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smootie

What was your experience like in LIS school?

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Hi everybody! I got an email this weekend from the LIS program chair letting me know that I was accepted to the MLISc program!

 

I've been obsessively trying to read about library school, but I haven't found anything very useful. My program only requires me to take classes and pass an oral comprehensive exam at the end (with an option to do a thesis instead). I can't relate to most grad students because they talk about PIs, doing research, running experiments, and writing theses/dissertations.

 

So,

  1. What was graduate school like for you?
  2. Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?
  3. How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?
  4. Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?
  5. What were your classmates like?
  6. My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?
  7. Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?

Sorry for all the questions. I am just really excited/apprehensive about this!

 

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Well to add to your question smootie:

 

I am wondering if there are any discussion lists, groups, or online forums like this one dedicated to librarianship. I have found tons of blogs, which is good, but not many helpful discussion groups or lists. Also, if someone recommend any by specialty (archivists, digital, cataloging) I would greatly appreciate it! 

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I have looked EVERYWHERE, and haven't found any active LIS communities online.  This really surprised me because I assumed information "nerds" would be drawn to this medium.

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Two that I know of are Hack library school and library school live journal. The former is more of a blog but there are several post where current/former students share their experiences; just search for the school in the search bar. The later is more of a discussion form. It's not super active but if you make a post, you will get a fair about of responses and the people there are really helpful. There also the library journal and that's geared towards the profession as a whole.

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Hi everybody! I got an email this weekend from the LIS program chair letting me know that I was accepted to the MLISc program!

 

I've been obsessively trying to read about library school, but I haven't found anything very useful. My program only requires me to take classes and pass an oral comprehensive exam at the end (with an option to do a thesis instead). I can't relate to most grad students because they talk about PIs, doing research, running experiments, and writing theses/dissertations.

 

So,

  1. What was graduate school like for you?
  2. Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?
  3. How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?
  4. Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?
  5. What were your classmates like?
  6. My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?
  7. Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?

Sorry for all the questions. I am just really excited/apprehensive about this!

 

 

1. Interesting- great department, good resume boosters

2. Relatively easy. I was able to work a regular job and an assistantship.

3. Not close at all

4. No, it was more about application

5. Mostly librarians

6. Yes and yes

7. More application- learning skills you could take to a job, and less theory.

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Hi everybody! I got an email this weekend from the LIS program chair letting me know that I was accepted to the MLISc program!

 

I've been obsessively trying to read about library school, but I haven't found anything very useful. My program only requires me to take classes and pass an oral comprehensive exam at the end (with an option to do a thesis instead). I can't relate to most grad students because they talk about PIs, doing research, running experiments, and writing theses/dissertations.

 

So,

  1. What was graduate school like for you?
  2. Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?
  3. How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?
  4. Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?
  5. What were your classmates like?
  6. My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?
  7. Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?

Sorry for all the questions. I am just really excited/apprehensive about this!

 

Congratulations on getting accepted! I'll put in another plug for Hack Library School (the Hack Your Program series is especially useful if you want to get a better sense of current students' impressions of their programs). You might also try getting in touch with students or alumni from your program to see what they say about their experiences.

 

On to your questions...

  1. I really enjoyed doing my MLS. I learned a lot, and was able to undertake a specialization program that matched my interests.
  2. Not sure I have a straightforward answer to this one. I think the difficulty varied a good bit from semester to semester. I also took some courses offered during the shorter terms (winter, summer), and those were all fairly demanding.
  3. I worked pretty closely with an advisor, but that was probably due to shared research interests and the structure of my specialization program. From what I could tell, the level of communication with an advisor depended a lot on students' preferences and individual programs.
  4. Nope.
  5. A lot of my classmates worked full-time, but I noticed as I went through that the number of people enrolling straight out of undergrad increased. Many of my classmates were current library paraprofessionals, some were making career changes (teaching and journalism seemed to be among the most popular first careers), and still others were working in another field entirely. They represented lots of different life experiences, perspectives, etc.
  6. My core classes stressed group work. People mostly pulled their weight. There were occasional miscommunications, but nothing that wasn't easily resolved. Also, we did a lot of our group work remotely and coordinated via email, which (at least for me) made it more manageable.
  7. Yes! So many! They're really completely different beasts. 

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So here is my two bits. I hope it helps!

