|Source is a screencap from here.|
The library and information studies specialty ratings are based solely on the nominations of program deans, program directors, and a senior faculty member at each program. They were asked to choose up to 10 programs noted for excellence in each specialty area. Those with the most votes are listed. (Source)In sum, these rankings are useless. If the above paragraph doesn't convince you of that, here's more.
Luckily, Library Journal has some useful data on MLIS programs. In particular, they list placement rates and salaries by type of library/organization as well as a breakdown by geography.
- MLIS programs are a very gendered experience. Only two SUNYs (State Universities of New York), Albany and Buffalo, and the University of Michigan have programs in which the male to female ratio is under 1:2.5.
- The ratio of employed male to female 2012 graduates is worse, across the board, than 1:2.5, in many cases it's more like 1:4 or 1:5.
- Long Island University graduated 163 people. Two report employment. Yikes.
- San Jose State University and the University of North Texas graduate a lot of librarians. Maybe too many. Neither school, no school, really, is under any obligation to limit the number of enrolled students, but the sheer numbers of graduates these schools send into the workforce concerns me. And as it turns out, I'm not alone.
Q: "Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?"
A: "San Jose State." (Hiring Librarians)
Though men are employed at a lower rate than women upon MLIS completion, their salaries tend to be higher, which both reflects and propagates a gender pay gap.
Think long and hard about whether or not you want this degree. Do you really really really want it? Because you could be paying off loans for a long long time upon completion of an MLIS program. Ramen doesn't taste that good.
There are very few people in librarianship for the money. That being said, money is nice. So if you're on the fence about what to specialize in, perhaps this table, in conjunction with professors, coursework, peers, and librarians, can help you make up your mind.
- Automation/System, Government Document, and Knowledge Management (corporate buzzword alert!) librarian jobs have higher low end salaries than other kinds of library jobs. This is also reflected in the median salaries by position.
- Usability/UX, and Emerging and Information Technologies also seem like good bets, though there may be elements of what The Library Loon terms "new hire messianism," in which it is the responsibility of newly hired librarians, often in new positions, to advance "change" and have these skillsets ex officio, without being given the tools to institutionally succeed (it is more complex than this, please read the link above).
- Interlibrary Loan, Circulation, and Children's/Young Adult librarians continue to not pay as well. I suspect that there is more than a little "women's work" going on here, especially in the latter two positions, whereas some of the higher-salaried jobs reflect the gender pay gap we saw in Table 4, and/or code as being more "masculine." Further study is warranted. Also, because we continue to not properly fund and allocate resources towards children and young adults, which is unfortunate and maddening.
- Be prepared to move.
- Placement by gender again... wow.
Do not choose MLIS programs based on the US News and World Report rankings. Though the MLIS program you graduate from may matter to some people, see Hiring Librarians, above, it may not matter to many others. As a librarian who hires people, I am not terribly interested in where you went and why you went there. It is more important, from where I sit, that youSource for all tables: Maatta, S. (2013) Placements & Salaries 2013: Explore All The Data, Library Journal, 17 October 2013, http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/10/placements-and-salaries/2013-survey/explore-all-the-data-2013/
- learned things
- know theories of information and librarianship because these theories inform practice
- took courses that can help you in the positions that you apply for
- show initiative
- are curious
Elsewhere on this site and related: Dear Aspiring Librarians (On MLIS Program Rankings)