Monday, March 10, 2008


A reader sent me the link to the NPR interview of Margaret B. Jones, the one who was recently exposed to be a fraud. She is right, it is very convincing. I'm finding myself very skeptical of other writers who are supposed to be true stories, or the author's life is part of the promotional hype, such as the Suite Francaise. The author, Irene Nemirovsky, died in a concentration camp and her daughter found the manuscript many years after WWII. I can't help doubting this, or how authentic the supposedly new book by Tolkien is. I suppose I should get over my skepticism and read the Suite Francaise, I've heard from several people that it is really good.

I think this reader makes some good points that I will have to ponder on a bit more over the question of "Why get an MLS?" I do agree that the practical experience in libraries after the degree is much more useful. I am going to dig around blogs and Web sites more to find a broader range of opinions and will summarize them soon.

She also asked me what I meant by first- and second-rate MLS programs. I probably sound elitist, since I went to what I consider one of the first-rate programs. By this, I don't been unaccredited. As far as I'm concerned, a degree from an unaccredited school is near useless. You must have a very hard time finding a job (and isn't that hard enough in our field, at least the first time around?). I suppose "ranked" programs might be a better phrase. My reference professor often had a grass-is-always-greener attitude, but said there were only a few library schools worth working at and he was at one of them already. He felt there were only about ten schools worth going to at all. That may be going a bit far.

Where I am at now, I work with two people who did a distance program though an un-ranked school. The difference between what they learned in school and what I learned is incredible. For instance, Indiana would not let you into your second semester without knowledge of HTML, it was necessary for the work we did later. That just scratches the surface of technology stuff. We also had to take an assessment class. It was expected that eventually we will all publish in our field. At least two-thirds of my professors had Ph.D.'s, whereas most of their professors were adjuncts. There is no way you could finish a degree in two years while working full time and commuting. Unless you totally ignored your family and didn't ever sleep or eat.

All three of us took Dialog and learned about reference interviews and resources. We all learned the basic professional theory. But they're telling me stories of meeting up on Saturdays to color bookmarks, other mindless assignments and useless teachers (their description, not mine). I am saying this honestly because both of them are incredibly intelligent. They chose this program because they had family obligations that tied them up geographically and financially. They are both librarians at heart, and have many talents. I was in a ranked program with plenty of people who were not librarians at heart and I have little respect for them, whereas I have very high respect for my two colleagues. So what am I trying to say in all of this rambling? There is definitely a difference between ranked programs and un-ranked (though I'm sure there are many mid-range ones that are quite good), though judging on the individual rather than the institution is still the most important thing.

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