Is this library diploma program useful at all?

I’ve heard a lot about your job prospects in a library being nil without a Masters in Library Science. I don’t necessarily want to be a librarian, I’m more interested in record keeping and backroom-ish things.

So anyway, there’s this 2 year diploma program. It says it includes:

  • descriptive and subject cataloguing (original and derived)
  • circulation and interlibrary loans
  • acquisitions
  • reader assistance
  • database searching
  • designing and maintaining library websites
  • reference research

But what I’m concerned about are job prospects. Like I said, I thought it was damn near impossible to make a living wage (ie, not a part-time clerk position at barely above min wage) without having a degree.

What do you guys think? Why yes, I’m looking at a career change.

It was a few years ago, but I once worked in the HR office of a large university library. This type of diploma was suitable for someone who wanted to do clerical, non-librarian work in the library. These positions paid about as well as other clerical positions at the university. The pay wasn’t great, but benefits and job security were good. They were more competitive, and required more specific training (like this) compared to other university clerical positions. My impression is that this was because a lot of people like working in libraries. If you are in a city with a couple of large university libraries, or free to relocate to such a city, and really want this type of a library job, this might be a reasonable diploma to pursue (if the program has the appropriate accreditation, good reputation, blah blah).

My impression is that doing this type of work in a public library would pay less and be less stable and be less likely to be full-time.

Hopefully some librarians will stop in. It would also be a good idea to ask where they place their graduates.

I’m keeping my eyes open for a library job myself, but most of the jobs currently open are for unpaid internships. My school keeps promising me that any year now a large number of Baby-Boomers will be retiring from the profession, leaving jobs open for the taking… but lately it seems like institutions are going to save money by not hiring replacements.

Another thing I’d mention. If you already have a bachelor’s in something, it really makes more sense to get the MLS. There are MLS librarians that focus on backroom stuff. Maybe half of the librarians at the university library I worked at were primarily behind the scenes. Only some in reference really interacted with people. The interaction with people related to circulation was mostly handled by students, other temporary employees, and a few clerical workers.

The two year programs were more for people who were not inclined to get a 4-year degree. Kind of like a paralegal or medical records clerk certificate, but for library work.

If you have a bachelor’s, depending on what field, that can open up specialized library work in that field, either in university or corporate libraries.

Define “backroom-ish things” for me, please. What are you thinking of? Cataloging? Preservation and repair? Acquisitions? And record-keeping in what sense? Database entry?

There’s not a lot in public librarianship (can’t speak to corporate) where the cost of getting a certificate would be worth it. That is, your potential to earn income wouldn’t be that much greater.

Have you tried volunteering at a library and/or researching other library careers? And what’s the barrier to getting your MLS? If you’re concerned about time, mine only took one year longer than this certificate program.

I have a two-year Library Technician Diploma - this diploma is recognized in all provinces, and most Lib Techs fill “middle-ground” positions between clerks and librarians. (I’m in Canada, so this info may be different in the US). I have worked for the past 9 years for the local public library system. As I already have a BA, I did consider doing the MLIS program, but was not terribly interested in high-level administration and policy-type work. I wanted to work with books, information and people. My diploma has allowed me to do that in a secure, unionized, pleasant, fairly-well paid atmosphere (I make about $42 000 Can. a year).

I find many employers (especially non-traditional and specialized libraries - eg. corporate, law, medical libraries) tend to want to employ Library Technicians, rather than actual librarians. Lib Techs tend to have a more concrete, practical education, and of course, the employer can pay them a bit less since they don’t have the Master’s Degree.

My current job is in Technical Services - I am a department head and do the majority of cataloguing of materials, oversee the deliveries between our branches, do database troubleshooting, supervision, etc. Currently, I have no contact with the public - it’s all behind the scenes. Although, I am thinking of applying for a vacancy as the Head of the Children’s Department (quite a change!).

One issue to consider is that many of the tasks done by Lib Techs are currently being contracted out (especially cataloguing). However, being a Lib Tech in my system, at least, allows you to be a department head (eg. Head of Children’s Services, Head of Acquisitions, Cataloguing, etc.) and to work on the information / reference desk, so there’s a lot of flexibility in my library system.

If you have any specific questions, ask away!

In my experience, if you want to be a librarian you need a masters’. If you don’t want to be a librarian then you just need a bachelor’s degree in just about anything to do nonprofessional work (or I think some say two years of college.) That’s true for public libraries in my area, at least.

Ooooh, Canadian experience! I’m in Sask so this is relevant to my interests.

Cataloging of materials, database maintenance, that sort of stuff interests me. Someone upthread mentioned it was on the level of a medical records clerk diploma and that’s something else I’ve looked into. I don’t deal with the public well and I want to get away from making websites.

I don’t have a degree at all, so an MLS is out of the question for me.