+1 - tho it may seem self-serving as an instructor in an LIS program … but do I agree with Diane, that an MA in LIS is still a valuable degree, due in large part to the professional values of librarianship, that [good] MA programs try to instill.
I also agree with Diane that one of the things that makes librarianship interesting is that people come to it from so many backgrounds - so, yes, do pursue what you like in undergrad! (even if saying so makes it plain that I went to college in the 1970s) I am from the wanted-to-be-an-artist, got-an-art-history-degree, worked-in-restaurants-for-15-years path to librarianship, which meant that I wound up a photo archivist and library school instructor teaching web design, org of info and metadata. Not bad.
We also try to make technology emphasis in our program (UW-Madison) be on how people use technology, not just tech for tech's sake.
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On May 29, 2014, at 9:49 AM, Diane Hillmann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> This thread has been really interesting, and has hit on most of the things
> I might want to say. I've been working in libraries for about 45 years now,
> and have seen a lot of change. A couple of points bear emphasizing, though,
> from the point of view of someone who has taught in library school, worked
> in a number of different libraries, and seen a LOT of change. I started out
> in the days of typed/printed catalog cards, which should tell you something.
> One of the things I've loved about working in libraries is that pretty much
> everyone had a different start, with all kinds of undergraduate majors and
> specializations. Mine was in TV/Radio, and I only know one other person
> with that specialty, but it worked well for me in that I'm not afraid of
> microphones or big audiences (though in the late 60's and early 70's there
> were no jobs in that field for women). I ended up working full time in the
> library at Syracuse (I have both a B.S. and M.L.S. from there) as I was
> finishing up my undergraduate requirements, then moved to Boston and worked
> at Boston College and MIT libraries, for a total of about 4 years of
> library staff experience, in a broad array of departments. I worked full
> time at SU again (3 years) for my master's, again doing a lot of different
> jobs. What I learned from that is the benefit of postponing specialization
> for as long as you can, getting as much hand's on experience as possible
> before you finish your degree and 'declare' yourself.
> I agree with those who suggested that you choose your undergraduate major
> based on what floats your boat, but also take opportunities to learn as
> much as you can outside that major, including a solid grounding in the
> liberal arts. I started as a cataloger and ended up as a systems librarian,
> now I do a lot of different things (working with someone without any
> degrees but a fierce need and ability to learn anything he wants to know).
> I still think an MLS is a good thing, if for no other reason than the
> people you meet and what they teach you as anything else. There's also a
> cultural component to being a librarian that is not to be sneezed at--think
> about open access and copyright and privacy and how librarians are a big
> part of all those issues. My MLS courses were pretty terrible--that era was
> not a good one for library schools--but they've improved considerably since
> then and the good ones have broadened their scope around information
> architecture, data, etc., recognizing that they're not necessarily training
> people for libraries only.
> I've spent a lot of time around academic computer science types, and sadly
> have rarely been impressed with them and how they've been taught to think.
> I also wonder how relevant a degree or specialization in that area would
> 'age' over time--how useful would that education be twenty (or 40!) years
> from now? There are lots of technical things I wish I knew more about, but
> I'm usually better off finding out about them myself rather than consider
> formal classes or degrees.
> On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM, Brian Zelip <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> This is a great thread. I've always been impressed every time I read
>> Riley's signature. My hunch is you're in for a great and successful ride,
>> no matter the particular path.
>> Brian Zelip
>> MS Student, Graduate School of Library & Information Science
>> Graduate Assistant, University Library's Scholarly Commons
>> University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
>> On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 8:58 AM, Karen Coombs <[log in to unmask]>
>>> I have an BA in Anthropology and Music from a small liberal arts school
>>> well as my MLS and MS in Information Management from Syracuse University
>>> While I sometime wish I took the computer science path, there are just as
>>> many other times when I'm super grateful for my cultural anthropology
>>> background. IMHO, if you are going to build systems that work well you
>>> to understand your user's needs. How the system is going to be part of
>>> their lives. Good troubleshooting can benefit from this thinking as well.
