180 Degree Perception Change

In the fall of 2011, when I first started telling friends and family I was planning to pursue a masters degree in library and information science, the response across the board was something to the effect of "you need a masters degree to be a librarian?" I would reply by saying things along the lines of "well libraries are about a lot more than books" and "technology is so key now, I've got a lot to learn." This all sounds well and good, but at the time I think I was more or less parroting back what I'd read and heard from those already in the field. I knew this was all true, but in the back of my mind a little voice kept asking "is it really about more than books?". This self doubt was justified, especially given that the public image of a librarian is a matronly woman surrounded by books making shushing noises. That said, it didn't take me long at Simmons to realize that, yes, it's about a whole lot more than books.

Now, as I'm starting to wrap up my degree at GSLIS, I cannot imagine working in this field without the skills I've gained from this program. I can see the value of what I'm learning during my time at GSLIS. My own realization of how valuable this degree will be is much less impressive than the change in perception I've observed from those outside the profession.

This past week I had a strange networking experience, one that started because the red line train unexpectedly shut down (problems with the T are a common occurrence in Boston). I wound up splitting a cab with a business man who happened to be going in the same direction and whose patience for waiting on the T was equally short. We got to talking and I mentioned that I'm finishing my degree at Simmons in library science. His response? To paraphrase: "wow, what a cool field to be pursuing, there's so much going on in the world of libraries, and technology is so interesting, and the field is changing, you're so cutting edge!" What a difference a year makes. Instead of commenting that libraries are outdated or making a joke about the necessity of a masters degree, this guy got it! A man who looked to be in his mid-fifties, wearing a suit, who works for a tech startup no less.

I'm not sure if its the fact that I'm in different situations than I was a year ago, talking with people who really get it, or if public perception really has changed, perhaps a combination, but I'm happy about this change. For those of you just starting your journey into this field, know that you're not entering a dying profession, you're not behind the times, instead you're futuristic and awesome and entering a profession that's got a very exciting future! Even if for starters you're just in it for the books.


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