Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Courses I Wish I'd Had in Library School

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.

86 comments:

kudzuhomecomingqueen said...

LIS ABC123: Stirring the Pot

This course will teach you the proper methodology to stirring the pot when things become boring around the building. It is not enough to plan a library open house with munchies, but you must invoke the Great Pimento Cheese Debate of 2007 to make the open house more in line with the library mission statement. You will lean the proper way to emulate the Green Bean Casserole Incident of 2005, and the Knock Down, Drag Out Rumble of Minions, November 06. Stirring the Pot is a required course in Library School for the "I wanna be in charge here, not you, so I need to think of ways to show my power" member of the library staff. Grading will be dependent on the number of hurt feelings, raised voices, and food fights that result from in class activities and independent study. Not to mention the laughter factor by those who find the entire situation pathetic.

Library Elf said...

Good to know...I will make sure I seek these courses out when I attend.

Anonymous said...

LIS 2112 Advanced Self-Promotion: Marketing "You", the Brand.

In this course you will develop skills to assert your greatness without years of meaningful accomplishments to substantiate such claims. You learn methods to eschew grunt work such as cataloging, compiling circulation statistics, teaching low-level bibliographic instruction sessions, etc. We will learn how Web 2.0 technologies can help get "your name out there".
Pre-requisite: LIS 502 Appearance and Deception

Anonymous said...

AL, you need to add a class for "Library Meetings," where you will learn about how to deal with angry librarians and their quibbling over useless agenda items and where every agenda item turns out to be the same crap decided upon months before.

stacy said...

how about a class on how to write library "research articles" using data collected from Surveymonkey?

AL said...

Those are both good ones. You should write up the course description.

Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

It isn't that library schools fail to teach, it is that they fail in what the ultimate goal of the students is, primarily, getting a job that puts meat on the table.

Library school looks at the field from an isolated, ivory tower aspect that is not connected to the real world. They are educating librarians when they should be training them. They should be providing them with a set of skills that they can use in a real world situation. A way to think and act as librarians.

In a previous life, I earned a BS in engineering. In our senior year, when we were all full of ourselves, interviewing, looking for the great jobs, KNOWING that we were the greatest thing since sliced, canned peaches, the head of our department, a professor we all admired came in and quickly deflated all our balloons.

He told us that in four years the best that they could hope for is that we thought like engineers and had a way to attack a problem in a systematic and logical way. We were YEARS from becoming real engineers and needed to go out into the real world, take what we had learned and see if we could apply it to real world situations. Those that could would become rich, respected engineers. The rest would go back to grad school to see if they could become lawyers or librarians or some trade.

My point? Well, I think that a majority of graduates from library schools think that they know it all and are not willing to go out to the trenches and see how the theory of library school works in real life.

We need less library scientists and more library engineers.

Good Day.

Anonymous said...

how about a class on how to write library "research articles" using data collected from Surveymonkey?

How about: Getting to Know You: Surveying Users and Librarians For Meaningless Discovery

It's funny because I actually used a Surveymonkey like instrument for a research article. I would like to write about how the methodology of using SM, etc. is seriously flawed.

Anonymous said...

LIS 623: Abnormal psychology

This final-semester elective advanced seminar will provide students with specific field tactics to diagnose and diffuse mentally unstable and potentially troublesome coworkers. Personality types discussed will include:

* The Passive-aggressive intimidated coworker

* The indecisive supervisor

* The senile and politically unfireable paraprofessional

Discussion topics will include early diagnosis of pathological personalities (preferably in your job interview), psychological profiling, political self defense, and tactics for subtle undermining and rallying troops for a coup d'etat. Special attention will be paid to lobbying faculty members and utilizing office surveillance technologies.

pre-requisite: LIS 501

Required Textbooks:
The Art of War, Sun Tzu
The Prince, Machiavelli

Suggested reading:
Anything by Stanley Bing

The.Effing.Librarian said...

I wish I'd learned "Territorial Aholes." If you start at a new library and you are assigned the area for "widgets," do not screw with or even look at the "dongle" area. The "dongle" librarian will do everything in her power to eff with your probation period and make your life a living hell. Also, never ever ever display any expertise in any area until probation is up, and all other sedentary librarians will see this as a threat to the status quo and again, eff with your probation and try to get you fired. This class teaches you to Keep Your Mouth Shut for 6-12 months to make that transition into that new professional job go smoothly.

Anonymous said...

Hey effing, you were hired as the widget librarian. You want to be the dongle librarian, put in an application. It is run a certain way because that is the way the dongle librarian wants it.

Anonymous said...

Sign me up for LIS 503, please!

contrarian said...

