I don't know what to do

Hi. This is my first entry here.

I'm officially starting library school this fall, and the problem is, I can't decide what to do. I'm interested in all aspects of librarianship, but I have to focus on one area pretty quickly so I can make sure I get all the required classes. I'm especially interested in academic, special, and school libraries. At this point, my options are wide open. I can't decide which track to head down, and from here, it looks like once you make your decision in that first semester, you have to stick with it or seriously waste your time.

I love kids and have some experience working with them, although not the day-to-day classroom experience that would be so helpful. I have flirted with the idea of becoming a teacher, but being a school librarian is more appealing to me. I have audiovisual experience and know the basics of several languages. I have a weak spot for gifted and special education children and the underdogs.

Sounds great, right? Except... the idea of getting a master's in English and working as an academic librarian is also very appealing (to my novice eye.) I have a BA in English.

And third, I like the idea of being a special librarian, especially in newspapers or broadcasting. I have ten years of experience as a radio and television broadcaster and really enjoyed the work.

I know I need to talk this over with my advisor, because the school might have seen something else promising in my combination of grades, test scores, and essay and I don't want to rule anything out. That's the hardest part. I don't want to rule anything out. It looks like academic librarian and school media specialist are mutually exclusive, so I will have to decide within two semesters which direction to follow.

The reason I'm posting all of this here is to get your advice. Which track did you take in school? Are you glad you took that track? If you were to do it all over again, would you do it the same way? Do you have any insight into my dilemma?

Thank you so much for reading this.


Just so you know, you can get a job as an academic librarian without a second master's degree. I'm at an academic library, and I have a BA in English and an MS in LIS.

I'd take core courses like reference, cataloging, etc and then see what you want to specialize in. Doing a practicum in a library might help you decide what type of library you want to work in as well.

I guess it depends on your type of job. I'm not doing any of the more specialized stuff that would require the subject background that you'd get with a second master's :)

These are some of the issues I have been thinking over. I don't mind research, writing, and publishing so that wouldn't keep me out of academic libraries. You've brought up many of the same concerns I've had with the different jobs... they are so very different that they can hardly be compared.

I'm very flexible about work environments. I can work in an environment that's loud, crowded, and frantic and I can work in an environment that's quiet and slow-paced. I can work by myself or on a team. Like most people, I'm not crazy about being micro-managed, but I know that can happen in every work environment.

Education is one of my passions, especially the education of people who fit outside the "norms," like special education students, ESL, gifted, or adult learners. Literature is another passion of mine. I would love to manage a library devoted to a single author or a single school of writing. (Of course, my opinions will probably change after a few semesters.)

My suggestion is to try, internships, attend your local Association meetings or arrange informational onsite interviews with librarians so that you can get some insight into what they do in what setting.There are many librarians who work in media settings, which is also a possibility for you toinvestigate...or even a "media" school such as the Newhouse School in Syracuse that might have a library.Try different things while you can...and the right setting will reveal itself to you in time.

Thanks! It's not exactly that I have to follow a particular track, it's just that in order to get the school certification, I have to take specific classes (and some extra undergraduate classes) that don't leave room in my schedule for the other types of classes I'm interested in. However, it looks like I could take the certification program separately after I get my MLS, if I wanted to wait another year.

Or you can not get a job as a full time academic librarian with a second (or 3rd) Masters degree in my neck of the woods.

Take reference, cataloging, all the cataloging you can find, and take an internship, take as much practical experiece as you can. You'll probably change your mind about what kind of library you want to work in before you get out of library school.

I go along with what Rochelle says. At UT we had "tracks", but they were more suggestions. I took about half ref classes and half systems/computer classes with a kids lit class thrown in. I've found work in special/quasi public libraries (Air Force) and in State Libraries.I feel the wideranging scope of my classes has served me well. Plus, there really are a lot of things - like practical management - that you won't really learn till your in a professional position (Speaking as a section head of four staff).Finally, Academic and Media Center librarian don't have to be mutually exclusive, at least not in Library School. Most states require their school librarians to be teacher certified, and most states require a masters to be certified. As others have mentioned, a second masters is handy in Academic Librarianship. So you'll need that second masters to be either one.Hopefully some of the school based library staff here can give you extra insight into their experiences. It might also be helpful to search for school library listservs and check out the AASL web site.Good luck and welcome to the profession!

