Quality Control

29/09/2011 § 36 Comments

Purdue declares, We are Makers

We Are Purdue, Makers All

It seems almost every year we in the library science field torture ourselves about the glut of graduates emerging from our programs and the shortage of jobs that exist within the profession. One thing I continually hear from people is that library schools should make admissions harder. The argument is that if we let less people in with higher qualification our degrees will matter more. Here I take umbrage.

I wouldn’t be in a library program if the standards were extremely high. I had a bad GPA. I was a passable undergraduate; smart, but with a minor writing disability and no work ethic, which left my papers a mess. It took me three years of under employment at dead-end-bottom-of-the-economy jobs to find my calling in library science. It’s not a background prestigious graduate programs look at. In short I wasn’t the best candidate for admissions.

I’ve made up for that poor performance as an undergraduate by upping my game as a MLIS candidate. I’ve challenged myself and gone above and beyond what’s expected in library school. Crossing over that bar, combined with my lack luster performance as an undergrad, and my lack of confidence still in my own productivity may be why I feel like more of a bench mark and less of a pinnacle. It leads me to make the following argument: Library schools should admit more people and graduate less of them.

Library school should be tough; it should be a rocky marriage between the theoretical and the practical. Something like art school where we learn the theory behind design and the skills to bring those designs to life. Internships and externships should be required. You should not be able to graduate with an MLIS in a year. I think we should have comprehensive exams as well as a marketable portfolio in order to graduate from library school. Graduate better people but don’t discriminate on who we let in because there are great librarians out there that choosy programs didn’t admit.

This sort of a paradigm shift would solve two problems. First, it would create a clear distinction between paras and librarians. Our degrees should mean something. We should have leadership, planning, creativity, and research skills when we graduate. These are the roles that are open; we can’t expect to sit around and catalog books or work the same shift at the reference desk day in and day out. There is no reason why a Librarian needs to do that work. It makes sense to have them do that work to maximize labor efficiencies, but even high end research libraries have paraprofessionals and graduate students working the reference desk, cataloging, and other roles that fall into what we think typically constitutes “librarian work.” Librarians need to be the makers of information systems. If our profession is to survive, it requires us to be more than just a friendly face at the reference desk or the cataloger shut in the back room; it requires us to be active in shaping our future. Otherwise the library will become a few tech guys, a couple paras, and a few managers working in a place with books and not a vibrant institution dedicated to the principle – Information for all.

Second, and this argument is brutally cynical, library schools cannot afford to decrease admissions in this economic climate. Library schools were already under intense threat before the financial crisis with several prominent schools going off line. Now, schools are being cut, merged, and moved increasingly towards a focus solely on commercial information systems. A library program dedicated to information access increasingly has to justify itself not in terms of providing a necessary good but in terms of revenue to the university. Cutting off the revenue source for these programs now seems both harming to the programs and something that’s not likely to happen. Letting in someone to give them an opportunity doesn’t devalue our degree. Why not let people in and give them a chance? Especially if it saves programs under threat.

In short, it’s not letting too many in that is hurting our degree, it’s letting people out who aren’t qualified or simply lack the drive to do a good job. It’s why we need to value our education, take advantage of the opportunities while in library school, and make sure that when we graduate, we have the skills we need not just to work in a library, but to lead in a library. Our programs should start by making sure we are ready to graduate and not by putting more requirements at the starting gates.

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§ 36 Responses to Quality Control

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks for writing to the heart of the matter.

  • Scott says:

    Cool post, thanks!

  • Britt Foster says:

    Excellent post! An interesting solution. Do you think if library school has a rep for being really difficult once you’re admitted, eventually less people will enroll?

    I am also interested in what people think a rigorous program would look like beyond some of the things you’ve mentioned here. I would like to see more of an interdisciplinary approach, and the expectation of an understanding of fields that affect your specialization.

  • zfrazier says:

    Britt,
    It hasn’t seemed to stop people from going to law school.

  • Rebecca says:

    No admissions system is perfect–there will always be some applicants who should have gotten in, and didn’t, or who shouldn’t have gotten in, and did. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize an admissions system just because it excludes you (or any other individual).

    That said, the problem with library school admissions is that we don’t know what factors predict success post-library school. I’m not even sure how we should define “success.” Finding a job within X months after graduation? Starting salaries? I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    I will say that the idea of funding library schools by admitting people who probably won’t get through the program makes me extremely uncomfortable. Even if these students realize their mistake early on and drop out after a semester, that’s still thousands of dollars wasted, not to mention the opportunity cost of the time spent in the program. Maybe if library schools raised their admissions standards, alumni would be more likely to donate, and the schools could fund their operations that way.

    • I think ‘success’ is most often defined by getting a job right out of school… which is probably not a good standard at all. For me, a recent graduate working part-time on a contract, success is getting a job, any job, and being able to pay my bills.

      I think a better question than how we define success is what you asked right before that: What factors will make a librarian a good librarian? Are we getting those in LIS programs? I’d argue no… which is why I started this blog. This educational standards are lagging, and the ALA Accreditation standard needs to be addressed in order to make any significant change, in my opinion. But now we’re talking systemic change, which is not bad, just complex. I hope this blog, and comments like yours, will serve as a catalyst for systemic change.

  • Man, this post certainly brings up some tough issues! I have to say I agree with Rebecca; it almost seems as if LIS programs would purposely admit a large number of students just to “steal” their money, not to actually give them a degree.

    Though lets face it, there will always be an area where standards are high, whether in admissions, graduation, or employment. The group has to shrink at one point…

  • zfrazier says:

    Library schools aren’t stealing people money when they graduate people who aren’t qualified, they’re stealing money from everyone else by devaluing their degrees. Library schools dependent on tuition for survival aren’t going to stop admitting people. The question is do we want to have high standards for those entering the profession, or do we want degree mills.

    I vote for the former. The close the close the gates response doesn’t deal with the heart of the matter, library schools are graduating people that are either unprepared for or not able to gain entry to the profession. Choosy school are as guilty of graduating people unprepared for the profession as the “degree mills” are, nor does a degree from even top schools guarantee you a job any more.

    I fail to see how denying people access to education raises the value of our (future) degrees. You want less graduates too, you just want to limit them on the front end. I don’t really see that as a good solution because it screens out people like myself, who will succeed in grad school (and hopefully be great librarians) despite the fact that they have less than stellar undergraduate transcripts.

    • Rebecca says:

      Why can’t library schools have high standards for getting in AND high standards for getting out? That seems like the ideal situation–the people who can’t hack it don’t waste their time and money, and the people who are up to the challenge come out with degrees that actually mean something.

      Note: high admissions standards doesn’t necessarily mean schools should require a high undergrad GPA, or high GRE scores, or both. Personally, I’d love to see library schools require prior work or volunteer experience in the field as a prerequisite (even though that would have excluded me when I applied to library school).

      I’m also curious how you would answer the question I posed in my previous comment, about how we might evaluate success post-library school. I have ideas, but I’d like to know what you (and others!) think.

      • Wribrarian says:

        I am absolutely 100% with you on this, Rebecca. I think one of the key indicators I’ve seen with lots of folks (not everybody) is whether they had prior work experience. That seems to be a bigger indicator. There was a time when librarianship was a second career for for people. People came to it after a reasonably lengthy career doing other things and learning skills that enhance a library science degree, like project management, time management, and other things.

        Saying this is no disrespect to friends of mine in the program who went straight from undergrad to a grad LIS program who also managed to find full-time work after graduating. I think this speaks highly to their work ethic and networking abilities.

