A few months ago, for my job at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, the iSchool,I was tasked with interviewing one of my professors, Jill Hurst-Wahl. Jill’s the director of the M.S. in library and information science (MLIS) program and the iSchool wanted to get Jill on camera talking about what the MLIS degree could offer prospective students. As she often does, Jill had a bigger idea. After we finished the interview, Jill said she wanted me to keep rolling; she had something else to talk about. So I filmed Jill talking about the MLIS sack of skills.

Jill’s Idea
Jill sees the MLIS degree as a chance for a student like me to gather valuable skills. We’ll polish them and drop them, one by one, into a bag of sorts. We students will hoist this bag of skills onto our backs when we graduate and tote it along as we begin our librarianship journey, wherever it may take us. We’ll take it to our future employers and keep adding to it throughout our careers.

Here’s Jill’s video. Remember, this is meant as a video for prospective MLIS students. But it really got me thinking. (Also: This is a sneak peak! Jill’s video is not on the iSchool’s website quite yet, but I threw it up onto my own Vimeo account so you could preview it for yourself.)

Jill: The MLIS Sack of Skills from Mia Breitkopf on Vimeo.

Hanging On to What I’ve Got
Today, watching the video the hundredth time or so, as one does when video editing, I got to thinking about my own bag of skills. I knew I had come to my MLIS program with lots already stuffed in there. And, about to mark my one-year anniversary of beginning library school, I had a feeling I’d gathered a lot of skills and ideas along the way. So, I decided to make a list of them. Here are a few things I came up with.

(I’m begging you: please don’t make fun of my drawing skills in the comments.)

What’s in Mia’s Bag of Skills:

  • teaching experience (came to Syracuse with this)
  • understanding of the context of my new profession (i.e. So that’s what librarians do!)
  • information policy study
  • oh, yeah! video making skills
  • community organizing experience
  • an understanding of higher ed admissions
  • digital library basics
  • project marketing and assessment study
  • grantwriting (something I’m polishing from my pre grad-school life)
  • wiki, website, blog, and general information design
  • information resource organization and access study (cataloging)
  • reference study
  • collaborative project management practice
  • working with team members spread across the country
  • blogging!
I won’t go on, though I could. As my patient husband and David Allen remind me, it’s important to take a moment, once and a while, to reflect on what you’ve learned. This exercise made me feel excited to jump into the next semester (I’m going to add gamification to my bag!) and proud of what I’ve crammed into this brain in the past year.
What’s in Your Bag?
Whether you’re a current student or practicing librarian with your LIS days well behind you, what have you added to your sack of skills recently? And, for all you new bright-eyed librarianship students about begin your master’s degrees in the coming weeks, what skills do you already have to polish in your degree program? What do you hope to be able to drop into your sack of skills? Share your thoughts in the comments!