Library School 101: Advice from Tumblarians
As promised, here’s a compilation of tumblarian responses to the million dollar question: “how do I choose a library school program?” All credit goes to the lovely transformativetidbits for suggesting this idea in the first place. I’ve compiled all the responses I received - if you’d like to be added let me know! Thanks to everyone who responded - your tips are all really informative and helpful!
Called my school after app deadline. Accepted same week classes started. Don’t recommend this, but don’t overvalue the process. - anotiondeepinside
I was limited by geography, and the closest school where I live is a private school with a well-known and well-respected library program. When I applied to the second closest school to where I am, I knew nothing about it except that it was further away and came with a public school price tag. I didn’t have much of a choice - I wanted to go to the first school, but with no scholarship money, I couldn’t afford it even with the loans they offered.
I honestly didn’t really look much at the school I’m at now before I applied, because I sort of knew that either I’d get together enough money to go to the first, or I’d go to the school I would up at. And in the end, I think your anon will find what I did - librarians are librarians, and the ones who are passionate enough to wind up teaching graduate courses to us baby librarians are people who genuinely care about the profession and its future, no matter where they are. I didn’t wind up at the school I would rather have gone to at the time, but since then, I’ve realized that what I got instead was a much more hands-on, practice-based experience than I would have gotten at the other school, and a lot of experience as a student in the ever-growing phenomenon of online learning.
I’ll admit that I was disappointed at first because I didn’t really think of it as anything but the cheaper option at the time. My advice, in this situation, is to really look at what you can get out both programs, because every school offers something a little bit different, and personally, I found that the less prestigious school I chose based on price wasn’t a bad place to be at all, and their accommodations for distance students actually made it a more practical option based on my original criteria for selecting a program: proximity to where I live. - e-sharp
Loved Syacuse, was a distance student. Though my caveat is get real world experience - volunteer, PT work, etc. - jasonwdean
1. Don’t panic apply or make hasty decisions about where to go because you think it’s your only option. 2. If you want to do on campus, double check your program’s on campus offerings versus online options to see that they actually offer quality choices or choices you’re interested in on campus. 3. If you want to do online, find out how their online program works: do you have to be in an online classroom every week or can you do your learning part of your coursework whenever you want? 4. Having actually worked in a library definitely helps, but isn’t necessary. 5. Get involved in an association, even if it’s just the campus version. - kopciuszek
I applied to all of the top 10 MLIS programs in 2009. Document wise, I had to provide applications, essays, transcripts, and GED scores. Stress wise? Boy howdy, was I stressed out applying to grad school b/c I’m a worrier. When I got a rejection, I cried and when I got an acceptance letter, I partied. I decided that the University of Pittsburgh was my best choice b/c I got the most scholarship money and an internship within the academic library. I did visit Pitt before I made my final decision. I met with the head of Children and Youth Services. She was very nice, and laid out how the MLIS program worked. I think meeting her helped me make my final decision. Also, I LOVED Pittsburgh! It was just as big as my hometown with lots to do. I’m a sucker for a nice urban setting! Fun fact: did you know MR. Rogers was from Pittsburgh, and the library has a bunch of his stuff??? So cool! Hm, what to be aware of… Don’t apply at the last minute. Start early so you don’t pull your hair out. Do your research, make sure it the school you are going to is ALA accredited. Apply everywhere! Pick that dream school you think you might not get into, because you never know. - notyourstereotypicallibrarian
I started with ALA accredited schools near me that offered online courses and narrowed it down from there. I looked at ratings, specializations, course offerings, and cost … and I googled the heck out of my choices! Professors, student opinions, etc. - themugglelibrarian
Take a good look at the course listings. What are the required courses? That gives you an idea of what the school emphasizes. - thepinakes
I’m in Ireland, which meant I didn’t have too much choice. I could have done a distance-learning MLIS in the UK (a lot of Irish people do this in Aberystwyth in Wales) or I could have done a two-year part-time course in the Dublin Business School. Ultimately I decided to go with a one-year full-time MLIS in University College Dublin. It’s the only full-time MLIS in the Republic of Ireland and it’s accredited by all the important bodies.First: Your educational experience is incredibly dependent on how much time and effort you want to put into it. School rankings are nice and all, but they don’t mean anything if you don’t take the initiative to find an area of research or study that you like and run with it. Meet people, talk to students and faculty, go to extracurricular events, read everything you can get your hands on. Find an internship that you think might be a field you want to pursue.
