But that's not what I'm writing about, so pardon the detour. As you might know, I've been seriously considering earning my master's in library science (MLS) in order to become a reference/research/instructional librarian in an academic institution. With this in mind I've arranged to spend a few weeks shadowing the librarians at Regent University, particularly those who work in public services. It's been so helpful to see what may lie on the other side of graduate school, the day to day routines and tasks that come with the work. Each of the librarians and staff members has been very accommodating, especially my liason, Marta. I'm getting more and more excited about my career!
Thus far, I've peeked into several departments at Regent Library, including the reference desk, circulation, periodicals, acquisitions, cataloguing, technical systems, and today I even sat in on the reference meeting. Here are some particular things I've learned in my hours at Regent:
- it's imperative that I gain practical experience while earning my degree. The credentials are useless without applying the knowledge, and application is what employers are looking for.
- become fluent in the language of technology. It's not worth the money to hire a librarian who cannot use the computer. Like it or not, technology is fast becoming the library's framework, and it is a useful tool.
- that second master's degree sets the applicant apart and enables her to specialize in a particular department, something which is almost necessary in academic libraries and collection development, reference instruction, and all the rest that comes with the job. I was rather crestfallen to hear that I need to commit to earning two master's degrees rather than just the MLS, but now that I hear that I can land a job with the MLS and then earn my second while working--and probably find tuition reimbursement among my benefits, I'm delighted to have that opportunity. So...a master's in Southern literature? Medieval theology?
I've gotten the course descriptions from University of Kentucky's school of library science, and I will also look into UNC at Chapel Hill and Greensboro, both schools in neighboring North Carolina. Each of these three schools are part of the academic common market, granting Virginia residents instate tuition, which, need I say, helps me tremendously.