 

  1. What was graduate school like for you?

I'm going to be blunt. The program is more of a means to an end for me. I am ready for my full-time job and the program is necessary to get to the position. I also have this perspective because I have already been working as a paraprofessional for the past five years. I have talked with people who have little to no library experience and they have seen great value in the program.

  1. Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?

My MLIS program has been relatively easy. I had one class that was fairly difficult, but this was out of the ordinary. I would say the program has way more busy work than anything else. My program really focuses on getting you the experience than the academics. They flat out told us that straights As are pointless if you leave the program with no library experience. 

  1. How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?

I am not particularly close to my advisor. However, I believe this stems from the fact that I seek my advise from previous co-workers already in the field. 

  1. Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?

My program did not! Thank goodness. I got into both of the programs I applied to. One of those required a thesis and the other did not. I opted for the program that did not. This purely came from that I just finished my master thesis for my history MA and did not have the motivation to pull out my toenails again. 

  1. What were your classmates like?

AWESOME! You will never meet such a variety of people. I have met people who have lived very sheltered lives to people who have traveled the world.

  1. My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?

OMG, library school LOVES group work. Sometimes I want to slam my head on my desk when I hear about another group project. However, with this being said, I have never really had any problems with my group members. I've gotten pretty lucky that everyone has pulled their own weight. There are still some horror stories where a group member decides to dictate everything. You can normally put these in your evaluations of the group. Most of my instructors frown upon that one Nazi member. 

  1. Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?

I would almost say they are comparable. The only difference is that you are taking less classes and only meet once a week.

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So here is my two bits. I hope it helps!

 

  1. What was graduate school like for you?

I'm going to be blunt. The program is more of a means to an end for me. I am ready for my full-time job and the program is necessary to get to the position. I also have this perspective because I have already been working as a paraprofessional for the past five years. I have talked with people who have little to no library experience and they have seen great value in the program.

  1. Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?

My MLIS program has been relatively easy. I had one class that was fairly difficult, but this was out of the ordinary. I would say the program has way more busy work than anything else. My program really focuses on getting you the experience than the academics. They flat out told us that straights As are pointless if you leave the program with no library experience. 

  1. How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?

I am not particularly close to my advisor. However, I believe this stems from the fact that I seek my advise from previous co-workers already in the field. 

  1. Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?

My program did not! Thank goodness. I got into both of the programs I applied to. One of those required a thesis and the other did not. I opted for the program that did not. This purely came from that I just finished my master thesis for my history MA and did not have the motivation to pull out my toenails again. 

  1. What were your classmates like?

AWESOME! You will never meet such a variety of people. I have met people who have lived very sheltered lives to people who have traveled the world.

  1. My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?

OMG, library school LOVES group work. Sometimes I want to slam my head on my desk when I hear about another group project. However, with this being said, I have never really had any problems with my group members. I've gotten pretty lucky that everyone has pulled their own weight. There are still some horror stories where a group member decides to dictate everything. You can normally put these in your evaluations of the group. Most of my instructors frown upon that one Nazi member. 

  1. Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?

I would almost say they are comparable. The only difference is that you are taking less classes and only meet once a week.

 

How many credits per semester is a full course load?  Is it three classes or four?  How long did it take you to complete your degree?  What is the best way to get library experience while at school? (is it through an internship that you find through the school or did you apply to internships yourself?) Were you able to get a job fairly quickly after you graduated from your program?  How many hours per week did you work while in school?  Also, did you get your internship right away?  Could you explain that process to me? 

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To answer the follow-up questions first - for an online community to look at:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/ALAthinkTANK/

 

Original questions (I attended Syracuse University 2006-2008.  I moved to Syracuse and took most of my classes in face-to-face format.)

 

  1. What was graduate school like for you?
     
  2. Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?

    I went to an extremely rigorous undergraduate institution, so I actually found the work load quite easy (yet still intellectually stimulating for the most part).
     
  3. How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?

    I didn't really work with an advisor.
     
  4. Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?

    No thesis.  I would do the optional thesis as I believe it builds credibility if academic librarianship is your goal.
     
  5. What were your classmates like?

    I actually built stronger relationships with my LIS classmates than I did with my undergraduate classmates.
     
  6. My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?

    Similar experiences to undergrad and the "real" world.  Group work is everywhere.  Some people pull their weight, others do not.  DO NOT assume that just because they made it to graduate school they will be professional.  My group in one course learned the hard way (in the form of a low grade), that you must proof even fellow graduate students (in library school!!) on citations and plagiarism problems.
     
