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Karen Turk

Karen Turk

I definitely felt prepared when I started my first job, but school is not a substitute for on the job experience and the knowledge you gain from collaborating with others. I cannot stress the importance of practicums, internships, and group work enough.

What's your name? What degree did you receive? When did you graduate?
My name is Karen Turk. I graduated with an MLIS in 2007.

What other degrees do you have and where are they from?
I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in Journalism, from Oakland University in 2002.

Why did you choose Wayne State School of Library and Information Science?
I chose Wayne State University after speaking with one of my co-workers about her husband's experience in the library program. It seemed like the school to attend for a practical education in library science.

What is your area of concentration? Why?
My area of concentration was Services to Children and Young Adults. I was working as a Staff Writer at Metro Parent magazine when I applied to library school, so I was very familiar with children's literature and programming. It seemed like a natural progression for me.

Despite my concentration, I have worked in both public and school libraries with patrons of all ages. I really enjoy working with students, though. It's wonderful to see their development in conducting research, navigating technology, and choosing their next "read."

Where/What class format did you use for most of your classes? Why?
I mostly attended in-person classes at the Oakland campus because it was a short commute from where I was interning. I prefer in-person classes to online classes because of the spontaneous discussions that erupt during class and the professional relationships that grow when you have a chance to talk before and after class.

I did enjoy taking online courses for Information Technology and Client-Based Website Development, though. Taking computer courses online enabled me to pause and replay parts of the lectures I did not understand- without having to hold up an entire class!

Are you active in any student/professional organizations?
I was the secretary of SOLIS for one semester and the webmaster of the student chapter of SLA for one semester. Currently, I am a member of ALA and AASL.

How has your involvement in student/professional organizations impacted your SLIS and professional experience?
Being a part of student organizations helped me to get to know my classmates when it sometimes felt like I was "just commuting." My experience made me more connected to the main campus and the program. The bonus was that I met people who I am still lucky enough to run into professionally, even if it's just catching up or learning more about a new venture over LinkedIn.

I also think participation in both groups made me more confident during my first interviews after graduation. I often hear people cite entry level job postings that require experience; practicums, internships, and student organizations are all avenues that will get you the experience you need for the job.

Are you currently doing any library related work? If so, how did the program prepared you for it?
I am currently the School Librarian of De La Salle Collegiate High Schools' Digital Resource Center.

All of my coursework prepared me for my current position in different ways. For example, the Young Adult Literature class introduced me to classic authors that are still producing best-sellers for teens (like Walter Dean Myers) and Collection Development and Multicultural Services taught me the importance of knowing my audience before making purchases.

Even for more time-sensitive classes like Information Technology, the skills of navigating popular products like Office or learning basic HTML withstand updates and upgrades. Knowing that there is more than one way to complete a task and the importance of trying out software so you can adequately demonstrate it, combined with a practicum or internship, make tech support a habit.

De La Salle is a Google school, which meant I had to learn the ins and outs of Google Apps for Education over the summer. The education is constant, though, especially when trying to move teens away from Word and PowerPoint. It takes time, but it helps to be able to show them cool features that Office does not have.

What were you most proud of in library school? What are most proud of now that you are in the profession?
In library school, I was proud of my hard work and taking advantage of outside opportunities like student group participation, an internship, and working part-time as a library assistant.

Now that I'm in the profession, I'm proud to say that my education at Wayne has afforded me the opportunity to work in many types of libraries and recently get my Michigan Permanent Professional Library Certification, something I have aspired to acquire since graduation.

Was there a professor who really impacted your journey into librarianship?
I had many instructors and professors who impacted my journey to become a librarian. Howard Rodriguez, Lothar Spang, and my advisor, Dr. Mardis, were a few of the leaders who helped me realize my potential. However, having Research Methods with Dr. Walster gave me clarity about what my personal goals are and the foundation of our studies-equitable information dissemination. It's up to us as librarians and information specialists to decide what that means and how to interpret it in our varying fields.

Since graduating from this program, what do you feel is the most important or surprising thing you've learned about the library and information science profession?
The most important things I've learned on the job are to be open to feedback and to get to know the culture of your work environment before you make plans to change it.

Do you feel you were well prepared for a career in the library and information profession?
I definitely felt prepared when I started my first job, but school is not a substitute for on the job experience and the knowledge you gain from collaborating with others. I cannot stress the importance of practicums, internships, and group work enough.

What professional accomplishments have you achieved since graduating from the program?
The accomplishments I am most proud of as a School Librarian are converting three traditional private school libraries into media centers (with computers and non-print resources) and creating and mapping original library curriculum for grades K-8, using the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Currently, I am collaborating with secondary school teachers to help them achieve Common Core Standards with the Digital Resource Center, assisting with the transition from Office to Google Apps for Education, and exploring the viability of an after school book club.

What advice would you give to someone considering SLIS as their library school?
Like any other graduate programs, the SLIS programs are what you decide to make of them. Fortunately, Wayne's SLIS gives students the opportunity to succeed by offering flexible times and places to complete coursework, student groups for networking, and professors and instructors who actually work in their fields, in addition to performing and publishing original research. There was not one instructor I felt uncomfortable approaching after class or during office hours to ask for advice or clarification on a topic.