I May Become a Li-Berrian. Need Advice and Encouragement.

Sooooo, my friend Donna in L.A. is getting her Master’s in Library Science and suggests I do the same. “It’s not that hard, the job market is good and growing, library students are mostly middle-aged people starting second careers—and you don’t have to work in a public library, you can work in a college, a museum, an historical society.”

Actually sounds like a good idea, so I will look into Pratt Institute (amazingly, the only one in NYC to offer Library Science!) and I can start evening/weekend classes after I finish my next book, in spring '05. Pratt offers: “Arts and Humanities Library Services. Career opportunities in this area include galleries and museums, media and publishing businesses, specialized collections academic and public libraries, and setting such as auction houses.” I have aged myself out of my magazine publishing career; I gotta look for something to do after I get canned and before I am claimed by the cool quiet of the grave.

Problem is, it will cost me $24,000 to get a Pratt SILS Master’s Degree . . . If I had that kind of money, I wouldn’t need to go back to school!

Do the Doper librarians here (I know you’re out there) have any words of wisdom or caution for me?

I have a friend who’s a university research librarian. It’s all she ever wanted to do and she loves it.

However, public libraries, schools and universities all are being crunched by the various state budget crises, so they’re not what you’d call growth areas. I don’t know what the job picture is in the private sector, but obviously you’ll have to compete for a job.

What’s the going pay for a starting librarian? I have no idea, but I can’t imagine it’s very high. Is it worth taking out $24,000 in loans for that kind of starting salary?

I have no idea either. All I know is, I’ll be out of a job within two or three years and have nothing to fall back on. Too old to get any kind of job in publishing anymore, even (especiallly!) with 20 years of it on my résumé.

I can’t really offer you advice, but as a user of an academic library I can say that if a person like you were to be the deputy librarian at my university it would probably double the value of the collection for me. I would love to walk into my library and seek out the woman who could tell me the things that have come in are of direct interest to me and those that are outside my area that I should nonetheless check out.

Mind you, most of the librarians where I work fill shelves, check out books and fill in forms. They probably don’t have time to shoot the breeze with me.

But I really can see you having a good time and being very productive in the right library, Eve.

I got my M.A. in library science about 10 years ago. Graduated with distinction, even. When I came to Minneapolis to job-hunt (my then-fiancee lived here), I was eagerly looking forward to a job in my chosen field.

But when it came right down to it, all of the entry-level jobs I found – jobs that required a Master’s degree, btw – paid less than I was making as a clerical temp. Now, I knew going into the deal that I wasn’t going to get rich. But I didn’t realize the pay was quite that bad. So I abandoned my search for a library career and took a corporate administrative job. I have since managed to use that to springboard into a nice techie track, so things worked out nicely in the end.

Money isn’t everything, I know. But it isn’t nothing either. If money weren’t a factor, I would have retired right out of college. I hate to be a wet blanket, but IMHO you should take a good, long look at the job market and the pay possibilities before you take on debt for an eduction – or at least a better look than I did. :smack:

If the job market looks ok to you, I’d say go for it. Librarianship is an interesting field.

I’m a baby librarian, meaning that I will finish my MLS in May of this year at the University of Tennessee(assuming I pass my comprehensive exam on April 2. I don’t expect not to). So, I am currently in the job market applying for positions for after graduation.

Salaries depend on the type of library you go into as well as the area it’s located in. Most of the academic jobs I’ve applied for have salary ranges of $33-$40k, with one listing a minimum salary of $50k. Public libraries tend to be lower paying, but again, it depends on the area. If you want to see what types of salary ranges may be available now, I’d check out the job listings at Chronicle (academic jobs) or Libraryjobpostings.org(all types).

Make sure the program you go into (if you do) is ALA accredited. If it’s not, it’s harder to get a job (at least that’s my understanding). Go talk to the school, look at the kind of course work you would be doing. And don’t rule out other schools - UT-SIS, where I am has a distance education program - there are people who finish the program and have never taken a class on campus. Other schools have DE programs as well. Not all schools require a comprehensive exam or thesis - I just decided on this program which does.

I love being in this program, and I am incredibly excited about finishing and getting back out in the ‘real world’, only this time doing what I want to do. Despite all the librarian stereotypes, we’re a fun bunch. And there are all age ranges in the program. There are people just out of undergrad and others (from about my age (30) up to around 60) coming back as part of a career change or professional advancement. There are incredibly stylish types and people who look like the stereotypical librarian.