        The problem isn’t so much that there are lots of people entering the field and flooding library schools with mediocrity. The problem is that you have a lot of people who start the program and have no real work experience, so when they get out into the world they may not necessarily have the people/work skills that most jobs are looking for. Internships are good, but they only do so much. I was anywhere from 2-10 years older than some of my classmates, and many of them have been in the academia bubble so long, they seemed to not realize that some behaviors, while (maybe) OK in a classroom, are not acceptable in the real world.

        Harvard Business School requires its students to have five years of work experience before they can apply. The school manages to arrange jobs for its grads, which is how they measure success, and there’s nothing to say that an LIS program couldn’t do the same if it was guaranteeing that it turned out grads who had significant levels of experience who were ready to jump right in and not just do the job, but also bring a level of innovation and leadership that is based in real-world experience.

        Again, everyone doesn’t fall into this category, but I think it makes a big difference when people start talking about the “quality” of library school grads. The program is what you make of it, but previous career experience can look like gold to an employer, especially considering that most LIS jobs these days are for mid-management or administration.

  • Pustaka says:

    Well, an example of evaluating a success: one knows how to unsubscribe properly from a mailing list without sending that g****mn “unsubscribe me” to the list. OK. That was half joking.

  • Jill says:

    I come from an archives program, so I can’t speak to library schools specifically, but I have to also express concern as regards the motivations for the system you propose. It does appear to be a proposal based solely on your individual experience and concerns only what would still have you accepted vs. what would have excluded you – instead of what would benefit the field generally.

    I too am the beneficiary of a second chance, though I had to start at the bottom and work very hard to be the kind of student who would get accepted in the first place. When a school opens admissions to students they know won’t complete the program, just so they can get their money, that school becomes no better than a for-profit scam school. We should be discouraging the influence of money in education rather than encouraging it. A pipe dream, I know, but still perhaps a worthy goal.

  • mclicious says:

    I agree. I especially love the idea of requiring graduates to pass exams or have portfolios. I’m only in my first semester of library school and I already feel like I’m learning a lot but will have no practical knowledge or experience with which to get a job.

    However, much as I would love to do research and spend time on internships and stuff, I also feel immense pressure to graduate as soon as humanly possible (not easy when you’re getting a dual degree) because, even though library schools have no money, neither do students. How many of us are actually paying for library school? I’m willing to bet most people are in my position, and we’re dealing with an awful loan situation that was just made worse by the debt deal. I’m dying to do independent studies and volunteer work to amp up my resume and just to enjoy myself, but I literally can’t afford it. But then if I don’t, I won’t be able to afford anything, because who is going to hire me if I’ve done nothing but coursework?

    I’m not really suggesting that anyone can solve this. It’s an issue that goes back to problems with US culture and politics in general, and there’s no way we’re going to change the situation over night and make the country start respecting and paying for education, and yadda yadda. But I’m curious about how other library students are dealing with this? Is it better to go as a part-time student for longer if it means you can get some experience as a library page for extra cash or have time to do a volunteer internship and wait tables? Or should you rush through and consider your first few years of full time work as a chance for you to compile a portfolio that leads to a better, more fulfilling, and more professional (rather than para) job?

    • Rebecca says:

      mclicious, if you don’t have experience before you graduate library school, you’re going to have a really hard time finding a job when you get out. If you can afford it, I think it’s worth going part time so you have time for internships as you go through your program.

      • I agree with Rebecca. I have hired many archivists to work for me at several institutions and I immediately discount anyone with no experience, regardless of their having a library degree. I don’t have time to teach you how to do your job once you’re hired. Take advantage of internships and volunteer opportunities. Take your the theoretical knowledge and apply it to real world work. That is the best way to make yourself a success in this field.

    • I have served on a search committee (and am in archives world..), and am inclined to agree with Rebecca and Lea. The market is so much in favor of employers that not having any working experience before finishing your MLIS is a really, really bad idea.