LIS 1000 How Not To Deal with Perverts@ Your Library

This class will focus on 2 fundamental tenants of librarianship: privacy & intellectual freedom. Perverts deserve to have their privacy protected so they can view explicit porn in the library. They also deserve to have their intellectual freedom protected because after all, they may really be doing some kind of research. We will examine concepts such as: “who am I to judge” and the “oh my god what’s next” argument that believes censoring porn is just the beginning of our dissension into the thought-police.

Librarian Zero said...

How about:

LIS 583b Bandwagoning.

In this advanced library administration course you will learn how to mindlessly adopt any and all fads just because you heard that other libraries are. The course highlights:

- Learning to identify potential fads on blogs and e-mail lists. Try to find fads with a little age, to prove that you're perpetually "late to the game."

- Force feeding fads to your underlings via snap decisions and edicts (followed by subjecting them to hours of meetings to discuss the decision you've already made).

- Neglecting core library service while everyone gets dragged into your brilliant implementation.

- Buzzwords--learn to love them, and learn to fall in love with yourself as you spout them ad nauseam.

- Carrier over content. Who cares that you don't have anything worth podcasting or digitizing? Screw the backlog, and form the Library Facebook Committee now!

- Final steps--ensuring that your pet fad of the moment is implemented in a clumsy manner leading to ugly results.

- Moving on. Don't worry that you've screwed everything up, there's bound to be another fad that will fix this!

LibraryTypeGirl said...

During my YA courses we were constantly told that part of our jobs would be social work (especially in NYC). If this is the truth, maybe we should be offered Social Work classes! Brains people, use them

Agrivated Chi-Librarian said...

Then there is the L-ChiLib 101, how to be the Children's Librarian where you get to cut and paste and read aloud and have THE most fun with kids, then turn around and realize that no one you work with values what you do, or that you have to work twice as hard as they do to get anything done. So now you do collection development, ordering and maintaining, argue with the catalogers over the jER books that are NOT picture books but early readers, program authentic programs, not just once or twice a week - like adult stuff - no you have 4-5 new programs, weekly to cover all the age groups and homeschoolers. Oh yeah and the committe work that has gone on for years, but since is was for 'childrens' programs is doesn't count and you get passed up for the branch manager position because coordinating 8-9 children's librarians to cooperate and share isn't good enough experience for your system. Besides all the 'off desk' time you get and still get interrupted because no one else on staff can show the youngsters to the series area of j fiction, we slug home our flannel board stories because they're not likely to get done at work. Or over your weekend off you have to finish ordering, and on your own time, put together a collection for a teacher.

AL said...

Wow. I always thought just being around all those children would be the worst thing about being a children's librarian. Guess I was wrong.

j- said...

You all are forgetting to include some sort of required coursework outside of the LIS department, say, LIT 855: Linguistics of Bureaucracy, or LAW 815: Library Unions, which could be condensed into one session: "How unions keep the very least talented/most deranged employees from being terminated yet will do nothing for you when the dongle librarian attempts to have you pole-axed during your probationary period for suggesting that he improve his work processes because, after all, even the caveman progressed from fire to the wheel".

Also, LIT 625: Basics of Humor...or in most librarians cases LIT 001: Remedial Humor.

Anonymous said...

librarian zero, you must be from my library!

Nonanon said...

How about LIS 5050: The Gentle Art of Negotiating. How to get patrons to hand over any percentage of their library fines without cussing you out; making the perverts feel valued while simultaneously getting them out of the bathroom where they've followed small children; how management can hire all new librarians without library degrees without making you feel like a sucker for going and getting yours. Tagline: "It's all about compromise."

Jenn said...

LIS599 Special Topics: Suburban Librarianship for Urban Librarians.

Making the transition from working in a cosmopolitan city to to an affluent, conservative community which takes itself a bit too seriously can be a challenge for even the most experienced librarian. Projects will include role-playing lengthy conversations about sensitive health issues with coworkers, developing a bland, inoffensive persona that understands the appeal of ranch dressing, and creating a "safe place"-- a project in which solace can be found in times of stress and frustration. Students will learn, the hard way, that there is no irony in the suburbs. Students will be required to subscribe to and read local newspapers (in print-- no RSS feeds allowed), come to terms with the sad inevitability of potluck-based office parties, and leave their unique personalities at home.

stacy said...

"* The Passive-aggressive intimidated coworker

* The indecisive supervisor

* The senile and politically unfireable paraprofessional"

holy crap anonymous! are you in the office next door to mine or what?!

Zippy said...

Not to burst your bubble, but this all sounds like every non-library job I've held, too. What did you think, that libraries were somehow exempt from all the miseries of gainful employment?

user_friendly said...

