I don’t know how this escaped my attention for so long. The Executive MLIS! For when the ordinary casual MLIS just won’t do!
A kind reader sent on this reminder that the deadline is fast approaching to register for the Executive (!) MLIS program this year at San Jose State University. Daylight’s burning, boys and girls, so you better sign up quick.
Frustrated trendsetters like to claim that libraries aren’t innovative or entrepreneurial enough. They like all that businessy rigmarole so they can seem serious and professional, you know, like telemarketers. But when it comes to entrepreneurial innovation and businessy logic, it’s not librarians but their cousins who’ve crossed over to the dark side who win every time. Library schools, baby, that’s where the action’s at.
Library schools depend on convincing people that regardless of whether they have any experience in or skills relevant to libraries or whether there are any jobs, a year of classes on library ethics and videogaming will prepare them for jobs as librarians.
SJSU gets plenty of people that way, I’m sure, but some bright entrepreneurial soul there had a revelation a few years ago. Let’s target people already working successfully in libraries and sucker them into getting an MLS! Even better, let’s target people who might already be running libraries and convince them the precious MLS is a must-have degree for their advancement!
The Executive (!) MLS is "designed for experienced library managers or supervisors who are interested in earning an ALA-accredited master’s degree, allowing them to take the next step in their professional growth."
How many experienced library managers are there without an MLS, anyway? Wouldn’t you normally need an MLS to become one of those library managers?
Some people like to think that having an MLS is what makes one a "librarian," but not the Executive (!) MLIS program. "Many library leaders in the nation, and beyond, do not hold the MLIS degree yet are successful librarians and leaders in their various professional and geographic communities." Let’s ignore the fact that this sentence says "many library leaders are leaders." I’d be willing to go so far as to say that all library leaders are leaders, but I’ve always been good at grammar.
The key part for me is the undeniable claim that many people are successful librarians without the MLS degree. If they are already successful, then what’s the point of getting the MLS? I mean, besides making the SJSU library school some money?
They give some examples of people working in libraries who might benefit:
Examples include directors of public libraries, branch librarians, senior supervisors of library staff, special librarians in the for–profit and not–for–profit sectors, teacher–librarians, library technicians with university degrees, information specialists and knowledge managers in the corporate sector; second tier senior management in major libraries (e.g., directors of human resources, information technology, marketing) for whom the lack of an MLIS is both a glass ceiling (not able to move up) and glass wall (not able to move laterally).
Some of these have been the targets of library schools for years, though. "Library technicians with university degrees," for example. There’s nothing especially "executive (!)" about them. Or teacher-librarians. Or "information specialists in the corporate sector," which, eliminating the verbiage, I think means corporate librarians, but that lacks the hip bureaucratic tone of "corporate sector." They seem to have expanded "executive" to mean "people executing tasks in libraries." Maybe the "executive" makes the program sound sexier.
Some of the others are definitely "executive (!)," but where will they move up to? If you’re already a library director, where are you going to go? A bigger library, I guess. And do we really want directors of marketing to move up (through the glass ceiling) or over (through the glass wall) in the library world? Wouldn’t that just make libraries that much more annoying to work in?
There’s one thing to be said for a program like this, I guess. At least it’s not trying to bring new people into a profession without enough jobs. The people will already have jobs in libraries. Acquiring the precious MLS isn’t going to change that. Heck, it probably won’t even change their job, but now they can add MLS after their name on their business card. That alone ought to be worth the price of tuition.