>>> Studying and watching people in their lives is a big part of cultural
>>> anthropology. Being able to know how to do ethnography and put on that
>>> when building systems has been a godsend. I feel like the another virtue
>>> my liberal arts education was the fact I had to develop general critical
>>> thinking and analytical skills which I find invaluable in my career.
>>> Whatever you degree you choose to get, get real world practical
>>> as much as possible. Every internship I've had has been worth its weight
>>> gold. Through one I found out what I DIDN'T want to do which saved me
>>> countless $$s and time.
>>> Best of luck,
>>> On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 8:46 AM, Maura Carbone <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> I'd echo what others have said and say either CS/CSE or MIS/IT. You
>>>> want to make that choice depending on the school you go to--my
>>>> MIS program is fantastic but I know a lot of people weren't as happy
>>>> the CS department. I'd also like to +1 what Lisa said about what you
>>>> to do as a systems librarian. I worked as a systems librarian in a
>>>> library and I most definitely did not need a CS degree, but MIS or IT
>>>> have been very useful. Look at job postings, see what sounds like what
>>>> want to do, and then go from there. Also see what you like in terms of
>>>> classes! You might find the CS theory stuff less interesting than more
>>>> hands-on type IT work, or you might fall in love with Physics (you can
>>>> always grab a minor in CS, since there's quite a bit of overlap for the
>>>> I also wouldn't completely ignore the liberal arts--if you want to work
>>>> libraries, being able to communicate with your co-workers and with
>>>> is VERY important. While you might get a job that's just IT or
>>>> work all day, more than likely you will have to interact with non-tech
>>>> people. Being able to coherently express yourself, and being able to
>>>> things down for people, is crucial to having a good working
>>>> with your co-workers. At my public job, I was also the person who more
>>>> often than not helped patrons with their tech questions, from computer
>>>> trouble shooting to setting up an iTunes account, to even helping
>>>> build a website once.
>>>> For the record, I was a history undergrad who took a few CS courses,
>>>> then got an MLIS and took a few more CS/IT/Tech courses. I work at a
>>>> university, which means I have the benefit of being able to take free
>>>> classes (which I plan to take advantage of to take some MORE CS classes
>>>> Good luck!
>>>> On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM, Pikas, Christina K. <
>>>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>>> I highly recommend a Physics degree. 1) not as many required courses
>>>>> engineering so more electives, more opportunities to study the
>>>>> Russian Literature you might need as a surgeon :) 2) heavy math,
>>>>> computer science but in a solve-a-problem sense, not in a
>>>>> sense which gets out of date quickly 3) fascinating stuff in class 4)
>>>>> people who graduated with me went on to PhDs but others went on to do
>>>>> law degrees, and some started work immediately as computer scientists
>>>>> Christina, BS, MLS
>>>>> Oh, and adding a BS after your name is fun, too!
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>> From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
>>>>> Riley Childs
>>>>> Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:17 PM
>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>> Subject: [CODE4LIB] College Question!
>>>>> I was curious about the type of degrees people had. I am heading off
>>>>> college next year (class of 2015) and am trying to figure out what to
>>>>> in. I want to be a systems librarian, but I can't tell what to major
>>>>> wanted to hear about what paths people took and how they ended up
>>>>> they are now.
>>>>> BTW Y'All at NC State need a better tour bus driver (not the c4l
>>>>> admissions tour) ;) the bus ride was like a rickety roller coaster...
>>>>> Also, if you know of any scholarships please let me know ;) you would
>>>>> my BFF :P
>>>>> Riley Childs
>>>>> Asst. Head of IT Services
>>>>> Charlotte United Christian Academy
>>>>> (704) 497-2086
>>>>> Sent from my Windows Phone, please excuse mistakes
>>>> Maura Carbone
>>>> Digital Initiatives Librarian
>>>> Brandeis University
>>>> Library and Technology Services
>>>> (781) 736-4659
>>>> 415 South Street, (MS 017/P.O. Box 549110)
>>>> Waltham, MA 02454-9110
>>>> email: [log in to unmask]