Another reason why I decided to stay in Dublin for my MLIS is so that I could live in my parents’ house for the year, meaning I wouldn’t have to take on a job. I also have personal reasons for wanting to stay in my hometown, including maintaining access to medical professionals for health reasons.
But why would this be relevant to anyone who lives outside Dublin? Well about one fifth of my classmates hail from the US or Canada. They have chosen to come to Dublin for their MLIS for a number of reasons. The first is to qualify within one year. The second is to gain a new cultural experience while they study. And the third reason is financial. My fees as a home student were just under €6,000 for the year. A non-EU student would pay €12,400 for the year. It works out a lot less than the fees for what would probably be a two- or three-year qualification in the States. You can live cheaply enough on campus or in the nearby suburbs, so overall, you could save quite a bit by coming here for the year.
There are pros and cons with doing the MLIS in twelve months. It’s very heavy and pressurised, and only the most motivated (or desperate) manage to hold down a part-time job or internship while they study. The faculty staff are from big LIS schools in the US and the UK and they’re mostly pretty good. The standard of what we’re doing is high. My complaints would probably be the same as those people would have on MLIS courses anywhere (too much group work, too many assignments, too much to do and not enough time to do it, etc.).
The application process was quick. I was required to have at least six weeks of library work experience and a decent primary degree. They got back to me quickly, and the administrator was really helpful with questions I had about the process.
I should probably also add that Dublin is such a small place that there was no need to take a tour of the UCD campus. I played hockey there when I was in school, I went to events and parties there when I was in college (in TCD, the other big Dublin university), I use the grounds as a shortcut to get to my aunt’s house… So yeah, no tour necessary. However if you’re not a native, it might be worth having a look. UCD is most definitely not a beautiful campus. It’s a sprawling concrete jungle. It’s got most of what you would expect from a good university, facilities-wise, and there’s plenty of on-campus accommodation. Sports are a big deal (if that’s what you’re into) and there’s also a fairly active LGBTQ community.
If you’re interested in finding out more about doing your MLIS in Dublin, check out the department website or feel free to send me an ask. I’d be delighted to help. I’ve tagged all my MLIS posts so having a look through them might give you an idea of the kind of things I’ve got up to this year. - thecommonlibrarian
I attend the University of Maryland at College Park, and I’m currently finishing my last semester in the Master of Library Science program (MLS), with a concentration in E-Government. My decision was primarily geographically-based, though I’d been eyeing the iSchool program long before ever knowing I’d move to Maryland for reasons in my personal life. It just so happened that when it came time to go to grad school I was already a Maryland resident.The program is currently in a 3-way tie for the 10th spot on US News & World Report’s ranking list of MLS programs.
The biggest advantage I’ve found to attend UMD is the proximity to Washington, D.C. I’ve always worked in the non-profit world and occasionally in government, too, so I was pretty confident that I wanted to pursue either Federal Librarianship or some sort of advocacy-based position for information literacy. Being literally next door to our nation’s capitol put me right in the very center of federal agencies, NGOs, and historical sites. Last summer I did a field study program at the Department of Justice, and this spring I’ve been doing an independent study with a professor who also works for ALA’s lobbying office. I’m meeting all the right people to contact once it’s time to get out into the job market, and no amount of coursework can take the place of that sort of networking opportunity.
The program is fairly well run, though sometimes the administration can be slow to publicize important changes in curricular requirements. I sense that this is getting better, as I just happened to attend during a period of significant change. But you definitely have to keep up with the Student Affairs office and Dean’s office to get simple administrative tasks completed and to glean crucial information that isn’t always immediately noticeable on the website. (I imagine my surprise at this has a lot more to do with being unfamiliar with a large state university’s bureaucracy—I went to a tiny liberal arts woman’s college where I could basically waltz in and talk to the Dean whenever I felt like it). A couple of concentration areas that I think are quite strong at UMD are:
Human-Computer Interaction (usability testing, intense coding and design curricula, etc.)
E-Government (delivering government services and resources electronically, e-democracy)
Information in Diverse Populations (working with a range of patrons from a range of backgrounds)
The archives program is also great, though I might let ex-tabulis tell you more about that since she was actually in that program stream! Overall, I think it’s a solid MLS/MIM (Master of Information Management) program. - transformativetidbits