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Library Information Technology Students Complete Prestigious Practicum

By Mike McKissack

Students enrolled in the Library and Information Technology program at College of DuPage are completing their required library practicum hours in notable libraries throughout the U.S. and into Canada.

The practicum involves serving 75 hours in a library over one semester and is undertaken after all eight Library and Information Technology courses are completed. Under the direction and supervision of a professional librarian, students gain hands-on experience in all areas of the library as they train to become library technical assistants (LTAs).

Participants in the program have found a broad range of institutions at which to finish their practicum hours, including academic, school and public libraries, as well as special libraries and archives at such organizations as Brookfield Zoo, Fermilab, the Field Museum, Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, Morton Arboretum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Theosophical Society.

According to Carol Sturz (pictured above), Assistant Professor of Library and Information Technology, the program has a long-standing history of success that has impacted libraries nationwide.

"We are extremely proud to be one of the oldest and best-known programs in the country," said Sturz. "We have been around for more than 45 years – almost as long as College of DuPage. We have graduated many students who are now serving in libraries all over the country in various capacities, including as library director."

Sturz said a big advantage of the program at College of DuPage, and one that separates it from many programs throughout the nation, is that it is not only available on campus but it also can be completed entirely online.

"Many out-of-state students seek out College of DuPage because there are very few LTA programs that are offered completely online," Sturz said. "We have online students all over the country and beyond in places including Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Vermont and even in Canada, completing their practicum hours at their local libraries."

Downers Grove resident Alia Hussain is currently serving her practicum hours at the Shedd Aquarium Library in Chicago. Closed to the public, the aquarium's library is an educational resource maintained for the benefit of animal caregivers, biologists, conservationists, habitat maintainers, researchers and wildlife experts, as well as all Shedd Aquarium staff.

Hussain, who hopes to complete a bachelor's degree and eventually earn an MLS, said her experience at the aquarium is invaluable to pursuing her professional goals as an LTA and eventually a librarian.

"Because of the work I'm doing here - researching marine life using the library's physical and digital collections, writing scientific fact sheets and performing daily circulation tasks - I am now equipped with practical experiences in a library setting and I feel comfortable in performing tasks as I transition from learning concepts in textbooks to applying them professionally in the real world," she said.

Hussain added that the College's program and particularly the support of the faculty truly help students fulfill their educational and professional goals.

"I'm thankful for the amount of support that faculty give students," Hussain said. "I've attended college before and was disheartened by the indifference of the faculty once students left the classroom. But here at COD, teachers really care about and support students both inside and outside the classroom. The professors helped me believe, reach and arrive, and I'm still going."

The Library and Information Technology program at College of DuPage combines classroom lectures and experiential learning in a variety of areas, including reference, acquisitions, cataloging, reader's advisory and multimedia. Accredited by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), the program offers both an associate in applied science degree and a certificate and stays current with the needs of employers through an active advisory committee of local librarians.

For more information about the Library and Information Technology program, visit www.cod.edu/programs/library_technology.