A commenter in the last post noted that she was "getting really tired of the 'We never learned that in library school' quotes," because she had "yet to see one regarding a topic that [she] did NOT hear about in library school," and she "went to a low-ranked school!" Is this a common quote? I really don't know. The quote I hear the most, and occasionally utter myself, is, "I didn't go to library school to do X," X being some extremely unprofessional work that could be handled by an uneducated high school student. You know, things like clearing printer jams, mopping floors, playing video games. That kind of thing. But my word, the things I didn't learn in library school, and I went to a high-ranked one! Here are some classes I could have used:
LIS 501: Library Politics
In this class you will learn how to navigate the tricky world of library politics. The most important lessons will be how to avoid and/or thwart the complete bastards who will try to make your worklife miserable and how to make other librarians and staff members into your allies and/or minions. When the revolution, reorganization, or power struggle comes, you DO NOT want to be the first one against the wall. You will also learn how to stand on the backs of others to achieve what you want while leaving minimal footprints on their clothing.
LIS 502: Appearance and Deception
In LIS 502 you will learn just how importance appearances are, both physical and professional. A stroll through a library may leave the impression that physical appearance isn't important for librarians. However, you might have a different opinion if you saw the high-powered library administrators and consultants around the country. They typically have a reverse fat to fashion ratio compared to most librarians--less fat, more fashion. They have learned that looking good is as important as being good, more important in many cases. This same lesson applies to one's professional accomplishments and reputation. Splashy but ineffectual initiatives, publications, and presentations will be rewarded where substantive work will not. There are professions where you are judged by your intellectual achievements. Librarianship isn't one of those professions.
LIS 503: Doing the Work
Someone has to do the real work of the library while everyone else is flying around the country and the world attending conferences and mingling with the beautiful people and planning initiatives that other people will have to enact. Make sure this worker person isn't you. You want to mingle with the beautiful people sipping martinis (or perhaps champagne) while your colleagues Mr. Drudge and Ms. Grind sit quietly in their cubicles processing stuff. This class will teach you the seven highly secret secrets of effective and profitable work-avoidance.
LIS 504: Library Organization
You might think you had a class like this, but you didn't. In this class you will learn that libraries have very little useful organization, and the bigger the library the more likely you are to wonder how anything gets done at all. It may seem like the library is a rigid structure, but rigid structures are useless and easy to avoid. Think Maginot Line. LIS 504 will teach you how to dodge playfully around the sometimes archaic organizational structures of the typical library and make the connections that matter, either to get things done (if getting things done is your metier) or to not get things done and yet still look superior to those who do.
They always say that whatever you learn in library school will date quickly, and why would they lie. That may be true. But some of the lessons you learn after library school, such as library politics, never date. The lack of these courses may also explain the poor social and fashion skills of so many librarians.
For the benefit of the students and new librarians among us, feel free to suggest your own courses that you wish you'd had in library school.