September 11, 2010
First Impressions First Week of Library School
It has been just over a year since I first embarked upon the application process to enter graduate studies in a Masters of Library and Information Science program. The application process was long and fraught with emotion for me. At first I was nervous about even contemplating returning to school after 10 years since acquiring my undergrad degree. Then there was all this anxiety about putting a credible application together, visiting professors I had not seen in over a decade to discuss being referees and keeping my intentions withheld from my coworkers. After sending off my package I was depressed, second-guessing the content of my application and still trying to stay motivated at work. Then when I found out I was accepted I still had to keep this huge secret for a couple more months. That was especially hard.
But let me tell you all the angst of the process was well worth it!!! So if you are contemplating making a significant life change, I would recommend you go for it, if it is truly a lifetime goal or dream of yours.
I'm attending the MLIS program at the University of Alberta. The School of Library and Information Studies at UofA is very small, tucked away at the south end of Rutherford Library. There are only three classrooms in actual fact! The UofA campus feels intimate, although for some reason I thought it would be huge. There are many green spaces and the grounds are very well taken care of. You can tell the governing body has a lot of pride in the institution. The SLIS community is very small and the Faculty make you feel important and welcome, stressing over and over again that they were here for us and the students their first priority.
There are about 50 to 55 graduate students enrolled in SLIS this year under various programs. Some students are part-time but the majority are full-time. There are about the same amount of students as in 2009-10, but I guess the year before that they only accepted around 30 students to the program. You must start the program in a fall term. The majority of students are looking to enter into traditional librarian roles after graduating. I am one of the few planning on entering a non-traditional role and I am very surprised there are so few of us, as there are many emerging information professional opportunities. The age range of the group is from the mid 20s to mid 50s, with a very wide variety of backgrounds. Some people have multiple degrees, undergrads and Masters, and even Doctorate's! The group seems to have been made deliberately diverse. A good chunk of assignments in each class will involve group work. I find collaboration very rewarding so I'm looking forward to the team projects.
The Reading Room in the Rutherford Library (as shown in the picture right) is an inspiring place to study, although its a bit chilly so its necessary you bring a hot drink and chunky scarf.
My final thoughts: After my first week in the MLIS program I'm excited for all the learning to come, the people to get to know and the city and campus to explore. I will be joining a few associations to get involved, which I think is essential for every student to do. I'm feeling content, grateful and very fortunate in getting another chance at a university education, even better being in a Masters program. Having worked for 10 years I feel I have the experience, confidence and mindset to be successful in the program that I never felt was there while completing my undergrad degree. It will be a lot of hard work but I expect untold rewards.
If you have any questions about a Masters in Library and Information Studies feel free to ask away...