The following is my final assignment for my Foundations of Library and Information Science course, and serves as an explanation for what I’ve been up to this fall.
“You’re studying to be a librarian? You need a Master’s degree for that?!”
I have heard these questions asked so many times, and before I applied to USF’s Library and Information Science program I repeatedly asked myself why did I HAVE to get a Master’s degree to be a librarian. Couldn’t I just learn on the job? It can’t be THAT hard. As this is only my first semester working toward my Master’s, I don’t have all the answers but I know this to be true: it would be impossible to do an effective job as a librarian without the educational foundation necessary to have a full understanding of the library’s processes and systems.
I visit my local public library at least once a week. I volunteer alphabetizing and shelving books. I research new and varied materials outside my worldview to check-out for my family so we can be exposed to lives and cultures unlike our own. This would never be enough to step into a job as a librarian and hit the ground running. I would not know about metadata, cataloging, or budgeting, for example. I could learn these things without a degree but it would be less-structured and piecemeal.
And I would not be working together with like-minded individuals who are all studying to be librarians. This collaborative environment is key to unlocking the library and information science code to understanding all things library-related. Although it is more difficult to collaborate via an online course platform, bouncing ideas off my classmates and knowing others stand with me as I struggle with balancing graduate school, my job, and my personal life has been everything.
Seeking a master’s degree in library and information science has allowed me to begin to find my voice in the profession, and discern what values matter to me. What will I stand up for, and who will I stand up for when I am a librarian? I know I will make space to listen and amplify others’ voices. I know that as a white woman I am what people traditionally see when they picture a librarian, and that needs to change. I know that equity for all will be a theme I will repeatedly assert. I know that I want to fight for greater public access to copyrighted works, which means submitting comments and leading action when the Copyright Act is finally revised. I know that my education of the library world will never cease, and that my acquisition of a Master’s degree is the foundation upon which it stands.
Earlier this semester I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Jessamyn West, who spoke about libraries being social justice issues, and social justice being a library issue. Everything she said reverberated with me, but one thing in particular stood out. She asserted that as a librarian, I need to effectively represent the world around me AND my dream world. My dream world is working in a library with a community that knows all are genuinely welcome, and we engage, create, and turn ideas into action. I see some of my dream world present with my fellow Master’s program students, and I cannot wait to build library havens with you and others.