      Also, I think there’s a lot to be said for working in a paraprofessional position for a while (full disclosure: I am a parapro in the 3rd to last semester of my MLIS). There is often a very large disconnect between paraprofessionals and capital-L librarians, and I think serving as a parapro can help you sympathize with the challenges that this class of staff faces once you’re working in a professional capital-L capacity.

  • zfrazier says:

    I think the money argument was meant to be more nuanced then it appeared. First, I’m not generally advocating that programs let people in solely so that they can take their money. Just that programs that do provide access to library training to a broad range of candidates not close their gates. For me the argument that our profession is contracting because of the amount of people programs let is is a case of mistaking correlation for causation.

    We should realize that other other programs of advanced professional degrees have a broad admissions policy, but don’t face the same “crisis of degree value” that librarians seem to. Again, I’ll bring up law schools, who admit a huge number of 1L’s with the knowledge that many of them won’t make it to 2L status. I’ve also been told that engineering programs have a similar problem. I’m not saying that these policies aren’t controversial, or something the best schools do, just that lawyers don’t sit around complaining that “degree mills” are devaluing their JD.

    Then again, lawyers have a built in check. Even if you basically buy your JD you still have to pass the bar exam. Engineers have similar certifications. Whenever these disagreements arise out of the lib blogoshpere, I look to other skilled professions. Instead of instigating admissions quotas, which also have a side effect of decreasing diversity, our keystrokes would be better spent discussing and creating a bar exam for librarians.

    Mclicious, personally I think it’s better to be a part time student and rack up experience. That said, some of the people I respect the most in my program are graduating in a year and a half. They are all extremely qualified, and have a ton of great experience. One of the nice thing about library school, at least my program, is that library school is what you make it. One of the reasons I’m really interested in this project is because it’s about library students helping library students get the most out of their program. I think the question that you should ask is, what do works best for you?

    • “I’m not saying that these policies aren’t controversial, or something the best schools do, just that lawyers don’t sit around complaining that “degree mills” are devaluing their JD.”

      ….well, there’s much more of a hierarchy whenit comes to law schools – a Harvard degree will at least get you a job with a state Attorney General, an FSU degree won’t. And then, of course, there’s the Bar Exam – its possible to have a JD and not be allowed to practice. In spite of all these barriers, though, I hear complaints that too many people are going into law school all the time, that more and more board-certified young lawyers with degrees from reputable but unexceptional state universities are unemployed or outside their field – the same complaints we hear about MLISes.

  • Rebecca says:

    In terms of post-grad employment, law school is almost the opposite of library school. First, beyond summer associate gigs or summer internships, law students aren’t expected to have any experience before they graduate. Second, future employers evaluate law students on their GPA and class rank, while most libraries don’t care that much about grades. Finally, the rank of the law school you went to matters quite a lot, but I don’t think library school rankings really matter to employers.

    Law firms know which schools are better than others, and which have better students than others. The fact that Podunk Law School lets in 90% of applicants doesn’t affect a Yale Law School grad’s chances, because a YLS grad still has a huge advantage in the job market. The “degree mills” hurt the chances of the students that attend them, because they’re all competing for the jobs left over after the students from top schools have been hired. And when library schools all have low admissions standards, that’s the situation their graduates are in–all competing with each other for a shrinking pool of jobs.

  • zfrazier says:

    Ok. Please explain to me why a program admitting all qualified applicants, or even most qualified applicants hurts our degree’s value? Further, how does shutting people out improve its value?

    How does a smaller “more elite” department help me, especially when it means that my school has to shrink it’s staff?

    That means less relevant course offerings. Here we would probably get rid of our archives track (which actually should be expanded), and our nascent information management and competitive intelligence programs would go too. That really doesn’t help students because that’s where the growth in the information profession is.

    Further, there are some top tier programs that let lots of people in, should we adjust their rankings to fit the fact that they are graduating too many people?

