Q:HI! I have an honours degree in an unrelated field. I am considering MLIS & starting experience in a library setting soon. I have heard that the toughest part of MLIS is that it's more of a test of endurance regarding work load as opposed to the work itself. I would love to know a little about your personal experience of the course. I am similar age to you, but quite shy & beginning to doubt myself on this one. A lot. Any words of advice or insight would so really appreciated. Thanks in advance!
I don’t know where you’re planning on studying, or if you’re considering an online or in-person course. The advice I have to offer is based on my experience studying for an MLIS in Dublin, Ireland. From what I read from my fellow Tumblarians abroad, many aspects of my experience differ from those who did the course in North America. The main difference is that, here, the MLIS is a one-year course - two thirty-credit semesters and a thirty credit Capstone (which was a group research project and thesis). In my case I actually took three semesters (plus the Capstone) as I had to take some time off through illness.
But anyway. Keeping the above in mind, here are the main challenges I faced during my MLIS.
Group work - This is possibly where the age (and resulting life and work experience) really showed. Groups were almost always assigned. Being thrown together with different personalities was almost always difficult. I am a perfectionist and a hard worker. I found it incredibly frustrating to work with people who just wanted to pass, people who insisted on doing only the section of the project which most interested them and people who expected me (due to my age and personality) to do more work than everyone else. I did learn how to overcome these difficulties. On a few occasions, myself and a few like-minded others approached professors before groups were formed and requested to be put together. This saved quite a lot of stress.
Volume of work - I won’t lie. The volume of assignments and reading was hard to keep up with at times. This might be because I was taking five modules per semester. I’m also not particularly good at completing assignments early (though I had to change this particular habit). There were some weeks where I thought I’d never get through everything. As with group work, my perfectionism was a hindrance here. However, I did get through it. And even when there were weeks with multiple assignments due, those weeks ended. And the stress gave way to sheer, exhausted relief. Two things helped most during these periods. The first was keeping a calendar of when things were due (and how much they were worth). Here’s my calendar for the first semester to give you an idea:
The other thing that got me through the stress was coming onto Tumblr. It was a space where I could vent, look for advice and read about how others were getting on. It was also somewhere where I could follow actual, qualified librarians and remind myself why I was doing this in the first place.
Peer hysterics - When I was an undergraduate (and even when I was completing my first Masters), Facebook didn’t exist (or, in the case of my first Masters, didn’t exist as it does now). There were no class groups. Initially, I thought the MLIS Facebook group would be a plus. A place to rant about assignments! A place to share resources! A place to virtually hang out with my classmates! No. People didn’t share. People didn’t support each other. People stressed out about essays and projects. Group hysterics can be contagious. I often thought I’d done all I could with an assignment - even finishing a day or two before it was due - and then I’d see ten posts (with multiple comments) where people were asking whether fifteen pages was enough (CRAP - I’ve only got twelve!), whether anyone else used X reference (UH OH), what a particular sentence in the assignment criteria meant (I DIDN’T SEE THAT) or whether anyone else had spent twenty bazillion hours on research (I NEED MY SLEEP). So yeah. If you’re like me, probably stay away from these groups, or at least keep notifications at bay when you’re working on something.
Actual MLIS work - Like you intimated in your question, this wasn’t the main issue. Mostly, I enjoyed the content of the modules I took. I found the readings interesting. I got so stuck into the assignments that I got further ideas for other assignments. Sure, there were some courses I found difficult (mainly Management and Statistics) but most of them were fine. And if I had been less of a perfectionist, even the workload wouldn’t have been too heavy.
During my time as an MLIS student, it was my life. I didn’t socialise much and I didn’t have a job. In retrospect, I should have made more time to see friends. I would have benefited from a part-time library job too (though I’m not sure how I would have fitted this in). But there isn’t much else I could have changed. I knew it was going to be hard work. I met some interesting people - fellow students, lecturers and guest speakers - and I learned a hell of a lot.
I had doubts before I started my MLIS and I certainly had doubts during it, but none of them were doubts about whether I wanted to become a librarian. I doubted my ability to get through it and whether I’d be able to stick it. During the course of my second semester, I became ill and had to go into hospital. I was in hospital for three months, but my department were very supportive about enabling me to return and complete the degree. I don’t think I’d have had the heart to do this if I hadn’t wanted the qualification at the end. I’m graduating (with first class honours - something I’m very proud of!) next week, as well as starting my first library job on Monday. It was a tough road, but oh so worth it.
I wish you the best of luck with your decision. I’m sure others in the Tumblarian community have experience to share too, so I invite them to add theirs to my own.
Librarians get little education in research design and then are told they must do research to keep their jobs. If we can barely find the time to do our scholarship, is it any wonder that we don’t have time to become good researchers?
For all its faults, my MLIS was pretty good on research and research design.
Thank you for posting this, this gives me a great idea of some of the courses that one can take in library school. :-)
Haha, you’re very welcome - and I’m glad I could inadvertently help! I would have also taken a couple of YA and education modules, but I have a background as an English teacher so I decided to go with new stuff instead. I have more details about the courses I’ve taken in my MLIS tag. Also feel free to send an ask if you want to ask about anything I’ve taken.
Oh my sweet library god. I just made a list for myself and I need to put it on here to show off a little (!). Humour me, lovelies.
