Recent MLIS graduates are gravitating to different fields than their predecessors. According to theLibrary Journal survey, respondents are working at “software and Internet companies, practicing information architecture, user interface analysis and design, and software engineering…and in medical centers and pharmaceutical companies, law firms and corporations.”
But the survey also states that graduates are accepting “lower salaries and part-time hours as retail clerks, baristas, and office assistants in order to pay the bills.”
While my motives for entering library school may be anathema to many librarians, students with my background are becoming hard to ignore.
It’s safe to say that library students are beginning to branch out—by force or by choice.
But my impression is that library and information schools don’t know how to properly court prospective “information”-oriented candidates or appeal to my colleagues in the interactive field.
How can this situation be remedied? If a library school were to consult a marketing agency such as the one I work for, we’d undoubtedly recommend a media campaign to “re-position” their message and “re-brand” their image.
Many (including myself) have discovered multimedia careers by way of graphic design, copywriting, business strategy and computer programming–without formal training as “information professionals.”
Something has to change to keep library schools successfully recruiting students-and for students to remain hopeful about their future. If students think there aren’t any jobs waiting for them on the other side of their academic trek, MLIS programs face extinction.
While no one becomes a librarian for the money, no one thinks they’re going to end up without any long-term job prospects when they graduate either.
At this critical juncture in both library science and information technology, it’s incumbent on MLIS programs to not only offer classes, but also develop a solid curriculum (and encourage a non-traditional career path) for the next class of graduating librarians.
My new column is up at Library Journal:
In their recent book, A New Culture of Learning (CreateSpace, 2011), Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown explore similar concepts and the importance of continuous learning. The parallels to the original Learning 2.0 model are striking. The book is based on several assumptions about our new normal, for example, “The world is changing faster than ever and our skill sets have a shorter life,” and “Play is the basis for cultivating imagination and innovation.”
Planning for ongoing organizational learning for staff may seem like just “one more thing” in our stressed environments, but without backing and emphasis from library leaders, exploration and innovation may wane.
The library should serve as a hub for sustaining a culture of learning around technology and research using variations on the model. Extending the program to users or shifting focus from technologies to other areas of learning and reflection is a natural progression. The public “Looking at 2.0” program at the State Library of Queensland continues to engage users with topics and award prizes. Consider new audiences as well, such as Research 2.0, a program created for researchers at Imperial College in the UK.
How do you sustain the learning culture in your setting?
User experience (UX) thinking was born at information schools but hasn’t found a home in many libraries. Why not? The answer is simple. Many LIS programs haven’t integrated UX coursework into their curricula, and libraries suffer as a result.
Granted, a few schools have incorporated UX elements to varying degrees. New York’s Pratt Institute SILS program, for example, offers a Cultural Informatics track with coursework devoted to “usability, human computer interaction, cultural heritage description and access and digital archives and libraries in global information environments.” Jen Waller, a grad of the iSchool at the University of Washington, reported via Twitter that her program included UX, and it was woven throughout the curriculum, just like the emphasis on professional ethics. (Disclosure: Aaron Schmidt taught one of the two classes she took devoted to UX.)
But students with a keen eye for the larger information landscape have noticed a missing component in most programs. Gemma E.S. Petrie at her site UX & IA (ow.ly/5jfkI) writes, “Good information architecture combats information overload—a well-covered concept in LIS education.… Why hasn’t my grad program offered a course on information architecture in more than five years?”
Just as UX deals with all aspects of library service, UX thinking must sprout from many different places in order to become a natural part of library operations: from library administration, front-line staff, veterans, and new hires alike. In fact, its foundation must go even deeper. Planning for the user experience should begin during library school. This is a natural intersection of our two columns, The User Experience and Office Hours.