  7. Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?

    As an undergrad (1993-1997) I did 10-20 hours of work-study.  As a graduate student, I had a 60% contract (3 school days per week) as a teacher librarian.  So I worked a bit more as a graduate student, but the academic reading requirements weren't as rigorous, so I would say my life balance was about the same.  I graduated with significantly more debt from graduate school simply because of the time lapse and rate of inflation for tuition (I went to a private undergraduate institution as well).

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What was graduate school like for you?

 

This isn't really specific enough to answer! :) I already have a previous humanities MA from the UK, and going back in my 30s in the US has been a bit of a shock to the system. It's much more intense; typically American insofar as type A personalities are likely to thrive; the workload is unsustainable, to the point that, now halfway through my second semester, I'm seeing it as being as much about professional/academic hazing as about learning real skills; and there is TON of group work, which strikes me as a way to decrease faculty grading workloads while wasting a lot of student time on inefficient, busy-work, junior-high type of projects.

 

Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?

 

Both. The actual learning and assignments are not hard (or at least not to me, as an adult with 15+ years of work under my belt and a previous graduate degree). Even as a humanities person, the course content, though sometimes technical or computer-y, is not hard, per se. But the workload is ridiculous, so it has been a hard adjustment. Most of us are in class 9-12 hours per week, at an internship 20 hours per week, doing group projects for classes another 5+ hours per week, and thus studying all day both Saturday and Sunday just to keep our heads above water. It is definitely consuming my life. Having previously worked in admin in an academic department at the same university, I had romantic ideas about the cerebral, more leisurely grad school life, and those have been shattered. Also, I am lucky in that I have a paid internship that also pays my tuition and provides FREE health insurance (I really hit the jackpot), plus a partner with a full time job. And I am still barely making it through. The first semester, I had about three existential crises, during which I wanted to drop out. If not for the amazing internship I have (where I actually love doing the work, and have amazing colleagues and mentors), I might've quit. I haven't exercised since last August, before starting the program. My three personal blogs are on hiatus. I haven't had time to edit and tag my thousands of weekly Flickr photos. I rarely see my friends. I can't commit to many social events. I just had to cancel a much-needed camping trip this weekend to rewrite a paper that my professor didn't like (part of a group project - yay!). I don't get enough sleep. It's ridiculous.

 

How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?

 

We were randomly assigned based on our stated interests at the outset of the program. They chose well for me; my advisor has a similar academic background, coming from a humanities subject into info sciences. I see her regularly for registration advising and also work on some other projects with her. Overall, I am pleased, but I do feel like the faculty generally do not have time to provide intensive mentoring to students. Also, our program has no prereqs, and most advisors just let us take whatever classes we want, which obviously has negatives and positives.

 

Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?

 

No, and my advisor gave me permission to skip the thesis, since I already have an MA that required one, and I felt I would be better served by using those 6 credit hours to take more courses and increase my skillset. Everyone I know in my program who is writing a thesis has had the usual thesis experience. Stressful, but doable.

 

What were your classmates like?

 

I like that they are from a broad variety of academic and geographic/cultural backgrounds. We also have a variety of ages, which brings a nice perspective. There is a large contingent of Chinese students, mostly studying human-computer interaction, usability, web design, etc.

 

My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?

 

I fucking hate it, and I think it's stupid and devalues the degree. This semseter, I have four group projects, three of them in ONE class! It is totally unsustainable, especially when most students have internships, or even internships AND regular jobs. We have to meet on Saturday nights. And the projects we are working on are usually ill-defined busywork. I am not impressed. In one of my classes, we have a practicum, which I have mixed feelings about. It is unusually well defined (because the professor is one of the best, most organized, most in-touch-with-actual-practice in the school), and I appreciate the opportunity to meet working professionals, get a taste for the work, and get valuable real-world skills for my resume, BUT this assignment requires a commitment of at least 50 hours for the semester, beyond classroom time, as well as the preparation of a final presentation to the class. Of course, most of the sites are only open M-F, 8-5, when we are in class or at internships/jobs, and it is virtually impossible to schedule concurrrent working times with our project partners. This just goes back to my point about the workload being totaly unsustainable.

 

Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?

 

Just that it's more intense, really. I like that it's so focused, and that there is a clear career path; but, coming from liberal arts, any career path at all is a godsend.

