The Importance of Course Selection…

I am now down to my last three courses towards a masters degree that will qualify me as a librarian.  I am seeing most of my friends graduate and go to job interviews and getting feedback from them about the importance of course selection.  Part of me is sad to see them leave me behind in graduate school but I am also really excited for my friends.  I chose to go the part-time route so I could work while I finish up my degree and am really grateful for the experience I am having.  I love my job and the people I work with.  Also, I know that I am going to really miss school when I finish up this degree.

Many of my friends are being asked by prospective employers if they took courses in Readers’ Advisory, Collection Development and Information Literacy.  This makes me more than a little nervous since I have been avoiding taking courses in Readers Advisory and Collection Development since I feel like these are things that may be better suited to learning on the job.  I took an advocacy course and I felt like the issues in that class were really important for libraries and for anybody in the profession to understand.  I think design is also pretty crucial to getting people to step in the front door of a library and to come back – though customer service also plays a strong part in that and I think the collections and library programs do too.  I have taken a course in Children’s Collection Development.  Do you think that counts?  How important is it that I take these courses?  I have a couple of years working as a library technician under my belt and am now working as a librarian archivist on a digitization project.  Did you take these courses?  Do you think it will hinder my chances at getting a permanent position when I graduate if I don’t take these courses?  Would I be able to learn these skills on the job or should I focus on taking these courses in the fall and winter?  Maybe it depends on the job I want to have when I graduate? Any advice would be appreciated.

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4 responses to “The Importance of Course Selection…

  1. Sarah MacLean

    My collection development course was helpful, gave me a better idea of budgeting and the resources available for choosing books. We only had the one collections course. I am jealous that you have one specific to Children’s. I recommend you talk to your profs and ask if it is necessary to take the regular collections course when you already have children’s.

    As far as the readers advisory goes, we did not have a course in it. They covered it in my Children’s and YA courses but it wasn’t much. I struggle with adult Readers advisory. I do well when it is a kid that wants a book they will like but other than sci-fi and fantasy I don’t read much adult stuff. I get really stumped when it is a book that has to have certain things for a school project. I had a client who needed a book that was no more than 150 pages and had resume writing in it and job hunting and nutrition. lol though a course likely cannot help with that. I think with reader’s advisory you have to read a lot of reviews and you have to read a lot of books.

  2. thanks Sarah for your advice! I will definitely try to find a prof to talk to about this.

  3. Hi, I found your blog when I randomly googled ‘what does being a librarian entail’ since I have no clue and wonder why they require so much education. Also, the economic climate here in New England is seeing SO MANY libraries closing. Anyway, from a totally uninformed and unknowledgeable consumer of libraries, I think your question is most interesting since these topics are ALL that I expect a libarian to do! Does that make sense? and I do not at all intend to be demeaning – I just don’t know. If you asked me what a good librarian does, I would assume they know what books to stock and how to help me find a good one. So, yes, I would assume by course title, that these would be essential. IF, however, this is not your specialty, I wouldn’t worry too much, since you wouldn’t be interviewing for a position that would primarily require the stuff you hope not to do. Hope that makes sense and I really am shocked I’ve typed this much. Good luck to you. I have enjoyed all the posts I ‘ve read so far!

  4. Thanks for your comment bkclubcare. It is really sad to hear of so many libraries closing in New England and across the United States. I don’t think you are uninformed or unknowledgeable at all. Nor do I think your comment is demeaning. It is a very good comment and observation and I can understand that one would think this as a library user and as a tax payer too. Librarians do much more than stock books and help people find good books. In fact, many libraries have library technicians in charge of helping library users to find a good book and that role is being taken away from librarians more and more here in Canada. Instead, librarians organize information so it’s as easy as possible to find and provide support to help people find it. They also fight for the rights of people in accessing information too. Some librarians work with people, others are more behind the scenes and some do a bit of both types of work. Librarians are involved in many areas from cataloging, to automation, to public services, to administration. As I see it, librarians need to have a variety of skills including: leadership and advocacy skills, knowledge of all aspects of the profession, the ability to be a PR representative for the library, marketing and promotions skills, knowledge of the community and library collections and much much more. Being a librarian is challenging work, but it is satisfying work and gives us the opportunity to really make a difference to library users. I chose not to take the general collection development course since I had taken a collection development course already in children’s literature which could in effect be applied on a general level. As for readers’ advisory, I am hoping that is a skill that I can learn on the job and that I am learning on the job. I have been taking workshops through the local library association to try to fill that gap. At the moment I am working in an Archives and have decided to take courses related to my work so that I have a better knowledge of how Archives work. Libraries, Archives, Museums and Galleries seem to be developing many partnerhips and I feel that it is important that we all understand each other on a professional level when entering these partnerships. The required courses for librarianship where I live include: cataloging, reference, management, information in social context, IT, statistics and research methods and information retrieval. The rest of the courses we take is up to the student to decide and so we can specialize in an area or try to further broaden our knowledge and scope of the profession. I hope this all makes sense and if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to comment again.

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