(The Forbes story in question was pretty ignorable; coming from Forbes, of course it's going to focus on the financial benefits of your master's, and of course our degrees aren't going to make us rich. We knew this wasn't a good investment in the traditional meaning of the word "investment," so blah blah whatever, Forbes.)
But then the iSchool student winds up making the exact same point as the Forbes story.
"[I]f your desired profession requires a master’s degree, that’s a good reason to pursue it.”iSchool:
"An MLIS is often required when applying for professional librarian jobs, especially in regards to the more advanced positions such as director or manager. This is why I am pursuing my Master’s degree: In looking at job postings and talking with people in the field, I quickly discovered that a lack of educational credentials would quickly eliminate me for consideration for the director or manager positions I was seeking."Dur.
That's not a real reason.
It's a valid short-term explanation, but it's not a reason. "Because they said so" isn't good enough for toddlers and teenagers, and it shouldn't be good enough for our profession, either.
Why are we all so afraid to ask the real question: What, exactly, do we learn in library school, and do we need it to be librarians?
I've questioned my Syracuse degree -- and its $40K price tag -- loudly and often, but the further out I get from library school, the more certain I am that I did, in fact, need to go to library school. It wasn't because of anything I learned in classes or from readings or from professors; some of that was helpful and important, and some of it wasn't.
The reason I needed to go to library school was that I needed to meet other people in the same stage of their careers as I am.
I needed to have daily contact with people who were navigating the same things, figuring out where and how to work in this field -- and, now, having jobs that are similar to what I'm doing or am going to do or might want to do someday. Just in Klub Kat, we have public librarians; academic librarians at schools of all sizes and stripes; archivists; early-career administrators; people working at vendors; people working at "special" libraries; people working in non-MLS staff positions.
All of you push me to think about things way outside my comfort zone (proper spit-cup signage, say, and bugs and rodents in public spaces) and how we're shaping this profession. Our generation isn't shaping it enough yet, but we have to start somewhere. And we're doing things together, too -- brainstorming, venting, helping each other find job posting, presenting together, co-authoring academic papers.
That is what I needed, what I couldn't get on my own. Were there other ways to find these people, ways that didn't take two years and cost every cent that some people make in an entire year? Maybe, but I don't know them, and the more graduation recedes in the distance, the more I value what I did get out of library school: you guys.
P.S. That said, people shaping MLIS curricula? Please keep asking that Big Scary Question: What, exactly do we learn in library school, and do we need it to be librarians? If the answer is no -- and it is, too often -- get rid of it, please, for the sake of our future and our sanity.