“Worst”? Not By a Long Shot.

In June, Forbes Magazine posted a piece on The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs that listed a master’s degree in library and information science as the worst master’s degree to pursue in 2012. Forbes used average salaries, obtained from PayScale.com, and job growth prospects, obtained from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as the sole method of calculating the list (a list that also includes music, education, and English).

On July 9th American Library Association (ALA) President and University of Maryland, College of Information Studies alum, Maureen Sullivan issued a statement that was picked up by the Washington Post. The statement outlined what many working in LIS jobs and those in library school already know; it’s not all about the money.  In the press release Sullivan states, “The profit-centered, corporation-based measures valued by Forbes suggest that pay rates and growth are the only valid reasons for selecting a career…for librarians the primary motivation is job satisfaction derived from the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of others.” Upon reading both articles a flurry of discussion began among students and staff around the iSchool.

We certainly support President Sullivan’s statements as many of our students, alumni, and faculty have also stated that they didn’t get into the profession to get rich but as the ALA suggests—to make a real difference. We at the iSchool also understand that the job market for the information profession is constantly shifting.  Not all of our graduates will become the typical reference/public services librarian portrayed in the Forbes piece. We at the iSchool take pride in the fact that we prepare our graduates to work in the information profession which extends beyond the walls of libraries. Our graduates work at federal agencies, archives, museums, law firms, corporate offices, academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and many other kinds of organizations where they can apply what they learn in their studies at the iSchool.

Faculty, students, and staff have long been following, researching, and in many cases initiating innovations taking place in the information profession. We continually revise the MLS Program to ensure that it is innovative, unique, and of high quality — attributes we consider essential in what is a competitive marketplace. Our students do and will continue to stand out because of the unique opportunities offered by the iSchool. Here are just a few of the recent actions we’ve taken to ensure this:

  •  Completely revising our core course offerings to reflect the changing needs of the profession (more on this soon).
  •  Offering a variety of locations and modes of delivery for courses. Over the next year program offerings will expand both online and at the Shady Grove Campus.
  • We continue to offer and are developing new and unique specializations including:
  • Launching the newly reinvigorated field study program and creating a database of field study opportunities specifically tailored to our students’ needs and interests. We get more placement organizations daily and this will continue to grow.
  • Creating a better communications strategy to connect our students and alumni with the information they need—you’re looking at one aspect of this right now!
  • Generating scholarship and grant opportunities for our students including the newly awarded IMLS scholarship grant that will provide 15 E-Government Specialization scholarships, starting in Fall 2013.
  • Finally, we’re building new and better ways to connect our students with employers and ways to aid them in the job hunting process (look for more on this in the blog soon).

We will continue to work hard to ensure that our future and current students graduate with skills needed in the global market place. An MLS degree from the iSchool at the University of Maryland is in no way the “worst” degree you can chose, because we prepare our graduates for the needs of the profession and the marketplace.




3 thoughts on ““Worst”? Not By a Long Shot.

  1. Of course it’s not all about the money. But job prospects seems to be overlooked here.

    What percentage of MLS grads from Spring 2012 were employed full time in a library position when leaving the program? Is that better or worse than the past few years?

    While I doubt many pursue an MLS to get rich, paying off the MLS program is a hefty task for those faced with a career prospects increase of 8% in the library profession by 2018 according to the BLS occupational outlook handbook.

    These are significant questions and to make the program stronger and genuinely effective, they are important to address honestly with employment statistics of recent grads and information on how these grads have been paying off their education.

    1. M.W. – You ask an astute question and unfortunately one that at this moment can’t be answered. I will say that we’re working on getting answers to this very question. Once we get reliable data, as opposed to anecdotal evidence that we could present now, we will share it. Certainly, the economy and an austere political climate have created challenges for recent graduates (in all programs). What we’re trying to explain here that we have taken note of these challenges and are working to make sure that our graduates are impacted as little as possible.

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