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September 08, 2010


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Pat Erwin

Enought general background to ask reasonable questions - actually converse with the person who needs information. And discovery skills that allow you to build a vocabulary of terms, concepts and a sense of the structure of information if you are working in unfamiliar area. In the beginning, nearly all areas will be "unfamiliar".

Earl J Moniz

Hello Mary Ellen,
you know I'm a big fan, but don't let that influence your decision to post my comment (grin).
* * *
You're right on the money with your observations. Employers don't need scavenger hunters to dump 300 pages of research findings to their inboxes (online or in the office). They want a valued member of the team who can bring research results that have been initially sifted for relevance to the problem or issue at hand.
They also need a person to summarize the materials in response to their questions about the findings; again, with an emphasis on how it influences the matter at hand.
It isn't any different in the military (I work in a history office at Fort Bragg), commanders don't simply need the references, they want the preliminary analysis as it pertains to the current situation.
As all leaders experience the urgency to form their opinions, solutions, and plans of action time is often a scarce commodity.
Any factor of research and analysis that can enhance the workflow or decision-making process is welcomed.

Great article. . . and, of course, you'd hit the target with your observations, you've been living that lifestyle for many years now; I'll skip exactly how many not to embarrass ( I think it's too late now - grin )

Until that time . . . Earl J.

Damian Hayde

I have been a corporate library head, and sought MLS as a preferred qualification for professional staff. The reason I valued the qualification is that it reveals a strong personal motivation for the work. Perhaps it's true, MLS programs could be better at training on various online hosts. But most job-specific training should be expected of the hiring institution.

As an example, if I wanted to hire a mechanic for a Porsche dealership, I would want someone with a mechanics certification. This would prove their love of auto mechanics. I would them enroll them in Porsche's mechanics training. I wouldn't hire instead someone who's instead owned and driven a Porsche for many years.

As an aside, I'd suggest that the Library Director in question may not have had an MLIS herself, so she may have considered the lack of the letters part formula for her own success in her own Library career.

Justin Sivey

Great and relevant post to my situation Mary Ellen. I appreciate you touching on it and it will only become more of an issue as time moves on.

I recently received my MLIS. In fact, you may or may not remember, but I had the great opportunity of interviewing you for a project.

I can clearly say that most MLIS programs are not at all relevant to the info. pro. of today, but that they can be if they begin to think critically about their curriculum.

A cataloging course is great if you are SURE that you will be working in a traditional library, or even in an OPL, but why make everyone take it??!! I could say the same of most of the other traditional courses. I find that this actually diminishes the legitimacy of the program (and hence, the degree) if they have not moved beyond insisting on a more traditional curriculum.

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve only worked as an info. pro. within non-library environments for the last 8 years. So, I’m able to take the degree and “sell” it as a means of allowing me to become more proficient in what I do. But, I truly fear for those who leave school with the MLS / MLIS and have little or no experience in a non-traditional or traditional setting. All I can say to them is take on lots of different internships or volunteer work when in school in non-traditional settings so that your chances of “selling” your degree upon graduation increases. After all, odds are that you will not use it in a traditional sense unless you are OK with only working part time or for very low pay in a traditional library.

In addition to my current role with a firm, I’m now working on establishing myself as an independent info. pro. in the areas of Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For potential clients, I can “sell” my degree as one which helped develop fundamental research and organization skills, both key to helping in these areas. It also shows the ability to stick with a program.

This illustrates my point in that those with an MLS / MLIS need to learn how to creatively use the program and the degree to “sell” yourself into the modern market. Until programs make fundamental changes in their curriculum, it is up to those who get the degree to do this creative selling. I have seen that some programs are moving in this direction so perhaps most other programs will follow. Should this shift occur the legitimacy of the degree will follow.

Mary Ellen Bates

Justin, I appreciate your understanding that we have to sell ourselves. We don't deserve a job just because we have an MLS. That's often necessary but far from sufficient. On top of that, we have to show that we have real-world knowledge and experience.

It's up to each student to get what they need out of their MLS degree, regardless of whether their school has a particularly practical focus or not.

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