LIS 509 Library Obsolescence

Get a sniff of the forthcoming apocalypse wherein libraries become more and more obsolete under the weight of Google and an "instant gratification" research culture. We'll look at the dizzying array of non-sensical online interfaces that vendors use to hide their subscription content, not to mention proprietary catalog interfaces and useless browser plug-ins and add-ons that no one will use. Along the way we'll experience first-hand how to think and read like the average 18-year-old and see why they think we should be obsolete. We'll also read extensively from public officials and administrators who think "everything is online" and as such, libraries are unnecessary.

TJPaladin said...

LIS 6666 - Defense against the Dark Arts - Cataloging and Technical Services
- Students will learn how to Manage All aspects of Technical services in a real life practical way. Combining Useful supervision and management tactics for personnel and tech savvy flexibility.
How to show flexibility to higher Administration while keeping the ILS integrity.
How to use the Technical Services Dark Arts to mystify your enemies and administrators - while being able to clarify your work for allies. (i.e. where to place the smoke and where to place the mirrors)
- This course is most useful to those who wish to become Technical Services Department Heads --- Or for those who wish to defend against them. ;-)

Brent said...

LIS 560: Library Productivity & Patrons

To be a productive librarian, you cannot be sucked into listening to patron's personal problems. This class will teach how to avoid those patrons, yet not make them upset.
preq: b.a. in psychology

Anonymous said...

LIS 001 "Introduction to Actual Librarianship: Practice and Theory"

In this course, students will engage in fieldwork as they are mentored by an experienced and gainfully employeed librarian. All relevant aspects of the day-to-day realities of librarianship will be explored. Topics discussed will include (but are not limited to) The Job Interview Process I: The HR Manager's Perspective, The Job Interview Process II: The Job Candidate's Perspective, Supervisors: What They're Actually Supposed to Do and Why They Don't Do It, Trench Warfare Stalemate I: Working at the Reference Desk, Trench Warfare Stalemate II: Working at the Circulation Desk, Library Management I: Budgets, Library Management II: How to Actually Manage an Actual Library, and The Fine Art of BS: The American Library Association. The LIS 001 final exam will consist of the librarian-mentor meeting with the students for 30 minutes to verbally discuss "the theoretical approach" that belies the work of actual librarianship. This final exam will, by necessity, be cut to 10 minutes if the students have no questions.

Required textbooks:

"On BS" by Harry G. Frankfurt (2005) ISBN: 978-0691122946
"On Truth" by Harry G. Frankfurt (2006) ISBN: 978-0307264220

Prerequisites:

LIS 001 is a capstone experience to the LIS program. As such, all core courses and electives for the LIS program must be completed beforeheand. That said, in order to strictly adhere to LIS logic, the LIS 001 class is itself a prerequisite for LIS 5050: The Gentle Art of Negotiating.

Seating for LIS 001 is limited to one student every fifth semester.

Anonymous said...

Someone please work Guitar Hero in all of this!

Minks said...

LIS 5233 Porn and You - Examining ways to increase library usage through the creation of environments conducive to perverted activities. Requires LIS 5176 - Porn Store Culture, LIS 4910 - Hostile Work Environments, and LIS 5185 - Avoiding filters, inviting trouble.

LIS 4552 Managerial Support - Techniques used to cover for incompetent directors. Explores such topics as simple Excel, email, MS word, and numerous other things Managers and Directors should already know prior to promotion.

LIS 4812 They Pay Your Salary - Delves into the intricate compensation methodologies used by public libraries that relegate employees to become indentured servants to those they serve.

Anonymous said...

LIS 323FU: Dealing with difficult minority library employees who hate the very fact that you exist...

or is that LIS 2BRN2B:
dealing with the existential meaninglessness of coworkers in a library bureaucracy

or

LIS0SOUNFAIR:

How to deal when your library administrator takes 3 months vacation off and you only have 3 weeks.

oops, silly me, these are public library issues.

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

User Friendly - I volunteer to teach LIS 509 Library Obsolescence. I feel that I am qualified since AL used my comments to kick off her life-long learning post last week.

All these classes are brilliant. It is actually reassuring to me to realize that I am not the only librarian annoyed by co-workers and library structure. Maybe I don't need therapy but just a career change.

-Anonymous

Anonymous said...

LIS 2546: My Cats Are My Children

A required course. The first portion of the course will cover learning to accept the view of old, spinster librarians (with huge bottoms of course) who have never married but have 7-14 "children"--only you mistakenly believe they are cats. This will be accomplished through many skits and role play until you are able to listen to the entire 10 minute story of how little Felix pretended he was sick this morning just because he didn't want Mommy to leave him alone with Max, Garfield, Bucky, and Harry since they tease and bully him all day because he is the only one neutered (Mommy can't afford to take care of all her cats on a librarians salary), thus he can't do the same things with Sweetness the new sexy kitten that they can--all without breaking into laughter.

