by Brent, Amanda, Devin
I finally made the decision to go to library school after a few years of back and forth in my own head. I obtained my undergraduate degree in English so a few of my family members were thrilled when I told them of my acceptance into the University of Washington’s library program.
“Finally! Something that will prepare you for a job!” went the half joking jeers.
But then I gave it a few moments and really thought about how a library school prepares you for a future career. For the most part, people go to library school with the goal of eventual employment in some information related field.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone in my decision to take the plunge.
A few of my friends had made the same decision before I had. One friend had just finished school at San Jose State through the distance learning program, and another was in her first year at Pratt, residential.
I sent them each the same set of questions that I thought could benefit new and prospective students to the field.
Just what is a person getting into when they apply to library school? I asked them the following questions about their library/information school experience:
- What were your expectations were coming into it?
- What type of preparation has it given you for your future job?
- Are you enjoying your time or biding it until you’re finished?
- What is the value of a library degree in today’s job climate?
- How difficult is the work? Assignments and extra-curricular?
- Online vs. residential. What are your opinions on the two forms?
Overall, They seem a bit leery towards distance learning. I’m interested to see how my first year proceeds since that’s my chosen course format. There is also a definite consensus on the importance of getting the MLIS for the current job market. I’m glad that they both are enjoying/enjoyed their time in the respective programs and that it wasn’t a trudge to the finish line!
1) I had very high expectations going into library school. I knew I wanted to go to Pratt since senior year in college. I expected it to be super techy, and more cohesive but found it to be similar to a trade degree. It has definitely been easier than I expected and there is an emphasis on networking and schmoozing that I was not expecting.
2) I think the best part of my program has been the emphasis on internships and fieldwork. I will be leaving the program with a stacked resume and awesome work experience that has given me confidence in finding jobs.
3) It goes back and forth at times, I have had some classes that I have enjoyed immensely and others that I wish I never took. I definitely feel like I am ready to be done with school and start working, though.
4) I think a library degree has a lot of clout these days and can be applied to many jobs outside of libraries. The Internet continues to open many doors for information jobs.
5) Not that difficult. It can be overwhelming to find the correct balance of school, work, and play but the actual work has never been particularly difficult. I have also found that teachers are very quick to give As.
6) For me personally, I could never do an online degree. I need to interact with my professor and classmates and be a part of discussions. I also think giving presentations and expressing your ideas in front of a group of people is a really important skill to master which you cannot practice doing online.
1) I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the program. My only thoughts going into the program were that this was a way for me to break into the library and archives profession, and that it was a great way for me to get a better grasp on the information field as a whole.
2) Going into the program I had a very small idea of what a profession in Information and Library science meant. After my first semester in the program, I was able to grasp just how broad the profession really is. The classes gave me good base knowledge, great skills that I will be able to build off once I am working in the profession. I think I will learn a lot more on the job.
3) I loved my program. I had some great professors who have been in the profession for a long time. I loved what I learned, and I loved the people I met through the school. It is an amazing community of people. I learned a lot and for the most part, I enjoyed the classes I took.
4) I would say that having a degree is very important for someone just entering the field. People expect those entering the information profession to have a degree these days. In the past, that wasn’t always the case. Having the experience was good enough. The older generation didn’t need the Master’s degree. However, now you are seeing those people coming back to school to get their Master’s even though they’ve been in the profession for a while. I think that says a lot for just how important a degree is.
5) I wouldn’t say the work is difficult. It is very time consuming. You have to be willing to put in many hours of reading.
6) I highly recommend residential. It was very hard to stay involved with the program as a distance learner. I think I would have taken a lot more away from the experience if I have been a residential student. It is some much easier to stay disconnected when you aren’t interacting with peers face to face on a daily basis.
Brent Mills will be attending his first semester at the University of Washington’s MLIS program this Fall. He currently volunteers with the Talk Time program at the Multnomah County Library facilitating a non-native conversation group.