Hanne Pearce, MLIS 2010
My practicum at the National Library of Finland was a life-changing experience. That may sound like an exaggeration but it truly was and remains a highlight of my time at SLIS. I had the immense opportunity to spend several weeks at the National Library of Finland (Suomen Kansalliskirjasto) in April of 2010. During the course of my time there I was exposed in some way most units of the library, but I focused my time in the manuscript division where national treasures were being shipped for digitization and in the authority records office, where I helped to create authority records for the Finnish National Bibliography, for recently published books. This experience was meaningful to me on several levels. Being a Finnish Canadian, with a history of librarianship in my family, being able to work and learn at the heart of the Finnish library system, enabled to me to reconnect with my heritage. While at SLIS I had written a paper on the history of the book in Finland, which is unique in that the resurgence of printing in Finland played a very large role in the development of the written Finnish language. At the Finnish National Library, was permitted to hold and view many of the books I had written about in my paper. It made the past very real to me and brought my learning full circle. I also had the opportunity to learn about the immense responsibility that any National Library undertakes in preserving and recording the intellectual and cultural record of an entire country. I not only learned about processes and practices through this experience, but I also came to realize that libraries are perceived differently in Europe, and that those perceptions change the nature of how libraries function and work.
As I was a part-time student at SLIS, who was already working at the University of Alberta Libraries throughout my studies, many of my classmates questioned why I was bothering with the time commitment and investment that the practicum required of me as I already had the coveted 'experience' all the job postings were asking for. Despite my fortune of already having academic library experience, I felt it was essential to find another experience and to view the profession through a different lens.
My practicum was a life-changing experience, and what I learned over the course of my time at the National Library of Finland has stayed with me as I have moved forward both professionally and academically. I would encourage every SLIS student to seek out an library or library field that interests them and to challenge themselves with a practicum. It is a relatively short commitment in relation to a lifetime of perspective and memories.
Lorisia MacLeod, MLIS 2018
If you had told me that my MLIS was how I would get to travel including living in Hawaii for a month I probably wouldn't have believed you and yet that is exactly what I was able to do for my Practicum. For my placement, I contacted the University of Hawaii and was able to find a practicum supervisor in the Laka me Lono Resource Centre. It was an amazing experience, to say the least, and it really showed me the main tenets of librarianship that change very little no matter where you go. It also provided me with an opportunity to prove to myself that I was ready to be a library professional because you have a chance to put your skills to the test outside of the classroom. While there I learned way more about Hawaii and their history, language, and people than I ever imagined I could have plus I even got to sit in on some of their library school's classes. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how friendly and helpful the local librarians were- they really took care of me and made my experience as amazing as possible! Their support and warmth made me realize that librarianship was the right place for me and that no matter where I go or work, I know that my coworkers are generally going to be warm, kind people since most individuals in the field seem to be! My practicum supervisor even ended up being a reference for my job applications too! I think the biggest thing I learned from this experience though was the power of asking colleges and other professionals for help, I asked for help finding a practicum supervisor and everyone was happy to try and help. I shouldn't have been surprised since we all tend to be helpful people but this experience made me realize that if I need help I should ask even if I'm nervous.