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anfocloir

Library Science and an MA in History?

29 posts in this topic

Hi everyone!

I know I may be a little out of the box posting on the History discussion board, but I'm currently looking into Library Science, Archives, and History programs because I'm interested in working in archives or special collections. I've read a few other threads out there on grad cafe and I found that some students applied for a dual-degree in History and Library Science. I'm looking into a program at UMaryland (the HiLS program) that does just that. I'm also looking into NYU's dual degree program with LIU in Archives/Public History and Library Science. And I'm looking into Rutgers. I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts or experiences to share? 

Thanks so much!

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I guess it's apt that I reply. :) And I have a quick question before I can comment more in-depth. Will taking the second degree require a substantial amount of additional loans? Also, where do you want to work? In what environment is your dream career?

Obviously, I'm pursuing a second MA (signature), but I don't necessarily think it's a path for everyone. 

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I wouldn't recommend Rutgers if you're interested in special collections work. History department's fantastic (current student, feel free to ask questions) but from my experience, the library school here does not have a strong archives/special collections contingent. 

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Ah, and one more question.

I gather that you want to work in archives or special collections, but what sort? My advice my change depending on your answer.

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22 hours ago, Neist said:

Ah, and one more question.

I gather that you want to work in archives or special collections, but what sort? My advice my change depending on your answer.

I'm not entirely sure of what sort of archives or special collections I'd like to work in. Currently, I work in a corporate archive and I enjoy the work I do there, so I have that as a foundation, but I'm open to different environments within the two. I was nervous about focusing in on a particular subject for my MA and limiting myself in the job market after graduating. I was hoping that through grad school/internships/etc. I would be able to narrow that part down a little more. 

To answer your questions from your message response, I agree: I'd rather not pay a ridiculous amount for experiences. Depending on what program I choose, the dual degree option could equate to additional loans. 

I'm also curious about history and MLS dual degree options, but I'm not sure if an MA in history is necessarily the route I want to go (although I love the idea of taking history classes again!) because I do want my graduate degree to be more focused on gaining skills and experiences for once I graduate. 

Thanks for your answers!

Edited by anfocloir

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22 hours ago, gsc said:

I wouldn't recommend Rutgers if you're interested in special collections work. History department's fantastic (current student, feel free to ask questions) but from my experience, the library school here does not have a strong archives/special collections contingent. 

Thanks so much for providing me with this information! I'm from NJ, so Rutgers would be the most affordable option, but I've always thought it more public library focused...which is great! But I'm not necessarily interested in public libraries at this time. If anything, I'm more interested in university libraries and collections. 

Would you recommend a dual degree in History and LIS or is that a little far-fetched? Some other programs I've looked into have that as an option, but I guess if the LIS program isn't strong in archives/special collections to begin with, it probably won't help with the second degree in history! 

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Take a look at NC State/UNC's dual degree program in public history and archives/library science. Both have full funding options, I believe. 

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On 10/5/2016 at 9:03 PM, gsc said:

I wouldn't recommend Rutgers if you're interested in special collections work. History department's fantastic (current student, feel free to ask questions) but from my experience, the library school here does not have a strong archives/special collections contingent. 

As someone currently in the Rutgers MI/MLIS program, I will verify that the archives specialization is somewhat limited. The department is in a transition from "Library"  to "Information" focus.

That being said, a number of folks in the program already have a MA in either history or literature before applying, it seems like a popular combination.

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13 hours ago, anfocloir said:

I'm also curious about history and MLS dual degree options, but I'm not sure if an MA in history is necessarily the route I want to go (although I love the idea of taking history classes again!) because I do want my graduate degree to be more focused on gaining skills and experiences for once I graduate. 

Thanks for your answers!

 

An MLIS is definitely the safer route. However, the second degree is incredibly helpful depending on where you work.