Melding foundational practice with the growing interest in creating positive emotional interactions with various services prepares future grads to guide libraries into a user-focused future. This may even yield new certificate programs or pathways to becoming a UX librarian. LIS schools reviewing curricula may want to shift some of the focus placed on materials and process to user needs, behavior, and creating experience. Coursework might include the following:
Interpreting & Employing User Research: Recent reports from Project Information Literacy, ITHAKA S+R, and OCLC offer bodies of evidence to help librarians and administrators make decisions and plans. Mining Pew Internet and American Life research reports can provide a picture of how we interact with technology and the web. Other foundations and research entities offer glimpses into the mind-set of specific groups, such as YAs, college students, and faculty. Understanding the process of research and decoding user statistics prepares a future librarian to do the same for her constituents. Students should not only learn how to use these studies but explore their specific strengths and weaknesses, while also gaining familiarity with user research methods in general (see “The User Experience: Getting To Know Your Patrons“).
Usability Testing: Every graduating student interested in working on library websites should grasp the benefits of usability testing and the basics of conducting usability tests. Likewise, training in observation and incremental improvement can broadly serve librarians in the design of other services as well, from the placement of a self-check station in high-traffic areas to where librarians and patrons ought to sit in relation to each other during a reference interview.
Focus Groups: A course might also be devoted to designing and running focus groups as a means to understanding the user. It’s very easy to sit in a librarian-only meeting and pontificate on what users want/need/should have. But it’s another to have users join the meeting and give open, honest feedback. The student panel at the LJ/McMaster University Future of the Academic Library Symposium (see “Office Hours: Listening to Student Voices” and “Future of the Academic Library Symposium: Service To Continue but in What Form?“) provided a glimpse into student perceptions of libraries and librarians.
Library Buildings: Designing library buildings has evolved from planning for a certain number of Library of Congress and Dewey ranges to making room for collaboration and creation spaces. This would include courses beyond the LIS curriculum. Business, marketing, psychology, and architecture all have aspects that play into a keen insight of how our buildings should be designed and arranged.
Graphic Design for Libraries: Many librarians end up needing to create the occasional poster or brochure on the job. Graphic design deals with the appropriate arrangement and presentation of information—a topic well within the range of LIS coursework. We don’t need to turn every student into a graphic design visionary like Milton Glaser, but we can improve libraries by taking this seriously. (See “The User Experience: Signs of Good Design” for more.)
No more silos?
UX thinking doesn’t have to be limited to specific courses, however. Core parts of the LIS curriculum can and should change as we review and update classes to reflect the focus on our patrons’ experiences. Reference and resource-based study can easily morph when taught through a UX lens. Take collection development, for instance—wouldn’t classes about collection development be richer and more productive when combined with thinking about building design and library programming? When LIS classes encourage cross-departmental collaboration, we’ll have new librarians ready to tear down the departmental silos prevalent in many libraries. Weaving a thread of holistic UX thinking throughout all of an LIS program’s learning outcomes and coursework—from planning library programs to ILS design—will enhance graduates’ skill sets.
The LJ Salary Survey offers further evidence that is both illuminating and persuasive (“Stagnant Salaries, Rising Unemployment“). Those with UX experience had the highest average and median salaries and the second highest base salary (see excerpt below).
While these figures include people working outside of libraries, they signal that these are extremely valuable skills for those entering the workforce; all LIS programs should introduce their students to them. Meanwhile, many students come to LIS drawn to its service and people facets. UX skills extend these concepts in new ways—ways we believe strengthen the connection between library services and the individual.
Our columns don’t just meet at the junction of UX and LIS coursework. In thedebut column of The User Experience, the core value of empathy took center stage: “You need to listen to and observe your community in order to develop an empathetic focus on people.” Designing the user experience via empathic listening and observation is best done with a focus on the heart, as described in “Office Hours: Heretical Thoughts“. Understanding, kindness, and warmth are key ingredients as well.
These elements do not necessarily translate well to curriculum and pedagogy. We can teach LIS students to consider the details of all aspects of library service. We can teach students to think about the real needs of their communities before zeroing in on library-focused assumptions. We can demonstrate how libraries have the ability to transform people’s lives. But how do we teach LIS students to engage with patrons in a deeply personal way? How do we teach LIS students to care?
These behaviors should be modeled on the job, to be sure. More effective than just expecting grads to have these important attributes, however, is the combination of skill designation with smart hiring practices. Hiring for people’s attitudes and their desire to make your library the best place it can be is crucial to planning for engaging service.
Just as UX can be further integrated into the library world by being incorporated into LIS curriculum, libraries creating UX librarian positions must work closely with LIS programs to ensure that coursework is well aligned with expectations. Only by breaking down the barriers between LIS curricula and the library world will we create the user-focused library.
Forgive this late post, but I totally forgot to link to my September column in LJ:
Mentors can advise new librarians on all aspects of the profession, including tips for getting along with coworkers, the ins and outs of dealing with library administrators, and the like. The online world offers a new twist. While much is gained by participating in the ubiquitous social networks, there are pitfalls as well. A professional’s expressions are now open for the world to read, hear, or view. Because anyone tweeting, blogging, or Facebooking can share their thoughts so easily and post sometimes without thought, a strong mentor who guides students or new grads in the ways of online life could help make or break a career.
My new column is up at LJ!
I may have a bit of a bias, but I would much rather my students make the short trip to their desks and computers instead of commuting across town or farther. Time saved on travel could roll over into time spent on coursework or finding balance among school, work, and life. Money saved on gas and travel could transform into paying for classes or student loans.
Other students may be drawn to the classroom, to in-person interaction with a professor and other classmates. I would argue, however, that the technologies available at San José State that allow me to lecture, interact with, and guide my students rival those classrooms. My weekly drop-in office hours via web conferencing software give students a chance to ask a question or just say hi. An integrated IM program automatically populates class tabs with my student rosters, so faculty and students can exchange quick messages.
Do not miss this post at In the Library with a Lead Pipe:
Is the United States Training Too Many Librarians or Too Few? (Part 1)
Some questions from the essay:
Should library schools admit fewer students? Is the admissions process sufficiently selective? Are library school curricula and graduation requirements too similar or too distinct? Are they providing their students with the skills they need in order to get hired and do useful work? Should there be licensing exams for librarians? What data would we need to collect in order to come up with useful answers to these questions?
Here’s another snippet – please go read the whole thing and comment…
Figuring out how many people graduate each year from an American Library Association-accredited program with a Master’s degree in a library-related field is surprisingly difficult
I thought this would be the easy part of this essay. With the help of a Presidential Task Force on Library Education, ALA’s Committee on Accreditation updated its Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies in 2008 and released a statement of Core Competencies in Librarianship in 2009; it also released a revised second edition of its Accreditation Process, Policies, and Procedures in 2011. As is demonstrated in aLibrary Journal article by Norman Oder on the Presidential Task Force on Library Educationand in the Committee on Accreditation’s own Standards Review blog, many within the information professions take the accreditation process seriously, and there can be significant debates surrounding accreditation policy.
ALA’s Office of Accreditation helps to vet applicants for the External Review Panelist pool, and also supports the accreditation process by maintaining a directory of currently accredited programs, as well as a list of all programs accredited since 1925. However, no one at ALA officially knows how many students graduate each year from the programs it accredits. When I asked for this information, I was directed to ALISE, the Association for Library and Information Science Education, which produces an annual Statistical Report.
The ALISE reports, which are compiled from questionnaires submitted annually by each accredited program, provide a great deal of data and analysis. However, I discovered a few problems when I tried to make use of ALISE data for this project:
- It is proprietary and accessible only to ALISE members. Though the University of North Carolina provides public access to the Statistical Reports for 1997-2004, several of ALISE’s more recent reports are inaccessible to me, despite my connections to Rutgers and Drexel. Fair use seems sufficient for me to share the data I most care about—the number of graduates from each of the accredited library programs for each of the past ten years—but there is no reason to assume most readers would be able to verify any claims I make about the data.
- It appears to be inaccurate. The individual number of graduates for each accredited program, when summed, does not equal the number given as the overall total for reports covering the 1999-2000 (off by 8), 2000-2001 (off by 13), 2001-2002 (off by 19), or 2002-2003 academic years (off by 9).
- It is incomplete. The 2007 report, covering the 2005-2006 academic year, is unedited and unreleased, while the data for the 2008 report has not yet been compiled from that year’s questionnaires. The ALISE web page for its Statistical Reports lists both as being “for future release.”
- It does not match the data the schools reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. Moreover, in some years it is higher and other years it is lower, so it does not seem to be differing in a predictable way (such as NCES including data from non-accredited programs).
- 1999-2000: 4,877 (ALISE “total”) or 4,885 (ALISE sum) vs. 4,577 (NCES)
- 2000-2001: 4,953 (ALISE “total”) or 4,940 (ALISE sum) vs. 4,727 (NCES)
- 2001-2002: 4,923 (ALISE “total”) or 4,904 (ALISE sum) vs. 5,113 (NCES)
- 2002-2003: 5,175 (ALISE “total”) or 5,184 (ALISE sum) vs. 5,295 (NCES)
A cliche but one that rings true as I write: summer is flying by. We arrived in northern Michigan in late May and it felt as though I had unlimited weeks leading up to the beginning of my new position at SLIS at San Jose State University. Now I’m in California for a week to start the semester with orientation and my first faculty retreat. This summer I’ve made time for work on research, updating my participatory service and emerging technologies course, and have taken a bit of a breather – ending each night by a campfire. I’ve spent some time finding balance between all of these things.
I mention the concept of balance in many of my presentations and class lectures. It helps reinforce the idea that understanding emerging trends and experimenting with technology is important but it’s just one of many considerations when it comes to balancing life as a librarian, LIS student, professor, information professional or library staffer. But it’s also much broader than that one aspect and impacts how we do our jobs.
Balance can mean a few things. I urge librarians to find the balance between online pursuits and physical world pursuits. Both are important and necessary. I’m revisiting a charged statement from the first “Office Hours” column – “If the online world is not for you, then neither may be a career in librarianship” (http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/community/libraryeducation/886961-272/office_hours_october_15_2010.html.csp) – and it still rings true. For one thing, no librarian is beyond benefitting from the online LIS professional commons – that meeting place that stretches across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and now Google+. I’ve been exploring this idea with Kyle Jones, my former graduate assistant and now a doctoral student at UW Madison. In the commons, you’ll find support, advice and sharing of ideas. I’m recognizing now how beneficial my own participation has been in the last few years and how it’s illuminated my teaching.
What I am not suggesting, however, is to focus all of your attention just on the Web, social networks and the next big thing. Being out in the world is equally important. The online and the physical should complement each other in a cyclical fashion. It troubles me to think some still see advocacy for online participation as an either or proposition: you can *only* be online “in the cloud” or on Facebook or you can *only* be performing your librarian duties in the building. Again, a balance between the two makes for a well-informed, capable library professional. These concepts should be part of every LIS student’s learning.
What of library school students deep in their coursework or just starting their LIS program? Many probably have full time jobs in the field or outside our world. How can they find balance while juggling one, two or more classes, work and family/friends. I advise them to schedule their papers, blogging, projects just as they schedule everything else. Leaving time for personal pursuits is a must – it informs one’s professional practice. Who we are as people directly influences who we are as librarians. The student who brings a passion for fan fiction, zines, indie music, Civil War history, vegetarian cooking, yoga, and any other interest may indeed find those pursuits figuring into their practice.
I am reminded of a student years ago who had registered for 5 classes at once moving like a ghost through the hallways of our school from morning class to afternoon study and then on to evening class. Was she actually having time for reflection on her chosen field or was it a matter of “just getting through?” Sometimes time is a factor, but I often advise students to balance coursework with life as best they can. I would be remiss if I didn’t also remind myself that some of the best advice I ever got about finishing my dissertation was this: “Just get it done!”
Balance with our services is also a consideration. We can’t just focus on one group of constituents – especially if that group is easy to please and not very challenging. Other groups – teens, seniors, faculty, university staff, etc. - need us as well. We also can’t focus on one type of delivery – online, in person, out in the world should all be considered. The best balance in this case is one that expertly keeps emerging shiny technology in equilibrium with a well-executed plan for reaching everyone.
Another type of balance is the one between the library world and the outside world. In our tandem presentations, Jenny Levine urged our audiences to “look up from their desks” and see what’s happening outside libraries. Trends in business, studies of technology use amongst various populations, the ins and outs of pop culture all offer insights to what we do in our work.
Finally, a most important type of balance is the one between our professional lives and everything else. I lived and breathed library blogging, library conferences and library everything for a few years. I logged a lot of miles and spent a lot of nights in hotels. I loved every trip I took and every talk I gave. O’Hare International Airport became a second home. I was very glad to swing the scales back into alignment – finding balance between my teaching, research and service to the profession and time for personal pursuits and recreation. For many it might be family, friends, exercise, a hobby, or spiritual endeavors. I believe all of these things help us be better professionals. Taking time too unplug, or clear your head, or do something silly is just as important as monitoring Twitter chats or Facebook groups day in and day out. The social media library world will continue to turn with or without you.
Summer is indeed flying by! Next week, school will be back in session for our students. Have you relaxed? Have you recharged? I hope so.
Some other posts you may enjoy:
Thoughts on the Fall Semester: http://tametheweb.com/2011/01/07/thoughts-on-the-fall-semester-by-an-lis-phd-student/
How to Find the Right Fit: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6566471.html?industryid=47356
Special Thanks to Francine Fialkoff at Library Journal for editing this piece as a special online only edition of “Office Hours” for August 2011.
THANKS to everyone at Hack Library School blog for permission to republish this piece by Brian McManus:
San Jose State University’s SLIS program is the largest ALA accredited library school in the world, which I was not aware of before I began writing this post. The SLIS curriculum is implemented and provided completely through the online format, using both synchronous (communicating in real time) and asynchronous (not communicating in real time) methods, tools, and technologies.
SLIS serves approximately 3,000 graduate students from within the state of California, the U.S., U.S. territories, and other countries. I have had the opportunity through the program to be classmates with students from Guam and Australia. It was a unique experience I am not sure I would have gotten anywhere else.
The program delivers the curriculum through the D2L (Desire to Learn) Learning Management System (LMS). As recently as the Spring 2011 semester the SLIS program was using ANGEL, however it has now completed its transition to D2L for its summer courses and into the future.
SJSU SLIS offers several different types of programs. There is the MLIS, the MARA, and the San Jose Gateway Ph.D. programs. As you have no doubt already correctly guessed, MLIS is the SLIS program’s Master’s of Library and Information Sciences degree. The MARA program is the Master’s of Archives and Records Administration, which is for students interested in working with archives and emerging electronic records and digital asset management … yes, that is directly from the MARA Web site. The San Jose Gateway Ph.D. Program is an external Ph.D. program due to the nature of SJSU being limited by the state legislature to only offer master’s degree level education to students. By partnering with Queensland University of Technology in Australia, SJSU is able to offer a doctoral degree in library sciences to a small group.
In 2009, the SJSU SLIS program was ranked 22 by U.S. News and World Report.
