Choosing a Specialization

21/09/2011 § 10 Comments

Usually within the first few weeks of library school, you are asked what type of library you want to work in. If you’re like me, you might have had some vague idea of what you wanted to do before you started school. I had wanted to be an art librarian, and my first semester I geared many of my projects around art librarianship. Half way through my first semester, I switched gears and became more interested in digital libraries. You never know what will happen! However, not everyone has a clear idea of what area they want to specialize in and in reality, what you think you want to go into changes as you continue with your education. Many library schools offer specializations which can cater to your interests.

What does your degree mean to you?

09/09/2011 § 20 Comments

As a library school student or a recent graduate, it is all of our hopes that we’re not getting this degree in vain. The job market however, cannot support all of us and we have to wonder how to keep the balance. Many people point to the library school programs and say that is where the change needs to happen. A couple months ago, Will Manley wrote a post about the growing divide between libraries and library schools and he asked his readers some very good questions, the main ones being “what value does the MLIS have? Is it just a union card?” Through reading the comments, it started to sound like some people just see the graduate degree is nothing more than a stepping stone to their dream library job. In some ways, I can see how this is true, most librarian positions do require that you have an MLS/MLIS. However, the bigger problem is not the “union card” idea, it’s the current state of LIS education. This is an issue very dear to us at HackLibSchool. No library school program is perfect, but that is why this blog exists, to try and change what we don’t like, to add to our curriculum.

It’s hard to ignore this idea of the MLIS as just a union card for the job. Generally, we all have identified a few problems that seem to have de-valued this degree, and none of these should come as surprise. First issue being, lax acceptance rules; after all, higher education is also a business (read more about the numbers on Lauren’s blog). The second point of contention is that library school is seen as too easy, but I personally believe there are plenty of things students can do if they feel this way. In the end, what we all see is a flooded market of graduates to fill the few jobs out there. These are hard times for everyone and libraries have been especially hit hard, but this is also a good time for things to change for the better. It’s good that we identify problems in our field and especially in our education system. We should ask whose responsibility is it to address these issues? Should the American Library Association step in? It’s hard to say, but by identifying what we think isn’t working, we can start the process of changing what we don’t like.

Let’s take a step back for just a moment though. Library Research Service did a survey last May asking librarians, staff and students about the value of the MLIS to them. The results showed that 76% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that their degree was worth the investment. This should really tell us that a good number of librarians out there see much value in their degree, that it can be more than just a “union card”. There are many ways that we all can add value to our own education and what we walk away with in our job search. Joe Hardenbrook, who writes on Mr. Library Dude really summed  it up well when he said “Library school is what you make of it.” It doesn’t matter really where you go to school, what really matters is how you use your time in school. That’s where the value is. I have gotten so much from my degree so far, not only from the courses but from the extra curricular activities that I’ve become involved in.

The MLIS can be more than just a union card, but it’s going to depend on the student to take it to the next level. If you are passionate about this field, then the activities that you take on while in school will eventually translate into things that can go on your resume. Even still, there are many questions and conversations that we as professionals should be consistently having. We need to be asking ourselves about the future of librarianship. We need to wonder if LIS education is headed in the right direction, or if it’s truly preparing students for what libraries will need.

What changes do you want to see in library school education? Do you think think that your degree is valuable? How do we become the change that we want to see?

LIS Blogs to Read

29/08/2011 § 9 Comments

Everyone’s getting ready to go back to school, including your fellow hackers! Part of the library school experience is keeping up with what’s going on in the library world. That way you can discuss the latest trends or scandals with your classmates and professors.

We’ve compiled a few library related blogs that you should check out if you haven’t already.

Annie: I have always enjoyed these two blogs, they both put out great content. Both are collaborative just like HackLibSchool. Team work makes the dream work.

Lauren: There are so many fantastic LIS blogs out there (there is a partial list on my blogroll of some of my favorites), but I’d like to give a shout-out to two relatively new, incredibly enthusiastic and talented academic librarians who also have awesome blogs! They are:

Rose: Here are two must-read archives blogs that I love.  The first is about archives 2.0, the future of archives on the web, and the profession itself.  The second is a collaborative blog by the Smithsonian’s archives featuring their collections (full disclosure: as a volunteer for the National Anthropological Archives, I sometimes post on this blog).

Turner: My first recommendation offers sage advice from an academic librarian. The second is put out by the Library of Congress and focuses on digital collections (a growing trend in the library/information management profession and a great place to look for a kick ass job).

Micah: I know this is supposed to be an LIS focused post, but lately I’ve been thinking and rethinking the library blog “echo chamber” (everyone writing about the same things, reading one another’s work, and not engaging outside our field). So my Blogs to Read goes a little outside the LIS world, and it’d be my advice to students to step back once in a while and read something new from marketing, from tech news, from pop culture. These two blogs are both in the “hack” stream, but are great resources for ideas/tips/advice on navigating life in the university.

[Series] Declassified: Reference

12/08/2011 § 11 Comments

We’re proud to present our next installment in the Declassified Series! In case you need a reminder, we take two schools, the same class and compare them to see how they’re similar or different. Our first post was written by Annie and Micah and covered Information Architecture. This time around Annie and Rebecca take on reference. « Read the rest of this entry »

HackLibSchool at ALA: A Retrospective

13/07/2011 § 7 Comments

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A little late on the jump here, but here is our wrap-up of the American Library Association’s annual conference. Of the HackLibSchool team, Annie, Micah and Lauren attended the conference. Believe it or not, this was actually the first time we all met face to face! Aside from conference business, which you will read below, we had a great time talking LIS, hanging out and generally enjoying the whole experience, which you can see above. I’d highly recommend it.

In true hackery fashion, we thought it best to attack the conference wrap-up post by breaking it down to bite-sized chunks. We have compiled here a short list of session reviews, featuring us and some guests. The entire conference was overwhelmingly gigantic, so this post in no way attempts to be comprehensive. We just wanted to give you a snapshot of what you might expect. Also, to be clear, many of us might agree that time spent out and about was often more productive and useful for getting a sense of the field than sitting in on slideshows and freezing rooms. But! It’s all part of the game.

Make a point to read the ALA wrap-up from The Pumped Librarian and check in on American Libraries Magazines ALA’11 site. « Read the rest of this entry »


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