Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Library School is Fun!

Some of you out there think playing videogames and hosting dance parties in the library make the library "fun" so that the illiterate kiddies who'd normally never come near the library will show up. (One might ask what difference does it make if they show up, but that's another question.) Now someone has the great idea to make library schools "fun" as well, to make sure that the library school students won't get to bored with all this "education."

If you're reading this blog, there's a good chance that you consider(ed) library school to be tedious and something of an intellectual joke. Library school is boring. We all know that. I think library school could be made less boring by making it more rigorous, in keeping with real graduate programs. But the majority in this, as everything prevails, and we know that can never happen. It'll always be library "science," so why don't we put some fun into it? Thanks should go to Dr. Webtamer, who's putting the FUN into library school!

The Shifted Librarian writes: "I love that my friend, the newly minted Dr. Stephens [i.e., Dr. Webtamer], devoted one of his LIS class nights to gaming. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to help out, but it sounds like the students did quite well on their own. I would love to see more LIS courses playing and exploring like this, helping the students form their own opinions."

Yep, me too. I'd love to see more so-called graduate school classes devoted to people sitting around playing videogames, you know, so the students can "form their own opinions." Forming opinions--that sounds almost educational! But who cares if it's educational, it's fun! Library school wasn't particularly educational before, so it's not like spending an entire class playing videogames is dumbing down the standard LIS curriculum.

Forming opinions is, as I noted, almost educational. Perhaps I didn't need this class, though, because I've already formed an opinion. I wouldn't want to pay money for a graduate school class and then sit around playing videogames, but that's just me. If this thing absolutely has to be done, then it might be appropriate for a homework assignment (which would be a typically easy and intellectually vacuous library school homework assignment), but I couldn't tolerate it in a class. Is this what graduate school seminars have become? But I know the problem. I just don't like fun.

I've written before that my suspicion that library school was an intellectual joke was confirmed when I was asked to make a poster presentation, which showed me how library school was like the third grade. At least with the poster I was supposed to convey information. If I had been subjected to gaming during class in library school, I'd have been very tempted to sue the university for breach of promise. Graduate programs in universities aren't supposed to have classes where people sit around and play videogames. Or at least I thought so. Apparently I'm wrong. Always remember, it's not graduate school, it's library school, and with a little more of this it could be library FUN school.

I think we've reached the nadir of library "education," the point at which we've given up any pretense of intellectual endeavor, but that's okay. We should embrace this diversity. Library science isn't much of an intellectual endeavor anyway, so we might as well have FUN doing it. You can't really have a graduate "education" worthy of the name when you teach classes in storytelling and pop-up books. It was always my hope that there was some possibility of intellectual engagement in a program that billed itself as a graduate school, but intellectual pursuits are so elitist. Better just to play games, because apparently everyone in the world wants librarians to play games and host parties.

Get away from training people to entertain the kiddies, and the rest of the program has at least the possibility of something remotely resembling graduate education, right? Absolutely not, so let's rejoice that someone has seen the light, and offer more classes on "library 2.0 and social networking." I think we can now see the intellectual content of library 2.0. I haven't been hearing much from the twopointopians lately, and now I suspect it's because they've been playing videogames, apparently an important part of both library 2.0 and social networking.

Shifted also quotes from a couple of blogs related to the class. One student writes: "How do you make your college-age son jealous? Tell him you played Guitar Hero… in school…for a class…while the teacher was there." There's another way of looking at that. What if you're a young student and your parents are paying for all or part of your "graduate education"? How do you make your parents happy? Tell them you played Guitar Hero . . . in school . . . for a class . . . while the teacher was there. Or when you groan while paying back that $25,000 in student loans (and that day will come), just remember how much fun library school was, when you got to sit around in class and play Guitar Hero . . . in school . . . for a class . . . while the teacher was there. Education 2.0 in action, baby!

What's better than to pay for a course where you get to sit around and play videogames? It might seem like you're just wasting your money, but remember, this is library "education." It's not like "Libraries, Society, and You" has much intellectual content anyway. Sit through this stuff and you'll have an intellectually bankrupt "graduate" degree that might get you a mediocre library job somewhere if you're lucky. But after all, what do you expect of a degree where you sit around in class playing videogames?

If we just admit that library school is an intellectual joke, then libraries can also benefit. Libraries should do themselves a financial favor. If library school is to teach you how to play videogames and libraries are there to host dance parties and bring in the kiddies, forget these "educated" librarians. Libraries don't need them for this kind of work. This stuff doesn't require a master's degree, or even a college degree. Cataloging? Not necessary if everything's online. Reference? Are you kidding? We've got Google, what do we need with reference librarians.

The salvation of libraries is videogaming and parties, and we don't need librarians for that. Hire some smart teens for $12/hour to host dance parties and play videogames and troubleshoot the computers and check out the occasional DVD. Plus, they already know how to play videogames and dance. They wouldn't have to waste time in class learning these things. The teens are motivated and self-directed and they play games on their own. They'd probably do just as good a job as the librarians and the libraries wouldn't have to pay extra for the so-called master's degree. That sounds like the best thing for the "customers," and that's what we're really all about.


Anonymous said...

I saw that post by Dr. Webtamer and did a double-take. I personally don't get the whole "gaming in the library" thing. I could understand chess, or even poker, both of which require some mental effort. But Wii? Guitar Hero? Might as well add dodgeball and tetherball.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to have had an ongoing prescription for percodans while pursuing my degree in library pseudoscience; without that narctoic buzz and nullified state of mind I would have slowly gone insane by boredom.

--Soren Faust

elsie said...

OMG, I'm laughing so hard I nearly snorted lasagna right up my nose! Clearly I need to go back and brush up on my librarianship - things have changed radically since I got my degree if librarians are now trained to play video games.


Anonymous said...

Anyone who posts on library school being boring and intellectually empty and doesn't post the name of their own alma mater is bullshit.

