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What To Expect From Online Library School

by on March 14, 2013

Many people who work in libraries decide that they want to pursue the Master’s Degree in Library Science (or in Library and Information Science) and work towards becoming an official librarian.  Originally that meant packing up and going away to school, or finding a school local enough to commute back and forth. But, with the rise of online schooling more and more MLS programs are being offered that way.

When deciding to pursue a Master’s Degree online, you must make sure that you choose an American Library Association (ALA) accredited school. There are multiple reasons to choose an ALA accredited school including the fact that some employers require an MLA from an ALA-accredited school to be hired in as a librarian, also some states require a degree from an ALA-accredited school to work as a librarian in either a public or school library.  A list of these schools can be found on the ALA’s website.  Once you have picked your school and have been accepted, then the real fun starts.

Online schooling is great because it can allow the student to be flexible and work around his or her schedule.  But, it can be very difficult because you must be dedicated and self-disciplined.  I attended school online for my bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix and am continuing to do so at Wayne State University for my Master’s Degree.  The University of Phoenix program required attendance.  I had to check in at least three times a week and post two substantial posts to our discussion boards.  This forced me to make sure I was active in my classes.   Wayne State University does not have this requirement, so I am completely on my own to make sure I get my work done.

I’ve not had an online class yet with scheduled lectures.  So far, all my classes have had professors post lectures that can be viewed at any time.  I often view the lectures in the morning while I am eating breakfast or doing small household chores, and I can break up the lectures if I can’t find a dedicated two-hour block to view the entire thing.  One problem with viewing lectures this way is that if I have any questions I can’t get a response right away.  I can’t raise my hand in class and ask my teacher to explain something, instead I have to email him or her and wait for a response.

This delay can also cause a problem with assignments.  If I wait too long to work on an assignment, and end up having a problem, I can email my teacher but I may not get a response in time to get my assignment completed.  Time management skills are extremely important in online schooling.

One of the biggest challenges is working on a group project.  Since there is no set class time, you are very unlikely to ever meet your group mates face to face.  Finding a time to discuss your project can be difficult, and often group decisions have to be made without all group members being included. Using Skype and other messenger and chat services can be helpful when communicating with classmates

Going to school online can be great for someone who needs flexibility in class schedule or location.  It’s great for someone who doesn’t want to move to go to school, or who works. But, there are challenges with online schooling. To be successful in this kind of program you must be self-disciplined and good with time management.  As we become ever increasingly digital, I think more future librarians will be getting their degrees online.