19/11/2012 § 12 Comments
The leaves are falling, the weather is cooling (at least for those of us in temperate climates), and November is whipping by. I can hardly believe how quickly this semester has gone, but I am very excited to head home for the fast-approaching holidays. Like me, you may be looking forward to gatherings of family and friends in the coming weeks—and quite possibly anticipating a lot of curiosity about library school and librarianship.
The many questions and quizzical looks I receive when explaining my career aspirations and current studies surprised me at first. Until I started to apply for library school and to attempt to explain my plans to friends and family, I didn’t realize how misunderstood and underutilized librarians often are. I have received questions like: Why do you need a master’s degree to be a librarian? Why do we need librarians now that we can get so much online? And the crowd favorite: Are you going to take classes about shh-ing people? I have found, as I am sure every librarian and wannabe librarian does, that those without a lot of experience in “library land” often have a fairly foggy idea of what librarians do and therefore have trouble imagining the training and study involved in master’s programs.
We need to get better at explaining ourselves. Topher offers great advice on fielding some common questions and misconceptions here. I’d like to build on his ideas with a particular focus on the term library science. Of all the questions I’ve received from friends, family, and acquaintances, I’ve noticed the most confusion surrounding the ‘science’ aspect: So you’re studying library science…what is that exactly? How can librarianship be a science? Why isn’t your program described as library arts or library studies?
09/11/2012 § 12 Comments
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alex Harrington.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” may be a bit melodramatic, but “it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness” fits pretty neatly when I try to describe my graduation from library school. See, I didn’t plan ahead, and I had no idea what to expect job-wise when I finished. I thought that having a graduate degree in library science meant I was automatically qualified to be a librarian. But I learned better, and now I have two part-time jobs in libraries (plus one non-library job). This is not what in-library-school me thought that after-library-school me would be doing, but so far it’s working for me. Because some of you might find yourselves in similar situations whether you expect to or not, I hope sharing my story and some advice I’ve learned along the way will help you in your post-graduate job searches.
29/08/2012 § 25 Comments
As a second-year SLIS student, I’ve talked to quite a few new students in my program who are anxious about securing library jobs. I can understand how they feel; after all, one year ago I was a freshly minted SLIS student. I had never gotten paid to work in a library. I came to library school with the sage advice of my mentor, a very recent library school grad, ringing in my ears. She had conveyed to me in no uncertain terms that I should work as much as I could while going to school to build my resume. Because of her, I came to library school knowing I needed to jump right in—-but that didn’t make the process any easier.
By now I’ve held several jobs and it has led me to realize that my real education happens when I go to work every day. I view my coursework as something to get through; if my classes are enjoyable it’s a plus. I have taken enthralling classes, practical classes, boring classes, and enragingly irrelevant classes. They’ve fallen all over the spectrum. So while I attempt to do well in them, my main priority is working as much as is feasible. I firmly believe that library jobs should always trump coursework because if you do not work, you will not get a job in a library upon graduating. We could squabble about the particulars (maybe you could get a paraprofessional position without experience) but I don’t think it’s contestable. The library job market is intensely competitive and the more library experience you have, the better off you will be.
With that said, the following are a few tips I have for new students looking to work while in library school.
11/07/2012 § 50 Comments
My cohort, we talk. After our weekend intensive classes, we often go out roaming in search of a likely bar, and when we find one, we sit, we drink, and we talk. And since we’ve generally just spent 12 hours in class together, we usually end up talking about library school.
This month marks the halfway point through our MLS program, and by now we’ve begun to form some strong opinions on the subject: what’s working, what’s not, what we’d change if we could. And a few of us began to play with this question: if you could design your own MLS program from scratch, what features would you definitely include? Especially those that are lacking from library education as it exists today — if you were establishing the program that would define library school for the next generation, what do you think would absolutely need to be a part of it?