I went to the School of Information at Michigan and it was hard. We studied economics, political science, computer science, mathematics and then we took classes in our specializations (cataloging, reference, etc.)

People who think library school sucks went to a clown college which indeed may have sucked.

But perhaps going to a better one than Dr. Nick Riviera's Hollywood Upstairs Library School would have been a better solution than whining anonymously about an unnamed library school.

AL, if it please you, what school claims you?

Anonymous said...

I'm a recent library school grad. My two cents:

1) This was not my first advanced degree, and the LIS program at U of I seemed very rigorous to me.

2) They offer a whole course on video games... but it's not about "sitting around playing." It's a serious scholarly examination of the sociological aspects of gaming, how games can be (and are) utilized for learning, and what role libraries can play in the process. More than one of my classmates got publications out of the research we did in that class.

Anonymous said...

That L2 & Social Networking site is beautifully designed though. A bit more aesthetically pleasing than this old skool blogger template here AL!

Doesn't there need to be some balance here? Is there any part of Web 2.0 that you can embrace? Dr. Webtamer is likely to bring kids into the library where we might get a chance to work with them and answer their questions. It looks like your library-of-the-future might be devoid of patrons by design. Won't that make your tedious, boring job even more so?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't wait to see AL's response to the two posts above!!

Anonymous said...

Are they going to teach onanism as well? That is very popular at my local public library.

Anonymous said...

"I went to the School of Information at Michigan and it was hard. We studied economics, political science, computer science, mathematics and then we took classes in our specializations (cataloging, reference, etc.)"

Well, yes, we expect Michigan to be a tough school. I'm currently enrolled in one of those "clown colleges," for reasons of convenience. Some of my classmates have managed to get almost to the end of the program without ever once having to create a webpage. Others of them can't add two numbers without a calculator.

Anonymous said...

I actually took a computer course where we did some gaming. Granted it was an undergrad class but still...
I found it didn't address my needs for working in a library and I really don't care about gaming. The fact that students are taking gaming classes instead of cataloging (which is no longer a required course is Library School)kind of scares me.

AL said...

"AL, if it please you, what school claims you?" I might have responded to this if your language were a bit more polite. This is a family blog, after all.

Obviously I'm not going to tell you any personal details about myself, but I'll go so far as to say that I went to a highly ranked library school that some of you might think rigorous, I went out of my way to take classes I thought might be challenging, and it was still easy.

The fact that you had to study economics, political science, and computer science to make it difficult doesn't surprise me. I've studied political science and economics, too, and they're hard. But there's nothing about library "science" as challenging as any of them.

"Dr. Webtamer is likely to bring kids into the library where we might get a chance to work with them and answer their questions."

Maybe, maybe not.

"It looks like your library-of-the-future might be devoid of patrons by design."

What do we mean by a library patron? If libraries are there just to bring people in the door with whatever entertaining chicanery they can find, do those people count as library patrons? Do kids in an arcade count as library patrons?

"Won't that make your tedious, boring job even more so?"

Nope. If you can't tell, I'm a misanthrope.

AL said...

"Doesn't there need to be some balance here?"

If you mean here at the AL, then no, there doesn't need to be any balance. In the scale of library blogging and literature, there's almost everyone else on one side and there's me on the other.

If you mean in libraries, I don't know. That's for the people on the front lines to decide. I'm just represented the neglected other.

Margaret Hurtubise (Ms.) said...

Good afternoon Miss: Please know how happy I was to read your blog, and how deeply I sympathize. I have recently opened up my own little kiosk on the web, and would like to welcome you and your friends to it:

Yours sincerely, Margaret

Scott Douglas said...

I think paying a smart teen $12 bucks in hour would be smarter then paying a dumb librarian $22.

I think part of the problem is libraries are basing their decision to hire someone too much on if the person went to library school, and too little on what their experience is.

Library school doesn't make you qualified to be a librarian; maybe I just went to the wrong college, but I did find library school to be a bit of a joke. It wasn't a joke because they were offering classes in gaming (I sort of which they did, because it wasn't like I was learning anything anyway) was a joke because teachers spent all there time on theory, and no time teaching about what to expect when you work in a library. I was on the public library track, and only one of my dozen or so professors had actually worked in a public library. The problem with library school, in my experience, was you have someone teaching a class on public librarianship who has never worked in a public library.

Anonymous said...

I went to the Rutgers School of Library and Information Clowning in the early 90s. Of course we didn't design web pages because the web wasn't in widespread use then.

Yes, many people in the program worked quite hard, and many courses were labor intensive, but on subjects better suited to clerical training rather than academic. Clerical work is often very, very hard work, but learning to do it doesn't justify an academic graduate degree.

I remember our statistics course quite well, a repeat of the stat course I had in high school. The professor, in describing how graduate admission test scores were based on a bell curve, stated the School of Clowning received applications from physics PhDs whose math scores were more than two standard deviations to the right of the mean.

The professor added in earnest tones, “and we look at that.”

Imagine, a physics PhD, someone who could master the intricacies of that subject reduced to devoting their time and energy on the MLS. Even worse; them taking a course from this instructor who is at best qualified to do photocopy work for them, or maybe serve as a research assistant as long as no math beyond an eleventh grade proficiency was required.

Scott Douglas said...

When Dewey started the first library school program at Columbia 100 some odd years ago, it was to train women to be the assistance of superior men (Dewey was a bit sexist, but that's a different story).

The real librarians were masters of other fields. I wonder if we'd be better off today if we made librarians masters of other fields....

jmomls said...

*"Library School is Fun!"*

Tofutti break!

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Anonymous said...

AL, you hit the nail on the head. As a recent MLIS grad from a "top 3 school", I found Library Science school a joke. I had a management class where we had to bring to class a poster board (yes, the dreaded 6th grade poster board) and pin samples of library and other non-library marketing pieces we could find. Are you kidding me?? I was currently working as a senior marketing manager for a large corporation and I was embarrassed to let any of my co-workers hear about this or some of the other assignments.

