Monday, January 30, 2012

The Librarian's Advice: Entering Library School

Several of the library assistants in my branch have asked a question that I think other library students or those who think they might want to attend graduate school in library/information science should hear.  To make this a proper post, I'm going to also include other commonly-asked questions and answer them as a librarian and a former library student.  Remember, this is just the advice of one librarian and opinions might differ from other librarians' thoughts and advice.

Question: What should I do if I want to go into library school?

The Librarian's Advice: In the case of my library assistants, they are already doing what I had hoped to be advised during or even before I entered graduate school.  The best thing you can do is to already be involved in a library system.  One of the hardest parts of library school is locating employment once you have graduated as I know from personal experience.  However, when you are already part of a system, you are able to experience what the library profession has to offer as a career path and also the daily tasks of librarians and paraprofessionals.  Not being part of a system while I was attending graduate school, I was definitely a few steps behind my fellow library students and it took a while before I was able to find a librarian 1 position.

Question: What library school should I attend?

The Librarian's Advice: Any library school that is accredited according to the American Library Association's standards.  Accreditation means that the school is a certified educational center of authority and credibility on the subject matter, namely library and information science.  Employers always look at which graduate school potential employees have attended, and that school should typically be accredited by the ALA.  It's also favorable to look at what specializations are offered within the library/information science program and what classes are required for that specialization when deciding on which school to attend.

Question: Should I have a specialization for my field of study in library school?

The Librarian's Advice: This actually depends on whether you're already part of a library system, a museum, or another type of library.  Unless you have a particular area of the library you are interested in (i.e. cataloging, preservation, youth services, etc.), it is probably more beneficial to choose the generalized area of study to have a more well-rounded education.  Then again, this also depends on what library school you choose to attend.  My best advice is to definitely do your research about several library schools you are interested in attending and then check out what areas of specialization they offer and the classes listed for each specialization.

For my fellow librarians, please feel free to offer additional advice in the comments or discuss your own library school experience. 

If you have a question regarding library school, library employment, or library services to be discussed in a future post, please email me.


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