Just so you know, you can get a job as an academic librarian without a second master's degree.

Not in my library neck o' the woods (grumble grumble).

I am a fairly recent grad. I have worked in Public, Academic, and now work in a LRC for a technical school. I began working in Libraries as a Public Services Librarian (intern) for an academic library and loved it. If you like research, library instruction, and working with professors, academia is the way to go (as a PSL). When I graduated I became a Public Library Director, sounds good right...not so for a academia person. I enjoyed the summer reading programs (took the storytelling class) but was burdened with the financials,city council members, mayor, personnel issues, and grant writing. I am not complaining I loved my public library but was unable to do what made me want to be a Librarian. I have the best of both worlds as a LRC administrator. The pay is ok but I can teach classes, do research for the instructors, and I am still a manager over purchasing, cataloging, and the virtual library. The downsize is the lack of print material. I only have +/- 500 volumes and 20 serials. Check it out. There are many areas to work. My suggestion is sample.

academic, special, and school libraries, working in those areas are so vastly different I might say they can't even be compared.Depending on tenure/non-tenure in academia you will be require to publish, often. You are less librarian that researcher/writer.Special libraries can be very lonely, or very busy, or completely unappreciated.Shool libraries, kids, teachers, parents, principals, school boards... oh my!What kind of a person are you? What kind of work environment do you want? Where do you want to work? What is most important to you? With whom do you want to work?

We'll look forward to tracking your progress, not only in school but how your views of libaries change.

Although I'm retired, I'd say technical services is where the action and decision making is these days, and special libraries is where the money is. If you throw in museums and archives, you can even expand on that.

And you can never get too much computer stuff, but my son is a manager in auto repair and my daughter manages a medical practice, and that applies for them too. Excellent communication skills are essential for success in any job, so your English background is excellent. Good luck, you've got a world of possibilities to choose from.

Glad you found us. Does your program require that you follow a particular track? I was lucky enough to be able to take what pleased me, aside from the two core courses. If you are not required to do a track, I would highly recommend that you take what interests you and avoid painting yourself into a corner. It sounds like you're feeling your way around and not quite sure where you're headed.

If you are in a track-based program, choose a fairly generic one that allows you a little breadth. Also, know that whatever you take, there will be things you'll kick yourself for not taking after you graduate. Good luck and keep us posted.

Hi,Congrats on getting into library school. I really enjoyed it.Some practical considerations -- depending where you plan to work school librarians may be required to have a second MA in education and/or some type of certification; if you're considering life as an academic it is important that you be prepared to relocate. Also know that it may take you some time to break into academia and you may have to take a part-time or sabbatical leave position to get your foot in the door.I think it's really important to be diversified and get the best and most complete skills set for any professional job. As others have stated, in many programs you are not necessarily required to choose right away. Get your required courses out of the way first.I chose Academic and Technical Services. It has been very beneficial to me, but the road is not necesarily the straight one. I completed an internship at an Ivy League university in cataloging, as well as volunteering as a academic reference librarian at a state university library.I think school library jobs are more plentiful, but as others have mentioned have many drawbacks. To be honest, as I've known a few teachers I didn't want the parent hassle. You may also be the only staff member, and as a result have to do everything. Your access to resources may be sketchy, depending on the school system and budget.I love academic librarianship, but the hours can be crazy -- you're on their dime. If you opt for this road build your relationships with faculty and staff; make the most of any opportunities.Make sure that you take some web design courses and try to work on a web page; for acad/public librarianship you may wish to get your feet wet (after you've completed a reference course and have a little experience) by working at Internet Public Library as a web reference librarian (www.ipl.org) -- I've reviewed quite a few librarians resumes and have noticed the difference from "old school" grads and the next wave that you represent.Best wishes in your education!Robin

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