U.S. News & World Report just released new rankings of graduate schools in library science. Isn’t ranking library schools sort of like ranking the socks in your drawer? It does not matter.
I hope that prospective MLS students don’t read the rankings and think, “Gee, I need to go to THAT library school!”
These rankings have repeatedly been called into question. The prime reason is the methodology:
The rankings are based solely on the results of a fall 2012 survey sent to the dean of each program, the program director, and a senior faculty member in each program.
The library and information studies specialty ratings are based solely on the nominations of program deans, program directors, and a senior faculty member at each program. They were asked to choose up to 10 programs noted for excellence in each specialty area. Those with the most votes are listed.
Not a good research methodology, is it?–something that I suspect any MLS student could tell you. The issue of college rankings (both undergraduate and graduate programs) and the data that is gathered has been scrutinized by higher ed periodicals and websites. Just take a look at:
So what should a prospective MLS student do? I’ve written about this before, but when it comes to library school, just pick the cheapest (in state vs. out of state) or most convenient (online vs. on-campus) option that’s available to you. The coursework provides the base and the theory, but it’s experience that will get you a job. If you’re just taking the classes, you’re doing it wrong.
I remember students in my program complaining that the MLS coursework wasn’t “academic” enough, but I think it’s important to remember that you are in a professional program. You are training for a career, not writing a dissertation. It’s up to you to turn the coursework into something worthwhile. Work as a paraprofessional or library assistant during library school. Do an internship, practicum, or volunteer. These experiences will help you land a job better than any course you take.
I’ve never looked at anyone’s résumé and thought, “Wow, they graduated from a top ranked library school! Let’s hire him/her.” So ignore the rankings. Focus on gaining some relevant experience instead.
Eat The Frog!
Yesterday I attended a session about the work/life balance: practical tips, advice, and sharing of ideas. Up until this semester, I had a pretty good work/life balance: I have my friends and family, a hobby I’m passionate about (amateur photography), and I usually don’t take my work home.
But this semester has been a little crazy: I’m teaching a semester-long class on top of my full-time librarian gig, I’m chairing a university committee, I have two presentations to give in April & May, a week-long trip to London, a trip to Canada penciled in, and a commute that’s wearing on me. I know it sounds like I’m complaining. A trip to London? Boo-hoo. I’m not some Type A personality who thrives on this. That’s so “not me.” I’m just feeling overwhelmed at this point. I’ll be glad when this semester is over and things return to a more “normal” level for me. I know it’s temporary. So I’ll be OK…but rest assured, I’m counting the weeks until May!
One big thing I took away from the work/life balance session was the “Eat The Frog” idea to prioritizing your work (there’s even a self-help book about it). One of my library colleagues shared it with me. The idea here is to stop procrastinating with work projects and prioritize them. Picture yourself as literally having to eat a live frog every day at work. What could be worse than this? Would you put it off? Wait til the end of the day to do it? No! You wouldn’t want it to drag on. You’d be thinking about having to eat that frog all day long!
So, what’s the strategy? Eat the frog first! Tackle the hardest or most unpleasant tasks right off the bat when you get into work. Get them done and out of the way. Then you can move on to things that you enjoy.
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. – Mark Twain
Another thing that helps me prioritize is my trusty office whiteboard. Electronic “sticky notes” or reminders on my iPhone don’t cut it for me. I must see my to-do list on my whiteboard at all times. It’s right at my eye-level, so as I’m going through emails on my computer, editing documents, working in D2L, doing social media stuff for the library–my to-do list is always within view. It’s how I stay on task.
So for me, it’s frogs and old school whiteboards that keep me in line! What about you?
My Trusty Whiteboard
Poster sessions are a great opportunity to get your feet into the water and show off research you’ve done, a project you have implemented, or a new service you are providing.
More low-key than a full blown conference presentation, poster sessions are akin to an elevator speech – “Hey, look at these cool things I’m doing!” – as a librarian, that’s what I love about them: I get practical ideas and advice in a short amount of time that I can adapt or re-tool for my library.
At the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference, I presented my first poster session: Assessment into Action: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners. It was a great experience. I enjoyed taking a topic that I was interested in and using my design/creative skills to come up with a poster to share the information.
This semester, I’m teaching an undergrad information science class at my university. One of the projects that students are currently working on is a poster presentation.
Whether the students go on to grad school or out into the work field right away, a poster session is something that they are likely to encounter. To get them thinking about poster presentations, I shared some helpful links with them covering content, design, and software to use. These links can be tremendously useful if you’re new to poster presentations, so I thought I’d share…
If you have any links to share, let me know!
My poster presentation for the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference