To Library School or not to Library School?

OK, time is ticking. I am strongly considering working on an MIS (or is it MLS? I forget) through the U of North Texas web-based program. I've started the application process, but I have a lot to go. I got great test scores last May, and I am pretty sure they'll accept me as long as I get my bazillion transcripts all mailed in :(

My problem is that I'm wavering... Although the programs they offer sound great, watching most of you actual librarians post here and on lists like NEXGENLIB, I think I may not fit in well enough to be hired and/or to like a job enough to want to stay with it.

I was a high school teacher, loved the concept and tried hard to do well, but the people skills necessary to fit in to a politically correct social system (meaning, buttkissing and all that) weren't there. They still aren't. It sounds like working in a library will take the patience of Job. I don't have that.

Also, it sounds too much like a loner's job -- nobody but you to take on the masses. I realize that it can't actually be that way, but it sounds like it. I wanted teaching to be a team-like situation, with all of us teachers pulling together to do a good job and keep up each other's morale. That didn't happen more than a smidgen.

I need to hear more stories of intellectual stimulation, enjoyable teamwork, and more good news than bad. I need to hear it soon; the deadline to apply is close at hand.


I think sometimes we librarians like to complain a lot. I can say that I have been very satisfied with being a librarian/working in libraries. I feel like I am part of a team at both my jobs that I have now (I won't say it isn't hard to FIND full-time work as a librarian) and I find both positions rewarding and intellectually stimulating. In my past positions as a paraprofessional, I also felt like we all worked together well. I think a lot of it depends, as always, on where you end up and the attitude of your coworkers, boss, and yourself. I am pretty "anti-buttkissing" and seem to get along fine at the positions I've had.

I would say, however, that I found library school to be a bit lonely and competitive at times, especially around graduation when people were going for those elusive jobs. And it is a huge cost investment for someone who may not be sure about whether this is what they want to do.

I'm not sure what other advice I can offer, except to remember that there are many types of libraries (academic, public, private, small, large) and there's an environment out there for every kind of person. Let me know if there are any questions I can answer for you, and good luck! These decisions are hard.

Do I grumble a bit? Yes, yes I do. Being in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains attending library school is a unique experience that frustrates me greatly some days. A colleague from Maryland as well as a colleague from New Jersey and I have settled upon the description of our master's program being set up much akin to Hogwarts. Doing things strictly online can be tricky. I had looked at UNT's web-based program a while back when picking programs to apply to. In the two web-based classes I have right now in my principally in-person program I keep running into problems with my web-based classes from massive network outages on-campus as well as slipping into "out of sight, out of mind" way more than I should. Librarianship takes all sorts of people, though. It really does. It is so broad and diverse that you will fit in somewhere.

It's been too many years for anything I would say about an MLS program to be pertinent, however, all the pluses and minuses seem to be the same! I thoroughly enjoyed library school, but not many of my classmates did--and I don't think that has changed much.

The difference today isn't the politics, or working on teams (that's all we did where I worked), but what has changed the lay of the land is technology, and that is changing all professions. Instead of getting along with the people in your institution, you'll need to be working on relationships statewide or through consortia because your library will be linked together with others, and you'll all need to cooperate. Take a job in a one or two person library and get your social contacts through your professional meetings if you want to avoid the politics.

If you haven't worked in a library, I'd do that before I changed careers. Excellent oral and writing skills are essential because even if you take a job where publishing isn't required, there is always that inevitable task force report or chairing a meeting. On a scale of 1-10 for introvert/extrovert, librarians and staff are probably going to be about a 4 on average, but whether you are a silent wallflower or the dance-drunk-on-tables at ALA type, you'll be able to find colleagues to your liking.

I disliked the jobs I had where I sat through dozens of meetings that went no where and was simply a go-fer for someone higher up. In one of my cataloging jobs I had to type my own cards on a cyrillic typewriter. That's what "entry" level meant--now you enter data using a computer. I loved the jobs where I was in charge, hired the staff, got to buy the books, and talk to the patrons about their research. That's the most fun on the planet.

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