A Meandering Post About Starting My 2nd Masters

Haven’t posted in awhile…time, time, time…you’ll see why below…

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When I started my first academic librarian job in 2003, it was stressed upon me that I needed a 2nd master’s degree. Then that requirement was mysteriously dropped at my workplace. I happily slummed it for the next decade-plus with “just” my MLS (my high school-educated parents were damn proud of that master’s degree…even more so than me).

Unlike some people with a detailed career plan, I’ve meandered from here to there–mostly focused on the position and location.

I’ve never worked at a research institution, nor have I been an in-depth subject expert. My bachelor’s degree is in history, but that was an afterthought and I don’t feel any strong connection to it. So for my interests (YMMV!), the 2nd master’s didn’t matter as much. Never had any academic librarians question it career-wise, but I’m sure I avoided any institutions where a 2nd master’s was required.

However, in the back of my mind, I thought: If the right opportunity would present itself, I would go back and earn that 2nd master’s. But I had a couple of big stipulations:

  1. The degree needed to be in a field that interested me.
  2. I wasn’t willing to pay tuition or take out loans.

For the people who say “you can’t put a price on educationUmm, yes, you can. It’s called your tuition bill. Despite working in higher ed, I had never worked at an institution that offered tuition remission to employees for grad programs.

Now at my current workplace, I have that opportunity and I’m taking advantage of it. I’ve started a master of education in adult and continuing education.

Since becoming a librarian, my specialty has been in information literacy: How do students seek and evaluate information? How do students learn? What barriers prevent them from learning? I also watch students make that transition from high school to college (and become adults in the process)–not to mention non-traditional students with their diverse needs. All of this is a good match for adult and continuing education.

So I’m back in class…formally. First time since 2002 when there was no Facebook, YouTube, or smartphones. I will admit to being intimidated. Do students still take notes on paper? Do I bring my iPad? The answer is yes to both questions.

This semester, I’m taking 2 classes: “Foundations of Adult Education” and “Teaching and Learning Across the Lifespan.” Because this is an education program, the focus has been PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE, whereas I felt my MLS focused on CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT. In my mind, librarianship should ultimately be the merger of the two.

Thinking back, as someone who has always been a public-facing librarian, I wish I had had more content on educational theory, instructional techniques, group dynamics, and organizational leadership–something that went beyond the two basic classes I took in library school: “Education of Information Users” and “Management and Administration of Libraries.” Although I’ve always kept up professional development-wise: reading articles, attending & presenting at conferences, participating in webinars – I feel like my M.Ed. program is helping to fill in some holes I had. And the course materials? I knew it was good stuff when I saw “information literacy” being bandied about early on in one of my textbooks. Music to my ears!

So I’m going to see if they can teach an old dog new tricks (research says yes, by the way 🙂 ). As a result, I may not be posting here as regularly as I had in the past. Time to hit the books!

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17 thoughts on “A Meandering Post About Starting My 2nd Masters

  1. I have also been contemplating a second masters degree, but as I just finished my M.L.I.S. May 2014, I’m in no hurry. And I share your feelings of not wanting to pay for it at all! But then I worry…I currently have two part-time Reference & Instruction Librarian positions, one at a community college and the other at a university, and having a second masters might help me break into a full-time position. Right now, I’m focused more on professional development, attending conferences and networking.

    I have also thought heavily about what the second masters degree might be. My bachelors is politicial science, which I love, so I considered a masters in the social sciences, or maybe English, which just sounds like fun! But as I’ve met people with masters degrees in education, and I have found that I love information literacy and teaching students (and I could really use some further development in that area), I’m considering that instead. Keep us posted on how it goes.

    • Thanks…I definitely agree with the not wanting to pay part! Just wasn’t willing to go into debt for something that went beyond the terminal degree I needed. Best of luck in whatever you decide what works for you!

  2. Good for you!

  3. I’m still working on my first Master’s degree, which, to date, has been strictly an online venture. I love being able to drink a glass of wine while I’m in class! I also think it makes me a better writer. Well, anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    Melissa

  4. Congratulations on plunging back into Higher Ed Joe! My MLIS is my second Masters, started when I was, well let’s just say for now SOME years after my first Masters (which was a couple years after my undergrad degrees). I started my first blog about restarting Higher Ed with all these fresh tools and systems (and fresh-faced people). I worked hard to keep it away from Google. Now I think it’s pretty hilarious and I’ve been sharing the link to anyone that wants a few laughs. http://huntvale.info/blog/ You’ll see most of my posts were quite meandering. I even think there are some I forgot to publish (as I learned WordPress nuance). I hope we continue to hear from you on your journey as time permits of course.

  5. Master of Ed will give you kudos among your academic colleagues – adult pedagogy, terminology and exposure to digitally based education. I have high regard for any “grown-up person” returning to study!

  6. Congratulations Joe! And you’ll do great! I started my career as a technical services librarian in a public library, and am now and instruction librarian at an academic library, so I totally get your feeling of needing more instructional theory in your library degree. I ended up solving that by getting a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Library and Info Science from San Jose State University. Just finished it over the summer, and it’s given me so much new knowledge regarding librarianship and library instruction.

  7. I certainly agree that Library&Info Masters needs more education content. I recently went to a Teaching Evidence Based Medicine short course at Oxford and it was brilliant – gave me some of the educational know-how I needed. I hadn’t learnt anything about education or teaching methods before that in all my years of library ed.

  8. Congratulations on starting a second master’s! I’ve just started my first masters in librarinship, and had very similar fears over starting education again. For me it’s only been three years, but that’s more than enough time to forget how to write an essay properly!

    Interestingly, one of my first two modules is Information Literacy, so I’m currently learning about learning styles, teaching styles and other information finding cycles. It really is interesting, and has much more depth than I ever suspected. I don’t do a lot of teaching in my assistant job currently, but I bet it’ll be useful in future jobs (or that’s the idea). It’s so interesting to see how librarians can be teachers as well.

    I hope that you enjoy your new masters, and good luck with your work!

  9. Congratulations Joe! I’m considering going back to school for a certificate of advanced studies. I wanted to ask how it was going so far? Especially taking 2 classes. I would like to take 2 classes, but I haven’t been a student for quite some time. How do you find the time?

    • Hi Ruth…so far so good. I’m in one online course and one in person course. For the online course, I’ve really had to pick and choose what I thought was most important for me to read. There’s a 12-pg paper due at the end of the semester, but besides that it’s mostly been weekly discussion postings and short 1-pg. reaction papers. For the in-person course, it’s been group work and I have a formal presentation to give in a couple of weeks. I usually spend my lunch break reading my texts. Then each evening I usually spend about an hour doing coursework, with extra (3 hours?) on Sunday. It’s manageable…but not fun 🙂 – although I have found the course content interesting. And now I basically have 1 more month and then semester will already be over!!! Then a break for the holidays!

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