The Miss Rumphius Project


Yesterday my prof struggled to find a nice way to say that only MLIS-holders understand how to offer what the users want and go the extra mile to help someone locate a book in the stacks.


This is the number one reason that I hated library school. They were under the mistaken impression that school would make us better librarians.




soooooooo. tumblarians.

How in the hell do you pay for grad school? This is expensive as all get out, and it’s looking like I’ll have to marry for money to swing this.

I’m looking at Drexel and Chapel Hill…

I got more loans, too. Between my grad school and undergrad loans, I’ll be broke for the next ten years of my life. Yay.







"I thought being a librarian was going to be about reading stories, reader’s advisory, and helping people. Instead it’s hearing depressing stories from…

Get a job as a page or working at the circulation desk. These jobs don’t require an MLIS, and you’ll get to see how a library works and generally what goes on. I mean, I can’t say I’ve never seen a library page with an MLIS, but it’s rare.

Volunteering is also an option, but bills have to get paid and all that.

Hi, I'm a 4th year undergrad who's graduating next December and considering heading towards librarianship. I'm just starting to look into this career, and am currently an intern in a library office. Any advice or things to consider? What's the job market like/what might a MLIS look like? How awesome is being a librarian?



Hey there!

Graduation is in sight! Eee!

It’s a good time for you to be thinking about grad school. If you feel like librarianship is the right path for you, there are lots of resources to look into.

How to Become a 21st Century Librarian" is pretty much your classic intro read.

You’ll want to research MLIS programs which are accredited by the ALA. Library science is a professional program—and it will likely cost you. I picked my library school (Domincan Univserity GSLIS) based on location and size. I needed to maintain full-time employment while I was a student.

Here’s a peek at salaries and types of jobs. It’s a tough market. You need to get on your game now—getting experience, creating a personal brand, networking—to get a full-time professional position later.

Hack Library School should be on every library student’s (or future student’s) radar.

And, yeah! Librarianship is pretty OK! Just remember, as always, this is first and foremost a service profession. Please, love books and tech, but love people more. We’re here to help—so enthusiastic people/communication skills are a must!


Please, love books and tech, but love people more.

Please, love books and tech, but love people more.




What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

"Do not go to library school. Librarianship is a dying profession. But if you are going to go, get as much technology training as you can and get a wide array of experiences in a library so you know what you want to do and have a better understanding of how libraries work."

So basically this whole interview is saying their candidates lack technology skills and library schools don’t teach anything useful. Alright. But instead of telling us not to go to library school, maybe you should encourage us to go to library school, learn from the experience (even if all we learn is that things need to change) and then work to MAKE the changes? 

Not to mention ‘technology skills’ doesn’t tell me much. What do you want me to bring to the table? I’d already be concerned entering a library work environment where my superiors think that librarianship is dying and that makes me wonder if you want me to come in with programming skills or just be able to fix the jammed printer. Is there any support for innovative thinkers or is it seen as a waste of time? Are the librarians there just holding things together or trying new things?

It’s food for thought, certainly.  I actually appreciate this person’s candor, though like you, I’m frustrated by the vagueness:  Okay, if not library school, then what?

I’d say reports of the profession’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

While I think it’s becoming clear that a master’s degree to begin your library career (the way I did) is becoming less and less necessary, I don’t think that translates to “Librarianship is dying.”  It just means that an old tradition about entering the professionis dying off.

It just means that librarianship is evolving— possibly to a point where the master’s degree may become less necessary unless you want to go into administration.  I still think training in librarianship principles is necessary,but I wonder if it couldn’t be done instead with certification programs, or apprenticeships, in addition to a master’s level education.  Since a lot of library work like acquisitions or cataloging or ILL is specific to the individual library, an apprenticeship may go a lot farther in teaching the “technology skills” that are so necessary, and allow for practical application of important concepts.

If someone mentions interest in librarianship as a career to me these days, I typically recommend that they seek out library work first, and then, if they find that they like the work and want to advance, look into library school.

Takeaway: Librarianship is dead; long live librarianship.

Yes, much of this.

Books by people of color tend not only to be about people of color, but indeed their own particular background. Is that necessarily a good thing?

I posed this question to my graduate MLIS students, and one, an African American woman, felt strongly that while she could see the value of books written by people of color on any subject, she feared that as long as there is still such a huge need for titles on African American history—and so few examples—that that small stock would be diminished.

Look I’m famous! I almost wish he had named me. This article basically highlights one of the many reasons why he and I have clashed since the first day I entered his class.

New Year, New Possibilities by Marc Aronson. 

(via asthedaysgobylifehappenss)

I WAS THERE! Watching you and Marc argue all the time was one of the best parts of my MLIS experience, hands down.



It pisses me off that Maryland public libraries hire library associates to do professional work. I have a MLS and get paid the same as somebody who went through “library associate training”. I detest my graduate degree more and more every day.

Yo I love where I work but this. This so much.

I think you’re all looking at this backwards. Maybe the library system isn’t in the wrong. I know lots of library assistants who are just as capable as MLIS holders, if not more so. Maybe the MLIS is the problem. It’s time to reevaluate.

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face. I’m really bored with this conversation, but I can’t stop myself.


I Never Learned About The Grandmother
I once had a grandmother come in asking for a book she could give to her 14-year-old granddaughter so she could learn to “take care of her own needs” and not end up a pregnant teenager. And yes, we have a book for that.




"I don’t think an MLIS is necessary to become a librarian"

Payroll disagrees.

