Getting an MLIS

Archived Q&A and Reviews

MLIS programs: UCB vs. SJSU

I am interested in pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Services. I would welcome advice on the pros/cons of the two local programs of which I am aware: UC Berkeley and San Jose State University. I am a full-time working mom, so it seems that SJSU would possibly be the only viable option as, if I understand correctly, UCB is geared towards full-time students (i.e., classes only during the week during regular business hours). Additionally, I would welcome any advice regarding working for one of the UCB libraries in general (e.g., job opportunities, trends, is preference given to those already at UCB in other positions, etc.). I wish to stay within the UC system as I plan to retire from it down the line, and working at UCB is preferable to UCSF geographically since I live in the East Bay. I would also appreciate any advice on how to best prepare for such a career move (e.g., online links I should check out, professional organizations I should join, etc.). Thanks!

Anonymous, so my colleagues don't know I'l planning to leave my current job

Just FYI -- the UCB program is not accredited by the American Library Association. So SJSU is the only real library school in the area. Thinking about library school, also

Unless the program has changed drastrically since I graduated in the late '90s, I would not recommend SJSU for an academic track librarian. The program was good for those wishing to work in schools or public libraries, but left something to be desired for those of us intersted in corporate or academic libraries. Many of the courses on those paths were taught by adjunct staff who, IMHO, should have stuck to their day jobs. And the program was surprising weak on the technological aspects of information science. The school did offer a smattering of programming ! p; database courses, but I found them to be poorly designed and not part of a coherent curricular structure. Things may have improved since then, but I'd read the catalog carefully and interview current students before opting for SJSU.

MLIS 1998

Hi, As you probably know, CAL lost its ALA accreditation, which means that its MLS (if it is even still called that) is not accepted at most libraries in the country. The degree program that they offer now does not focus on library services but rather on information management and I believe that its grads do not, in general, go to work at libraries.

As a hiring institution, CAL also has some problems. They do not hire very many people as professional librarians. Instead, they hire MLS-carrying people as ''library technicians'' (I cannot remember the specific name of the classification, but it is not a professional class), have them do professional work, but pay them a considerably smaller salary. Most librarians would not find that acceptable, but there are enough people who want to work in academic librarianship that the UC is able to take advantage of the ''cheap labor''. Over the years, as the librarians retire, they are consistently replaced with ''technicians'' and thus the UC is able to save on their costs. SJSU is not considered a top-notch library school and I was told that it would be very difficult to get an academic position with an MLS from SJSU. Many of their grads go on to work in public librarianship.

I looked into this when I was getting my MLS too.

Univ. of WA library school grad

My understanding is that the MLIS program at UCB is focused a lot less on libraries and a lot more on information -- how information is used, organized and managed. Another considertation is that the UCB program is not accredited by ALA. SJSU is a more practical program for people who want to work in libraries. I once heard the head of the San Francisco Public Library say that she always recommends SJSU to people wanting to get their library degree locally. Having been on many hiring committees, I would say that the prestige of the institition where the candidate got their MLIS/MLS is rarely a factor.

As for working in the library at UCB, the climate is not ideal for getting a job. Like all of UC, the library is the victim of dire budget times and there is currently a freeze on the hiring of all positions. Even in the best of times when there are openings in the UCB library, most positions advertise for individuals with a few years of relevant, professional experience (there are, of course, exceptions).

an anonymous librarian

Hi - First and foremost, UCB's program is not American Library Assn accredited. For many jobs, a requirement is an MLIS (or MLS or whatever) from an ALA accredited program. I don't think that UCB even offers a MLIS - you would get a ''MIMS.'' I can't speak for the program itself, however. I got my degree from SJSU, and yes, it was nice to have eve and wknd classes - a common strategy is to try to have all or most of your classes in a given semester on the same day - ''majoring in Tuesday'' !! I work at a UCB library, and it's great. I will warn you, however, that due to the current budget situation, it is very unlikely there will be much hiring here in the next couple of years. Who knows - by the time you get your degree, the situation may have changed! Good luck! michael