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Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014, 10:32 am
zikkita: Beginning career... NEED HELP!

Hi everyone!I have been interested in getting into the library field for several years now, and I am finally ready to start. But I am a little worried about where to start exactly.. Hoping you can help.

I must work and go through schooling full time, that alone will make this difficult, so I have decided to take the schooling online, starting with a bachelors. I know that ultimately it is up to me.. But would it be wise to get a Bachelors in another field (instead of Library) in case of a future career change? Since so many people are having a hard time finding a job in their field of study.. (I just like to be prepared and explore all options), Or just stick with library science throughout, which will make the transition into the Masters easier..?

Also, I am considering schooling at Drexel or Clarion, as their programs are entirely online. Any opinions or experiences about those? I like how Drexel has the option for the MS to be specialized. Clarion did not really have any info on that and the advisor that responded to me didn't really answer that question.. :/

I have also heard that Drexel is way more expensive.. Which makes me extremely nervous, I feel like I'd never get out of dept.. But I want to do this, and will, but I just need a little assistance.. How did you guys start? Anyone hear have a BS in a different field? Anyone stick with library science all the way and end up at another job? All opinions welcome and encouraged!!!

Thank you guys so much for any help and advise you may have for me! I greatly appreciate it :)

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 03:43 pm (UTC)

I don't actually have a library degree at all, but I've worked in academic libraries for 6+ years, so it's definitely possible to get into the field without a library-focused degree. In my experience, what libraries really want is experience and tech-savy. So be sure to volunteer at libraries, or get some kind of student library job. That will go a long way towards helping you. A lot of the people I know who work in/at libraries got hired b/c they worked there until a full-time spot opened up, and since they had already proven they were solid workers and had ties to the community, they had a huge edge over other applicants. That was definitely the case for me and my first library job.

Also, realize now that there aren't a ton of library jobs out there--the job market is over-saturated (a friend of mine with an MLS and 5+ years of experience spent 2 years interviewing for basically every job on the east coast, and got nowhere, despite a willingness to move). I would not go into debt trying to get a library degree, because you're not guaranteed any kind of job. If you want to work in a library in a school, you might consider some sort of media education degree.

Edited at 2014-03-18 03:43 pm (UTC)

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 03:57 pm (UTC)

Thanks! My first job was at my public library, and I decided to make a career out of it, but I had more bills than income at the time and needed to get a full time job, so I lost the library. It has been hell trying to get back in! No one ever leaves... Haha. Eventually, I would like to work in a museum around history and possibly artifacts and whatnot, so I just think they'd want more education behind it..? I just don't want to waste my time, or money.. I'm glad you made it without going through all of this trouble!

I currently live in a big city, with tons of libraries around, and when they're hiring, it's for directors. It is so difficult to get back into this, so I thought getting more education behind it would better my chances :(

Thank you so much for your help, I definitely needed to see someone who has made it without it!

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 04:11 pm (UTC)

If you have any contacts at the library you used to work at, I would get in touch with them and let them know you're interested in any job openings they hear of. Getting jobs you want is very, very much about who you know.

While I don't have library-related degrees, I do have 2 bachelors and a masters in other fields, so more education isn't a bad thing--just be strategic about it. If you want to work in a museum eventually, I'd focus on history/art degrees, or find out if there's a degree museum curators usually have?

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)

Thanks! I'll look into that. I don't live around my old library.. I just don't know anyone in this city, so that doesn't help me :(
But, I've been looking at their job posting sites every day! Lol. The surrounding libraries have my resume on file (the ones that would keep them..), and I've been looking for some volunteer programs to help get me noticed at least.

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 05:43 pm (UTC)

I would get Computer Science bachelor degree.

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC)

From what I've seen, a library science BS/BA wouldn't make you more competitive for jobs; in fact, it's so unusual that I don't even know what hiring managers would make of it. Getting your undergrad degree in a non-library field could be useful if you might ever want to do anything else, and could position you for getting a master's degree in that other field as well at some future point. It will certainly not harm you in any way to go with a different major for undergrad.

Librarianship is a tough field to break into, though, especially if you're shooting high. I'm a paraprofessional with no library degree, and half the applicants for similar jobs have an MLS these days. Relevant experience is what makes people stand out. I was lucky to get my foot in the door before the crunch got quite so bad.

(I should add: just because some/many applicants for paraprofessional jobs may have MLSes, it doesn't mean that non-MLS people are hopelessly locked out. Someone without the degree can absolutely get the job, if they've got the right skills/experience. A degree+no experience doesn't give you a leg up on people with solid experience, in a job where an MLS is not required or strongly preferred.)