    I’m generally skeptical of elitism in admissions. I want people who can kick down doors as my peers. I don’t care what their GPA was in College. I do care that they know what they are doing and are dedicated to pursuing professional excellence. If we as a profession worried more about producing graduates of library schools that can kick down doors, and less about “letting the best in” I think we would actually see an increase in jobs. We are information professionals in an information economy. I don’t think how many people graduate is our problem. I think its the tool boxes people have when they leave, and their ability to explain those tool boxes to others. The “let less people in” thread that pops up every time we have a discussion about library school degrees is a huge distraction, hence this post.

    Because I’m focused on ensuring high end results for library education I’ve had a similar view about the degree mills being a bad thing and stealing peoples money. I understand the reaction to the large library school. However, after talking with students in those schools and reading our “hack you program” series, I’ve realized that I was making a lot of assumptions about which schools actually provide students with the tools for success. A lot of the schools we associate with the term “degree mill” actually are producing and placing as high a percentage of qualified librarians and archivists as the top tier “elite” programs.

    Personally, as a library student who has succeeded despite the fact that I had trouble getting into graduate school, I also find it a bit insulting. I worked hard to get into library school, and I’ve worked hard in library school. When people make the argument that we need to raise admissions standards and let less people in, I feel like what they are really saying is, “You don’t belong here.” It’s something to think about when your in the real world and working next someone for whom library school was a second chance for success.

    Just something to think about.

    *by “kick down doors,” I mean be awesome.

    • Rebecca says:

      As long as you do well enough to graduate, success in library school has very little to with success on the job market. My library school GPA was fine, but I don’t put it on my resume because employers don’t care (and I’ve never been asked about it). I hope you find a great job when you get out of library school, but academic success is no guarantee of that.

      The rise in library school graduates has not translated into more jobs. SImply put, there are more librarians coming out of library school than there are jobs waiting for them when they get out, and there are plenty of unemployed librarians who are just as qualified as the employed ones. If library schools limited admissions, we’d still have the problem of lots of people who want to be librarians, and can’t–but at least those people wouldn’t have tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

  • [...] my fellow Hacker Zack Frazier pointed out in his most recent entry, many library school students experience considerable anxiety about their job prospects upon [...]

  • I have to agree with this post. I too was in the same position upon entering Simmons GSLIS. A mediocre GPA (3.0) and no real job prospects.

    I graduated from the dual degree program in 2.5 years and immediately found a job in my area of study/interest. The main differentiation between myself now and then is ambition.

    I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do when I entered Simmons, but I found my passion and pursued it. It’s this kind of work that I think deserves more recognition and support. I had to go out, find, and develop my own support network.

    Finally, it seems that although there is always a need for traditional librarianship it shouldn’t be the end all of the program. My job is in information management. Aside from one required class there is not much emphasis on the digital aspect of the profession. Additionally, the internships do not necessarily reflect the need for digital librarians. In the end I graduated with a great theoretical base, but no real school directed experience. I had managed to find several relevant part time jobs on my own. Again without the schools support.

    I think the primary jist of the problem is that library schools have not managed to adapt to the profession’s changing needs as quickly as possible.

    • trgllylibrarian says:

      Librarianmaybe makes a good point: we’ve got to remember that traditional librarianship need not be the ultimate goal for all graduates of an MLS program. Library schools are widening their horizons, but they need to speed it up. People looking into library schools will need to broaden their ideas of career paths as well. There’s lots of discussion of limiting the number of graduates, but another approach can be to prepare the graduates for a wider range of jobs. Again, some of this is already occurring. Archives programs are growing (although that job market won’t solve all problems), and records management and information management are a pretty big deal. These latter two will more frequently provide jobs in the private sector.

      I think it would really help library students if the programs taught more technical skills like database design and app development. I realize that we are not in the business of computer science or systems engineering, but we ARE in the business of connecting information seekers to increasingly high-tech information systems. We need to know more about the systems than a single core technology class can provide. That knowledge, combined with our already-renowned helpfulness, can make us the prime candidates for new, dynamic jobs in the information economy.

