Library schools?

I’m posting this on behalf of my partner, who has great respect for Doper wisdom, but is feeling too shy to post this herself!

She is interested in pursuing a Master in Library Science degree with the aspirations of becoming the Director of a medium sized public library. Does anyone have any advice on schools that are particularly good for library administration, are resonably affordable and/or offer some kind of fast track to an MLS degree? In addition, what volunteering experience or other skills might be helpful to help her get into a good school and, subsequently, a career in this field?

She currently has 8 years of project management, training design and delivery, and relationship management experience – gained both at a small library automation company and, more recently, with a big fortune 100 financial services organization.

Bottom line (and these are my words): she is great with people and organizing projects, and has been very successful in her career so far. But she is feeling frustrated working in the corporate world, and would love to do something that would serve the community in some fashion. Given the big loss of income that would result from going back to school, however, we want to be smart about picking the right program.

Thanks in advance for any ideas!!

I’d look for a joint MLS/MBA program (if she doesn’t already have an MBA) or possibly a MLS/MPA (public administration) program. I’m not sure who has the first, and the only place I know of that offers the second is the University of Rhode Island, although I expect there are others - contacting the schools she’s interested in would help with locating those specific programs.
A list of all ALA accredited MLS programs is available here.

She should also be prepared to know that chances are small she’d get right into a directorship out of school - but some library systems are willing to hire new graduates as branch managers and sometimes a small system will hire a new graduate as their director,

Professional involvement is very important when a directorship is your goal. If there’s a specific state you and she are interested in living in, then that state’s association, but also ALA - schools with strong student groups are a good place to start.

I’m sure there’s other things I’ll think of as soon as I hit submit, but that’s what jumps into my mind right now.

“Feeling frustrated in the corporate world.”

Oh Boy.

A very good friend of mind is the director of the local library system, which involves several counties. I have never seen someone who works as many hours as she does, for as little pay, with as much grief. I cat-sit for my friend on a regular basis, because she has so many out-of-town conferences to attend. I took her cat to the vet for her today because she had meetings starting at 7:30 this morning and she’s not home yet at 7:15. She works most weekends. A lot of libraries are open on holidays - it took my friend 3 years to get the ones here closed on holidays so the staff could have the holidays off. If your friend thinks the corporate world is a bitch, wait until she’s listening to people bitch because “my tax dollars pay you so you have to do what I want.” Plus you’re always trying to find money - there is never enough. You will have board members telling you to come up with ways to do what they want done, even if there is no money in the budget to do it. No matter what you do, some segment of the population (usually a vocal one) will be unhappy about it. And if you are lucky enough to have a major donor, you will be expected to kiss major butt.

My friend likes her work (most of the time) and is very good at it. She has also been divorced for many years and has no one at home to answer to but her cats, and I help there.

Your friend should research this before she puts years and dollars toward a profession that will end up not being what she expected. If she is willing to go for it anyway, good for her! Someone has to do it!

This is Rivulus’ partner (the shy one). Thanks for the words of wisdom. I actually started an MPA and realized that it may be too broad for my goal. I didn’t realize there were joint MPA/MLS. Good to know.

Thanks for this! Do you think it is critical to obtain an MLS in the region we hope to settle in?

Thanks for the sobering perspective. :slight_smile: I also have a friend who is the director of a small public library and he seems to make time for himself while doing a good job. However, maybe the size of the library system has something to do with it. From the two comparisons, it seems like maybe small is the way to go.

There’s already a thread going on this.

Despite my depressing recitation, my friend likes her work (most days) and is very good at it. She brought a multi-million dollar library in on time and under budget. She finds the work very rewarding, so I guess it has its benefits. And starting out small is definitely the way to go!

No, as long as the MLS is from an ALA accredited institution - there are some schools that offer the MLS but are not ALA accredited, which pretty much means you can only work in that state or for the few places that will accept a non-ala accredited degree. It can be a benefit sometimes to not be from the local area - if places are looking for some variety in the way their librarians were taught. Or it can be a drawback, because you don’t make those local/state contacts. I’d only look in a specific geographic region for school if you’re positive that that is the state/region you want to live in and you know you’ll take the time in school to develop those contacts.

The library system my friend is director of is in the South, and she is not from the South and didn’t go to school here. They did a nationwide search to find her. The main branch library director here is leaving, and they probably will be doing a national search for her replacement. So getting a degree from a good school is probably better that worrying about where the school is.

Lsura and SnakesCatLady, thanks so much for the info!!