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Career Strategies for Librarians
What Classes Should I Take?
by Priscilla Shontz

This is adapted from a message sent to NEWLIB-L (Dec 16, 2001) in response to the question, "Do
most people figure out what kind of library work they'd like to do before or after taking classes?"

I'd guess that some people know what they want to do before they attend library school, particularly if they
have worked in a library before and have some experience ... but I'd guess that many of us learn what we
want to specialize in by trial and error. I certainly did, even though I'd worked in an academic library for 7
years before earning my MLS.

I strongly suggest that you get as diverse an education as you can! Take classes in a variety of areas --
don't specialize too much, unless you are sure you know what you want. Try different things out.

As many others have said, get library experience while you're in school if you can -- even if that's
volunteer experience, a practicum, whatever.

Also, talk with librarians to find out what they do and what they think about what they do.

Your classes will provide a foundation for what you do in the future, but they won't dictate your career
path. So don't worry too much about choosing exactly the right classes! Get a nice broad overview -- if you
can, take a cataloging, reference, computer, etc class ... a little bit of everything.

But above all, get practical experience. That will help you learn what you like to do more than anything
else will.

About the Author:

Priscilla K. Shontz is a web designer and freelance writer and has worked in university, community
college, medical and public libraries.  She is author of Jump Start Your Career in Library & Information
Science and is a past president of the ALA New Members Round Table.  

Article submitted Dec 2001

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