Mod 1 - Information and Reference Services (10 credits) Mod 2 - Research Methods I (7.5 credits) Mod 3 - Information Architecture (5 credits) Mod 4 - Management for Info Profs (5 credits) Mod 5 - Creating and Publishing Digital Media (5 credits) Mod 6 - Research Methods II (7.5 credits) Mod 7 - Organisation of Info, Cataloguing and Metadata (10 credits)
Mod 8 - Digital Libraries (5 credits)
Mod 9 - Web Publishing (5 credits)
Capstone Project - group project and thesis (30 credits)
See that? 10 credits left to earn! And by 17th December, I will be finished my MLIS! (Take that fate…)
SAME. The Director sent out a email about it and I’ve been paranoid ever since. But I still do it.
LOL I’m at work right now!
I’m pretty sure this is universal. How else could you all explain filling up my dash during my GMT +1 evening?! Tumblarians are breaking social networking rules, left, right and centre! (And I love them for it.)
My excuse? I’m writing an MLIS essay about Tumblr tagging…
I have had some excellent responses to my Tumblr plea for help. Thanks to all you lovely Tumblarians who took time out of your weekends to send me your tagging styles. I truly appreciate your help.
My essay is mainly looking at how Tumblr could be seen as an example of how user-driven metadata seeks out rules, order and organisation (and saying this, not necessarily the same rules for different communities within Tumblr). I’m finding it fascinating.
I’ve spent much of today trawling through Tumblr’s shady crevices - namely tags ranting about Tumblr etiquette and much echoed rules like “Don’t tag your hate” and “How to tag for triggers” amongst others - and it’s been very revealing. Once I’m done with this essay, I’m hoping to compile a post made up of all these rules, as well as how tagging actually works.
Oh, and also: it’s not too late to telling me about your tagging and tracking, so do send me an ask if you have a couple of minutes to spare (details in above link).
If I could be so bold as to ask for a moment of your time, Tumblarians…
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing a paper on “user-added metadata” - as in, folksonomies or ‘tagging’ - and I’d be really interested (and incredibly grateful!) to hear your answers to the following questions.
Which tracked tags do you view most on Tumblr?
What library/librarian tags do you track on Tumblr?
Which (if any) tags/hashtags do you follow on other social media sites such as Twitter or Pinterest?
That heart attack moment when you realise you have forgotten about a web publishing assignment that’s due at 12pm tomorrow. ACK. Best get coding…
We all mean different things when we say the same word and we all use different words to say the same thing.
- My Digital Libraries professor, KS
(One example is ‘course’ v ‘module’.)
I’ve been trawling through qualitative data analysis allllll day and I am so tired. I’m finding small things frustrating - like not being able to scroll through documents like normal, but having to click on the downward arrow. Oh and the fact that the text select is clumsy. But I have to keep going. This needed to be done days ago…
Back to mah data.
(Incidentally,does anyone else use Dedoose for this or do people prefer N Vivo? Or something else?)
So in MLIS news…
An online assignment I submitted in August has been lost and the file on my laptop is corrupted. (It flashes up saying it can’t read the XML file.) I’ve managed to recover some of it by reading it as a Google Doc but about ten questions are gone. Argh. Looks like I’ll have to do those again.
I also have two major assignments which are due really soon. They’re both make-up assignments from last semester. (For those new to my blog, I missed half a semester due to illness.) One is a hefty qualitative research report (which involves a lot of coding - thank Merlin for Dedoose) and the other is a more traditional essay on Cataloguing. I’ve had to request an extension for the latter as I’m finding it hard to keep up with current classwork and do these catch-up assignments from last year.
I’m enjoying the classes I’m taking this semester - Web Publishing and Digital Libraries, for anyone who’s interested. I’m really looking forward to having the catch up work out of the way so I can focus on the present.
I’ve applied for a bottom rung library job, so we’ll see how that goes.
My lecturer and I may have fangirled over the Lizzie Bennet Diaries in today’s Digital Libraries class. We had to stop squeeing when we realised the rest of the class hadn’t watched it (yet).
(Incidentally it was used as an example of two different “works”, one an adaptation of the other, using vastly different media.)
Semester 3, Week 2
So how are all the MLISers doing? I’m heading to bed early in order to be up bright and early tomorrow morning to finish my reading for an afternoon class. Week 2 isn’t going to be particularly heavy, but I have an essay and a report due in two weeks so I’m going to try to make some (major) headway this week. (I’m going to a wedding this weekend so I doubt there’ll be much time for studying.)
This week, I’m excited about:
- The fact that my e-learning account has finally been updated;
- My effervescent Digital Libraries lecturer kicking ass (as usual);
- Hopefully making a little cash from selling last year’s textbooks; and,
- Sampling the huge new range of gluten free snacks in the Students’ Union shop.
This week I’m nervous about:
- Picking the right essay title for my Cataloguing assignment (I kind of wish I had less choice);
- Walking a few miles a day on a really sore foot; and,
- Overcoming my weird sleep-cycle in order to properly wake up in time for 9-5 desk-work.
I’m aware these aren’t necessarily library school-related, but life is life, even if you’re a future librarian. :)
How is everyone else getting on? Any highs or lows?
Group Projects: the show where everyone is offended by some decision and the points do matter!
Truer words were never spoken! This semester I have ZERO group projects, and after the joy of eleven over the last two semesters, I am thanking the MLIS gods on high.