Courses and Pathways
The program requires each student to complete four core courses which act as prerequisites to many of the succeeding courses in the program. The first is an introductory technology course that needs to be completed within the first two semesters called Online Social Networking: Technology Tools, It’s a one credit course and acts as an excellent introduction to using the different technologies and software each student will need to know to successfully complete their program. This course has a shortened time frame to complete and is not taken for an entire semester. Some students complete this course during the summer or winter intersessions. The other four core courses are Information and Society, Information Retrieval, and Information Organizations and Management. A complete description of each of these courses can be found on the course description web page.
The School of Information Sciences offers a multitude of career pathways to choose from: Academic Librarianship; Digital Services and Emerging Technologies; Information Intermediation and Instruction; Information Organization, Description, Analysis, and Retrieval; Leadership and Management; Management, Digitization, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records; Public Librarianship; Special Librarianship; Teacher Librarianship; Web Programming and information Architecture; and Youth Librarianship.
The course work is not easy and can be challenging at times, even if a student is attending part-time. As mentioned above, courses are delivered via the D2L LMS. Knowing and understanding how to effectively communicate with your classmates and professors using the LMS is extremely important. Most of the courses I have taken have followed a similar format, with the exception of a couple seminar courses that were either more or less structured. For instance, the advanced reference course where I was an embedded librarian for a distance graduate course at the University Central Missouri. This course was loosely structured so that my teammates and I could develop library literacy and other helpful content requested by the instructor.
Discussion boards for readings, assignments, and projects are extremely helpful. With only a couple of exceptions, all of my professors have been active in the conversations and discussions, which adds a considerable amount of learning and perspective to the learning environment.
Lastly, courses are added and dropped using the SLIS’s MySJSU. Once admitted to the program, each student has an account they can login to that helps them manage their student account, including classes and finances. Many administrative emails from SJSU are communicated via this system. It is helpful to set up your email notifications to your personal email so that you do not miss these messages.
The financial aid services provided by SJSU are mainly the same as those provided by other large state universities. There is not necessarily a great deal of red tape involved with receiving financial aid once you are admitted and once you register for classes. The key to this and many other graduate programs is to maintain a good academic standing within your coursework and to meet the minimum requirements for course load. SJSU’s SLIS program requires its students to maintain a 3.0 overall GPA while in the program and to be at least half-time, which translates to taking 4 credit hours per semester. Since all but one of the classes are 3 credits, students who wish to receive financial aid must take 6 credit hours per semester.
Per credit cost of the SLIS program for distance students (special session) can be found here.
Per credit cost of the SLIS program for CA students (regular session) can be found here.
Student assistantships ($/hour) are also available through the program. The type of work ranges greatly from writing and researching in specific areas of study to working as a student peer trainer. These are wonderful opportunities for some hands on experience while getting paid and supplementing a student’s income or lessening their cost of attendance. Since this is the largest SLIS program in the country, there are many opportunities for assistantships.
Being affiliated with and a part of the SLIS program provides for some benefits. One of these are the internship resources. As part of the graduate experience, students are encouraged to locate and complete an internship if they do not have library experience already. SJSU’s SLIS program has an internship database that lists internships in the United States and abroad. Students may gain credit towards their degree by enrolling in an internship designated class, LIBR 294, as well.
There are opportunities for student involvement within the SJSU SLIS program. There is the ALASC, American Library Association Student Chapter, which organizes social events near the SJSU campus and promotes professional development among other events. There is also a student administeredprofessional development society called ASIS&T (American Society of Information Science & Technology). In addition to these, every student admitted to the SLIS program is automatically a member to the LISSTEN (Library & Information Science Students to Encourage Networking) group, which is another group to promote and encourage professional development and networking within the program. Also, the LISSTEN group has a blog called the Call Number, which invites students to make contributions. Another blog and opportunity for students to publish their work or perspective and edited by fellow students called the SLIS Descriptor. There are many opportunities for students to be involved, network, and post their perspectives.
Why Prospective Students Should Consider SJSU’s SLIS Program
The SLIS program at SJSU is robust, flexible, and geared towards the student’s overall success. The program’s course offerings are immense and from what I’ve seen students never have trouble registering for the core classes. The administration will add courses as needed and work with students to get them into the classes they need (I’m sure there are those that will disagree and have a negative story, but I have never had a problem. Just make sure you register on the first day of registration and follow all the steps. This seems to hang-up a significant number of people.)
The program is geared towards both students who want and can go full-time and those that need to work full-time and attend courses part-time. Also, student advisors are embedded into the LMS (Learning Management Software) so that you have access to them just like you would for your other courses. This makes it extremely easy to email your advisor and post questions that other students may also know the answers to via discussion posts/rooms.
There are many great opportunities for SLIS students become involved in their profession and at varying levels. Students have their choice of assistantships, networking within the student organizations, and publishing their class projects or sharing their unique perspective on multiple blogs. These and others are opportunities for professional development and exposure to aspects of librarianship and the information sciences profession that can only enrich and further each student’s career.
Finally, SJSU’s SLIS program hosts lecture series, colloquia, and other professional development series throughout each semester via web casts and other streaming technologies.
Weakness/Room to Grow On
From my perspective, there are not many areas of the program that I can identify as having a weakness. I think all programs could use more faculty and increase their course offerings, however I have never thought to myself, “Why doesn’t SLIS offer class XYZ.” Perhaps some of my fellow SJSU SLISers can chime in and share their thoughts on our program.
Hacking SJSU’s SLIS Program
Stay organized: Make sure all your accounts with the program are sending notifications or forwarding content to one central location so you do not have to check multiple emails and accounts to stay in the loop. Also, sign-in to the D2L LMS every day and keep up with all your class discussion posts.
Take an active role in one or more of the student associations and groups within the program. You can never start networking or getting involved too soon.
If you are not already gaining actual library experience, take advantage of the SLIS internship database and resources.
Check the SLIS homepage for updates on upcoming colloquia series, conference SLIS will have a booth at, and program sponsored webinars and professional development opportunities.
Graham Lavender points to a post by Mr. Library Dude concerning the realities of libraries school and the job market. Mr. Library Dude offers a few points to be considered:
- I don’t really care what library school course grades/GPA you have. Just get your degree and focus on getting some experience.
- Get a mentor! Someone who is a working librarian. Not a library school professor who hasn’t worked in libraries for 20 years.
- Geographic flexibility: I understand that not everyone can (or wants) to move across country for a job. Just be aware that you may be severely limiting your options. Again, you need to decide if the expense of library school is worth it, if you are not geographically mobile.
- You need to market yourself. Librarians/librarians-to-be need to stop thinking of marketing as an “icky” term. You need a web presence
I hope no one believes that earning an MLIS is the most challenging part of starting a library career; on graduation day, there will be no line-up of employers begging you to work for them. This is not your school’s fault. It is simply the way the job market works (as is the case with most careers). But I also hope no one is discouraged from starting an MLIS because of what they’ve heard about the library job market. As long as you’re willing to put in the extra effort (and often patience), you will find an appropriate job eventually.
In fact, many of Mr. Dude’s points are the same ones I’ve made before (don’t neglect to read the comments on his post for even more tips). Gain experience while studying, find a mentor, and don’t be shy about marketing yourself.
These words ring true. I do believe having an LIS educator as a mentor can be useful though for both the student and the faculty member. I’ve been lucky to mentor a few students over the years who have taught me a lot about the current state of things in libraries and I hope I’ve helped them too find their way. It does concern me that I haven’t worked in libraries for a while – Remember – my SJCPL days are over five years ago! I try my hardest to stay in touch with practicing librarians as I speak here and there and participate in various conferences. A good LIS educator will actively seek ways to remain current. My advice would be for students to seek not only a practicing mentor but that “up to date” prof as well.
What are your thoughts about these important topics?