Hmm, I’m Not Sure What To Make Of This

October 14, 2007

I am one of the people who was eagerly awaiting Nicole Engard’s promised What I Learned in Library School post. I read it fairly soon after it was published and have been thinking about it since. The post evokes several emotions in me. On one hand, I feel better about things at SCSU because the issues and problems I have experienced echo those that Nicole Engard seems to have experienced. On the other hand, this is incredibly disheartening. This means that these types of problems are more pervasive than I believed – especially in the distance education arena.

Engard’s summary of what she learned isn’t positive. She writes:

What did I Learn

I learned that I don’t ever want to do a degree online again ;)I learned a bit more about myself and time-management. I learned that having an MLIS does not make you better off than the person who doesn’t have the MLIS, but has 6+ years of experience in a library.

I don’t feel much different than I did before I went to school. My job has changed and so I’ve learned more about other areas of the library that way – but the classes on research theory, searching, statistics, management, systems, digital libraries and so on didn’t prepare me any more than jumping in and doing the job myself would have.

Wow! I feel as if I could have written the same things myself. I absolutely LOVE the convenience of online classes. However, I have slowly come to realize that I am unwilling to put up with the difficulties and problems that exist in distance education. I do not want to ever do another online program if student services and programs are not improved exponentially. Engard also makes an important point about the value of the MLS/MLIS versus work experience. The roughly 15 years that I have spent working in a library are what has helped me get to the place that I am today – and they are much more important to my overall development than what I have learned in library school.

I do feel as if I must add that I have had some excellent experiences during my program. I’ve had some wonderful classes where I feel that I did in fact learn useful things. I have had wonderful classes where I believe that the material being taught was important, but was information that I already knew and understood. And, yes, I have had some of the most miserable classroom experiences of my life. I’m still too involved in my program to be able to make generalizations about how useful the entire program will be to me. I’m enjoying my class this semester – and have high hopes for my class next semester (ILS680-Evaluation and Research). We shall see!

Anyway, a big thank you to Nicole Engard for her post. It has given me much to ponder.