Why Library School?

I was so shocked the first time I learned that most libraries require a masters degree for librarians.

“What exactly do they need to learn in school? Doesn’t everyone know how to Google?” (I only realized I was so wrong after the first semester in library school — I learned A TON.)

I remember telling myself, “That is such a weird and expensive degree to learn how to search for things. I will never get that degree.” Plus, everyone said that people who work at libraries are just reading books all day, right? (Wrong!)

After working as a library aide for few months, I moved into another position to help on the reference desk. At that time, my former supervisor told me to consider getting a library science degree so that I could move up in the future. I still didn’t think that was a good idea.

It was not until when I saw how happy all the other librarians I was working with were that I decided to give it a try. I got to learn about what they do: deciding what books to order, creating different fun programs, involving in community work, and most importantly, serving people everyday. I want those. 

I fell in love with the work environment. I fell in love with the nature of the work. I fell in love with the people I work with — I have not yet met a librarian who is not kind and helpful. I fell in love with the job that allowed me to come to work everyday, talk to different people, and use my knowledge and skills to serve.

And in order to continue moving up in the library and not feeling stuck, I need the degree. So now you see the reason I go to library school. I love the work. I would love to acquire the skills and qualifications to order books and create programs. 

Why do you want to go to library school?

There are different emphasizes offered by library schools: technology, library service, archive — no matter which area you are interested in, make sure you always have the main reason you want to go to library school in mind. There are times you might want to give up. During the journey, there will be people judging on your decision: why library science? Aren’t libraries dying? What are you going to do with your degree?

Think about why you applied in the first place. Write it down. Put it on your desktop wallpaper. Remind yourself of your goal. If they are still what you want, then don’t give up. Hang in there! There was this time when I wanted to give up. My husband asked me, “You are growing old everyday — 10 years later, do you want to be 10 years older without the degree, or 10 years older with the degree?”

For those who are considering applying to library school, be sure to think about why you want to get the degree. Shadow at libraries, museums, corporate record management department, etc., see if you like the work. I know some people think that librarians only need to read all day, but that’s not the case. Library work is a type of customer service, and librarians rarely have chance to read for leisure at work. After identifying your goal, research on schools that could help you achieve them. You can read the suggestions on choosing a program from fellow HLS bloggers Janette and Alison.

May we all be able to achieve our goals!

Cover photo: Studying under CC BY 2.0

Alice Law is a MLIS student at Wayne State University. 

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