As a student with Emporia State University’s MLS program, I am not fully satisfied with my educational options. I want a certificate in web design, but such a program is not offered. We have excellent certificates in archives and a youth services. But in terms of emerging technologies we have just the few, basic class offerings. Before for I get ahead of myself, let me explain where this desire comes from…
…I had an a-ha moment about a year into my program. After completing the required web design program, I attended InfoCamp Seattle, a unConference where all sorts of people gather to talk about user experience (also known as UX). To be honest, I had little user experience knowledge before attending, so I had to give my self a bit of a crash course: UX is a way of looking at how patrons (or users or students or customers) interact with your systems. While not limited to technology, UX has really grown out of the studies of human-computer interaction. InfoCamp brought together people interested in marketing, design, information architecture, design, programming, everyone (or so it seemed).
And this is where I had my a-ha moment: Librarianship is transforming, and while service remains at the heart of the industry, how we provide service is changing. There is still a need for the traditional services that libraries provide, but there is just as great a need for providing innovative ways for individuals to interact with information.
And I want to provide these services. But I don’t feel prepared. I want a certificate. So what’s a library student to do? Start hacking.
Just this week I was accepted into Portland Community College, where I will enroll in their web design certificate program. Yes, I could have looked at a more prestigious program. For example, UW’s Human-Computer Interaction & Design program. But that is a bit to expensive, and I don’t want to quit my job and move to Seattle. Attending PCC will allow me to keep my current job and continue fostering the professional networks I’ve built here in Portland.
Granted, this is not an ideal situation. I am going to have to take out a little bit more in loans, and I’m going to be in school another year. But I am not sure if I am ready for the real world. The MLS has given me a solid foundation, but my convictions about web design is strong enough to have me perusing a formal certificate program. And this experience will help me with my eventual professional job search (and allow me to put it off just a little but longer).
My time as a library student has taught me that there aren’t perfect programs out there. Not only do you have to deal with the common questions of location, cost, distance learning vs. traditional classroom learning, you also have to try to find a program that meets the goals you have set for yourself.
My time with Hack Library School has also taught me that you don’t have to accept the conditions and parameters your educators have already set for you. With some creative problem solving and a little tenacity, you can create your own program and your own educational experience. And the ability to do that is probably going to take you a lot farther than just your average MLS program. So, when you find yourself unsatisfied with your program, just start hacking…