Some jobs will only require you to have one of perhaps several varieties of degree. This might be public history, MLS, or whatever. But some jobs might also prefer that you have one type specifically, or perhaps even a second degree. So while you wouldn't need both degrees, having both degrees greatly improves your flexibility. 

Besides, the experience you'll gain from a good MLIS/MLS degree (w/ archives emphasis) and a public history degree (w/ archives emphasis) will be substantial. I'm probably a little bias, but I don't feel as if I could personally gain all the skills that I need with only the credit hours and electives opportuned by a single MA-level degree. Of course, this will vary by program.

I say that you go for a dual program, or at least aim for a dual program and funding. I think a dual program with funding is the ideal, and it allows you two avenues of further education (via PhDs) down the road if you ever desire; some really advanced positions in archives or special collections do require PhDs.

 

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I have extensive experience in archives w/o an MLIS. Though the jobs I've had said a history degree was preferred, I found that unless you're going for a specific type of archiving (say, African-American collections, or costumes/fashion), the non-professional degree meant little. The archiving training/experience were the #1 asset. 

And if you look at the job board for the SAA, a lot of positions are very Information Science heavy--DublinCore, DACs, and all that good stuff. 

Hack Library School has an ongoing series where people give the lowdown on various programs: https://hacklibraryschool.com/category/education-curriculum/hack-your-program/

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11 hours ago, NoirFemme said:

The archiving training/experience were the #1 asset. 

1

This is a fantastic point that I neglected to mention. In the greater LIS world (which archives are generally considered part of), experience is incredibly important.

Thanks for adding this, @NoirFemme. :)

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On 10/7/2016 at 4:37 AM, KLZ said:

Take a look at NC State/UNC's dual degree program in public history and archives/library science. Both have full funding options, I believe. 

I took a look at their program, but their website was a little hard to follow. I'll give it a once over again! It's good to hear they have funding available! Thanks for the suggestion!

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21 hours ago, NoirFemme said:

I have extensive experience in archives w/o an MLIS. Though the jobs I've had said a history degree was preferred, I found that unless you're going for a specific type of archiving (say, African-American collections, or costumes/fashion), the non-professional degree meant little. The archiving training/experience were the #1 asset. 

And if you look at the job board for the SAA, a lot of positions are very Information Science heavy--DublinCore, DACs, and all that good stuff. 

Hack Library School has an ongoing series where people give the lowdown on various programs: https://hacklibraryschool.com/category/education-curriculum/hack-your-program/

Thanks for the website recommendation! I'll definitely have to check out SAA's website. When you mean, non-professional degree, what exactly do you mean? 

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On 10/7/2016 at 9:33 AM, avflinsch said:

As someone currently in the Rutgers MI/MLIS program, I will verify that the archives specialization is somewhat limited. The department is in a transition from "Library"  to "Information" focus.

That being said, a number of folks in the program already have a MA in either history or literature before applying, it seems like a popular combination.

Good to know. I live in NJ, so Rutgers would be a practical choice cost-wise, but I get the feeling that it's not going to give me what I want focus-wise, if that makes sense. I do not already have an MA, so I'd either have to double up, which I'm not sure if that's possible for the programs at Rutgers with MLS, or figure out something else. 

And, again, I run into the problem of an MA in a specific subject...is that pigeon-holing myself to a certain area? I have a lot of interests and I'm still exploring, so I don't want to limit myself, I guess.

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38 minutes ago, anfocloir said:

Thanks for the website recommendation! I'll definitely have to check out SAA's website. When you mean, non-professional degree, what exactly do you mean? 

Non-professional degrees = degrees that don't have a specific skill set or career attached to them, so a MA in history/ anthro/ AfAm/ English would be non-professional.

A MLIS is a professional degree because it's training for a specific profession (librarianship). Without that degree, you can't get into the profession. Same goes for public health, social work, law, SLP, etc.

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10 hours ago, anfocloir said:

Good to know. I live in NJ, so Rutgers would be a practical choice cost-wise, but I get the feeling that it's not going to give me what I want focus-wise, if that makes sense. I do not already have an MA, so I'd either have to double up, which I'm not sure if that's possible for the programs at Rutgers with MLS, or figure out something else. 