The second part of the course will move beyond accepting their views, into accepting their lifestyle as your own. Because I know that 90% of the females in my library program are headed for this fate.

Anonymous said...

LIS 666 - Subordinates Who Sabotage

This course will teach you how to deal with the entrenched subordinate you inherit with your new job who wants you to be just the same as her old boss (who is now your boss). What to do when such an employee attempts to bad-mouth you through multiple negative comments in the library's general satisfaction survey and is caught red-handed. How to deal with said employee as well as your supervisor and the library director when said employee is not fired by them for fraud (while you are on vacation), but allowed to keep her job with only a written reprimand because the university's lawyers don't want to deal with possible lawsuits. Prerequisite - LIS 501.

Anonymous said...

LIS 911 - Coping with Committees

Strategies for accomplishing the real work you need to get done when you serve on six library committees (chairing one) and one university committee whose meetings take up half of each work day. Prerequisite - LIS 504.

Amy said...

LIS 517: Strategies for Low Income Areas

Prerequisites:
LIS 516: Self Defence Techniques

Strategies for Low Income Areas introduces students to the many challenges and pitfalls of providing library services in low income areas, and provides practical advice in dealing with or avoiding them altogether. Topics include, but are not limited to, "an introduction to theft prevention devices", "what to do when theft prevention devices fail", "101 ways to remove graffiti", "making friends with debt collection agencies" and "what to do when someone is pushing drugs in the bathroom". Course includes mandatory 2 week practical placement. Students must provide their own safety gear.

stinkycheez said...

LIB 609: Employee Relations-Post Menopausal
In this course, we will discuss the naturally occuring phenomenon of menopause and it's effect upon the workplace. The aging of the library workforce has been documented in the field. We will examine the effect of menopause on librarians and their coworkers. Some of the topics we will discuss will be pissiness, sniping, nonstop complaints of physical ailments, mood swings and urinary incontinence.

Anonymous said...

LIS800 Librarian Shabby Chic

In this course students will learn how to adapt to the likeliness that they will earn a fairly low-income during their first few years as a librarian. Because the starving-artist archetype suits those who are educated, yet earn less than working-class tradesmen, students will explore developing the starving-artist persona, perhaps even developing a new starving-librarian persona that could be the toast of the ALA. This means they will learn how to transform from frump to ironically hip. Students will learn how to shop at thrift stores for poorly constructed and designed garments that are so horrible that most people would believe the wearer must be really avant guarde and eccentric. Students will also learn how to design a library-related tattoo to display their enthusiasm for what they believe to be is their future altruistic venture.

Anonymous said...

LIS 666 How to become invisible. This course is taught by Professor Thomas Walters who is on loan from the College West Hartlepool. In this class you will learn to turn your lack of personality into an asset. Techniques will be taught so that know one knows you exist.

When people come into your office to talk about policies, technologies, and the like that you are expert in and have at least a real working knowledge of, you will be rendered invisible and your supervisor (Mr. Peter Principle) will discuss all of these technologies, policies, etc with the head of the library/ the big honcho/ anyone in front of your desk while not acknowledging your existence. You can sit and learn just exactly what it is you are doing wrong from someone who has never looked at the issue ever.

If you are lucky, they will leave you your stapler and not move your desk to the boiler room.

skeptical thomas said...

LIS 401/WHN 101: Theory and Practice of Whining "I'm a Librarian, so I whine, whine ergo sum"

It is well-documented that all librarians, no exception, whine. And it is no secret that they are a bunch of self-centred whiners. This course will introduce librarian wanna-bees to theoretical concepts of whining. Guest speakers from WWF-L (World Whining Federation, Librarians Chapter) will present real-life whining stories and provide students with whining tips and practical advice. Group discussions will be moderated by students on topics such as: "My job sucks", "My boss sucks", "My colleagues suck", "My patrons suck/stink", "I'm overworked", "I'm underpaid", "My library is underfunded", "My library is so boring", "Librarianship will become extinct". Minutes from these discussions will be made available through whinis (e.g., blogs, wikis, and other social whining tools). The course is prerequisite to LIS 402/WHN 102: Advanced Whining Techniques for Lifelong Whiners.

Whinocerous said...

Just add to the discussion list:

-Whose whine is this anyway?
-Give me something to whine.
-What's there not to whine about?

kudzuhomecomingqueen said...

Anonymous @ 9:35pm

LIS 2546: My Cats Are My Children

I had your first case study participant in my office this morning. Where were you with this class when I needed it??!!

Anonymous said...

LIS D0L3: How to Marry/Partner Well

In this course students will learn how to woo a partner from carefully screened graduate programs, selected by the potential earnings of their graduates. Programs include Business Administration, Engineering, Bio-chemistry, Neuroscience and Veterinary Medicine. Students will be prevented from mingling with graduate students in English, Comparative Literature, Philosophy and Linguistics.

Assignments will include choosing the "right" outfit, getting the first date, getting the second date, and moving in together. Extra credit will be giving to those students who don’t have to pay for their dates. An automatic A is giving to any student who woos a partner studying Veterinary Medicine.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying for years (long before I dropped out of library school) that we should get rid of the MLS and our silly fetish for being seen as "professionals", and instead have apprenticeships like the trades do. Aspiring librarians would spend 32 hours a week working with experienced librarians in real libraries while spending one day in classes, learning things that can be taught in a classroom (cataloging, Boolean logic, elementary budgeting). No more idiotic classes on things you can't learn in a classroom, such as how to do a reference interview.

This would, of course, require that libraries and librarians value functional over flash.

AL said...

Valuing functional over flash is highly overrated, and much more tiring.

Anonymous said...

LIS 505: How to Schmooze
(Second semester to Library Politics)

During this class you will learn how to kiss ass, suck up, network with only the people most likely to help your career, and what public functions are the best in which to meet influential members of the community.

Highly recommended for future directors and board members.

Anonymous said...

There's enough material here for a Will's World column.

How about it Mr. Manley?

j- said...

*I've been saying for years (long before I dropped out of library school) that we should get rid of the MLS and our silly fetish for being seen as "professionals", and instead have apprenticeships like the trades do. *

Ha! Someone who either wouldn't or couldn't finish the Master's program thinks the degree should be abolished? Someone who isn't a professional thinks the profession should be reduced to a "trade"?

That's rich. That's almost as good as Karl Marx losing his shirt and then deciding he didn't much care for that Capitalism thing. Or a political party losing the Electoral College vote and then wanting to scrap it.

Yeah, these grapes sure are sour.

Dances With Books said...

A lot of good courses here. I think we have enough to create a catalog of classes and launch our own "L-School." (No, not Library School. We need to sound cool now, and if we somehow manage to put it all up online in some 5 to 10 weeks to learn it 2.0 whatchamacallit, so much the better).

And I am proposing a course as well:

LIS L1011: Rural Conservative Librarianship for the Urban Librarian.

This course is a special topics class for the librarian who spent time in a war zone inner city school and was then transferred or moved to a rural conservative area where anything you can shoot is good eating, pickup trucks have hanging balls (you know the ones), and cosmopolitan is some magazine in Wal-Mart's check out rack.

As the course is still in development, please contact the professor for full details.

Anonymous said...

LIS L1012: Urban Liberal Librarianship for the Real Librarian.

This course is desinged for the Librarian who received their undergraduate degree at the Agricultural School and is moving up to the big city for a job.

Topics covered but not limited to:
ignoring the ramblings of incoherent street people, after school care of inner city children abandoned in the library until closing time, cleaning of various bodily fluids from study carrels, small arms training, safe room etiquette, and ignoring the plight of your fellow man while you rush out to make the social-liberal caucus meeting for the redistribution of wealth. Other topics may be discussed as the course progresses.

Tudor Rose said...

I'm actually a current LIS student, but had been a public library employee for six years before entering my program. This amused me, knowing I probably gained more appliable information before graduate school.

Kristen said...

"Ha! Someone who either wouldn't or couldn't finish the Master's program thinks the degree should be abolished? Someone who isn't a professional thinks the profession should be reduced to a "trade"?"

I have both an MLS and a professional position, but I tend to agree with the idea. Theory is relevant, but over-emphasized.

And really, many other professions require more actual hands-on experience than we do. Call it an internship instead of an apprenticeship if your self-worth requires it, but the field needs more of it either way.

Anonymous said...

And for those on the public librarian track:

Dealing with Your Board

These are the folks who set your policies and your paycheck. Are you ready to spend 12-24 nights per year explaining over a plate of stuffed celery why you can't have the same programs as the library in the next town over, the one with a budget and staff 10 times greater than yours? You'll also learn how to convince them to follow the policies they set, and re-visit those policies each and every year. At the same time, we'll show you how to keep them from micro-managing you--there's always someone who thinks they can do the job better than you! Especially since they've been on the board for twenty ineffective years! Each student will receive a complete kit with self-medicating "tools" to enable them to get through the regular board meetings. Meet the board regulars: the Mayor's Wife, there to keep an eye on you; the well-meaning elderly Garden Club member too deaf to keep up with the discussion; the raving oddball who thinks the books should have stickers to "protect" ya's from books containing accounts of masturbation, cross-dressing, etc.; the cynic who doesn't understand why the town needs a library, what with the interwebs providing everyone with what they need; and many more who will gleefully ignore their term limits!

Anonymous said...

LIS 522: You're Here for Us!

In this course students will learn the proper place of the librarian in the organizational structure: at the bottom. Coursework will include reading procedure manuals from actual institutions that illustrate how the librarian must follow the timetables and work demands of support staff. Guest speakers include: custodial staff, lecturing on the importance of not letting your lunch bag(s)take up too much refrigerator space, and of not using the staff restroom after it's been cleaned; marketing staff, to explain how your failure to follow their procedures and meet their deadlines will result in your program not getting any publicity; and a real live computer support person, to tell you that a phoned-in report of no Internet service at your branch is no good since their department only responds to work orders received via e-mail. Students will submit a final project consisting of a) a detailed flow chart illustrating the steps a librarian must take to ensure that s/he bows and defers to all support staff; or b) a 10-page paper (with citations) on the topic of authority versus power in the library setting.

Prerequisite: physician's release, stating that the student's blood pressure is stable and low enough to withstand exposure to a stressful occupational hazard.

Anonymous said...

Courses I wish I'd had:

LIS 434: Administrative Flattery

This is where you find out the hard way that time spent in the administrator's office engaging in brown nosing helps you get ahead more than hard work.

LIS 501: Creative Financing

Learn to survive the world of revenue based accounting where every department has to "earn" their own money. Find out how to make job descriptions flexible as secretaries and staff start working as IT support and janitors because you can't afford their "services."

LIS 561: Putting on Blinders

Realize that it doesn't matter if you were the bottom ranked in your class, once you become "librarian" you are the best person for the job. Every other hopeful librarian has to meet impossible standards you define and that you probably couldn't meet yourself. Find new ways to read professional literature for that new "competitive edge" to get ahead.

boobarella said...

I've only just embarked on the path to the MLS, and I was starting to wonder if I was the only misanthrope out there. Thank god I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

LS901/BA401- Identify and Acquire Essential Funding.

Sooner or later, some of us will have to appear before our City or County Councils and demonstrate WHY we need the $$$ to keep going, purchase books and equipment, and cope with inevitable "modernization." Yes, and in some cases, keep the library cleaned and painted.

You will need to know how to put together realistic multi-year and short term budgets - - and then be able to sell them to the folks who ultimately will have to give you your annual maintenance and capital improvement funds from the taxpayers.

puma_librarian said...

LIS 2713 Communicating with Trustees

This course introduces students to covert methods of getting library trustees to consider such important issues as adopting the Library Bill of Rights and providing Equal Access for Minors when administration is reluctant to broach those topics themselves. Using actual case studies, students will learn what strategies work. Special attention will be given to the "pose-as-a-patron" technique in which a librarian writes an impassioned letter as a "library patron" in order to get the ear of trustees who do not make the effort to find out what the modern libraries are all about or what is on the minds of library staff.

Related courses in the Library Communication Strategy series:

LIS 2714 Long-Range Plan Communication: Persuading Administration to Share the Plan with the Staffmembers who Are Supposed to Be Implementing It

LIS 2715 Annual Report Communication: Persuading Administration to Share the Report with the Community that It Is Supposed to Be Serving

Anonymous said...

LIS 404: Information Technology for Librarians

You might think you've taken this one, but you haven't. It explains the true use you will put your information technology skills to in the workplace: explaining to your elderly colleagues how to perform basic IT related tasks. Topics covered include:

* how to move the mouse;
* how to load the photocopier;
* how to open MS Word;
* how to reply to an email;
* just what are these 'blog' things that I've heard mentioned once or twice.

Anonymous said...

LIS2001: Seminar on National Leadership: Administration of Professional Organizations

Required of all CAGS and doctoral candidates.

This seminar will include discussion of topics essential for the survival of professional organizations in the 21st century: hiring the incompetent, promoting the profession by paying library-focused staff less than your marketing staff, championing open access while protecting your corporate copyright, and finding the right position for the lackey of a national figure you are cultivating. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to state clearly what the profession owes the organization; why the organization is more important than the profession; and how to mug on stage with politicians violently opposed to freedom of speech, funding for education, and individual rights. This seminar will demonstrate that relentless self-promotion and thick skin will always triumph over intelligence and a grasp of the issues.

Anonymous said...

LIS 556: How to avoid land mines

This course will teach you how to avoid explosive reactions from your colleagues during the first 6 months of your first job. Opinions will be reigned in and attempts to contribute quelled. Both theory and practice for skirting historical flash-of-rage internal issues will be discussed.

Additional Note: LIS D0L3: How to Marry/Partner should be taken as an undergraduate and is considered as a vital pre-requisite.

Karen R. said...

How about LIS NSF:
This course is designed to train librarians in persuasion techniques specifically targeting low-income customers who need to be convinced to put off their next piercing or tattoo in order to reduce their sizeable library debt.

Anonymous said...

