July 12, 2008

I love you madly madly Madam Librarian

Apparently, when I was a kid, I told my parents I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up, but I don't remember that at all. I don't even remember that I (supposedly) dressed up as a librarian for Career Night when I was in junior high.

But I do distinctly remember walking through the Wilkinson Center at BYU, seriously contemplating changing my major from Public Relations to History and wondering how I could justify doing so since the demand for bachelor degree level historians is slight, to say the least. There is a board of job postings in the Wilk, and I stopped to flip through them. The top one was for a library director. Under the requirements, it listed a Masters in Library Science from an ALA-accredited school.

Within a few days, I was spending all my free time at work going through the list of ALA accredited schools (there aren't many) and looking at their programs.

I was immediately drawn to Simmons because they had a lovely website and it was in Boston. Also the classes looked amazing and they even offered a dual degree program with a Masters of Children's Literature. Oh, it seemed amazing. And then I discovered that it would cost me in the neighborhood of forty grand. Hmm, less amazing.

The only other school that really spoke to me was the iSchool at the University of Texas at Austin. It was a top-ranked program with an unbelievably impressive faculty and low tuition for residents. And I could be a Texas resident after only a year.

But then I got married, and Bart's career path seemed uncertain and there was no telling where we might end up. Six months into our marriage, with both of us anxious to get out of Utah (particularly me), Bart suggested we move to Austin. Cost of living was low, jobs were abundant, and I could go to school. Bart packed up the car and drove off, while I stayed behind to finish up school.

When we actually moved to Austin, though, I suddenly wasn't so keen on graduate school. I was terrified of the GRE and even more terrified of being rejected from school. I had a job that I enjoyed and I backed off of the school idea. I stopped mentioning UT as a reason we'd moved to Austin. When the topic came up among those who knew, I said I just didn't feel good about going and changed the topic.

Last spring, though, something changed overnight. I suddenly desperately wanted to get an MLS. I wanted it more than I feared the rejection or the GRE. I discovered that I could apply by the end of September and start in January of 2008.

I signed up for the GRE and bought a prep book. I started making vocab flash cards and going through them on the treadmill. I wrote my professors and asked for letters of recommendation. I wrote my statement of purpose and asked my father-in-law to review it. I faxed all my paperwork in at my office that didn't know I was even considering school.

And then I waited and waited and waited. I checked the mailbox and the online site daily for six weeks until one day the website changed from "All of your materials are in" to "Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Texas."

I'm now nearly half way done with my program. I plan to graduate next May.

It's been even better than I could have imagined. I'm surrounded by students that are interested in the same things as me, who love books and reading and literacy and libraries as much as I do. I get to see all the new children's books that flood in for the 2008 Notable Children's Book List. I read articles and write papers about things that excite me more than almost anything else. I look around and think there isn't anywhere I'd rather be right now than in school, at this school, in this program.

I will always be glad I got over my fears. Victory tastes so very sweet.

19 comments:

  1. Kevin's sister got her MLS in Tucson. Small world.

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  2. I'm so proud of you for going to get your masters. We could both have masters if art masters programs weren't so very not-my-style. I guess you'll have to be the only one.

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  3. And you can get into an MLS program with almost any Bachelors degree! Great for those of us with BAs in the humanities :o)

    Glad you are enjoying the program.

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  4. It is so nice when people tell their stories about being fulfilled and passionate, rather than stifled and frustrated, as so many of us working stiffs are. Good on you!

    I plan on trying out a course in the fall for a master's program, and I really hope I love it. If all goes well, I'm headed to a VERY long part-time student status and another student loan... hoo, boy. But it will all be worth it, right?

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  5. Almost makes going back to school sound fun!

    Of course, The Music Man is one of my all time favorites!

    Anyway, congratulations on doing what you love.

    Oh, have you ever read any of Richard Peck's books? My favorites so far are A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder.

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  6. Congrats to you! I appreciate your encouragement. I'm registered for classes to start getting my MLS this fall, but I'm not entirely sure. It will mean a major pay cut for us financially, and their are so many "if's" involved. Life would just be much simpler if I decided not to back to school. But somehow, I just can't let the thought of getting my masters fade away. It's good to know that you don't regret it!

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  7. Your library school story is so much more inspiring than mine (i.e. a decision mostly based on convenience ...). I'm glad your loving your classes. You almost make me want to go back to school in September. Almost.

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  8. Librarian is my secret dream job--sooooo jealous!

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  9. Good on ya!

    Just a quick question: how does one go about dressing up as a librarian?

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  10. How wonderful that you knew what you wanted and went out and achieved it! It must be a good feeling to know that you're halfway there.

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  11. Congrats and congrats!! I am so happy for you dearie!

    xox

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  12. I think I remember seeing a picture of you dressed up as a librarian. Unless I dreamt it...I sometimes do that.

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  13. As I recall it was a navy blue skirt, white blouse, hair in a bun and a name tag. And glasses, of course. :) As a real librarian I'm sure you'll be much more chic.

    You'll be everyone's favorite, I'm sure. Just like those two ladies (can't think of their names right now) who were at the Waunakee Library for years and years. Do you remember how they put aside all the Little House books that were being retired from use so that you could have them? That's a real librarian for you.

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  14. When Tim decided to go to grad school, there was so little time between the decision and the next application deadline that I think he just didn't have time to get nervous about it. After he got in, I had to give him a few pep talks to talk the nerves down, but not many. And wouldn't you know, it's been one of the best decisions he's ever made for the very reasons you just listed.

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  15. sweet janssen,
    wow- great minds think alike, right? great post and i can't wait to feel the same 'sweet victory!'

    i wish there would have been a cheaper alternative for myself...60 grand sounds about right where we'll be after I'm done. student loans is the name of the game for us both. scary- but so worth it.

    when are you guys gonna come visit US??? we'll show you the ways of the east...

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  16. Despite my current in-process Masters (International Education) there is still part of me that wants to get an MLS too. Is three Masters too many?!

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  18. I'd love to go back to library school! (Or, law school!) I have that dreaded useless degree in history, which I loved getting but now what do I do? (I'm a loan officer. Glad I could pay for that!)

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  19. You know BYU used to have a MLS degree program, but they got rid of it. I was sad when I learned that because I was thinking about the same thing. Simmons' children's lit program sounds amazing ... albeit worth more than me. And most of my family. And all of our cars.

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