So, the time has finally come. I am in my last week ever of school (hopefully). I spent 5 years in undergraduate studies and now two years in graduate school, and it has been a challenging but rewarding ride.
I will be finishing my final class on Thursday night and leaving the room knowing that I am walking away with a master’s degree in library and information science. It seems like it could have been just yesterday that I started my program at Western, unsure of what to expect, especially coming from the US to Canada where grading is different and stepping up to graduate school for undergraduate where expectations are higher, and mostly unsure of what I even wanted to do.
It has been a mix of great and frustrating things, but I consider myself lucky that overall it has been a very positive experience. I had many wonderful and knowledgeable professors. I had fantastic and dedicated groups for all my team projects. I had the opportunity to work 8-months on a co-op that was one of the best things I could have done for my career. I met amazing people and learned so much.
I am leaving Western a more experienced and rounded person who is ready to take on the world and whatever it can throw at me.
I am also one of the lucky ones who managed to secure a job prior to graduating, and that has taken much of the post-graduation fear and apprehension away, but I know I wouldn’t have this job, or anything close to it, if I didn’t come back to school.
A lot of people who might be considering graduate school, or library school in particular, might be asking – is it worth it? And I would say absolutely yes. Sure, you might go into more debt, but I went from working as a kennel assistant at a dog day care for minimum wage where I had little control of my hours, had to work physically hard daily, and be exhausted every day, to finding a 9-to-5 office job that I can truly enjoy and grow in. My old job might work for some people, and in fact, for a true dog person, it might be a dream job (it honestly was quite a fun job and someone has to do it after all), but it wasn’t working for me, and allowing myself the extra education and experiences that graduate school provided gave me an edge I didn’t previously have to fight for a job I really wanted, not just a way to make money.
As for library school? Yes, it’s true. There are more librarians graduating than there are library jobs, but those aren’t the only jobs. My job title won’t be librarian, it will be community manager, and that’s okay. There are so many more things we, as librarians, can apply our skills to.
If you really want to work in a library, academic or public, then the competition will be high, but a library school degree will serve to teach you the things you need to know – but don’t stop there, go for the electives that can really give you more. Go for the tech courses. Get interested in maker spaces. Get a part-time job at an archive, or university library, or as a research assistant. Do things that can give you that extra bit of experience.
Keep in mind where libraries are going in this digital information age and don’t let that scare you, embrace it! Libraries aren’t quiet spaces to be shushed in anymore, and they aren’t just filled with books. They are community hubs, they are computer labs, they are places to learn and meet new people, and if you are going into library school to find a library job, you should be ready to deal with that.
At the end of this all, I can proudly say that I am a librarian and an information professional, but I am comfortable with that not being my actual title. If you are interested in helping people, finding information, management, technology, open access, research, archives and museums, or even the age-old librarian love for books, then an MLIS may just be right for you, and it is something I will never regret spending my time on.