Library and Information Studies

When I tell people that I am working on my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies (MLIS) I hear, “I didn’t know that was a thing!” Actually, larger libraries require a master’s degree for most full-time positions.

The State of Nebraska does not require that a director of a library the size of Gering’s Public Library have a library degree. Scottsbluff’s library, however, is large enough that the director must have an MLIS for the library to be state certified.

I am attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison (the other UW) and if all goes well, I will graduate in December. Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and many other nearby states have library schools, but the University of Nebraska does not. I’m taking classes online, which was a learning experience in itself. I chose Wisconsin because the classes are entirely online and I can watch the recorded lectures when I have time.  

UW requires everyone in the MLIS program to take three particular classes. They can choose electives in their specific interest for the rest of their classes. In the first class we learned organizing and searching information. The second class focused on social, ethical and legal issues surrounding information. I am currently taking the third required class which covers research for library professionals.

The MLIS candidates at UW also have to complete an internship in another library. I worked for the Western Library System, a state entity with the purpose of supporting libraries in Western Nebraska. During my internship I updated their website then developed guides to help area librarians do things like start book discussion groups.

I took an elective class called Collection Development that focused on how to select books for the library. When someone complains that a book in the library offends them, I think to myself, “I often choose books for the library that offend me, because other people want to read them.” A library should provide information to everybody, not just the people you agree with.  They say a good library has something that will offend everyone. 

One of my favorite classes was Genealogy. I chose to research a family friend’s background and I learned some interesting things about how to look for your ancestors. For assignments, the professor pretended we worked in a library and “asked” us to find out about her family. Historical records aren’t always accurate, and the instructor found confusing information for us to learn from. One of the challenges was how to find the right person among misspelled last names, like Diffenderfor and Deffenderfer.

After taking a class called The Public Library, I developed the Adult Learners at the Library (ALL) program. I had been tossing the idea around for seven or eight years, but I was unsure how to take the first step. After taking this class, I realized how I could make it work. A big part of it was just stepping out into the unknown and trying.

I’ve taken a variety of electives in topics like Budgeting, Grant Writing, and Services to a Diverse Population. Unfortunately, I will graduate before I can take all the classes I would like to. I plan to see what Madison’s policy is on graduates auditing classes, so I can keep learning. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *