Many Latter-day Saints and other employees at libraries owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have gone through various MLS programs across the United States. Below we have posted some of their experiences. If you would like to have your story appear on this site, please contact Cali O’Connell at email@example.com
Jared Howland - MLS from University of North Texas Online
The thing I most enjoyed about my program was being able to do work on my own schedule. There were more structured deadlines built into the course than what is offered at a BYU Independent Study course but there were no scheduled class periods for my program. This allowed me to work full time, have time for my family and church and still finish my work when it was convenient for me.
I applied for several library jobs before receiving my MLS and there were a few where I was not even considered for the position because I did not yet have my MLS. Lots of job opportunities in academic libraries were opened up to me because of my MLS. I started my MLS program in 2003, right after my undergraduate program, and finished in 2005. I could have potentially finished in about a year but I was also working full time at the time.
The best way to contact me is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meg Frost - MLS from University of North Texas Online
Some of the pros of the program I chose: Apart from two weekend sessions in Orem, I was able to do all of the coursework online and at my own pace. In general, I did not feel like the course work was overly rigorous, but it was often time consuming. I’d really suggest taking advantage of the option that allows a professor to mentor a student in a project in lieu of an elective credit. This is a great opportunity that can let students turn a task they are already doing at work into school credit…and save personal time.
Also, UNT does not require a thesis. Instead there is series of required essays. Although it meant a few stressful days at the end of the program, this assignment was definitely a preferable alternative to a thesis.
On the flip side, because so much of the coursework at UNT is online. it is easy to feel unconnected and unsupported by the faculty, advisors and other students. This is a real problem with online coursework in general, but was particularly difficult for me when I needed to rearrange my graduation plan. I really suggest making every effort to build a relationship with advisors and instructors. Also, because there are not enough students in the Utah area every year, out of state travel may be required for two weekends during the first year of the program.
Overall, I felt like the MLS degree was most valuable in helping me learn to use the academic literature in my own research and to help others with their research. It also gave me a broader understanding of the profession as whole.
The best way to contact me is via email: email@example.com
Roger Layton - MLIS from University of Alabama Distance Education Program
The Alabama program is a lot of work but enjoyable. Their attitude is based on the fact that they can choose who they want so once you are accepted they do everything they can to make sure you succeed. I liked the live interaction of the program. Students go to Tuscaloosa for a few days at the beginning of the program for an orientation session and then they meet online for the rest of the program. I worked with students from Oregon to Massachusetts. Often we would organize into study groups by time zone.
Before starting the program I knew it would take a lot of my time. Alabama is a good program for people who work in the day and have time for school at night, but it is a serious graduate program so I didn’t have a lot of free time. There were a couple of semesters that were very hard and required more research during the week than regular courses. Other semesters the courses were more project based or were on topics that I found more interesting. I think that is true of any program. Two important things to consider: the Alabama program is accredited by the ALA and it is more affordable than many.
If I were starting the program today I would do a little more to stay in contact with my advisor, though everyone in the SLIS office is helpful that I found answers to questions quickly. I would also pay more attention to the SLIS listserve earlier, as it is a part of the Alabama community I continue to enjoy.
Now that I have earned the degree I can apply for positions that require an MLS. My interests lie in the area of Special Collections and those jobs require an MLS as well as other experiences.
If you are interested in learning more about the Alabama program please feel free to contact me. My phone number is 801-422-6687, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and my office is room 2076 HBLL. I recommend visiting the Alabama SLIS web site. If you want to know more they are happy to have interested people contact them. That is how I started.
School of Library and Information Studies
513 Gorgas Library
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0252
Ryan Lee - MLS from Indiana University
Because of my past experience at the Utah State University Archives, I looked for a job at the Indiana University Archives, and I had a great experience there. They had a small staff of 4, with a head University Archivist, two Assistant Archivists, and a Photo Curator. But thanks to a great library school and digital library program at IU, they were often on the leading edge for their region in terms of technologies or following standards and practices. I gained great experience there learning metadata encoding standards like EAD and TEI, which helped me tremendously in getting my current position of Metadata Specialist at the Church History Library in SLC. The head archivist, Phil Bantin, is a leader and expert in the field of Electronic Records and is a fellow of the Society of American Archivists based on this expertise. He was a great mentor for me, as was the rest of his staff and the IU Archives. I was even lucky enough to work on their staff for 2 years after graduation to gain even more priceless experience.
Another great opportunity I had at IU was working at the Lilly Library, IU’s Special Collections Library, with a world-renowned collection and superb staff with ample years of experience in this field. I took courses from some of the staff where I learned how to put up exhibits, process manuscript collections, and encode EAD finding aids for a variety of different types of archival collections.
Currently there are several online MLS programs for much less money that did not exist when I applied for graduate school. I am definitely going to be paying off student loans for a long time to come because of my decision to go to Indiana University. But I cannot emphasize enough the priceless nature of the experience I was able to receive there. I cannot replace that, and I know it has been the key to my success in securing the jobs I have. If I were to tell any bit of advice to an up-and-coming MLS student, it would be: Get as much experience as you can while at school. The jobs may not pay the best, but it will be worth it in the end. And, the more experience in digital technologies and metadata standards, the better. It seems like many people are looking for folks with experience in these areas more and more, and MLS students need to have these skills coming out of graduate school to compete.