I have a friend currently getting her graduate degree in speech pathology and I see the actual work she's doing and I'm jealous. She's learning practical skills. I learned to how to gather booksmarks and junkmail...nice.

Bah hum bug.

Anonymous said...

"pin samples of library and other non-library marketing pieces we could find"

But AAL, you can see how this would be a useful exercise for someone who went straight from undergraduate to graduate school without ever holding down a real job, can't you? I can.

The real problem as I see it--apart from letting EdDs teach anything--is that the schools don't let you test out of any of the required classes. So there were experienced catalogers in my cataloging class, and experienced reference librarians in my reference class. Some of them could have taught the class quite competently. That makes no sense to me, and that was my first clue that something was wrong with library education in general. There must be some way to give people credit for their experience.

Anonymous said...

Are there really a lot of people that pay $25,000 for a library degree? Between assistantships, scholarships, etc., no one I know is paying that much. I myself am paying cash for my MLS, which will cost me about $3,000 total. (Some may say that's still too much, but I don't think it's a bad deal.)

Shop around, people.

Anonymous said...

The degree should be reduced to a certificate program for community colleges for post baccalaureates similar to paralegal programs.

UNC - Greensboro. I enjoyed the people I met while jumping through hoops and thought I was really smart because I breezed through the program.

Anonymous said...

in a word..AMEN. Enough of gaming and this silliness. Librarians who promote gaming in libraries should be ashamed!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:20 (U of Mich)

So you took classes in mathematics, economics, and political science. So did I, but I did it in high school and undergraduate school. What branch of mathematics were you studying in library school and why? Are you a subject specialist in mathematics or any of the other subjects you mentioned? If not, why would you need to take courses that are traditionally taught at the undergraduate level?

It sounds like the program at the University of Michigan is a generalist program. But I question the utility in training a future librarian to acquire knowledge “a mile wide and foot deep” instead of appropriately encouraging the student to specialize in a subject. In today’s market it seems to me that a deep knowledge of one subject in addition to the skill set that constitutes being a librarian is much more sound an acquisition than pursuing a program “that’s all mixed up like pasta primavera.”

--Soren Faust

Anonymous said...

"The degree should be reduced to a certificate program for community colleges for post baccalaureates similar to paralegal programs."

If you went to UNC-Greensboro then you did get a certificate from a community college.

Second, any one who does not have an intimate knowledge of a library school curriculum post 1997 or so might not know just how much good programs have changed over the years.

Anonymous said...

Evidently part of the *library 2.o is fun movement* involves dressing up in silly costumes...what a way to promote our "profession!"

Hero said...

The most important thing I learned at library school was my love of gin. I spent half of my nights at the local bar and sailed through school without breaking a sweat.

Anonymous said...

Haven't most people played video games on their own by now? I'm fairly young (late 20s) and have been playing them for, well, ever since I can remember at home and at school, but my boomer parents have both played video games as well. My grandparents even have! I can see discussing video games in class, but hands on experience? You don't have to have played Guitar Hero and DDR to discuss video games.

Anonymous said...

I hate to do this, but I would really urge potential LIS students to avoid the University of South Carolina at all costs. Yes, they make it pretty easy with their online degree, but the fundamentals are barely taught. I also know for a fact that the school accepts students who do not have accredited bachelor's degrees. Essentially, it is a library school community college. I do feel really awful saying this because some of my friends have degrees from this school and are good librarians, but they were smart to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Well that's okay 3:00 Anonymous. Since you've posted anonymously none of your "friends" know that you've trashed them.

Is it possible that some of you who are complaining about library school didn't really do more than you had to? My library school training (ending in a few weeks) has involved some really innovative uses of technology. Cutting edge stuff. But I guess you have to care about such frivolities and be open-minded enough to "dig in" to have participated in such things...

And this is coming from a Library 2.0 skeptic BTW.

Ryan Deschamps said...

Re: the poster board comment. Poster boards are done alot in grad schools ranging everywhere from Management to Denistry to Engineering. It's probably the only effective way for such professions to get an eye from the broader public.

Just sayin'. . .

Anonymous said...

Soren -

A different anonymous here, but the program at Michigan is not in library science, but information science. Students can specialize in Library and Information Services but also in Human-Computer Interaction, Information Policy, etc. The program's focus is quite theoretical , but also requires 360 hours of practical experience in a library, archive, or whatever.

I was in a humanities PhD program prior to attending the School of Information and found some classes to be intellectually rigorous and others not so much. I'd say most of the courses were deeper than an intro undergrad course, though. It's also possible to skate through doing the bare minimum, too.

Anonymous said...

Well that's okay 3:00 Anonymous. Since you've posted anonymously none of your "friends" know that you've trashed them.

How does trashing their school equate with trashing them? Is the fallacy of conflating the personal with the professional so commonplace these days? Besides they also complained about the program at USC.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:36

Thanks for the explanation. I have heard some good things about the program and know that Carrie Bickner of NYPL graduated from there and she's done a lot of interesting work in digitization as well as writing a book. God forbid she works in one of those evil public libraries!

I do think, however, that the U of Mich program is probably more the exception than the rule.


Anonymous said...

Just to defend posters a bit - I think there may be some confusion between the medium and message. Posters (and even posterboard occasionally) are still used to communicate a lot of new scientific research at conferences. Posters can certainly have silly "third-grade" projects on them but just because you've been asked to do a poster doesn't automatically make it a juvenile project. I've spent much of my career chasing down data presented on posters at scientific meetings.

Anonymous said...

in my very first class the first day of library school, the professor showed us the movie "Party Girl." that was the entire class. i thought library school was a total joke and a waste of my time. and i happened to go to the same school the webtamer teaches at.

i love playing video games at home and with friends, and have no problem with offering it as a program in the library, like any other program they offer. but really, how is sitting around in class playing Guitar Hero supposed to make you a better librarian?

all of the library gamer aficionados tell you that to start up a gaming program in your library, just get some teens to bring in a console and some games, and let them go at it. why do the librarians need to be trained in grad school how to mash buttons?

