+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.

[log in to unmask]
Debra Shapiro
UW-Madison SLIS
Helen C. White Hall, Rm. 4282
600 N. Park St.
Madison WI 53706
608 262 9195
mobile 608 712 6368
FAX 608 263 4849
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.
> Diane
> 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]>
>> wrote:
>>> Riley,
>>> I have an BA in Anthropology and Music from a small liberal arts school
>> as
>>> 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
>> need
>>> 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
>> hat
>>> when building systems has been a godsend. I feel like the another virtue
>> of
>>> 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
>> experience
>>> as much as possible. Every internship I've had has been worth its weight
>> in
>>> gold. Through one I found out what I DIDN'T want to do which saved me
>>> countless $$s and time.
>>> Best of luck,
>>> Karen
>>> On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 8:46 AM, Maura Carbone <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>>> I'd echo what others have said and say either CS/CSE or MIS/IT. You
>> might
>>>> want to make that choice depending on the school you go to--my
>>> undergrad's
>>>> MIS program is fantastic but I know a lot of people weren't as happy
>> with
>>>> the CS department. I'd also like to +1 what Lisa said about what you
>> want
>>>> to do as a systems librarian. I worked as a systems librarian in a
>> public
>>>> library and I most definitely did not need a CS degree, but MIS or IT
>>> would
>>>> have been very useful. Look at job postings, see what sounds like what
>>> you
>>>> 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
>>> gen
>>>> eds).
>>>> I also wouldn't completely ignore the liberal arts--if you want to work
>>> in
>>>> libraries, being able to communicate with your co-workers and with
>>> patrons
>>>> is VERY important. While you might get a job that's just IT or
>>> programming
>>>> 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
>>> break
>>>> things down for people, is crucial to having a good working
>> relationship
>>>> 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
>> someone
>>>> build a website once.
>>>> For the record, I was a history undergrad who took a few CS courses,
>> who
>>>> 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
>>>> :-D).
>>>> Good luck!
>>>> -Maura
>>>> 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
>> as
>>>>> engineering so more electives, more opportunities to study the
>>> important
>>>>> Russian Literature you might need as a surgeon :) 2) heavy math,
>> heavy
>>>>> computer science but in a solve-a-problem sense, not in a
>>>> maintain-a-server
>>>>> 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
>>>> MDs,
>>>>> 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
>>> Of
>>>>> 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
>> to
>>>>> college next year (class of 2015) and am trying to figure out what to
>>>> major
>>>>> in. I want to be a systems librarian, but I can't tell what to major
>>> in!
>>>> I
>>>>> wanted to hear about what paths people took and how they ended up
>> where
>>>>> they are now.
>>>>> BTW Y'All at NC State need a better tour bus driver (not the c4l
>> tour,
>>>> the
>>>>> admissions tour) ;) the bus ride was like a rickety roller coaster...
>>>> 🎢
>>>>> Also, if you know of any scholarships please let me know ;) you would
>>> be
>>>>> my BFF :P
>>>>> Riley Childs
>>>>> Student
>>>>> 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]