How Much Can a Professional Degree Teach?

The biggest complaint lobbed at the MLIS by myself and others is that it’s too theory-driven, too abstract, it doesn’t actually teach us how to do what we will do as librarians. You graduate, having read a bajillion articles about privacy, building a balanced collection or library 2.0; but if you haven’t worked in a library, that first day on the job can be a shocking experience.

The overabundance of theory in MLIS programs may be the degree trying to sell itself as academic rather than professional, but I’m not going to get into all of that. The debates that have been floating around the interwebs about what library school need to do with their students all seem to point firmly in the direction of practical skills. This is what we need to be successful in the field, therefore, this is what the course of study should give us. But how much can we possibly expect from a 30-42 credit program? In fact, how much can we expect from one or two internships?

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