library school f.a.q.


Believe it or not, I’m not too big on talking about myself when I’m at work.  People don’t come in just to see me, and I figure that most customers already have enough on their minds without me taking up precious brainspace.   Along those lines, I try to avoid asking about someone’s work or personal life.  In most cases, I’ll ask a general question, and see where it takes me.

All too often, though, this general question leads eventually in the same direction:

One day, the customer will say, “So… what else do you do?”

I haven’t quite figured out how this happens so often, but many of my regular customers have discovered that my career aspirations do not involve Starbucks.  Thus, I field questions nearly every day about my graduate education.  Over the course of the year that I’ve been in rad school, I’ve noticed that the same questions keep coming up over and over again.  So I’m doing what sounds like the most reasonable solution: compiling a list of frequently asked questions with the hope that every single one of my custys will see it and I will get to answer some fresh queries.

Here, in no particular order, are the answers to the most common questions and comments I get regarding library school.

You need a degree for that?
Yes.  In fact, you need two degrees.  After next May, I’ll be rocking my BA in English writing and an MS in Library and Information Science with a School Media specialty.  During boot camp, one of our classes was taught by the program director, the revered Scott Nicholson.  Something he said at the very beginning stuck with me and washed me in the unmistakable warmth of pride: once I have my degree, I will be a Master of Information.  Alright, I’ll be a Mistress of Information, but you see that such a prestigious role requires a good education.

Isn’t that a long commute?
No.  The walk from my coffee pot to my desk is about eight feet.  That is, my education is online.  I spent two weeks at SU last summer for the aforementioned boot camp, and I’ll have to go back for another overnight in September.  Other than that, I work from wherever I can tote my laptop along.

How does the online thing work?
The format varies with each professor, but they usually follow the same general structure.  Each week, we are assigned readings and often a lecture.  Lectures can be PowerPoints, slideshows with audio, YouTube videos, podcasts, or whatever tool the professor feels like using.  We then light up the discussion boards, where, in many cases, each student takes a turn facilitating the weekly topics.  The discussion board looks a little like this:

discussion threads

This is just a small portion of the week’s thread.  As you can see, keeping up with the discussion boards is quite a task.

Aside from the “class time” of online learning, we still have to write papers, do group work, and complete tasks and projects in local libraries.  If I had my way, we would all receive an extra degree in navigating the learning management system.   I would also have a specialty in Bejeweled.

No way! My brother’s best friend’s cousin is a librarian!
I am thrilled to almost no end that there are so many librarians out there, and even more so that virtually everyone I’ve ever talked to about rad school can relate to librarians on some level.  I appreciate the kindness, but I will politely decline your offer to put me in contact with an archivist in Saskatoon.  Besides, we all eat dinner together on the third Wednesday of every other month.  True story.

I went to Syracuse!  How’s life on the Hill?!
My opportunity to study through such an incredible institution of higher learning is something that I am grateful for every day.  SU is a great school, and I am immensely stoked that my program is nationally ranked.  However,  I will likely embarrass myself if I become involved in conversations about Marshall Street or Orange People.  I only say this because it has happened before… on numerous occasions.

So where do you plan on taking your degree?
The short answer: wherever the wind blows me!
The real version: I’m not sure yet.  When I started my program, I opted for School Media just to keep my options open, but I was pretty set on working in a college library.  In the past year, I’ve had so much exposure to public and high school libraries that I can no longer claim to have my five-year plan set in stone.  This has been a fantastic blessing, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities come my way.
I will say that I cannot picture myself in an elementary setting.  It takes a very special person to be able to devote so much time and energy on cultivating the minds of our youth, and I am fairly certain that I am just not that special.

Karen!  Never in a million years would I ever picture you as a librarian!
I know!  Me either!  But I know that I am on the best possible path for me, and I would be foolish to question such a great feeling.
Also, I know about a hundred future librarians who are working every day to shatter your preconceived notions of what librarianship is.  We’re not cardigan-wearing, pencil-in-the-hair, shushing types.  We are activists, fun-loving teachers, and technological whizzes who just happen to have an insatiable thirst for information and want to share that thirst with everyone – even though I’ve been known to wear a cardigan and put writing utensils in my hair.

There isn’t any money in being a librarian, is there?
Maybe.  Probably not.  I don’t know, but that’s not why I’m here.  I think I can safely speak for the majority on that one.

How long is that going to take you?
For me, library school is a two-year endeavor.  I take two classes each semester, which is full time around here.  Throw in summer classes, fieldwork, and practica, and I’ve got myself a degree!  As far as I know, this is the standard calendar for those in my program.

To those who have asked one or more of these, thank you for taking such an interest in me and my studies.  I genuinely appreciate your inquisitiveness, and look forward to one day writing another round of frequently asked questions!


7 Responses to “library school f.a.q.”

  1. 1 Ana

    Great post! I can relate to so many of those questions…the commute..the no way!

    loved it! And Elementary school librarians are hugely overworked compared to what we saw at East. Mind-boggling really. But you know what, most the kids even the bratty ones are a bit sweet. I have never gotten so many compliments on my hair as I have in the past two weeks at school #39…

  2. 2 Rebecca B

    This is great Karen! I’ve had similar questions and have given similar answers, but in not nearly as entertaining or a witty manner! Thanks for posting this!

  3. 3 Jocelyn Ozolins

    Just read about your blog in MSLIS news. This is funny and so true!

  4. 4 Andy

    You sure do use a lot of big words!!!!

  1. 1 MSLIS News » Blog Archive » Library distance student FAQ
  2. 2 Distance Student FAQ « OrangeLearners
  3. 3 ndlw: a day in the life « karen.the.librarian

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