Introduction to Programs Week: Library and Information Sciences (LIS)

By Samantha Summers (second year CDP, LIS, and ARM student)

One of the most exciting things you will learn about Library and Information Sciences (LIS) at the Faculty of Information is that it attracts students with all kinds of backgrounds. Your classmates will come from the sciences, business, the arts and humanities, and more. Some will come to this concentration directly from their undergraduate, and some will have done a few things in between. What this means is you have an incredible opportunity to learn from your colleagues as well as your instructors, and also that they have the opportunity to learn from you. Don’t be afraid to contribute to class discussions, be that by raising your hand or by participating in online discussion boards on Quercus. Even when things get tough during your program, remember that you were accepted for a reason, and that your input is valuable.

This is a board game I made in a group project in INF1321: Representing, Accessing, and Documenting the Cultural Record. We decided to re-represent the history of Toronto through the medium of a collaborative game.

There are only 5 required courses in LIS, including the “Information Workshops” (INF1005 and INF1006) that are required of all Master of Information students. This means you can finish up your required courses in first year and have plenty of wiggle room for doing another concentration or a ton of electives. You’ll realize early on that there are librarians in every field and every organization, from tech start-ups to construction companies to hospitals. With lots of space for taking electives, you can customize your LIS to your exact field of interest.

This excerpt is from a group project I worked on in Project Management. While Project Management is not required for LIS, it’s one of the many useful electives you can take at the Faculty of Information, as it’s all about structuring information and processes. I also met one of my best friends working on this project!

If possible, you should look into working at a library during your degree. There are many on-campus to which you can apply via the Work-Study Program, the Toronto Academic Library Internship program (TALint), the Graduate Student Assistant (GSA) program, and more. This is a great way to get experience in a library, earn some money, and learn some practical library skills. The LIS program no longer prioritizes learning skills like cataloguing, and chooses instead to focus on more theoretical aspects of librarianship. This theoretical learning will benefit you immensely in your career, and by seeking out these practical library work opportunities you can ensure you are learning both sets of skills.

The LIS is a very friendly and community-based program, but it is still a professional program. Much like in a real professional environment, you will be expected to work in lots of groups. This is a great opportunity to gain other skills which will serve you in a professional environment, such as working with a diverse team, managing multiple deadlines at once, and delegation. I definitely wasn’t the only person who was a bit unsure about the sheer number of group projects when I started this program, but in retrospect I’m glad I had the space to learn those skills before having to apply them in the workplace.

A not-too-flattering photo of me representing the Special Libraries Association—Toronto Student Group at the 2019 Clubs Fair.

The other thing I would advise all students to do is to join at least one student group. Join a club specific to your interests, or get involved with the Master of Information Student Council (MISC). The people you will meet in your classes are your future colleagues, and joining student groups is a great way to build strong bonds with them. Don’t hesitate to get involved, and if no group exists that suits your interest, start your own! It’s well worth it.

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