Dear Gods, Library School Rankings. Really?

So imagine my surprise when I found out this week that my library school wasn’t even in the top 20. Boy how it has failed me.


Since I like to take on all of the hard topics of librarianship (LOL), I’m going to have to take this opportunity to blog about the library school rankings that came out last week. I have so many thoughts on this, but first and foremost, I hope that people take other things into consideration than a US News ranking for *any* school that you are applying to. But, let’s cut to the chase.

1. It does not matter what library school you went to. It matters what you do with it after. You’re going to learn about 10 trillion times more at your first job than you did in library school. I promise. And you’re going to say to yourself: WHY DIDN’T THEY TEACH ME THAT?

2. While in *whatever* library school you’re in, begin to network. If you can join our major associations at the much, much cheaper student rate and get involved, that will pay dividends over paying out of state tuition for a degree. Honestly. I became involved in the ALA New Members Roundtable and the people I served on that group with are serious rockstars now and I choose to believe it wasn’t because of where they got their degrees, but their individual drive and initiative.

3. Think really seriously before attending one of the “best” library schools, especially if you’re paying out of state tuition. I will never forget how one of my bosses once bragged about how awesome his library school was ranked and one day I finally said, and mine is right there in the middle, completely average, and I did half of my classes online, and look here! We both work at this same college now and have the same faculty rank.

4. This is library school, not your History PhD. Not to belittle our degrees, but I’m sure most of you have heard them called “union cards.” They are. But my point is, you have a great chance of getting a job if you went to the number ten school (good as any), where you pretty much need your PhD in History from an Ivy League school for a tenure-track job.

5. The best thing to do is get real life library experience while you’re in school. If I’m looking at a stack of CVs from new grads and one went to the number one school and one went to the number 20 school, but #20 has experience? Hands down, I talk to 20 first.

So, I guess I’d like to tell the current library school students that if maybe you too weren’t even on that first page, don’t sweat it because maybe you can still be a library director someday.

5 thoughts on “Dear Gods, Library School Rankings. Really?

  1. Haha when I saw the rankings I was disappointed that my school was ranked so low but like you said, I’ll learn way more at my first library job then I did in library school. Networking is definitely key! I’m only volunteering right now but the library director is always forwarding me information about job opportunities.

  2. I’m curious, do you think the MLIS is even necessary? I totally agree that you learn a lot with job experience, but having worked with non-MLIS librarians I think library school gave me something (besides student loans).
    I actually think what you say here applies to all college programs and I’ve shared that with some of the high school students I worked with who are debating between good state schools and private, out-of-state universities.

    1. I think it depends on the job? To be honest, I would rather have a marketing major do my library marketing, just for example.

      I think the best things I learned in library school, I learned from librarians who were teaching as adjuncts.

  3. I’d argue that this advice holds true for most any BS program. Going to a “top 10” school, or whatever, might open a better door right out of college, but that’s where the advantage ends – from there, it’s how well you know your shit & how well you market yourself.

    For a BA degree, well, there are doors opened if you own a bachelors of arts in performance from the Juliard School – but then, you still have to be able to play. And play well.

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