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Fri, Nov. 1st, 2013, 05:12 pm
smirk_dog:

Hey, ladies! I am currently applying to library science programs, but the one that I really love is Simmons College's Archives/History degree. I have a 3.77 GPA and should have really solid recommendations.

I was hoping that you ladies wouldn't mind reading over my personal statement and telling me what you think - don't hold back! Please excuse any grammatical issues, I will look over this twenty times over before I actually send it in. I really appreciate you taking the time, and I really value this community, even though I mostly lurk. Thank you!


During my formative years, I dreamed of being a librarian for the purest of reasons - I loved books. My father would come to Parent/Student days at my elementary school, and I had no interest in showing him my finger painting - I took him straight to the library. But after working for fours years in the Collection Development Department of a private college’s library, I know that it is a much more complex, intricate academic service. I still love books, but my fundamental motivation for pursuing a dual Master’s of Library Science with a concentration in archives and a History degree at Simmons College has evolved to reflect my belief in the important social obligation of information access for those who are hindered by limiting socioeconomic backgrounds, by which an Archives Librarian can contribute by ensuring that materials and manuscripts are efficiently and effectively processed for public consumption and working with outreach programs and digitization projects.

For four years, I worked as a library aide at York College of Pennsylvania’s Schmidt Library, a job that defined my undergraduate experience and inspired me to pursue library sciences at the graduate level. I worked primarily in the Collection Development department, where I ran the information services desk, troubleshot issues within WorkFlows and Microsoft Office Suite, and trained new employees. In this capacity, I assisted many of my peers, all with varying levels of academic ability. I observed the direct (and somewhat depressing) correlation between race, socioeconomic status, and how the lack of access to technology and information can be seriously detrimental to a student’s capability to perform to their best ability. As a library aide, I experienced first-hand the crucial role that librarians and libraries play in molding students’ minds and in helping them learn academic and social skills that will propel them to achieve their best. Earning a Masters of Library Science and History from Simmons College would enable me to do so much more.

Though I worked primarily in the Collection Development Department - dealing with processing, EZ-Borrow, and Inter-Library Loan - I found myself particularly taken with the Archives department at York College and would find any excuse to travel over to special collections and watch our archivist work. Throughout my four years at the college, I developed a rapport with Schmidt Library’s archivist and Information Literacy librarian, I would frequently assist with tasks, from packaging and scanning, to programming accession numbers. In addition to this experience, I am currently in the process of volunteering at my local heritage trust in the archives department. Archives and Information Services represents, to me, accountability and a preservation of social memory that ultimately allows all students, faculty, staff, and citizens to work within and experience a variety of historical, cultural, and evidential perspectives.

Going in hand with this, I also believe that dually attending Simmons College’s History program would be a beneficial pairing with archives. I come from a family that relishes in history and in which history - from Greek mythology to Anne Boleyn - has been a frequent topic of discussion. As a child, I experienced ebbs and flows with historical research. In the third grade, I read every age-appropriate text on Tsar Nicolas II and his family. In sixth grade, I wanted to know everything I could about King Baldwin of Jerusalem. And now, I am fascinated and drawn in by feminist culture in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, particularly the Riot Grrl scene and the prevalence and importance of zines in that world. However, my true interest in history was fueled by a lesson given by my high school English teacher on Wilfred Owen’s "Dulce et Decorum Est." Owen’s poignant evocation of a soldier's’ plight during World War I left a mark on me, and drove me to further my knowledge of historical context within texts.I believe that my experience with engaging texts directly and incorporating cultural perspective whilst obtaining my undergraduate degree in Literary Studies will translate well to the academic world of History. As such, The central thrust behind my want for obtaining a dual Master’s degree in Archives and History is because to have a career that dually incorporates outreach and history would be incredibly gratifying and would be a complete dream.

