MLIS Students Hone Reference Skills Helping with MN History Day Virtual Hullabaloo

Current students in the Master of Library and Information Science program were invited to work shifts for this year's MN History Day virtual hullabaloos — events where local students working on their History Day projects could get help choosing a topic, learn about resources, and chat with librarians to get research assistance. MLIS students were able to practice their own research skills, conduct reference interviews, and get real-world experience helping young people in the community find the information they need. Our students also gained experience with statewide library platforms and resources and got to see firsthand what can happen when library organizations work cooperatively to serve their communities.

Two MLIS students shared about their experience staffing the AskMN chat:

"I really enjoyed doing chat reference for History Day! It was fun to interact with the 7th graders and learn about their thoughtful research projects, which ranged from England's "Operation Pied Piper" to protest songs on Bob Dylan's "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" album. This experience gave me a chance to flex my LIS 7040 research muscles and practice reference interviews. I also developed a new appreciation for the Library of Congress for their plethora of original source documents. I would recommend this experience to other MLIS students, and I hope to continue to be involved next year as well," said Maggie Whitman.

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson reflected, "I considered it a great honor to work with St. Catherine MLIS students at the History Day Hullabaloo as virtual reference librarians. Some of the students asked reference questions on subjects that I had lectured on as a professor, and it was nostalgic. Other students wanted questions geared to Minnesota history and it was a pleasure to fine-tune my reference librarian skills from previous jobs."