Edited at 2014-03-18 06:09 pm (UTC)

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 08:07 pm (UTC)

Thank you, I definitely have a lot to consider. I never thought it would be this difficult to get into this field! :/

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 06:46 pm (UTC)

To be honest, if you're going into Library Science, unless you plan on becoming a subject librarian - like at a college or university - it doesn't much matter what you get your bachelor's degree in. I have a BA in English and while I liked studying it, it's neither helped nor hindered my career as a librarian. The main programs at my university are Psychology and Environmental Studies.

As for the MLIS, I work at a university and I'm the only librarian here with an advanced degree. Of course, I'm the only one considered faculty, with all the benefits and responsibilities thereof. I do research assistance and I teach information literacy, though not for credit. My co-workers do things like interlibrary loan, collection development, IT, systems maintenance, and more. They're also not hugely in debt. *sigh* (That Master's degree is ridiculously expensive.) I don't regret my choice to get the Master's, since this is the kind of librarianship I want to be doing

Ultimately, I think it depends on what you want to do. While most of my friends at library school had humanities degrees, they didn't all. While you're working on your bachelor's, see if you can get an internship or do work study in a library, preferably the kind of the library where you'd like to work in the future. It'll give you a feel for the profession, professional references (so important!), and possibly a foot in the door.

Tue, Mar. 18th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)

Thank you for your help! I definitely think the MLIS is too expensive, especially since some of my old co-workers did not have their degree and they held that position.. :(

I think that is what I am worried about most. Spending all of that money, when there are places that would accept no college education. It's just so hard to find them and get in!

Wed, Mar. 19th, 2014 02:01 am (UTC)

Get your undergrad degree in anything other than library science. It may help you get a job as a paraprofessional but once you move onto a Masters degree and look for more professional positions, it may come off as one note. It would to me if I were hiring. I do hire paraprofessionals. The candidates usually have a Masters degree or they have a Bachelors in something else. Experience rules but special skills are also attractive. From personal experience, I got both of my professional jobs based on the fact that I used to be a teacher.

Wed, Mar. 19th, 2014 03:05 pm (UTC)

Thank you! I am always worried about not getting hired over someone else. And since it has been a while since I have worked in a library, and also no college, it puts me in a less appealing situation. If I could get interviews, then I could prove that this is what I want and going to do with my life. I have a part time clerk "first" interview for a public library here, so I'd have to work my full time and that one if I get it. As well as juggle school if I can't get on full time.. Thanks!

Mon, Mar. 24th, 2014 12:35 pm (UTC)

Different country but it's been really useful to have an interesting degree to talk about. That chitchat about archaeology for 5 minutes in the interview is fun for everyone involved.

Though having sid that I'd so go for teh computer science if you wan useful!!

Wed, Mar. 19th, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)

Whether or not you need the master's degree in library / information science depends on what you want to do and where you want to do it. At my university, all librarians must have the degree (from an ALA-approved program). In my state, school librarians must have most of the coursework for the degree (although most go ahead and take the four additional courses to complete the degree) and a certain number of years of classroom teaching experience. Most of the larger communities in this state require their public librarians to have the degree (although it's not a requirement in many small towns).

That being said, in most libraries there are lots of jobs that don't require the master's - about half in my library. Almost all of them start at a lower pay rate than a librarian (the exception being our technical support specialist). Most, if not all of them, don't even require a college degree (although I think my assistant - who I did not hire - is the only person on the staff without one).

I have a bachelor's in recreation and parks and an MBA, the latter not being relevant to my current work nor to my getting my job. So yes, others here are correct that it really does not matter what your bachelor's degree is in. If I was in your position, though, I would get the bachelor's degree in computer science (or the equivalent). More and more, librarianship requires those technical skills, and if I were to do everything over, that's what I'd get my degree in. I believe librarians with such a background can command higher starting salaries. Also, with a computer science degree, you'd have a great fall-back if librarianship doesn't work out.

It's definitely a hard field to break into, especially nowadays with the glut of online programs and graduates they're turning out. Before I started my MSLS, I had worked as a paraprofessional in both school and public libraries, and continued in my parapro job in the latter through library school. In my last semester, I moved back to my home state (which was also where my library school was based) and took an assistantship in the university library as well as a practicum in special collections in the local public library. I was hired by my current employer less than a week after I graduated (with another offer on the table and some other interviews in the works) and I've been promoted twice since then (almost 8 years ago).

Wed, Mar. 19th, 2014 03:02 pm (UTC)

Wow, that's really great! Thank you for sharing this. There are so many options to choose from, but I agree that computer science would be the best alternative for a BS. I still think it would be wise to get a BA/BS in Something, regardless of if I can get my foot in the door without one. I think I would regret it if I didn't. Thank you!

Sat, Mar. 22nd, 2014 05:00 am (UTC)

I just got my MLS from Clarion in December. I paid my way, it was probably like 18k altogether, versus like 50k from Drexel. However, unlike most of my classmates who graduated with me, I am not looking for a job (I got a full time job in an unrelated field two months after I started the program).