Anonymous said...

I think that Dr. Webtamer may have just sent a shot across the bow!

Anonymous said...

I know I am old and supposed to be placed on an ice flow and pushed out into the freezing arctic sea to die and make way for the new by the gaming/dancing librarians. However, I must say that library school had almost nothing to do with my actual "career." I went to a Carribean library school once known as Cal State Fullerton and was fed much theory, learned important computer skills by making punch cards for Fortran and Cobol languages and did a forty page cartoon strip for my "thesis." Yet, I was no less capable than the UC Berkeley or U Michiganders after six months on a reference desk. Maybe library school should be pointless and boring since much of off-desk library work is grinding horror like lost-item replacements or skimming Library Journal. there is the seventh circle of hell boring.

Anonymous said...

Games? Right, they have no place in libraries because libraries are a place of supreme seriousness. However, someone should tell the children's librarians that reading to three year-olds may be fun (like playing games), but is neither educational nor worthwhile and that the children don't count as our patrons/users.

What is more upsetting to me is that this blog and its resulting comments show so much disrespect for our profession and our education. Gaming and libraries, isn't a concept for everyone or every library but at least it is a positive outreach to youth. Positive outreach versus negative vituperation...which is worse for the profession?

Anonymous said...

what "profession?"

Anonymous said...

Proletarian Librarian wrote: "My library school training (ending in a few weeks) has involved some really innovative uses of technology. Cutting edge stuff."

Which school is this?

Anonymous said...

University of Arizona.

It sucked. It totally sucked. Half of the class was functional illiterate and didn’t know how to write a paragraph or use punctuation. Most of them couldn’t balance a check book. The ones from the School of Education were the worst. I had a couple of lawyers, one person with a medical background, a geologist, two computer types and a business major in my classes. We were all amazed at the total stupidity of the others. The most difficult class I took would have been at maybe the 11th grade level. I refused to do the poster board. Hell, if I need one, I’ll hire a graphics artist to do it. “Oh, no, you can’t do that, you don’t have the money in the budget for it!” Sorry, but I won’t work for an organization that can’t afford the necessities to get the job done.

Diversity – I ran into it all the time. White males were the cause of all the troubles in the world and if you were white, you were a racist. God help you if you were a conservative because your grades would be knocked down. I saw it happen to 3 people and I had to threaten to go to the local talk radio jocks to keep one of my grades up. I did better work than the idiots that couldn’t even speak standard English and I got down-checked just because I was white. The white males (the few, the proud, the one’s unwilling to play the PC game.) got hammered on grades all the time.

After I graduated, I had some candid talks with a few of the instructors. They told me that they had to dumb down the classes for people to pass. Sorry, I had chemistry and physics in my bachelors degree and there was NOTHING in library school that came anywhere close to the difficulty of those freshman classes.

They lied to me – I was told that the librarians were retiring and I could easily get a job. Hah! I expected graduate school to be difficult and where I would learn new things. Hah! (Dear AL, sorry about the !!! Please don’t hold them against me!)

The library degree is a total waste of time. I took a page from the geologist’s play book and the degree is on my resume is listed as a “Masters in Information and Data Storage and Retrieval.” When interviewed, I tell them I work in both digital and binary modules. I now have a job in my bachelors field that pays in the low $90K. (Thanks, Rockhound.)

Bottom line – if you are in library school, get the hell out while you can.

Anonymous said...

Whether you agree with it or not gaming is what libraries are doing, so clearly spending a portion of one night of a many night course to look at how gaming works seems entirely appropriate. The criticism of something like this makes you look uninformed about the profession therefore making your arguments less and less valid.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the point of video games at libraries that simply seek to entertain. If somebody out there has a convincing argument for this, please post it here so we can see it.

However, I can see the case for computer based educational tutorials in libraries. Things like Rosetta Stone, Video Professor, Reader Rabbit, Flight Simulators, and other computer programs that can help a person gain knowledge and skills.

Anonymous said...

It's library science, not rocket science.

Anonymous said...

got burned in lib school said: "When interviewed, I tell them I work in both digital and binary modules."

Whoever hired you knows less about computers than you do. You can contrast digital and analog, you can contrast binary and decimal (and hexadecimal), but you can't contrast digital and binary. Those are essentially synonymous.

DearReader said...

You can't really have a graduate "education" worthy of the name when you teach classes in storytelling and pop-up books.

Funnily enough, storytelling was one of the most difficult classes I took. Not very academically demanding, natch, but the teacher expected us to have a wide knowledge of folklore as a prerequisite and to be a good storyteller. I came out of the class with an appreciation for the craft (and it is one, just as mime is) - and also an unshakeable distaste for people who take storytelling very seriously.

Anonymous said...

Well, AL, since you're kind enough to retain us (Library Pariah) in your blogroll, I can only chime in by saying that your post and its voluminous comments remind me of one of the aspects of librarianship that I least like: the lack of an abiding sense of humor.

Sure, I imagine that to some extent you are truly incensed by what seems like a very silly class centered on gaming. I'm also willing to believe that you are not blind to some of the more sociologically interesting aspects of gaming, particularly of MMPORPGs. I am certain, however, that when you wrote this post, as with so many posts on AL, your tongue was firmly planted in your cheek as you typed.

Lighten up people. Humor is a wonderful thing.

AL said...

No comment on where my tongue was planted as I typed!

Anonymous said...

Pinning bookmarks, postcards and junkmail to a poster board is grade school, high school and, perhaps, even undergrad is not what I expect at a grad school level. I prefer we use powerpoint, PDF or Word, at least.

Bottom line for me, my library school experience at at a "top 3 school" was not challenging.

Now, back to my vodka on the rocks.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget one of my required "core" courses in library school...granted this was back in the mid-90s, but I was quite surprised to see the professor pull out a floppy, tell the class very solemnly, "This is a floppy disk," and pass it around so we all could get a good look. Unbelievable.

By the way, I went to dear ol' Pratt Institute and my degree ain't worth the paper it's printed on.

Kishane said...

Wow. Everyone's comments is totally scaring me off of GSLIS.... I thought Library School was actually useful. On the gaming issue, I kinda can't believe that they offer that. Although I guess it's the next step up from DVD's and videos....

Anonymous said...

What is more upsetting to me is that this blog and its resulting comments show so much disrespect for our profession and our education.

It's hard for what we do to be perceived as anything remotely professional when we neglect traditional reference services and community outreach in favor of pimping bookcarts and DDR nights for teens.

Scott Douglas said...

I just consider library school to be a cruel rite of passage all librarians have to do; it's kind of liked getting jumped into a gang or something.

I love my job, and I take every moment of it seriously. It seems ridiculous that I need a degree in library science, but if that's what it takes to have my job, then I would do it all over in a flash.

I think it's a shame that all the study I've done on the history and evolution of the library was done outside of school, but I guess that's life.

Anonymous said...

I'm nearly at the end of my masters, and it has, by and large, been such a waste of my time. I mean, it'll be lovely to have the piece of paper at the end (well, the payrise will be, anyway), but I can't help but feel that I was expecting a graduate level program to be a little more rigorous.
I'm studying in Australia, but my experience has been similar to a lot of other commentors - little academic focus, lots of silly projects, and this unerring presumption that I'll want to work in a public library!
Learning about gaming for your patrons is all well and good, but should be done on the job - if your library does it, then you should learn it. Other than as theory, I don't really see how it has a place in a masters course. Maybe as an extra night, a fun social event, but not as a substitute for an actual class.

Anonymous said...

My LIB school experience was a mixed bag. While I grew to respect and admire a few of my professors, I can probably count the number of assignments that I found interesting, challenging and/or academically rigorous on one hand. Although I never had to endure a class in which we all played video games, I was subjected to multiple assignments in which I had to summarize articles or create posters, etc. This is the exact type of work I would have assigned to my 8th graders when I was a classroom teacher -- which was fine for them, but I simply can't tell you how many times I looked a course syllabus and found the tasks to be, frankly, disrespectful.

On the other hand, I was able to complete the program in 1 year while also working 2 jobs, so I guess I shouldn't bitch. (But I will anyway).


Anonymous said...

got burned in lib school said: "When interviewed, I tell them I work in both digital and binary modules."

Whoever hired you knows less about computers than you do. You can contrast digital and analog, you can contrast binary and decimal (and hexadecimal), but you can't contrast digital and binary. Those are essentially synonymous.
7:48 PM
Sorry. You are absolutely correct. What I meant to say was that I work in both digital and physical modules.

Unknown said...

Wow, people. Such negativity for both your profession and education. I hope that you don't address your patrons with such venom. Maybe that's why library usage numbers are going down. The great majority of librarians I know can't imagine working anywhere than in a library because they really love their work and helping their patrons.

As a soon to be MSIS grad, I have to say that while I think the requirement for the degree within the workplace is a little over the top in a lot of cases, my experience working through the LIS program (which I have completed through 2 different institutions) has not been the same pap that you're all grumbling about here. Is there theory? Yes, but all social sciences have theoretical knowledge that has to be discussed before practical matters are addressed. Are some areas in the clerical domain? If you're being negative, I suppose so but if you didn't know that before you went to library school then you didn't do such a great job of researching either the profession or your program. It's not that hard to read a syllabus or two before you enroll.

As far as the gaming aspect goes, Dr. Webtamer was talking about 1 class in a semester. Does an academic librarian who is a subject specialist or who works with rare books need to know about this? No, but most LIS classes are designed for a broad range of librarians and if you plan on working in public or school media libraries, then it will not hurt you to learn about what your patrons are interested in. What is the difference between a library having videos to lend or screening a movie compared to having games to lend or having a gaming night?

The other aspect of this is that some gaming type software will be incorporated into the internet within this decade. I don't know if SecondLife will be the platform that makes it, but learning how to maneuver through these programs will be helpful. Even librarians in special libraries will have to engage in this realm as companies begin to use the technologies as communication tools since so many people are beginning to work remotely.

Back in 1989, I helped implement computers and their necessary programs at the ad agency I worked at. Oh, the howls of protest from the veterans: "I don't have time for this," "there's nothing wrong with the way we already do things," and "I'll just keep doing it the old way" were commonly overhead. This was to replace manual typing with 4 part carbon paper forms with word processing programs that fed right into the newspapers. A lot of the previous posts have the familiar grumbling of people who just don't like change, similar to my old co-workers.

I've had the privilege to have fellow classmates with an MD, JD, and well as 2-3 additional Masters Degrees before attending my MLIS programs. While we've all had our gripe moments (and there are certain professors that get griped about more than others) all in all we've all known what we were getting into and haven't been disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I went to SUNY-Albany way back in the dark ages before the Web and the most sophisticated gaming system was the Nintendo (which had just come over from Japan).

I always approached Information Science from an applied science point of view and always thought that librarians should be something of information engineers. You know, PROFESSIONALS who take information theory and make it usable for the people who don't know how to use information.

Little did I know that I should have considered Library Science as an answer for babysitters and pre-school for teens.

Video gaming? Sure kids love them but they also love toking up and talking about their feelings. Should libraries have a reefer madness party for these kids?


Call me an old fart -- many have -- but you wanna play video games, hit the student union building.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a lot of comments on this post. By this point, I just don't know what to think. Given that I had a director who was an avid Mundi Artis Bellis fan (and I mean to the degree that boss would leave work early to actually hit the online game, by the director's admission), I can't help but think that any pretense at intellectual rigor is out the window. Don't get me wrong. I like fun as much as the next guy, but teaching classes on gaming? Is that really what you pay tuition for? Does it mean I have to go back to library school to "learn" this stuff? Is there no end in sight for this ridiculous situation?

The point, if there is any, is that a lot of this is being taken to an extreme. Sure, there is the "positive outreach" to teens (beats them being on the streets doing who knows what), but after a while, one does have to ask if those are really library patrons or just kids in an arcade. And if they are just kids in an arcade, we may as well charge for the games and make the "library" fund itself. I mean, while we are thinking about all this.

And for those who wonder, I did go to a highly ranked library school, fairly rigorous school (somewhere in the Midwest is all you get from me). I'll say this. My other graduate degree was more rigorous.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I thank God (figuratively, since I'm an athiest) that I found this blog before I enrolled in library school. I still check it while at my public library job, which I took to make sure I liked library work before commiting to grad school (smart move). Needless to say, it's killed any interest I had in getting a library degree.

However, I still want to pursue a graduate degree - just for the intellectual challenge. So I've been exploring programs that would tie into my areas of interest. What I've found is that it may not be just library school.

When I contact a professor whose work I admire, I invariably get told a great deal about how far academic standards have fallen in the world of higher education, and how disgruntled they are with their department or school, the quality of their students, etc. I have been told over and over by numerous professors that the academic world is a very closed-minded, unimaginative, and un-intellectual environment. And that it's getting worse. And these have been professors at some rather prestigious institutions.

Many of the complaints here regarding liberry school may just be symptomatic of the larger problems in higher ed. Over the past few decades, college has de-volved to become where those who can afford it send their kids to re-learn what they didn't learn in high school. Have things gotten so bad that now grad school serves the same purpose in regard to undergraduate education?

I know it's fun to bag on library school, but I think there's a larger problem...

Anonymous said...

I have always told people that my MLS degree was the easiest master's in the world, accredited and all, and that was in 1981! (Heck, we still went to the computer lab and used punch cards). I never could figure why library science wasn't a minor. Learn something and along the way, learn how to catalog or something.

As far as doing all this "stuff" to get people in the doors, well, many churches are trying the same thing and finding out it ultimately doesn’t work. Maybe... if libraries and churches touted their innate wonders, instead of sending the message that they are intrinsically so dull and archaic that only by spicing them up would anyone even think to enter their hallowed halls, and even then, we have to keep the entertainment coming lest they discover the, yawn, true nature of the institution,... maybe then people would come and find out they ARE great places.

Anonymous said...

In response to: "Sorry, I had chemistry and physics in my bachelors degree and there was NOTHING in library school that came anywhere close to the difficulty of those freshman classes."

My bachelor's was in physics too, and I took quite a bit of chemistry. Were the concepts presented in library school as intellectually difficult as quantum mechanics? Heck no. But did my professors at UIUC come up with worthwhile, challenging projects? Most of them, yes. The work was demanding, it made me think, and there was a ton of it compared to my first M.S. Heck, I wrote a 35+ page research paper I might yet get a publication out of for the first semester introductory course!

Guardienne of the Tomes said...

@ Proletarian librarian -

Hmm. I thought LIS school was retardedly easy. It was my 2nd master's degree - my first was in political science. I worked a full time job and a part time job, and went to LIS school full time.We weren't required to take statistics in LIS, our 'research methods' class was a complete joke, and yes - because I didn't feel challenged, I took extra classes. it didn't help. And it was the only school in the state that was available.

It would help if we just admitted that LIS school isn't GRADUATE school, it's vocational training. At least, that's the current state in most places. Michigan is an exception - but they also admit that it's not "library" science they're teaching. it's all sorts of other sciences, with some information about working in libraries thrown in.

And about gaming - this is the sort of thing that in real graduate programs you would be expected to gain experience in outside of class, and then come in and discuss the implications and ramifications it has, if any. I'm with the AL on this one - complete and utter ridiculosity.

Anonymous said...

"I just consider library school to be a cruel rite of passage all librarians have to do; it's kind of liked getting jumped into a gang or something.

I love my job, and I take every moment of it seriously. It seems ridiculous that I need a degree in library science, but if that's what it takes to have my job, then I would do it all over in a flash."


Despite my world-weariness I think I have the best job in the world when I am on a ref desk. I have been a subject specialist for twenty years in a big public library and have people drooling over my collection every day. I have lots of freedom on the job and have worked with many fascinating people including an oscar-winning actress and one of the world's greatest musicians. I have had many articles published and curated an exhibit that was written about in several newspapers. I doubt I would have had these kinds of opportunities selling real estate. Library school was a joke but being a librarian has been incredible fun. It also paid for my house, not not very opulent life-style and raising a kid. To those who are queered off the profession by the dark humor of those in the trenches... you don't belong behind a ref desk. You ever hear doctors talk about their patients in private after a couple of belts? Jeez...we are only kidding about stringing up teens and banning dancing. AL gives us that opportunity beyond just giving patrons heinous nicknames.
If you are ambitious then this isn't the field for you but if you want to go home at night and sleep well then maybe it is worth sitting through three hour library school night classes. In the big picture librarians are a helluva lot more important in society than DJs and hedge fund managers.

RedLipstick said...

Agree with above posters that lib school should not be masters level. Most of the theory they try to deliver really turns out to be unhelpful when you enter the real world.

I work in a government library and I did my MLS practicum at a different government library and many of the "librarians" are subject specialists; they have graduate degrees in other areas and their subject expertise is far more important and valuable than a degree in LIS. It's as if the hiring people know that a LIS degree does not equip people to do what they need done.

I'm really curious to know if those who attended "rigorous" LIS programs really think that it makes a difference? [proletarian librarian and soren faust] We have graduates in my library from schools all over the country and really it seems to make little difference at all. Seems better to get the cheapest degree you can than wasting money on a 'grandiose' program for which there will be little attention paid when you finally get a job. One's skills and experiences are exceedingly more important.


Anonymous said...

"Hire teens at $12 an hour"???

Why should they get more than us professionals get paid??

Anonymous said...


I didn't attend a “rigorous” program in the U of Mich or UNC Chapel Hill sense of the term. In fact, my program was appropriately named Library Studies unlike the pretentious Library Science programs most universities like to advertise. (I attended UNC-G and know someone made a snide comment about this program here on one of the comments, but they’re probably still trying to find a job after 2 years of searching, I found my job very soon after graduating).

I understand that calling something a science adds more weight to the field, but librarianship has no business calling itself a science. Even the "fathers" of the idea of librarianship as a science more or less gave up on such absurdity, such as Jesse Shera, Alvin M. Schrader and L. Houser. Just read “The Search for a Scientific Profession,” by the last two authors and you’ll laugh. It’s so pathetic, really.

The funny thing is that I work with other librarians who attended these so-called rigorous programs and we both do the same things and get paid the same monies. I found that my other graduate experience is much more valuable and that a Library Studies program is sufficient and by far much closer to the reality of the profession.

--Soren Faust

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that I work with other librarians who attended these so-called rigorous programs and we both do the same things and get paid the same monies.

Experience tends to trump where one earned the MLS. Some of my former classmates who spent several years as LTAs initially fared much better on the job market than someone like me who had a few internships and a second masters from a R1 institution. I bear no ill-will towards them. It just took a little longer for me to catch up.

AL said...

I attended a prominent library school. It might have made someone in my first job take a second look at my resume, but I doubt it. And after the first job, does anyone really care where you have your library degree from? That "ALA accredited" that all the library jobs ask for is all that's important. Once you have a job you have to prove yourself, and everyone is going to be curious about what experience you've gained and how you've kept up with the profession, not where you went to school. It's not like for PhDs in various fields, where people really care.

Kevin Musgrove said...

If the library schools are going to be churning out people who will be spending their time dancing round the office or videogaming rather than "managing" public library services and personnel the way so many of them do it can only be a good thing.

The good librarians will learn their trade despite the distractions.

The bad ones never would in the first place. In which case having the option of wheeling them out of the way to demonstrate a Wii game to a bewildered public is probably for the best in this best of all possible world.

Anonymous said...

hey, how's Middle GA treating you??

Anonymous said...

...we are only kidding about stringing up teens and banning dancing.

Speak for yourself, hon. Speak for yourself.

Anonymous said...

I think the entire point was missed that this class spent a small portion of one class session trying out a few popular games that libraries are incorporating into their programs. AL, you're making it sound like an entire course was spent just playing video games. Have you looked at the blog that you so arrogantly linked to so you could see what some of their other assignments are? Or have any of you before you criticize it?

Anonymous said...

For someone who criticizes 2.0 technology you sure put a lot of effort into your account!

Anonymous said...

Experience tends to trump where one earned the MLS. Some of my former classmates who spent several years as LTAs initially fared much better on the job market than someone like me who had a few internships and a second masters from a R1 institution. I bear no ill-will towards them. It just took a little longer for me to catch up.

I went to one of the top library schools in the country while working full-time as a paraprofessional in a large academic library elsewhere. When I graduated, I was fortunate enough to get a very good, non-entry level position relatively quickly. More importantly, I found myself to be at a distinct advantage in library school over those who had never worked in a libary. Library school was a lot of work, as is to be expected with any graduate program, but it certainly wasn't hard. I enjoyed my program and learned from it, but much of what I learned expanded on the knowledge and experience I already had from many years of working as a paraprofessional. While I enjoy my new position, I still find it hard to reconcile the attitude that having an MLIS means someone is automatically good at their job. Let's face it, there are many well-educated idiots out there. I'm good at my job because I push myself to be good at it, not because I have a sheet of paper that many would argue entitles me to think I'm good at what I do.

jmomls said...

***Anonymous said...
"Hire teens at $12 an hour"???

Why should they get more than us professionals get paid??***

I've got a pretty good idea why you're not making bank.

Anonymous said...

I'm in my final year of library school, and it has been difficult. The only people who think the program is easy are the ones who finished the core courses and then devoted the rest of their degree to reader advisory or management curriculum. They're also the ones doomed to public librarianship for the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

I walked out on one Master's (Audiology) and into Library Science. All I can say at this point is both were a mistake.

Audiology had an edge in "science" but both fields are overtaught for what the work actually requires. Audiology has sailed on to require a PhD for entry level jobs, and I think libraries would follow if they sustain it.

Both are also fields that are slowly dying off into irrelevance. When you're in a field and trying to succeed in it, you walk the walk and toe the line, but when you've said to hell with it and quit, things get more in perspective.

All the hand wringing about social networking sites and games and whatever, the ridiculous topics people come up with to have something--anything to publish a paper on, the ever increasing job's just too much.

When job hunts stretch out to years, and fewer and fewer people seem able to get positions, you get out. There's only four people who say good things about libraries: gullible students, recent graduates, the lucky, and the stupid.

I shredded my diploma and threw it away, today I just people I have a Master's degree and that's it, I don't give details unless it's for a job, as Library Science is little more useful than having a degree in Superhero Comic Theory.

Anonymous said...

Librarians are the party people, after all.

Anonymous said...

You're all forgetting the purpose of library school: keeping lazy, stupid people out of the profession. I'm an academic librarian as well as a part-time instructor. I shudder every time I encounter one of those students who is both lazy AND stupid, but at least I know that person will never be a librarian. Why? Because it requires another year or two of education. Too much hassle.

To those that complain that library school isn't rigorous enough: so what? Our jobs don't require us to do a whole lot of original research, nor are we expected to be scholars (though many academic libraries unfortunately have tenure-track librarian positions).

Anonymous said...

I attended a prominent Canadian library school and I graduated first in my class.

Library school was much more work than my undergrad (which was in the humanities), but much less interesting and much much less intellectually stimulating. Not only that, but then I graduated and started working and realized that I hadn't even been taught many of the most important skills needed for my job.

Anonymous said...

I find it a bit hilarious that your main medium is something that was created by people who love(d) to play video games.

Get with the program, video games are every bit as challenging and entertaining as a book, particulary the video games of today.

Granted, LIS school was a joke, I'll have to add, but it doesn't have anything to do with video games. What should they be teaching, Mark Twain? I think his works are horrible.

If you don't like video games, stop using the internet, checking email, and anything else related to modern computers, because they are all basically video games. And if you have any experience with early video games it would be totally obvious that they are exactly what these things are based on.

I grew up in the era just before the internet hit big, but during the video game craze. The internet got really popular when I was about 20, so I have both eras going for me on that. Trust me, because clearly you are not well versed in video games, but what you are doing right now (clicking mouse, back button, etc) is basically Legend of Zelda without a plot.

So, stop commenting on things you know nothing about. Bagging on video games is a behind the times backwards view of things.

Should we go back to speaking some archaic form of English too, or should we just go back far enough to encompass the English popular in your prime and somehow that is "classically" acceptable?

Good books, bad books, creativity, good music, bad music, it's all completely subjective.

You don't think there are bad video games (lol). Classic video games? Video game trends that people don't or do like? Discuss?

Outside of librarianship you seem to be out of the loop. Get with the program, all things digital are here to stay and video games are hugely responsible for all of this and the fact that computer usage in the US is widespread. Serious online databases use video game user interaction screens.

PS - DDR sucks and so does Guitar Hero. But a good plot intensive video game is an excellent time.

Video Game Defender

AL said...

Since I didn't attack videogames as such, your response is just bizarre. However,it does seem to show that people who play a lot of videogames can't read very well.

Thanks for trying to read!

Anonymous said...

Your post (and many others by you and others) clearly indicates that you think video games have no place in the library or library school. My guess would be that you don't play video games at all.

It's also clear that you and many others think that somehow books (specific ones at that) are intellectually valuable, but video games are not and that moving in a direction that incorporates video games into the library is a horrible thing.

Are you actually denying that the above is what you are implying? Do you want video games in libraries?

My post was addressed not only to you but to those who addressed video games with disdain and use the internet as though it is some separate intellectual tool completely isolated from video gaming.

I can read fine, but I'm even better at reading what's really being said which is basically - "video games don't belong in anything having to do with libraries". I like a lot of what you say, but I think that video games are very important.

Speaking of reading, did you read most of the responses here and compare it to what I wrote?


AL said...

You seem to be quite the videogame monomaniac. Everything done on a computer is apparently the same thing as a videogame. Write a novel with a word processor-it's a video game! Read an essay in an online journal--it's a videogame!

I thought the point was pretty clear. Spending class time so-called graduate school playing videogames is an intellectual and educational disgrace. But I suppose when there isn't much intellectual content to a course, playing videogames helps to hide that. Sort of like all the library school groupwork.

Anonymous said...

I earned my degree in the late 90s. I think one of the biggest things to hold library school education back is the constant assignment of group projects. They reduce accountability, dilute the energies of the more ambitious students, and hence lower the bar for what will count as successful completion of the project. There was no sense that students had to write at a graduate level; there were no written assignments of the length required to show sustained and deep thinking about a topic; and there was no sense that students common sense about library services, culture, or practices would ever be challenged. I made some of my most interesting LIS classes more challenging by engaging with them philosophically; I was rewarded with Bs for not toeing the line. I earned As easily in other LIS classes,and earned As in difficult out of department classes in epistemology and sociological research methods. Many library school students would not have been prepared for the rigor and workload of these courses. Besides group work, the other thing that makes it difficult to make library education actually matter is the fact that library schools, especially with distance programs, are cash cows. Not many scholarly programs would risk weakening the status and quality of the graduate student work by sacrificing face to face education for a class of 200 students on WebCT. I don't really know what the answer is, but part of it is in linking up with university and public libraries to provide practical internships, and then disabusing LIS students of the idea that they won't have to get a handle on "theory." But that's only part of it. Then you have to completely make over what is passing for "theory" in library science which is also a joke. Library school students are not being given tools to think critically about librarianship and its practices. Instead its more of the same propagandizing about "customer" "service." Sounds like librarians are overpaid retail wage slaves.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What DE program lets 200 people in a class? I have been a DE student for the past 5 semesters and our classes are limited to 25 students each. Waivers are given sporadically but I can tell you that there are no more students in any given DE class that I've taken compared to the on-campus classes.

Anonymous said...

"There must be some way to give people credit for their experience."

After 8 successful years in the field of digital asset management and digital archives (proving you don't need a degree), I decided to get my degree in MLIS at one of the top 5 schools in the county just to have the piece of paper and to quiet all the MLIS advocates. It was a joke, the students and professors (aside from the smart ones) were a joke. Not to mention the professors didn't like me cause I *actually* worked in the field and was a consultant for pete's sake! I was an academic fellow for my undergrad and LIS school made me feel like a college senior being asked to repeat Kindergarten. All that theory is crap, it was laughable, other fields have been doing it and frankly they have been doing it better for a much longer time. Don't kid yourself and think you are a cognitive scientist just because you can determine the information needs of Health Services workers. Maybe if you've never worked in the field it is important, however I can't tell you cause I actually have experience. The preq's for courses were laughable, come on if you don't know how to use MS Word, I don't know where to even begin with you. Even funnier was having to send emails to "directors" back and forth just proving you can test out of the computer 101 course (I don't care what fancy name they give it, that's what it is) when *one* of your degrees is in multimedia programming and design. The library world needs to get over itself, get off library island and realize that experience counts for something. Please don't make me work with another LIS student fresh out of school that knows didley, that for some reason thinks they know something because they *suffered* through LIS school. I've had it!