LIS PU123: Identify that smell.
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to identify and match the specific foul body odor with the correct patron (homeless or otherwise). Advanced credit given by demonstrating ability to match patron to specific chapter(s) of DSM-IV.

Anonymous said...

LIB 666: Surviving in the presence of Evil

This course will help you learn how to survive the person who feels so threatened by a new person, that they go out of their way to make you look bad. They'll be all nice to your face and say all kinds of awful things behind your back. This class will show you how to use the following tools: holy water, a cross and a stake.

Anonymous said...

Having graduated from library school in 2005...most of my knowledge was gained working in libraries BEFORE I went to library school...and I didn't have any notions of it being glamourous. My first job out of library school was an urban branch with shootings and violence around...but the library was a safe haven and the community loved it. I took my education as theory...not reality.

Although, for some of these new courses, I do see a benefit.

Mrs. Keuhn said...

These are all great! Thanks for the early morning laugh.

Anonymous said...

Second Life would be a perfect place to hold all these classes

Change Agent said...

All of this creativity and insight can be channelled into a movement of change for libraries. I refuse to think that we (I'm a relatively new, second-career idealistic librarian who loves, yes loves, working in a public library) cannot use our influence to initiative change. Let's start a session at ALA for "Embarrassed Librarians for Change"!

Day said...

Actually, I agree with Effing, because sometimes it's not a case of wanting to work on the dongle, but having a supervisor insist you'd be better than the current dongle librarian, even though your title is to deal with widgets.

So, really, the Territorial course should have two parts - dealing with the Territorial, and dealing with the Supervisors, with a bonus one-night-in-person meeting on Tact.

3goodrats said...

I've posted some ideas on my blog as well: http://blog.threegoodrats.com/2008/02/what-library-schools-should-be-teaching.html

Eyes and Teeth said...

You left out one important course- Dealing with close-minded, mentally-rigid, rule-following Nazi-Zombies (perhaps this is covered in Library politics).

I think lots of Librarians could benefit from Attitude Adjustment 101. Some people seem to think they are beyond doing certain kinds of 'non-Librarian' work.

You know what? If you are like that, you are an ungrateful bastard (or bitch). With today's economy you should be grateful that you are gainfully employed in a place as wonderful as a Library.

Next time you want to bitch about something as silly as having to pull holds or checking in a cart of books, stop and think. Be thankful you have a fucking job. Do you know how many educated and intelligent people can't find jobs right now? They would HAPPILY do what you are bitching about doing with a smile.

I could go on, but I have to go shelf some books (and Yes, I am a Librarian).

para-noid said...

Self Defense Against Co-Workers 101:

Course will cover how to defend against:

expert passive-aggressives

aggressive know-it-alls

pretend happy-go-lucky but truly incredibly competitive librarians

the "if you don't have a PhD I will not bother to talk to you" librarians

administrators that avoid you because they do not want to give you a promotion

Last but not least: the over-educated, truly burnt out, almost got their library degree but just now realizing this is all bull-shit para-professionals (we tend to be very angry at times)

margerykempe said...

What felt I needed from library school were courses taught by faculty who had some real experience working as librarians. It seemed that all of them went the phd track and straight into teaching - so there wasn't enough emphasis on the practical.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm,
My director and I have learned that courses in basic plumbing, furniture assembly, psychology (for the, and I say this lovingly, people who march to a different drembeat), etc. would have been extremely helpful.

Anonymous said...

LIBR444: How to identify the insane.

Working in a downtown branch I have had a chair or two thrown my way. Walked in on patrons showering in the sink and tearing book pages out to make pillows. While essentially amusing and harmless, it tends to scare and push away the general public.

LIBR222: How to deal with the fact you are still in library school and more intelligent than the prehistoric librarian who can't use the digital catalogue...

Bitter library student? Yes. However, working as a clerk in my last year getting to sit back and watch certain senior librarians become overwhelmed title searching in the catalogue is unbearable. I have a hard time honestly believing they have survived this long in a children's library searching, "fairy tails" for Hansel and Gretel. Two words, and spelled wrong?

Anonymous said...

Why not try getting out into the real world and working instead of expecting a Master's program to teach you how to work? What's next, a Master's program teaching people how to wipe their butts?

Anonymous said...

LIS 2345: Issues in Children's Librarianship-"Gay Porn and You."
In this class we explore the value of homo-erotic literature for children 2-10. First we tackle the task of teaching the community to not be shocked nor offended even thought they are paying for the materials to be provided to their children. Next we sit in the lab reviewing hours of gay porn to help us embrace and encourage this lifestyle. Finally, we weed through a mock children's library in order to find ample space for the new collection of erotic literature, including the famous pop-up book recently published by the ALA just for children,

Down on the Farm with my Pig Benis.

Anonymous said...