Many of the best librarians I know don’t have MLIS degrees. And it’s true, they’re not paid as librarians. Was my MLIS helpful? Yes. Was it worth the time, money, and grief I put into it? Absolutely not. It’s a classist gateway, it measures competence at skills largely unrelated to the profession, and the system is broken.



"I don’t think an MLIS is necessary to become a librarian"

Payroll disagrees.

Many of the best librarians I know don’t have MLIS degrees. And it’s true, they’re not paid as librarians. Was my MLIS helpful? Yes. Was it worth the time, money, and grief I put into it? Absolutely not. It’s a classist gateway, it measures competence at skills largely unrelated to the profession, and the system is broken.
They don’t teach witchcraft in library school. Vermin - check. Mold and mildew - check. Difficult patrons - check. But there was no course in witchcraft, no syllabus for sorcery. If only I’d been properly prepared for my first real job.

Mindy Klasky, Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft (Don Mills, Ont: Red Dress Ink, 2006)



They cut out the cataloguing part of one of my courses this semester. The professor says if you want to be cataloguing, you shouldn’t be in a masters program, just be a technician instead.

Is this some weird Canadian thing or are they just nuts?

(I’ll be sure to take the separate cataloguing…

I know very few people who do cataloguing anymore, but most of them are full librarians. Your professor seems to be misinformed.

I'm really interested in going to grad school for an MLIS, but I know that librarianship is not just books -reading, checking them out, shelving, answering people's questions. Can you please explain some of the other aspects of your/other librarians' jobs? Thanks!



Hey, yes, so!

As a librarian you can find yourself doing ALL variation/combination of the following:

  • Acquiring and/or managing cool stuff which could include: book/resources/e-resources/databases, etc.
  • Archiving stuff. This stuff is cool; this stuff is complicated.
  • Cataloging stuff. Also cool; also complicated. 
  • Acquiring/managing/archiving/cataloging cool and SPECIAL stuff for a special collection
  • Webmastering stuff on your library’s website and OPAC (being the interface through which you, the library patron, finds stuff online).
  • Instructing folks on how to use and find stuff through information literacy classes (you know, teaching teaching stuff).
  • Metadating stuff. Related to cataloging and therefore cool and complicated stuff necessary to making stuff more findable and therefore useable. I know people who do this stuff and they are smarter than me.
  • Advertising your stuff. Outreach is important for all the libraries-some make positions specifically so the library can show how much cool stuff they can provide their patrons. 

All the different types of libraries (public, academic, school (k-12), and special) have different needs and positions. Some libraries are run by only a handful of folks who fulfill many of the above mentioned responsibilities. Not all of the people in a library (and rarely most of them) have a library degree. In general, library positions line up as being either public service (reference, instruction, outreach) or more behind the scenes (acquisitions, cataloging). Both sides are absolutely necessary to keeping the library running effectively.

More than books and questions!

What else would you add, tumblarians?

While it falls under advertising I’d add community building. Demographic research, age research, finding and meeting needs. Maybe you have a big Vietnamese community. Maybe you have a big ESL population. LGBT, ethnic, professional, SES, common education levels etc.

Advocacy— this applies to all libraries and types. Sometimes you get fancy fun dinners and sometimes you’re just hollering at people on the street.

Collection Development- also applies to regular libraries. Looking at top circulations and needs- I don’t want to order more joke books, but blast it all they are so popular with the kids!

PR- while related to advertising, there are some different aspects: grant writing, news stories, press releases

Reader’s Advisory- this falls under basic reference but buddy you better be ready to branch out and become a walking thesaurus.

I’d recommend working in a library as a page or assistant before going for an MLIS. You’ll get to see what goes on. Then, you can decide if a year or two back in school is worth it.
When I tell people I’m in graduate school studying to be a librarian, I receive the response, “You need a Master’s degree for that?” I find myself struggling to defend it. Librarians do more than what the average person realizes, but how much of that is really gained through the MLS? I usually wind up confessing it is like a stamp to gain entry a nightclub. I’ve been advised countless times by librarians that your coursework doesn’t really matter, but your experience does. I agree that there is no teacher greater than experience, but isn’t this a huge flaw in our profession’s degree? This is also disheartening for me because the first word I’ve used to describe myself most of my life is “student.” I like being in the classroom. I want to learn. I want more degree to mean more than a stamp or a merit badge.

I’d love an apprenticeship instead of a MLS/MLIS degree. Librarianship is more like a guild than the academy. Unfortunately, I do agree with Andy that the MLS is here to stay because of the way that higher education is currently structured. Now, we have two options. We can keep advising every new class of MLS students to push through the degree like a chore and get as much experience as possible or we can revise library school curriculum to also prepare our future librarians.

Chealsye Bowley - Why am I getting my MLIS? Because I have to.

Someone articulated all of my feels.





sext me in mla format

Have some standards - only accept apa.

I spent high school and undergrad using MLA, and grad school using APA and Chicago.

MLA is still the only style format that turns me on.

Wait…does this mean library school uses APA and Chicago? I mean, I used APA for a psych class I took and I once helped a tutoree with Chicago style, so it’s not like I’m intolerant, but I personally swing MLA.

The Rutgers School of Communication and Information, in which my library school resides, uses APA. They do this because it is the most used format for scholarly works the library field. My archival classes use Chicago, because—and I’m not sure about this, someone correct me if I’m wrong—it is the most used format for scholarly works in the archival field. The school you go to might be different. My information may be incorrect. Anyone want to pitch in on this discussion?

Professor (in email): This essay is a bit rambling but...
Me (at laptop): All of my essays are a bit rambling! You've had me for two classes now. What do you expect?