  • erinom says:

    I’m liking Rebecca’s response just above here. I think it’s not as much about making it harder to graduate, but making the success factors more explicit. Masters degrees in library or archival studies/science are professional programs (unless you’re moving on to a PhD in the field) – success should equate to a professional position. Part of the process of your degree should be about getting what you need (information, skills, building knowledge and relationships) to get the job you want. As someone who’s been in the field for about 7 years and been on many search committees, it isn’t one thing that makes a candidate desirable (e.g. job experience, coursework, publishing, etc.). Employers want to see that you can communicate and work well with others, deliver projects/products in a timely fashion and know the theory behind the practice that will make your decisions well-informed over the long-term (regardless of technology or other constraints).

    But the current glut in newly minted librarians/archivists is disturbing. That’s worth a separate comment. There are a lot of factors contributing to that issue.

  • Glad to see some deep discussion going on here. I think it’s important to underscore one theme from the post: Zack is arguing (boldly) that standards need to be higher, which I think is something the field and schools can all acknowledge. The when (admissions or graduation) and how still needs to be worked out. (Echoing Zack also, I wouldn’t be a librarian today if admission standards were higher.)

    One thing that continually bothers me about all the work we’ve done here at HackLibSchool is that we have yet to hear from, or have any impact on, administration in LIS schools. The decisions we are discussing here are made at the administrative level, and students are left to deal with the consequences – a saturated (watered down?) market with few jobs. Where are the Deans, Directors and Professors and why aren’t they listening, reading or responding?

    Lastly, this reminds me of another thing we hear often in library-land: is this a vocational/professional degree or an theoretical/academic degree? Should more motivated students be pushed to the PhD? Should librarianship be downgraded to a certificate program? These are important questions that we should keep discussing, especially as we graduate and move into positions of influence. Challenge the paradigm and see what can be made of it.

    • Rebecca says:

      Again, I don’t understand why everyone is stuck on the idea that higher admissions standards = better undergrad transcripts. There are lots of other ways library schools could raise standards, like requiring prior work or volunteer experience. Not only would this give graduates better chances coming out, but it would help some prospective applicants realize that library work is not for them–before they waste their time and money in library school.

      • zfrazier says:

        I think because for a lot of administrators that higher standards come down to better GRE and GPA numbers. These are factors for success in prestige in other higher ed. disciplines, and most of our admissions folks come from the higher ed world, not from library land.

        I really do think that any one thinking about library school should spend time talking to a librarian, reading about our jobs, and reading about the library school process. If someone thinking about library shook is reading this, they probably are. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that they should have Library experience. I think book and/or customer services experience from other sources works just as well. I’m pretty good at user advisory, I just didn’t know I was until someone explained UA too me as a concept.

        • Rebecca says:

          RIght, not necessarily library experience–any experience the applicant can point to as being relevant to library school.

      • Susan says:

        I think one higher standard would be requiring people to a sense of what they would like to do when they graduate. Obviously this may be subject to change as more classes and internship experiences are explored (isn’t the point of education to broaden horizons?) but I think admitting people who actually have a sense of what the profession is about as opposed to those with only romantic notions of the field would result in graduates who are more capable of succeeding after school.

  • Calling for limits to the size of MLIS programs just doesn’t seem very practical. Who is going to enforce these limits? The ALA? Why would the ALA seek to reduce its size of possible members?

    And I don’t think we can expect much of change from the MLIS programs themselves. They’re underfunded already..reducing their student body would only hurt them more. And academic institutions don’t have a good track record at responding quickly to changing environments, so it’s not going to happen…

    Just assume that having a MLIS is about as valuable as having a masters degree in history, or english, or sculpture. Will it guarantee you a job? Heck no. But it can help if combined with other skills. Get skills in programming, project management, or education and you’ll find a job.

  • Lesley says:

    I enjoyed reading your post and the comments that have followed!

