Getting an MLS   2 comments

So yesterday at Petsmart, I was cutting pallets open with a manager there. She seems to like me. She caught me on Tuesday organizing dog costumes by size and was absolutely delighted. She knows I used to work at Books-a-Million and seems to think of me as a “fellow book person.”

She said, “Are you planning on getting your master’s degree?”

I said yes, but I couldn’t decide what to get it in. Classical history? Teaching? History?

“Why not library science?” she asked. It turns out that’s what she’s getting her master’s degree in. She thought I seemed like a good candidate for a Masters in Library Science. I confessed that the thought had crossed my mind as well, but I couldn’t seem to decide.

I mentioned the idea to James over lunch, and he gave a chuckle and said that he was doomed to always date librarians.

It’s honestly not a bad idea. All of the non-teaching careers that I’ve considered — archiving, government bureaucracy, working in libraries — all seem to require an MLS. Not to mention that, presumably, knowing library science would help in future historical research. No one really cares that I have a degree in history. What practical use is a history degree, after all? But an MLS, that means I know how to do databases and research and organize things, right? (I guess? Just from scanning shelves in the library science section at Fenwick Library I could tell there was more to it, but most people seem to think that’s all there is to library science)

I decided to do some research this morning. UNC’s program requires 48 credit hours and comes with a technology requirement. They also “look for strong, past academic records, judged by the applicant’s past Grade Point Average (GPA), and we examine the coursework on the student’s transcript(s) to determine personal strengths and areas of mastery. Recently accepted graduate students had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.”

Well great. I graduated with a 3.09 on a 4.0 scale. Now, that 3.5 is an average, but what that means is that I have to be amazing in other areas, like strong recommendation letters, GRE scores, and my statement of interest.

North Carolina Central also has a program; it requires 36 credit hours and mastery in a second language (modern, sign, or computer). It also has an online program. They only require a 3.0 to attend and they don’t seem to list what GRE scores they want, and they only want two letters of recommendation. Also, their website looks a lot less modern than UNC’s website. This is the program my manager is going through.

Honestly, I think that what I need to do now is go out to these various colleges, walk around their campuses, and ask questions from their admissions people and the people who run the programs I’m interested in. This can’t continue to be theoretical. Do I want to work in libraries or archives? Do I want to teach? Do I want to be a classics professor (UNC’s program is basically a training program for classics professors)? What do I want to do with my life? It can no longer be about “what opportunities am I able to get” because I need to go out and get those opportunities.

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2 responses to “Getting an MLS

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  1. Here is a subject I have a tad bit of experience with. My bff Erika went back to school for her MLS. She went to University of Missouri in Columbia, and they had a deal where they would pay your tuition if you promised to stay in the state for two years afterward. I am fairly certain they even helped her find a job. She works for the state archives now! Anyway, I know that going to Missoui isn’t an option for you, but if you are interested in talking to her about her experience, I’m sure she would be happy to chat with you. Let me know if you want me to FB connect you two. 🙂

  2. You could also talk to people who have degrees in the field and are employed and find out more about their experiences and schools.

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