And, again, I run into the problem of an MA in a specific subject...is that pigeon-holing myself to a certain area? I have a lot of interests and I'm still exploring, so I don't want to limit myself, I guess.

The program at Rutgers is now a MI (Master of Information) instead of MLIS. My statement about the limited offerings in archives/preservation was based on what was going on the past 2 years. There is a new Archives & Preservation concentration which just started up this fall. I don't know that much about it, but you might want to check out the requirements, and see if that is what you are looking for.


http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/master-of-information/concentrations.html

FWIW - I'm in the Data Science concentration.

 

Edited by avflinsch
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21 hours ago, gsc said:

Non-professional degrees = degrees that don't have a specific skill set or career attached to them, so a MA in history/ anthro/ AfAm/ English would be non-professional.

A MLIS is a professional degree because it's training for a specific profession (librarianship). Without that degree, you can't get into the profession. Same goes for public health, social work, law, SLP, etc.

Thanks for the clarification! Makes sense! :)

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11 hours ago, avflinsch said:

The program at Rutgers is now a MI (Master of Information) instead of MLIS. My statement about the limited offerings in archives/preservation was based on what was going on the past 2 years. There is a new Archives & Preservation concentration which just started up this fall. I don't know that much about it, but you might want to check out the requirements, and see if that is what you are looking for.


http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/master-of-information/concentrations.html

FWIW - I'm in the Data Science concentration.

 

Okay, good to know. I'm attending their open house, so I'll ask more archives-specific questions, especially if the concentration is new this year. Thanks for your help!

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12 hours ago, avflinsch said:

The program at Rutgers is now a MI (Master of Information) instead of MLIS. My statement about the limited offerings in archives/preservation was based on what was going on the past 2 years. There is a new Archives & Preservation concentration which just started up this fall. I don't know that much about it, but you might want to check out the requirements, and see if that is what you are looking for.


http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/master-of-information/concentrations.html

FWIW - I'm in the Data Science concentration.

 

Sorry to ask another question...but would you say the MI degree is comparable to MLS degrees? I know this might be a silly question to ask, but does the degree title mean less or more for career opportunities? A lot of job descriptions I'm looking at require experience and then an MLS/MLIS degree...does the MI degree mean something different then? The program is ALA accredited, obviously, but this is the first I've experienced the name change from something outside MLS/MLIS/MSLS, etc. 

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11 hours ago, anfocloir said:

Sorry to ask another question...but would you say the MI degree is comparable to MLS degrees? I know this might be a silly question to ask, but does the degree title mean less or more for career opportunities? A lot of job descriptions I'm looking at require experience and then an MLS/MLIS degree...does the MI degree mean something different then? The program is ALA accredited, obviously, but this is the first I've experienced the name change from something outside MLS/MLIS/MSLS, etc. 

MI is Master of Information, it is the new trendy name for the same degree, as it incorporates more than just traditional Library Science. The ALA basically states that they are all different names for the same degree.

Rutgers changed the name of the school from "School of Communication, Information and Library Sciences" (SCILS) to "School of Communication and Information" (SCI) a few years ago (basically they changed the sign on the main building). It is part of an overall trend to turn the traditional 'library school' into a more interdisciplinary 'information school'. 

As for career options, it probably opens more doors than the MLS/MLIS  it would really depend on the concentration within the degree (if you did one of the optional concentrations).

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2 hours ago, avflinsch said:

MI is Master of Information, it is the new trendy name for the same degree, as it incorporates more than just traditional Library Science. The ALA basically states that they are all different names for the same degree.

Rutgers changed the name of the school from "School of Communication, Information and Library Sciences" (SCILS) to "School of Communication and Information" (SCI) a few years ago (basically they changed the sign on the main building). It is part of an overall trend to turn the traditional 'library school' into a more interdisciplinary 'information school'. 

As for career options, it probably opens more doors than the MLS/MLIS  it would really depend on the concentration within the degree (if you did one of the optional concentrations).

1

To add to this, most job postings require something to a general extent of "An MLS/MLIS from an accredited program or equivalent degree." Equivalent degrees are clarified in the link that @avflinsch posted.

If you can gain experience in the area of concentration that you want to work in, you should be okay, assuming that whatever program you choose to attend is ALA accredited. An unaccredited degree is much, much less useful than an accredited one. Nearly all jobs want a degree from an accredited program.

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8 hours ago, Neist said:

To add to this, most job postings require something to a general extent of "An MLS/MLIS from an accredited program or equivalent degree." Equivalent degrees are clarified in the link that @avflinsch posted.

If you can gain experience in the area of concentration that you want to work in, you should be okay, assuming that whatever program you choose to attend is ALA accredited. An unaccredited degree is much, much less useful than an accredited one. Nearly all jobs want a degree from an accredited program.

That totally makes sense, RE: accredited programs. I've been looking at SAA and/or ALA accredited programs exclusively. I know Rutgers is introducing the Archives/ARM concentration [specialization] this fall, so it's still up in the air about whether or not that will be helpful in the areas of archives/special collections for internships and jobs. 

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On 10/12/2016 at 3:45 PM, anfocloir said:

That totally makes sense, RE: accredited programs. I've been looking at SAA and/or ALA accredited programs exclusively. I know Rutgers is introducing the Archives/ARM concentration [specialization] this fall, so it's still up in the air about whether or not that will be helpful in the areas of archives/special collections for internships and jobs. 

I feel you're looking at this backwards. Other than ALA accreditation and curriculum, you should be looking for a program located in a region with plenty of opportunities you can seek yourself. A program is only as strong as you make it--and as competitive as the archival field is, it's wiser to be interning or getting an entry level position simultaneously with the obtaining the degree, rather than feeling you're only qualified after getting the degree and expecting the program to place you somewhere. Even though you're not pursuing a PhD, you should still view yourself as a professional (archivist) not as a student.

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On 10/16/2016 at 5:56 AM, NoirFemme said:

I feel you're looking at this backwards. Other than ALA accreditation and curriculum, you should be looking for a program located in a region with plenty of opportunities you can seek yourself. A program is only as strong as you make it--and as competitive as the archival field is, it's wiser to be interning or getting an entry level position simultaneously with the obtaining the degree, rather than feeling you're only qualified after getting the degree and expecting the program to place you somewhere. Even though you're not pursuing a PhD, you should still view yourself as a professional (archivist) not as a student.

I live in the NJ/NYC area, so I'm focusing in on schools (NYU, Rutgers) in those areas where I know internship opportunities/professional experiences are more abundant. Unless the NYC area is not seen as something with a number of opportunities available? (I'm not sure of what the opportunities for internships are like for other schools. I'm also considering UNC-Chapel Hill and Simmons). I also currently work in a corporate archive, so I already have some experience under my belt. I'm asking about accreditation because I figure nowadays, an accredited master's degree is more essential than it's ever been in this particular field and I want to be sure that the degree I'm applying for satisfies what prospective employers for jobs and internships are going to prioritize. 

I echo your statement though: experience is key, especially in this field which is so hands-on in the first place. 

Are you also looking into Archives/MLS programs? If so, where are you looking to apply? It helps to hear from other prospective applicants!

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12 hours ago, anfocloir said:

I live in the NJ/NYC area, so I'm focusing in on schools (NYU, Rutgers) in those areas where I know internship opportunities/professional experiences are more abundant. Unless the NYC area is not seen as something with a number of opportunities available?

The internal email list for LIS students at Rutgers usually has 5-6 announcements of new jobs & internships weekly. Most are local libraries and corporations, but there have been several amazing ones outside of the NY/Philadelphia metro areas also.

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