Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Myths about SLIS and Library School

Myth: I'm going to have a tough time getting a job when I graduate.

Truth: You aren't going to graduate from SLIS and become director of the New York Public Library, but you are going to graduate and find employment. If you are willing to re-locate outside of Boston, you definitely won't have problems finding a job. If you continue to live in Boston or have a specialty (like art or law librarianship), you will still get a job, but you might either have to wait for a few months or work in something that isn't your preferred specialty, until you can find exactly what you want. When people outside of the field joke that no one needs librarians anymore with Google and the Internet, they fail to account for the resurgence in library hiring since the recession and for non-traditional librarian jobs. As I've mentioned in my prior posts, SLIS's Simmons Jobline is constantly being updated with new positions in all of the information sciences at every level (student, pre-professional, and professional). Also, many professors and SLIS student groups send out e-mails about employment opportunities. Plus, there are bulletin boards around the school that are covered in job postings, as well as a number of professional groups that maintain job databases.

I should also take a minute to note that SLIS students are competitive, and this is part of the reason they get jobs after they graduate. People here don't just go to school. Everyone has an internship, volunteer gig, or library/archives job. Many people have more than one of these going on at once, on top of going to school full-time. If you are looking for a program where you can "phone it in" and not do work, this isn't it. At the same time, this hard work is satisfying, fruitful, and greatly increases students' chances of getting hired after they graduate.

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Wall of job postings from Professor Jim Matarazzo.

Myth: I have to go into debt to go to library school.

Truth: I really wish I had done more research on this before I came to Simmons. Organizations like the American Library Association (ALA Grants and Scholarships) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA Fellows, Awards, and Scholarships) want to pay you to go to library school. Seriously. You are an especially good candidate for a scholarship if you can commit in advance to a specialty, if you are from a historically underrepresented group or are a person of color, if you have library work experience, or if you have demonstrable skills with technology. Any basic search on the Internet will turn up tons of free money that can go towards school. Also, Hack Library School has some good resources.

Myth: I had a bad GPA in college, so Simmons won't accept me as a student.

Truth: Actually, Simmons is the only top library school that I know of that doesn't just say it's all right to apply with a lower GPA. Some of my classmates who had lower GPAs applied to other schools, and those schools never followed up with so much as "thanks but no thanks", let alone an interview. So you'll have to do an interview and take the GRE, but it's worth the effort.

Myth: I have to know the career I want before I get to Simmons SLIS.

Truth: It helps to have an idea of what kind of career you want in libraries or archives, but school is for exploring your options. You can get internships to help you decide what you like and don't like. And you can switch out of one track and go into another (like form Archives to Technology or General to Digital Stewardship) simply by filling out a form. You don't have to reapply to the school or anything if you get here and end up on a track that is different from the one you put on your application.

Myth: I don't know enough about technology to be competitive in library school.

Truth: I barely knew how to use an external hard drive before I arrived at Simmons. You don't have to know a ton of technology stuff, but knowing the basics will make you more competitive. If you feel like technology isn't your strong suit, that's OK. I recommend using Lynda (free for Simmons students) or Codecademy for programming and markup language tutorials.

Myth: I don't have enough library/archives experience to take the next step.

Truth: A little less than half of my classmates had been employed in libraries or archives before they enrolled at SLIS. That's not scientific or anything. It was just something I noticed. If you want to beef up your résumé before you get to Simmons, try volunteering at a local library or repository. Once you are a student, it's pretty easy to find part-time work at a pre-professional level.

Myth: Boston is too expensive.

Truth: Yes, Boston is expensive. But that doesn't mean it is prohibitively expensive. Prices here are on par with most large urban areas, and there are a number of ways to make your expenses more manageable. For example, you don't have to live in Boston. If you want to pay cheaper rent, live in a suburb or student-friendly part of Boston (e.g. Mission Hill, Brookline, Coolidge Corner, etc.) and commute to the Fenway (where Simmons is) on the T or bus. Bringing your car will make things much more expensive. It will help to make a budget and find out what works for you. Simmons gives its each student a free account with SALT, which is a useful personal finance management tool for students. Also, get yourself some roommates to split the cost of major living expenses. And don't order from Foodler all the time, no matter how tempting and convenient greasy pizza is at 2 a.m.

Myth: I'll live like a nun at Simmons.

All seven SLIS student bloggers are women, and yes, Simmons College was women-only for a long time. However, there are a large number male graduate students at Simmons, many of whom attend SLIS. It is a very diverse program and that diversity extends to gender.

Students