Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

When the LS school you have is not your first choice


Yes, Virginia, it matters which library school you go to | Gavia Libraria.

The Library Loon gives some good advice for those who are considering starting library school sometime in the next year or so.  She strongly advises first to research librarianship specialties to at least get a good idea of what’s available, particularly job-openings-wise.  Then she advises to “dig a bit deeper” than the USNWR and LJ ratings, including calling & emailing schools, scouring the sites for self-studies and strategic plans, course listings, and faculty.

This is all very good advice, but only for those who have the flexibility to choose their schools.  There are a group of people who do not have such options – due to full-time employment, family commitments, or limited finances.  I had all three — I couldn’t work less than full-time, I had to limit my course load so as not to alienate my husband too much, and I could only afford it if I chose a Texas state-supported school (Texas takes care of its vets).  Due to the luck of my geographic locale, I did have a choice–of two.  And I did look into courses and requirements.  And I did choose the program that I thought would be more interesting.

But that was still a limited option.  What if you find yourself in a program that would not have been your first choice, if you had such a choice?  Well, some of the Loon’s advice could still be applied.  Choose your adviser wisely.  Ideally, your adviser should be a specialist in the area you’d like to concentrate.  But that should not be the sole criterium.  If that adviser doesn’t inspire you, recommends courses of questionable value, doesn’t make time for you, dump her (or him).  A teacher who inspires you, shows interest in your ideas, takes you seriously, gives you good advice – that is the adviser you should choose.  If that faculty is any good, he will guide you to the right people if you need advice outside of his expertise.

The Loon also gives great advice about choosing your courses wisely.  I wholeheartedly agree with her disdain for the “‘Tech of the Week'” courses.  You will have a very limited number of courses you can choose to take – take that which you cannot teach yourself later on.  If you are by nature techno-phobic, these courses will not help you.

I’m also a big believer in challenging yourself.  As the Loon advises, don’t “skate by on courses that teach you nothing”, but rather “skate to where the puck will be” (I love her hockey references) with courses that make sense for you.  If you have experience as a cataloging technician and you’re forced to sit through that required “Intro to Tech Services” course, challenge yourself by choosing paper topics that examine issues at a higher level.  If your school has a doctoral program, try taking a doctoral seminar.  These are usually 1-2 hours and allow you to read more challenging literature and have discussions that consider the issues above the day-to-day.

Also, as the Loon recommends – see what you can take outside of the library school.  Statistics?  Behavioral sciences? Economics? Programs often allow a limited number of such courses – take advantage of it.

She advises graduates of distance programs to not advertise this fact, but she does not mention her own opinion of such programs, as a whole.  I’d be interested to read that…

So, the jist of my post is – if you have the luxury to choose your program, do so.  Do the research, interview graduates, look at the programs of the librarians you like.  If your options are more limited, do whatever you can to make the most of your time and money.

In other words, choose wisely…

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2 comments on “When the LS school you have is not your first choice

  1. Abigail Goben (@hedgielib)
    August 17, 2013

    Psst: advice — not advise. s = verb; c = noun

    • Karen R. Harker, MLS, MPH
      August 17, 2013

      Boy, I got that wrong, didn’t I. And I didn’t realize how much I used the root of that word – advice, advises, adviser. Hmmm, need to be more careful with my submit-trigger finger.

      Thanks, Abigail, for catching this.

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This entry was posted on August 17, 2013 by in LIS Education.
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