Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making the right program choice

I had the opportunity to go to a presentation last night by the director of the MLIS program at San Jose State University. It is most decidedly an impressive program.. It is now the largest such program in the world with over 2,000 students. Yes, that number is correct.

It is available in residential, hybrid, or fully online versions and it has various tracks for student interest. The school offers 250 internships each semester. Enrollment is based on a first-come, first-served philosophy, so you need to apply early. Enrollment requirements, however, are more stringent than the university's basic requirements. A 3.0 GPA in the last 60 units is required. The program requires 42 units.

I went because the director of the program at FPU offered this as a possibility for students who might want to take what they have learned/accomplished at Fresno Pacific and transfer that into the SJSU program (after completing the FPU program). Fresno Pacific has a great program from my perspective, but it is not ALA approved and unlikely to be so in the near future.

The first question that someone should ask is why I would be interested in such a program when I am already in a credential program at Fresno Pacific University. There are several reasons for why a person would consider attending such a program:

  • It is ALA-approved. This means you could also work in a public library or in an academic library.
  • As noted above, it increases job possibilities. In addition to the ones already cited, you could also work in law libraries, hospital libraries, and, interestingly, the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Many of those other areas have real career tracks (and most school library jobs do not).
While it is not out of the realm of possibility that I would consider applying, SJSU would need to accept more units from Fresno Pacific than it appears that they are likely to do. At this point, it appears that they would accept only nine. However, Jo Ellen Misakian (director of FPU program) is still talking with them.

For me, it may not be a good fit. Locally, it would probably get me a job in a public library, but, because of my school district seniority, that would amount to a drop in salary of about $20,000 a year. That is 20k and I would have to work many more days, plus there is the strong possibility of having to work nights and weekends. Working for Fresno Unified School District, I work more days than regular classroom teachers, but still much less than anywhere else.

Interesting pieces of information for local librarians:
  • Fresno County Library cannot fill all of the positions that they have available. They are always looking for staff.
  • The directors of both Fresno County Library, Tulare County Library, and the associate director of the Madden Library (CSU Fresno) were all at the presentation. This, in part, speaks to their need for qualified librarians.
I have talked with one person who had been considering the FPU program, but now may head in the SJSU direction. For me, after hearing about SJSU, I think I will stay where I am. I consider myself fortunate to have a very good local program. I am in classes with only six other students. It is ramping up to include greater technology and it seems to me a program that is on the rise.


Lib. Learner Liz 2.0 Cheerleader said...

Thanks for the information.

School Library Learning 2.0 Team said...

Thanks for sharing this -- sounds like the presentation was excellent. I'm a fan of both the FPU and SJSU SLIS directors -- and their programs.

Tom said...

It was a good presentation. You could tell that the person from SJSU is the program's biggest cheerleader (which is as it should be). A person should be excited about their own program.