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How many credits per semester is a full course load?  Is it three classes or four?  How long did it take you to complete your degree?  What is the best way to get library experience while at school? (is it through an internship that you find through the school or did you apply to internships yourself?) Were you able to get a job fairly quickly after you graduated from your program?  How many hours per week did you work while in school?  Also, did you get your internship right away?  Could you explain that process to me? 

 

Bah, I was finishing the degree when I posted to this forum and forgot that I posted. 

A full course load is normally 3 credits. My program frowned upon taking 4 credits as it is taking the equivalent of 18 credits. However, this being said, it is completely doable (this includes juggling outside obligations).

 

How long did it take you to complete your degree?

It took me two years. I had to do two semesters of 4 credits. Many of peers took classes over summer to avoid a four credit load.

 

What is the best way to get library experience while at school? Internship Process

There are many different avenues. Since my focus was public libraries, I actively searched for a job in a public library. This may be a life safer if you are unable to find a job right away, as most on-campus jobs end with graduation.

 

I was also required to complete an internship for one semester.  My program had me research potential libraries that I wanted to do an internship and they contacted them for me. I only did one internship, but some people completed 2-3 internships to beef up their resume. If you are lacking experience I would strongly recommend to get as much experience. This include working as a shelver or simply volunteering.

 

Were you able to get a job fairly quickly after you graduated from your program?

I was very fortunate to secure employment before I graduated. I started looking and applying for my jobs in my last semester of school. Several friends also secured employment before graduation. However, many of my classmates have been quickly securing jobs this month.

 

How many hours a week did you work in school?

My first year I only worked 10-15 hours as a youth associate. My second year in the first semester I worked over 40 hours between my new job and internship. My last semester I only worked 27 hours.

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Old thread, but I hope someone can get some good out of my answers in the future!

 

What was graduate school like for you?  I agree with those who have said it was a means to an end for them.  I  knew I wanted to be a children's librarian and I knew I needed a MLIS degree to do it.  Honestly, I would strongly suggest that anyone considering library school see it as a means to an end, or at least have a fairly specific idea of what they want to do.  Don't be one of those people who goes to library school because you have an English BA and, well, being a librarian sounds fun.  Know what kind of librarian you want to be and why you want to be one.

 

Was it easy or hard? Did it consume your life?  Varied greatly depending on who was teaching the course.  Required classes (with the exception of cataloging) were a breeze, classes specific to what I wanted to do as a profession were much more demanding of my time and mental energy.  I wouldn't say it "consumed my life," when you are in this type of program you are highly encouraged to be professionally active so you will have an easier time being hired.  I'd say that working, volunteering, and being active in ALA did more to consume my life than my schoolwork did.

 

How close are/were you with your advisor? Did you get to choose your advisor?  I got to choose my advisor.  We had a good working relationship.  "Close"?  I mean, we aren't best friends and there weren't any warm and fuzzies, but it's a two-year program with minimal research elements.  You don't really need to get to know your advisor on a personal level the way you do if you're getting your PhD. 

 

Did your program require a thesis? If so, was it difficult to write?  There was a capstone for my program.  Not sure what you mean by "difficult to write" - it was time consuming and I had a lot of original research to do, but my advisor was there to help me when I got stuck.  It was just a grind, more than anything.

 

What were your classmates like?  Liking my classmates was not high on my priority list - honestly, graduate school was a means to an end for me and I recommend that anyone going into this program see it that way (at least to some extent).  My classmates were varied in terms of personality, but overall I would say that they were interested in the social issues surrounding libraries, like free speech and freedom of information, and liked books and reading.  The classmates who have been most successful in their careers after graduate school were "people people" and knew exactly what they wanted to get out of the MLIS experience.

 

My curriculum has a LOT of group work. Did you have group work? Did your group members actually pull their weight?  Group work is a staple of professional programs because in the real world, that's 90% of what you're going to do.  Budgeting meetings?  Group work.  Sitting on the summer reading committee?  Group work.  Team teaching?  Group work.  This is true not only of MLIS curricula but of MBA and journalism school curricula.  Every class I had incorporated group work, and as with any group project, my experiences varied.

 

Were there any differences between your undergrad experience and your grad school experience?  The two experiences could not have been more different, but then again I did my undergrad at a small liberal arts school and did my MLIS at a large research institution.

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