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:
- Can You Verify That? – InsideHigherEd.com, Feb. 6, 2013
- Yet Another Rankings Fabrication – InsideHigherEd.com, Jan. 2, 1013
- Alternative to Law School Rankings – InsideHigherEd.com, Nov. 1, 2012
- The U.S. News Seal of Approval Isn’t Free – Chronicle.com, Aug. 7, 2010
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.