Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Host Guidelines

Professional Placement Guidelines

In this document the term library is used to refer to the range of information agencies and cultural facilities whose main business is providing information services.

Introduction

Each year the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University places about 200 students on professional placement. This document provides important information for students and placement hosts, including the person in the organisation responsible for setting up the placement and the students' immediate supervisor.

The document may not cover every eventuality and for help on any aspect of a placement please contact the professional experience officer.

Professional Placement Principles

The following basic principles apply to all professional placements:

  • The needs of a library and its users take precedence over the learning needs of students on placement, and accepting a student on placement should not cause serious disruption to the library hosting the placement.
  • A student undertaking a placement in a library is expected to carry a reasonable workload as a temporary member of the staff of the library but should also have reasonable opportunities for personal professional development.
  • Professional placements should therefore take place only in libraries where students are likely to have significant opportunities both to practise professional and paraprofessional skills and to gain an increased understanding of library principles and practices.

Expected Student Outcomes

The professional placement should provide the opportunity for students to:

  • gain insights into the general organisation and operation of a type of library or information agency different to that which they are currently employed;
  • apply theory to practice in a reflective and disciplined manner;
  • develop capacity to initiate their own professional activities, including the ability to seek and use feedback and supervision effectively;
  • develop an understanding of professional goals and practice;
  • consider the role and function of the host organisation, the community it serves and the services it offers; and
  • consider the technical operations and processes by which the host organisation achieves its aims.

Participants in the Professional Placement

Students

Students embarking on a professional placement have typically completed at least four academic subjects towards the award of their degree. They should be able to articulate what they hope to gain from the placement and have an idea of the kind of library in which they wish to be placed.

Details of subjects already completed by students are listed on the Student Profile provided with the confirmation letter sent to the host supervisor by the Professional Experience Officer. This profile also provides details on the student's prior experience, information and communication technology (ICT) competencies, professional memberships and activities, and perceived learning needs in the field of librarianship.

A brief overview of the courses librarianship and teacher librarianship is provided via the course links below. Host supervisors may find the links to short abstracts provided in these overviews (describing the key content of specific subjects offered as part of the TL course curriculum) particularly useful when familiarising themselves with the student's core knowledge and skills in the field of librarianship at the time of their placement experience.

Subject Course Handbook Link
ETL507 Professional Experience & Portfolio (METL) Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship)
INF208 Professional Placement Bachelor Information Studies 
INF408 Professional Placement  Master of Information Studies 

Professional Experience Officer

The Professional Experience Officer provides liaison between the host organisations, the students and the School of Information Studies, except where other contact procedures are specified for individual subjects. The Professional Experience Officer is also responsible for the administrative component of the professional placement.

Subject Coordinator

The subject coordinator is the lecturer responsible for the academic component of the placement.

Subject Subject Coordinator
ETL507 Professional Experience (METL) Roy Crotty
INF208 Professional Placement Suzanne Lipu
INF408 Professional Experience (PG) Suzanne Lipu

Host Supervisor

The host supervisor is the librarian in the organisation who provides the day-to-day supervision of the student during the placement. This person typically establishes the tasks and responsibilities that are assigned to the student and reports on the student.

School Liaison

The Professional Experience Officer will contact host libraries to confirm that students have arrived to commence their placement. During the placement, contact will also be made by the Subject Coordinator to check on the progress of the student.

Insurance Cover During Placement

Insurance cover for all students attending Workplace Learning is renewed annually. Access the current letter of currency. Visit the CSU Insurance webpage

The Program

Many libraries have well-developed placement programs which provide appropriate professional experience for students. Generally this means providing students with work which requires them to apply knowledge acquired during their course to fulfil a work role and develop a range of professional skills.

It is recommended that the placement student be introduced to the total environment of the library to which s/he is assigned, developing and progressing understanding of the following aspects of library practice:

  • the community served by the library;
  • the roles of library personnel;
  • library management and planning activities;
  • technical services;
  • collection management;
  • information services and programs;
  • library responses to developments in ICT;
  • marketing and promotion of library services; and
  • evaluation of library services.

Whilst it is anticipated that the placement program will provide a genuine taste of professional work, it is appreciated that it is not always possible for the student to undertake activities in all areas of the organisation. Wherever possible the student should be able to work, observe, have discussions with, and ask questions of staff and users in as many areas as possible.

Role of the Host Supervisor

Supervisors are asked to:

  • orient the student to the library;
  • schedule the student's time in the library with a view to providing professional experiences as well as exposure to the organisation's total environment;
  • meet regularly with the student to provide feedback on the progress of the placement;
  • contact the Professional Experience Officer if he or she judges that there are problems which require consultation with the School of Information Studies;
  • complete the Supervisor's Report;

Supervisors are asked to complete the report at the end of the placement and forward it to the Professional Experience Officer by post or fax (details provided on the report form). Please note that the Supervisor's Report may be completed in consultation with the student on placement.

Assessment

Student Placement Report

The report outline, contained in the student's subject materials, is not meant to be prescriptive, but is provided as a starting point for analysis. It is acknowledged that library environments vary a great deal in the services and programs that they deliver, and as a result, some aspects of the report outline may not be relevant.

Each student is required to submit a placement report to their subject coordinator, highlighting key principles that are currently informing professional practice. Students are expected to be analytical about their experiences providing evidence of professional interaction across a range of areas, drawing conclusions and reasoning implications and consequences.

Students are required to explore a range of key areas within the library environment including: the role of the library; the collection; cataloguing, classification and indexing; system management; reference and information services; network infrastructure; user needs and services; personnel and staff development; promotion and marketing; and performance evaluation.

Additional assessment

Students may be required to complete additional assessment tasks which is dependent upon the subject in which they are enrolled. It is recommended that the host supervisor discusses assessment requirements with the student at the commencement of the placement.

Host Feedback

Supervisors at host libraries are invited to provide any feedback to the Professional Experience Officer to help us improve the Professional Placement process for both students and host libraries.

The School of Information Studies greatly appreciates the continued support of the library community for the Professional Placement program.