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Author Topic: Canadian MLS Programs  (Read 8679 times)
red_lady
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« on: August 07, 2010, 9:59:14 PM »

I'm a Canadian and graduated this year with an honors degree in a field in humanities and an average of 4.0 in my last two years. I would like to stay in Canada for an MLS but have no idea where I can find information about which university is better at teaching which specialization and what the future of the profession is like. I am interested in becoming an academic and a public service librarian. I have a couple of questions and hope that someone will be able to guide me:
1. Which university is better at teaching which specialization? (Eg. University of Alberta, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia)
2. Is it difficult to switch between being a librarian in the public service setting and the academic setting?
3. How does each Canadian MLS program rank in terms of each specialization? (Eg. Humanities, information systems, digital librarianship, ESL and archival studies)
4. Will I be at a disadvantage of being admitted into a program if I didn't have any work experience in a library setting? I have transferrable skills from other jobs such as being a research assistant, tutoring and teaching. I'll be travelling and studying abroad for a year so I won't have an opportunity to gain real job experience until I get accepted into a program.

Thanks for your help!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 10:01:57 PM by red_lady » Logged
punchnpie
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2010, 6:44:01 PM »

I'm a Canadian and graduated this year with an honors degree in a field in humanities and an average of 4.0 in my last two years. I would like to stay in Canada for an MLS but have no idea where I can find information about which university is better at teaching which specialization

I'm not sure what you mean be which universities are better at teaching a specialization. If they have a specialization, there ought to be sufficient qualified faculty there to teach it. You're probably not going to find 5-10 courses in a 'specialty' they way you would see a lot of courses for a major as an undergrad. You may find only 1 or 2 courses in a specialty and you'd have to find a job or internship to gain the practical skills associated with it.

I'm in the US and can't speak for Canadian schools, but I know people at Toronto and UBC. If you're interested in archives, UBC might be the better bet. Toronto seems very cutting edge to me and has some internationally-known researchers.

4. Will I be at a disadvantage of being admitted into a program if I didn't have any work experience in a library setting?

No. We admit people every year who haven't done anything more than take out a library card and borrow a book. What we're more interested in is people who are open to changes in the field (it's not all about the book) and who aren't afraid of technology.  You will have the opportunity to learn various technologies in school; don't shy away from it.

You also need to want to interact with people. Many applicants give the impression that all they want to do is hang around the stacks. Well, that's not the job. As an academic librarian you may teach literacy to incoming freshpeeps. In a public library, anyone can come in and you'll have to deal with all kinds of people and their problems. In some jobs (especially in a big academic library), you may not have as much public contact as other library jobs, but you will be dealing with vendors or professors across campus. If not required by your program, you would be well-advised to take a management course.

I don't know if this is true in Canada, but in the US, you really need some kind of library experience to be competitive on the market. You can get this experience in school, either a PT job, interning, volunteering even, but you have to have seen the inside of an information organization. My students who work full time in other fields and graduate without library experience have a MUCH more difficult time finding a job than those who were active while students.

I can't say whether it's easy or difficulty to switch between public and academic librarian. Maybe one of the practitioners will chime in on that.
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red_lady
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2010, 8:21:04 PM »

Hi punchnpie, thanks for your response.

I guess what I meant by specialization is more "area" or "specialty". I was looking at http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-library-information-science-programs, and they had rankings on which universities are better in what areas. I should have combined the first and third question.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 8:26:29 PM by red_lady » Logged
punchnpie
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2010, 8:58:27 PM »

I'm afraid my Canadian info search skills are not that great. I just looked around some of the Canadian occupational outlook sites, but can't seem to find what I want. There's some general info at:
http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm

http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/hrdr/librarysupportstaffparaprofessional_job_classifications_and_wage_information.cfm


I think the best thing for you to do (short of a Canadian librarian responding to your post) is to look around the schools' websites and see which ones offer the specialties in which you are interested. Since you're in Canada, why don't you ask your school or local librarian to help you find the stats you need re the job outlook?
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red_lady
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2010, 6:42:24 PM »

I'm afraid my Canadian info search skills are not that great. I just looked around some of the Canadian occupational outlook sites, but can't seem to find what I want. There's some general info at:
http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm

http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/hrdr/librarysupportstaffparaprofessional_job_classifications_and_wage_information.cfm


I think the best thing for you to do (short of a Canadian librarian responding to your post) is to look around the schools' websites and see which ones offer the specialties in which you are interested. Since you're in Canada, why don't you ask your school or local librarian to help you find the stats you need re the job outlook?

I actually tried to contact a librarian from my university last Sunday. I haven't heard back from the librarian yet so I thought I'd come on CHE to see what other librarians have to say. Thank you, punchnpie, for the websites. They definitely helped to reinforce my decision to become a librarian.
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dellaroux
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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2010, 7:32:14 AM »

I think there are a couple of folks on the Forum with some background here; they may be away on vacation or traveling at the moment though.

Did you do a search on the upper menu bar's "search" function? It works a bit better than the one to the upper right....

....well, but only just a bit...

Good luck.
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collegekidsmom
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2010, 4:21:09 PM »

I would like to comment that it is difficult('though I suppose not impossible) to switch between academic and public. We live and work in different worlds, and as an academic librarian, I would have no clue how to be a public librarian. I also have no interest in that career track, as I'm sure most public librarians would not want to do academic library work. There is a little more crossover with special libraries, especially within the broader category of science librarianship. It would be better to build a CV and a career in one type of librarianship in order to be competitive for the better jobs IMHO.
I don't know anything about relative rankings of Canadian programs. For jobs in the USA, where I am located, you do need to have an ALA accredited MLIS degree (or equivalent) and relevant work experience is highly desirable when on the market.
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punchnpie
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2010, 4:31:28 PM »

I would like to comment that it is difficult('though I suppose not impossible) to switch between academic and public. We live and work in different worlds, and as an academic librarian, I would have no clue how to be a public librarian.

Thanks for that info. I thought that was the case, but since I'm not a practitioner, I didn't want to say so for a certainty.
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