Archive for June, 2009

An MC to a degree that you can’t get in college

Or, a librarian? To a degree you can’t get in grad school?

[Have I already mentioned that when I looked at my iTunes, I found that I own 89 tracks from the Beastie Boys? Some of them are dups, but still!]

So, on AUTOCAT (their screaming, not mine), which is a library listserv for catalogers of all stripes, people have been discussing library grad school. Not individual schools or programs, but grad school and MLISing in general. Whether school is worth it/worthless/some other thing.

I hadn’t realized that a lot of the debate was about whether the schools are teaching anything library at all and whether anyone should be getting these degrees in the first place.

I don’t want to argue with anyone else’s experience. All I know is what I’ve got. To wit:

I’ve gotten as far as I can in this field without a degree. If I want to stay in the profession, I will need to get some kind of degree, sooner or later. In terms of timing, right now makes sense. I have the kind of energy necessary for school, and my fiancée and I don’t have children yet. My life is still relatively simple. & cetera.

The bigger point to me, though, is that I actually want to learn more. I want to get some theory behind what I already know. I want to be able to jump in there and innovate some technology and practices. I want to be able to do more. It’s really important to me to learn. And I don’t feel that attached to whether it is “traditional” library stuff, though I want to make sure my background in that is totally solid. (It helps that I already have a background in the traditional; it’s like being classically trained, even if “all” you want to do is MC. *sigh*)

I have a lot (LOT) of cataloging experience, and at the end of my tenure at my last library job, I was doing work that my supervisor had been doing when I started– cataloging the majority of what came into the library and maintaining the integrity of the existing collection. Which is to say I was doing a librarian job without the degree.

Q: If I could advance in my career without the degree, would I still want to get the degree?

A: I have an MFA in Creative Writing. You totally don’t need that degree to write a book or to get a book published or to be a good writer or even a great writer. I wrote before I got the degree, and the program gave me the chance to write, the focus on my writing, and the opportunity for feedback and community and contacts, etc. But the real point to me was to learn what exactly I was doing.

I was writing by intuition and by experience, which are probably the most important things for me to practice as a writer. But, in order to write with intention, it was important for me to learn the frame behind the intuition. What appeals to me in stories that I like to read? What do I like about my own writing? What is missing in it? Even, what procedures and tricks can I use to draw out the kind of writing I want to do?

My cataloging is based on training and experience and intuition (and that elusive thing people usually associate only with art– talent), but I think I could be a better cataloger if I had some more theory.