Huh - you're right AL: you weren't exposed to the "real world" before becoming a librarian. All of this is par for the course in most industries. I've spent my entire career in advertising - talk about fat to fashion ratios and people flying off to meetings while the grunts have to do all the work! The best part is that the ones in meetings will call the grunts and expect work to be magically done before the end of the meeting so that they can wow the client and get all the credit!

Anonymous said...

One subject I haven't seen here yet is the management of bodily fluids and other biohazards. If you're in a public library without an onsite custodian, at some point you're going to be mopping up piss in the public restroom of cleaning kid hork off the DVDs.

Jen said...

This is a hilarious post w/ comments! Thank you for the entertainment break while studying late at night for my MLIS before I go to work at my cubicle job in the morning. I'd like to mention that many of the professional annoyances mentioned in the comments relate to many office and managerial roles. Some of this is just the nature of humans at work. For example, I'm a Gen-Xer that came to work in a (non-library) environment primarily populated by "sedentary" boomer types. It was only until we got new management that my skills, and work ethic started to contrast with the sedentary types. End comment: just be good at what you do and you will eventually win (or be proven right) despite the politicking.

Paul said...

Yikes! This is some scary stuff for a first semester library student to read.

Anonymous said...

MAGHWII-101 Stress reduction using the Daltry method

For those who plan to specialize in the Music /Media department of the library, this course will provide the skill to fulfill the needs of both the "Patron of the Arts" and the librarian. this will be schieved through various interactive excerises- the most prominent being to help your "Patron" by stunning said "Patron" via smashing your guitar of choice(6,8,12 or 14 string electric) over their head and with a judicious movement of your other hand, foor or toe cause the stack of CGI amplifiers around the procenium of the stage to come crahsing down upon the "Patron" in a pile of smoking rubble(the higher the pile the bigger the score). High scorer will ignite the pyrotechnics activate the video screens and sing to the "Patron" the song "I can't get no statisfaction: Big Lips not required.

Prerequisites: Guitar Hero I and II

coming soon MAGHWII-103
An advanced course wherby the entire band (up to eight people) can stun said "Patron" all at once. High Score will get to take the microphone and serande the "Patron" with (depending upon age/design/architect/layout of your building) the following songs:
A- Look what the cat dragged in
B- Let the sun shine in
C- Hotter than Hell
D- Welcome to my nightmare
E-Welcome to the jungle
F-We're not gonna take it
G- Dewey Decimal 867.5309(Jenny I got your number)

Prerequsites : working knowledge of Guitar Hero III and IV

I have been enjoying the comments on this topic- 20 years in a major urban public library on the east coast. The above was created by my partner who has been enjoying himself at the conferences and has learned to laugh along with the changes to the professsion and the way the collections have been handled in many libraries.

O the many more courses I could add to the list- urban english or what did you say, dealing with coworkers or we have a brick wall, giving directions or what do you mean I have to find the book myself.

Anonymous said...

LIS 505 Doublespeak

The student will learn how to say the same thing 15 times and not lose patience; i.e., "we don't own that book," "stop running," "come to work on time," and other obscure phrases whose meaning have been lost to the passage of time.

LIS 599 Miracle Working collection Development

The student will take on an older library in which all previous librarians have spent budgets on their favorite topics, so now there are two shelves full of books on the mating habits of star nosed moles or extinct dodos and no books on AIDS or space. There will be one extra credit lab called Survival Strategies for defending your weeding choices.

LIS 580 Change Happens, deal with it

This is a class for the valorious student that imagines change in policies and precedures can actually occur. Learn to combat the phrase "BUT THAT'S THE WAY WE'VE ALWAYS DONE IT!" Required supplies--massive bottles of migraine Exedrin.

Anonymous said...

State of Illinois Cataloging Standards.

I am wondering if the library schools in Illinois know about these standards. Another example of "undermining" the MLS like the second Master's at an academic library.

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/whats_new/pdfs/catalog_standards.pdf

PigeonPhile said...

I guess I should just go to teacher's college after all :(

Anonymous said...

"They are educating librarians when they should be training them."

I agree Ed. Library school is too long (because people who don't want to work as librarians need somewhere to teach and the ALA is full of people who don't want to work with little people)....all library school applicants should have to spend one year working in a public library (or any other library...i guess i don't care) and one year learning about databases and readers advisory and stuff. But right now it is stupid and expensive and attracts failed liberal arts grads and failed teachers and failed....people who are so bitter and useless that they write blogs about being bitter and useless and probably fat too.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking of becoming a librarian, but after reading these posts and this exceptionally nasty blog, there is no way I would do so now. The Annoyed Librarian mistakes sarcasm and cruelty for perception.

If you really all hate your jobs so much, why don't you do something else? Then again, stay where you are so I don't have to deal with you.