    I do beg to differ on your point that catalogers are “shut in the back room.” I’m a non-MLS supervisor of copy catalogers within our cataloging department, which is not in the “back room.” The MLS catalogers I work with are involved in all sorts of things beyond cataloging physical print, keeping up with the current cataloging trends of e-Resources, digital collections, and RDA among other things, in addition to serving on state and national committees, publishing, and presenting at local and national conferences.

    I have worked in Technical Services Departments that were in the basement or beyond the backdoor, so I guess I can see where the location reputation comes from, but it doesn’t make MLS catalogers any less librarians than those at public service points.

    I know this wasn’t the point of your post by a long shot! I continue to be very impresssed by my catalog librarian colleagues, though, and will hop up on my soapbox at the drop of a hat for them.

  • Jesse says:

    The issue isn’t the admittance of new library graduate students. The real issue is that (1) library schools hire mediocre instructors who don’t transfer the knowledge of library skills to students. Secondly, library schools are pushing online programs which do an ineffective job of teaching students.

    The library school I enrolled in originally had a face to face program. By the time I left (two years later), almost all the courses were online. Granted, two of the courses I took were better in an online format. Both were computer skill courses that involved a large degree of html, and Web 2.0 skills. The rest? Didn’t need to be online. Which leads me to the second point…

    Hiring mediocre teachers. Most of the teachers I had simply transferred their face to face course to online. There were no web skills taught. Only one course had online office hours which used Adobe connect. If you wanted a question answered, you emailed the teacher. Or posted your question in Blackboard. Only one course I took insisted that students use Web 2.0 skills. The professor created a class blog which only one person on each eight member team was required to post to once during the semester. I had one memorable instructor completely screw up the entire semester. So much so that the class complained about her en masse. But the program allowed her to teach again the following semester.

    Thirdly, all library schools should offer library placements for incoming students. Can you only offer 23 placements? Then you should only enroll 23 students. For students who are taking courses to help teach them skills for their currents jobs, they can still be enrolled. However the admissions essay must discuss how library skills will be transferred to their current job set.

    I went to library school so that they could teach me library skills. By the time I left, they should have given me experience and the skills necessary to be employable. I’m now finding out that what I did (find a job in a library) wasn’t enough. I’ve been told that I should have two years reference experience. That I should be able to create LibGuides, and create training tutorials. In short, I should be a librarian ready to hit the ground running.

  • I just graduated a few months ago, and even though I did my best to gain experience while a student – 2 internships, followed by a half time OPS job – I’m definitely finding the job search tough going, not least because there have been layoffs at local libraries, meaning more experienced people on the market.

    In my case, it’s not that I lack skills, or that I didn’t gain lots in my program (though I agree with the gripes about online classes – they really shouldn’t be 90% of course offerings like they are at FSU). It’s just that it’s difficult to really demonstrate what I know and can do in an online form application, and frankly, I did find the program too easy at times. I very much agree with the original post here, even though I would have probably been admitted under most higher standards – raise the standards for the classes themselves, require SOME kind of experience, rather than just making admissions harder.

  • T. A. Basco says:

    I think that you all overlooked something – faculty that actually has working experience in a library. The only full time professor at my school that has had experience working in the field since the dawn of the internet (1995ish) has a PhD from an unaccredited university in the West Indies! My reference professor tells us that information can be found in certain sources and I know it isn’t there. The reference desk looks forward to my emails to find out the correct sources the next day. My archives professor showed us a collection she rescued from being destroyed by a woman’s son in 1997, but she was too lazy to look up that that son died in 1996. The collection’s been on “death watch” waiting for him to die because she did not get a deed of gift. It’s 2011! I have another archives professor this semester and he will not answer emails just like the one I had last semester. But hey, at least they speak English. My first semester I had professors that stand there and read the power point slides to us. They pass off poorly executed “research” as fact. I had to watch my poor friend with a dual degree in Psychology and Philosophy stab himself in the hand with a pen in class to not get into arguments with the professor.

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