My super organized, intelligent classmate and fellow INTJ Adelle Frank has provided several useful tips on how to successfully get through an MLIS program without wanting to rip your hair out or kick the cat. In her post Secrets and Tips: How to Survive Library School in 5 Simple Steps, Adelle provides useful information for anyone considering going into grad school while working full-time. My personal favorite nugget of wisdom is reposted below:
“IV. Keep it relevant
Relevance is another key to surviving and thriving in your library program. If you don’t care, your work will show it and you won’t get much out of it. And what fun would that be?!
“Leave aside for a moment the fact that you will have at least one required course that just rubs you the wrong way and focus on what you want to get out of this degree, other than letters at the end of your name.
In required classes, try to find the parts that could be useful to your current or future career.
In choosing classes and projects, pick with an eye to those that interest you or fit into your current/proposed career path.”
However, I am inspired to share my own perspective:
First off…don’t let some of the stuff about the reading scare you…an MLIS program is not really super-hard or challenging (except when you are left to your own devices to figure out certain kinds of technology). In fact, I struggled more with grades in my undergrad than I did in Library School. I will be honest…I maybe did half of the listed readings (80% of which were out of date anyway), and have not made less than an A on anything in my program. It’s what I like to call “slacking smart.” And I am not really all that smart. A lot of the work is tedious busywork (especially in your core classes), and just something that you have to plow your way through. Any veteran librarian will tell you…library school is just something you “get through.”
This is why I cited the paragraph above…what you learn in library school is so different from what librarians actually do, and some of the work is boring, so you want to make it relevant to your interests. Plus, library positions are pretty adamant about your experience with certain software, metadata schemas, etc. Library school is the time to go out of your comfort zone and develop these skills, and if you don’t do something perfectly, it’s OK, you’re a student. In other words, to get a good challenge out of your program, don’t be afraid to take on things that are novel. After all, you are paying good money for that degree, make something of it!
TIP: professional association dues are a LOT cheaper for students so you want to get involved in those as well. It is hard to juggle that and your full-time workload and classes, but committee participation is more long-term-oriented and only requires maybe 1-2 extra hours a week, depending.
That being said, however, I must take heed to Adelle’s advice and GET SOME SLEEP. It’s after 1 AM already! O_O