I’ll answer what I can about what type of classes you might have and the like. Every school will be different naturally, but I would expect the core concepts you’re taught to be similar.

I’m not going into this to get rich. I’m doing it because I love it and I’m much happier than I ever was in my previous career.

Eve - if this is any help: I’m a teacher at a small college in New England and I am in love with one particular Librarian. She is the most knowledgeable, whity, philosophical, keen person I know. I often tell my wife I’m gonna run off with the Librarian (even though she is 67 she is still quite attractive). Sufficed to say, Librarians are plain and simply cool in my book :slight_smile:

Just a note. Although these people may work in the library, they may not have an MLS. They could, but a lot of times, the shelving and circulation tasks are done by clerks AFAIK. If you want answers to your questions…head down to the reference department. :wink:

Thanks for the links, Lsura, I will bookmark and examine them (and then cry softly to myself). I’m making a crappy salary now—all I really need is a crappy salary, benefits, and a job that has some security and doesn’t make me want to slash my wrists (I have two of the four right now).

Pratt is the only ALA-accredited school in NYC, much to my surprise. I’d love to work in library at a museum, college, historical society—I imagine those jobs are at a premium, but I hope my background as an author and historian might give me some pull. And I have no objection to relocating, as long as I can get back to NYC for vacations.

Plus, I already have the classic Librarian Hairdo. All I have to do is put a pencil through the bun.

I neglected this - with those interests, you might also check out theSpecial Libraries Association. Museums & historical societies tend to fall into this group, along with things like corporate libraries.

I am neither a graduate of library science nor an alumna of the school, but I did look into various programs in the field throughout the country at one time (ok, several times). The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a highly respected LEEP program (that’s library sciences . . . ) and it is available both on campus and on-line. (You would have to get to campus for I think 2 weeks to start and then one weekend per semester with the on-line program.)

If you could manage to move in-state (you can even more to Chicago, if you do the on-line program) the tuition is pretty low (well, lower than 24K!) but even not, it’s still not as expensive as some others. So it might be worth a look-see. (I can’t believe I just used that phrase!)

I will stick to Pratt for schooling: it’s very convenient (right along the PATH line on 14th Street), and I have to keep my NYC job while I am taking courses. I’d be happy to relocate for a job, but while I am being a College Co-ed (with my pleated skirt and saddle shoes, slipping notes into cute boys’ lockers), staying in NYC will be my best bet.

Can’t start school till a year from now, anyway, as I have a book contract in the works and I will have to finish that up before I start any other major projects (like earning a Master’s).

The U.S. Dept. of Labor quotes average salaries for entry-level librarians in NYC at $33,696, and for experienced librarians at $53,602. (You can find salary data for almost everything under the sun at www.flcdatacenter.com.) I’d think your historical research background ought to come in quite handy in an appropriate setting.

And here’s what the Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about prospects for the profession in general:


Maybe you could get a job, any halfway decent job, working at Pratt? Many universities (I know NYU, my alma mater, did this) will let you take a certain number of classes for free if you’re a full-time employee; it’s a handy benefit that doesn’t cost them much. I have two friends who put themselves through school this way.

Why don’t you contact the ALA? My sister used to work there, and they have people whose job it is to answer questions from prospective librarians.

Pratt is sending me info, and I will talk to their financial aid and career counselors (my sister actually handles financial aid at a college in the Southwest, and will give me some tips). Don’t see how I could get a job at Pratt, though, as I am working full-time now.

Will also contact the ALA, and some museums, archives and historical societies to get their input. As soon as Other Situations in my ghastly life settle down, if they ever do . . .

I spent two years in the West African city of Monrovia, and thought I’d have all kinds of advice for ya, based on the thread title… but I guess not.

I meant instead of your current job, not in addition to it. Even if you got a job there that paid a bit less, it might be worthwhile if it saved you $24k in tuition. Couldn’t hurt to take a poke through their listings for ideas, right?

Oh, c’mon Eve, we all know the real reason you want to be a librarian. You just want to keep tabs on who’s checking out your books, don’t you?

Behold the real reason why Eve wants to be a librarian.

I 100% think you should go for this. I think it’d be perfect for you. No Pwincess Pwecious, just books. Lovely, lovely books. You’ve already got the look down pat. Honestly, I can’t imagine a more perfect job for you.

Perhaps you could look into grants/scholarships for mature students?

Oh, that is so sexy!

I have nothing else to add, but I couldn’t resist. :smiley: