Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Los Angeles Public Library “Reference Institute” : Wonderful Reference Training & Experience

by Evan Carlson
You may have received an SLIS forwarded email announcement about Los Angeles Public Library’s “Reference Institute.” These Institutes, which occur several times a year, are funded by a three-year Institute of Museum and Library Services grant. I completed one of these Institutes, and wanted to promote the opportunity to our community because it truly is a great opportunity, for those who can commit four consecutive Fridays, and travel to LAPL Central Library in downtown Los Angeles.

Why did I feel this is of value? First, participants attend a series of excellent presentations, with mixed programs of various subject department staff presenting on diverse topics such as: maximizing the reference interview, leveraging US Census data for demographic and genealogy application, resources for small businesses, homework help and college prep resources for teens, advanced strategies for searching the internet for artwork and images. We received training in deep level use of the LAPL online catalog, its available databases and lesser known indexes. We heard from a panel of Children’s Librarians, drawn from different LAPL branches, on their individual experiences making the transition from library school to their current position, and their work at their respective branches as well as within the LAPL system.

The other component of the Reference Institute is that you will participate in two-hour shifts in rotating subject departments at Central Library, receiving hands-on experience at these reference desks, as well as spending valuable time with LAPL staff and touring their departments.

The Reference Institute is also an excellent opportunity to meet and network with your fellow SJSU-SLIS peers, as well as colleagues from other programs such as UCLA, Clarion and Drexel Universities. For any students considering a career in public libraries, generally, and LAPL specifically, this opportunity is too good to miss. The Reference Institute will be an asset on your resume, allow you to talk about your experiences, and if you are looking for work at LAPL will certainly stand out. In addition, not only is the Reference Institute free of charge, but as what they call a stipend student, you will receive $200 for attending the institute. If all of the valuable information that you will learn isn’t enough to draw you to the Institute, the LAPL staff made home-baked brownies and cookies for us! Contact: Linda Moussa, or 213-228-7401.

Evan Carlson is in his second year in the SJSU-SLIS program.


  1. Participation with the LAPL Reference Institute is worth the time and experience. Endorsing the LAPLRIF comes straight from the heart. For relevant, rigorous, hands on action like reference interviews, interdisciplinary fields, and meeting fellow library science student from various entry portals. If you get the opportunity sieze it, you won't regret the rewards.
    Lorinda Holmes MLIS student at SJSU

  2. I did the Reference Institute as well and found it extremely valuable. Not only do you get hands-on experience, but you get to meet experienced librarians who have a lot to offer.

    Marisa Reyes, SJSU MLIS graduate