Today, a question from one of our Tumblr followers:
I’m a junior in undergrad studying history, and my ultimate goal is to be a librarian. Would you say a degree (MLS) or experience in libraries is more important in finding a job? I’m trying to decide if I should stay a full-time student or try to find a job in a library as a clerk or something like that and finish my degrees part-time. Thank you!
Around the NYPL, the consensus seems to be that experience is a really important factor. We surveyed a few different NYPL librarians (both in research and branch libraries), and this is their advice:
- Experience is important: working as a clerk or page is a great way to start, but you can also volunteer. That way you can also remain in school full-time.
- Most academic librarian positions require a Masters in Library Science. But the public library has other types of jobs, like Library Information Assistant, that requires a college degree only. Another option would be a clerical position within the library.
- In-library experience isn’t the only kind of experience. Customer service experience, management experience, communication experience, technology experience, world language experience, etc…all of these go a long way in libraries.
- Some libraries offer their employees financial assistance for tuition. That is one way to get practical library experience and go to graduate school at the same time. At the New York Public Library, we also have a program called the Librarian Trainee Program. This program is designed for the Master’s level library school student who wants practical training in public librarianship while in library school.
- Whether you go to school full-time or part-time for an MLS, you should seek out real world library experience through work or an internship. It’s the best way to enter the workforce with an added advantage and also explore the various jobs available in libraries.
- An MLS with experience is a sure hire over an MLS without any experience.
Librarians in the audience… what do you think?