The Value of the MLS/MLIS

The LibrarianInBlack posted a link to a survey about the value of the MLS/MLIS. It is indeed very brief – and intended to determine if people feel as if their degree was worth the time, effort and cost. I did take the survey, despite the fact that I’m not entirely sure what I think overall about the value of the MLS degree. I do not regret going to get my MLS. I do see the value in it (or duh, I wouldn’t have gone to get it), but I don’t think it is a rite that magically makes one a librarian. Would I do it again? I can’t answer that question. I’m still way too close – and the thought of going to school is incredibly abhorrent (as it was after I graduated from college). Additionally, I need to have some time away to assess the impact of spending over $18,000 out of pocket (tuition, books and miscellaneous costs) over two and a half years on our household finances. I will say that my husband hasn’t entirely appreciated the cost.

One of the questions on the survey asked if you would recommend pursuing an MLS/MLIS. While I checked the recommend box, I don’t think that this answer adequately represents what I might or might not do. I’m pretty sure that there would be occasions when I would recommend this course of action and occasions when I wouldn’t. During the past several years when I have discussed the fact that I was pursuing my MLS (and going through the tedious process of explaining what this means in terms of my career), everyone always asks about how it would impact my current job (with a promotion or a raise). I found it a bit disconcerting to have to answer that I already have a professional librarian job and that the degree won’t really make a difference.

For me, getting the degree has been more about finally adding the educational experience to back up my work experience for future job opportunities than about changing my current job situation. I absolutely love my job (although definitely have a love/hate relationship with it on certain occasions). Systems librarianship is my calling, and I believe that having an MLS makes me a stronger systems librarian from the perspective of potential employers. I am too young not to have returned to school knowing that this is what I intend to do with the rest of my life. So, I would recommend getting an MLS if someone felt the same way that I did. However, I don’t believe that an MLS makes someone an librarian. I think that ultimately I would tell people that they themselves need to decide if pursuing an MLS is the right choice. There is much to be gained for someone who believes that the degree can give them something tangible. But there are other ways to get that knowledge.

Overall, I am happy that I decided to get my MLS. I have many issues with the program at Southern, most having to do with the method of instruction (someday, I will get to discussing all of that). Meanwhile, I have no other option but to believe that my MLS was worth it. Anything else is unacceptable.

One Response to The Value of the MLS/MLIS

  1. mrlindner says:

    Jennifer, I started taking that quiz, which was indeed short and not a flaw in itself, but as I soon as I realized how utterly flawed it was I started to close that browser window. Instead, I considered writing a response in the one place I could actually say something and then realized that that, too, was not going to make the quiz any better.

    At best, the “answer” they can come to is Yes or No. But as you implicitly state, that is a ridiculous answer. [Ridiculous is my word, not Jennifer’s] There is never a one-size-fits-all answer to a question like this. Even if I value my degree, and I do, that does not mean I am going to recommend getting one to every possibly interested party. Just as I spent 20+ years in the Army does not mean I am going to recommend that everyone join the Army. In fact, I would almost never recommend to anyone that they join the service in this day and age.

    I almost left a comment in the open box about how inanely the survey was constructed but I decided that whoever is responsible is more worried about getting their simplistic answer–most likely to be put in some boring article written just for tenure–than to answer a difficult question seriously.

    Honestly, I’ve seen better constructed quizzes on the Internet to tell me which god or goddess I am, or what beer I am. And I find that very sad.

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