So, if you haven’t heard about the article Forbes.com released at the beginning of June, you’re about to read all about it. The article is titled “The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs” – and guess what is the No. 1 worst Master’s degree according to their “experts?” Library and Information Science.
This comes as a shock to me – I’m pretty happy with my education. And after reading the article, I think there are some important things to point out. Obviously, I have a counterargument, but I’m not the only one. ALA President and Simmons GSLIS graduate, Maureen Sullivan, responded to Forbes.com’s claim on July 10th.
I’ll pull out a quote from her press release, as it is a great starting point for my personal response -
“The profit-centered, corporation-based measures valued by Forbes suggest that pay rates and growth are the only valid reasons for selecting a career or seeking an advanced degree. While it is true that for some individuals these factors are the principal focus, for librarians the primary motivation is job satisfaction derived from the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of others” (2nd para).
Well said, Maureen Sullivan. I absolutely agree. While our culture is quite materialistic, we’re not all in it for the money. Not only do I feel as though my education will enable me to make a difference as I interact with those around me – my field allows me to preserve and maintain the very essence of our society. Put a price tag on that.
Also, I think it’s fair to point out that Forbes.com considered that all graduates with an M.S. in Library Science will become a school librarian, reference librarian, or library director. While these may be common choices, as Forbes.com points out, there are so many other opportunities for us – museum curator, records manager, preservationist, conservator, information organization/technical services, webmaster, etc. The list could go on and on. Library school is about much more than just libraries and librarians so don’t believe Forbes’ narrow view.
Interestingly enough, computer science is the second-best advanced degree listed in this article. There is even a quote from Payscale’s leading economist Katie Bardaro - “In a technology driven world, the need for those who not only understand, but can improve upon technology is high” (2). The library science field revolves around an understanding of technology – in the last year I have learned to write computer code, build websites, and effectively manipulate search engines. I’d say our graduates will be well prepared for this advancing technological world, and that gives us another edge.
I encourage all of you to read both articles and weigh the costs and benefits of getting a Master’s degree – as all higher education candidates should. My main purpose in writing this post is to do just that, make all of you aware of both sides of the argument in order to provide you with a more informed decision. I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions both from current Library Science students and those considering the field. I personally believe it is always important to have an open discourse.
My final, closing point is this: Graduate degrees are a personal decision. Everyone has various motivations for pursuing certain fields, but I believe it is important to make up your own mind. Don’t let Forbes.com (or me!) convince you either way – make yourself happy.
But, just so you know, librarians also rock at trivia