One of my greatest strengths is my ability to work as a team. Graduate school and library culture tailors itself to teamwork and loyalty, and those qualities that I posses. I have great passion for library science and history - I truly believe that libraries are the most important and underappreciated field in academia. I have a deep, abiding passion for libraries and
Beyond this, I am timely and understanding person, who has a great want to help people achieve their academic goals. I truly adore working with students. Working one-on-one with them, helping them find their research, or helping them use the library in a way that they didn’t know before that all of a sudden saves them time or helps them achieve their goals. I have worked with a library system and through my work at Schmidt Library, supervising at the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center, assisting my professors with research, and being a Literary Studies, I can juggle multiple responsibilities at one time. I have experience working with difficult material, organizing it, and attacking it in a systematic manner through writing and research.

That being said, with the advent of aggregator sites such as Google and Bing!, many people make the incorrect assumption that libraries and librarians are becoming obsolete. I could not disagree with this statement more - the appeal, the true beauty of libraries is that they provide not only a common place to research, but they even the playing field for all members of a community, allowing everyone to have the same access to information, no matter their cultural, socio-economic, or academic background. However, the implementation of these search engines into the zeitgeist allow for libraries and librarians to become more specialized, and serve more complex needs. This adds a fascinating layer to the art of librarianship and historionship. Digital preservation becomes paramount, metadata is essential.

I have already started planning out possible paths for my curriculum to follow if accepted to your school, exploring the plentiful possibilities offered by your highly customizable program. Many of them revolve around academic libraries and working with the preservation significant feminist texts. Ultimately, I would like to run special collections at a major university and obtain my PhD in digital preservation. For the reasons outlined above, I believe that the Simmons College’s esteemed and respected Master of Library Science and Master of History program would be the best in facilitating the education and experience that would allow me to obtain these goals.

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 12:10 am (UTC)
frenchroast

This seems...really long. Detail is important for these sorts of things, but this might be a little too much. I'd cut out the "ly" words (particularly, especially, frequently, etc.) so it doesn't seem like filler. Also, there seems to be a chunk missing from the third-to-last paragraph.

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 12:45 am (UTC)
daisers

Definitely don't start it out with how you love books/to read. That's pretty much the start of everyone's personal statement, as well as cover letter later....

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 12:49 am (UTC)
daisers

Other thoughts: I would expand more on the second half of your first paragraph. How will those two degrees mean better access to archives for specific socioeconomic groups? Be specific.

Titles and departments shouldn't be capitalized

I'd lose the teamwork paragraph

The last paragraph is good

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
syhira

Agreed. Also this reads more like a job-application letter than anything.

Also: " I still love books, but my fundamental motivation for pursuing a dual Master’s of Library Science with a concentration in archives and a History degree at Simmons College has evolved to reflect my belief in the important social obligation of information access for those who are hindered by limiting socioeconomic backgrounds, by which an Archives Librarian can contribute by ensuring that materials and manuscripts are efficiently and effectively processed for public consumption and working with outreach programs and digitization projects."

That's a hell of a LONG sentence. Pare it down. Get down to the essentials, to the bones.

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
sazeracs

This is exactly what I was going to say. I understand the change over time aspect, but starting out with the world's #1 LIS SOP "don't", even if you expand on it later, is a big no no in my book.

Edited at 2013-11-02 09:07 pm (UTC)

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 12:50 am (UTC)
daisers

Finally - I would focus more on what you've done specifically, and what you want to do specifically, not on what you've observed or learned.

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
lizinstereo

This profession is about information. Since you are concerned about access for a particular population, use that as a focal point. Use that as a way to get your readers attention. What are you going to do once you have a degree from Simmons? How will Simmons' program help you accomplish your professional goals.

Try to get to your point in five paragraphs. Intro, content/content/content, conclusion. That's all you are going to need. Pick specific experiences to highlight - they will see the rest on your resume.

The books thing has already been addressed by previous commenters. However, a lot of hiring managers would sigh because they hear that all the time. A connection to a love of information is a much more important thing to have nowadays.

You sound like a well qualified candidate. Don't stress out over this!