Editor’s note: This article was originally published on February 2, 2011.
As I’m sure many readers can attest to, it can be difficult to figure out the “right” path to take in library school in terms of courses. Since I was fairly undecided as to what type of library I wanted to work in I was hoping to take a little bit of everything during my time in graduate school. At Simmons, as part of the general course towards a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, there are 5 required classes and then you can choose your other 7 electives. You can see my final list of courses here. As you may be able to tell, I was a little all over the board. I think that’s because, often, this can be a bit of an organic process where you start seeing what you like and don’t like, based on classes, internships, other experiences, etc.
However, none of this probably helps, necessarily, to answer the question, ‘What Classes Should I Take?!’ And as you may have guessed, there is obviously not a clear answer to that. I will, however, try to briefly describe my favorite classes and why they ended up on the short list. I also cannot emphasize this enough. I wish that I had spoken more with other students at the beginning of my program to find out more about certain professors and classes. Your colleagues are your lifelines. Use their expertise!!
This class taught me actual skills! From HTML and CSS to web design and interface for libraries and information centers. Linda Braun was the professor and she has years of experience with the subject matter and is currently working in the field, which I feel is so important. Not only did we learn super practical applications (that look all nice on a resume) but as the class was taught virtually she also utilized different web applications like Skype and Twitter so that she was available whenever you had a question or were about to scream because your columns weren’t lining up on your site. And at the end of the class we all had something we could add to our portfolios.
This class actually took place during winter break over 5 days from 9:30-5:30. It was taught by the former Dean of my program, Jim Matarazzo. Dean Matarazzo has years of experience in special and corporate libraries, including consulting work for companies and corporations. As he had helped me with internship ideas when I first started the program I was eager to take this class from him, especially as I now find myself working in a corporate library. Throughout the week we were lucky enough to visit actual corporate/special libraries or to conference call different librarians. It was so wonderful to get to see the different types of places where information professionals are employed, from the EPA to economic consulting offices. Even better, to be able to ask questions of these librarians and to see what there day-to-day work is like was so valuable.
So what have you liked/disliked about classes in your program? If there is something you want to learn but your program doesn’t offer it, are you taking steps to learn about it elsewhere?
What about your professors? Do they have experience in the field? In libraries, museums, archives, etc? Should they?