School-Schmool/Masters-Schmasters - Ya Need the Big Picture!

A great post from Mr. Library Dude questions whether it really matters exactly what MLIS school program you go through to get your degree and be employable.  My favorite paragraph: " I’ve never looked at anyone’s resume/cover letter and thought: “Wow, she graduated from X library school!” Library school is what you make of it. The MLS is just the basic requirement for the job. If all you do is take the required courses, but get no work experience, then you are setting yourself up for failure." He advocates instead making sure you have some work experience; get with mentor(s); be willing to move; learn to market yourself and your skills among other direct advice.

As someone who has worked with many people from various graduate schools, both at the libraries I've worked at and professionally on a state and national level , I agree with Joe.  It ain't the school -and I would add, it ain't the degree.  It's the passion, the ability to look at the big picture of serving our communities and making information, literacy and books (in whatever format) touch those communities in a meaningful way. You can have a string of letters after your name, but if you can't see the forest for the trees, you'll never make a great librarian.

I have worked with amazing and less-than-amazing folks over my 36+ year career and have been humbled by the amazing work of lots of non-degreed library staffers. I have also been underwhelmed by any number of MLSed blessed professionals who have the letters but are clueless on how to really bring great service to the table.

Having just gone through the hiring process, I agree with Joe.  I didn't care what school someone went through. I was looking for the telltale signs that spoke to the person's passion, energy and ability to see beyond Library Practices 101 and think about the real world of library work.  I was happy to see so many great candidates who fit that description but it was still a distinct minority of our applicant pool.  Folks who hire assume you can do the work.  The real issue is whether you can dream, imagine and then create the new reality that looking at the big picture of library work demands.


  1. Outstanding post from an Outstanding Librarian who is filled with passion and the ability to inspire.

  2. This is an important point! Especially for people who are considering starting school and taking on debt. If you consider the difficulty finding work post graduation, it makes very little sense to go for a more expensive school and give yourself massive student loans to pay off.