you can get a fieldwork that involves your passion
Are you interested in sharing your knowledge with
the rest of the student body? Have you attended any conferences or taken
an interesting or worthwhile class outside of the department? Would
you care to review nearby bars for us? Send your Silverfish submissions
to Ariel Johnson or John
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