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MLIS programs: UCB vs. SJSU
I am interested in pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Services. I
would welcome advice on the pros/cons of the two local programs of which I
am aware: UC Berkeley and San Jose State University. I am a full-time working
mom, so it seems that SJSU would possibly be the only viable option as, if I
understand correctly, UCB is geared towards full-time students (i.e., classes
only during the week during regular business hours). Additionally, I would
welcome any advice regarding working for one of the UCB libraries in general
(e.g., job opportunities, trends, is preference given to those already at UCB in
other positions, etc.). I wish to stay within the UC system as I plan to retire
from it down the line, and working at UCB is preferable to UCSF geographically
since I live in the East Bay. I would also appreciate any advice on how to best
prepare for such a career move (e.g., online links I should check out,
professional organizations I should join, etc.). Thanks!
Anonymous, so my colleagues don't know I'l planning to leave my current job
Just FYI -- the UCB program is not accredited by the American
Library Association. So SJSU is the only real library school in
Thinking about library school, also
Unless the program has changed drastrically since I graduated in
the late '90s, I would not recommend SJSU for an academic track
librarian. The program was good for those wishing to work in
schools or public libraries, but left something to be desired
for those of us intersted in corporate or academic libraries.
Many of the courses on those paths were taught by adjunct staff
who, IMHO, should have stuck to their day jobs. And the program
was surprising weak on the technological aspects of information
science. The school did offer a smattering of programming &am! p;
database courses, but I found them to be poorly designed and not
part of a coherent curricular structure. Things may have
improved since then, but I'd read the catalog carefully and
interview current students before opting for SJSU.
As you probably know, CAL lost its ALA accreditation, which
means that its MLS (if it is even still called that) is not
accepted at most libraries in the country. The degree program
that they offer now does not focus on library services but
rather on information management and I believe that its grads do
not, in general, go to work at libraries.
As a hiring institution, CAL also has some problems. They do not
hire very many people as professional librarians. Instead, they
hire MLS-carrying people as ''library technicians'' (I cannot
remember the specific name of the classification, but it is not
a professional class), have them do professional work, but pay
them a considerably smaller salary. Most librarians would not
find that acceptable, but there are enough people who want to
work in academic librarianship that the UC is able to take
advantage of the ''cheap labor''. Over the years, as the
librarians retire, they are consistently replaced
with ''technicians'' and thus the UC is able to save on their
SJSU is not considered a top-notch library school and I was told
that it would be very difficult to get an academic position with
an MLS from SJSU. Many of their grads go on to work in public
I looked into this when I was getting my MLS too.
Univ. of WA library school grad
My understanding is that the MLIS program at UCB is focused a
lot less on libraries and a lot more on information -- how
information is used, organized and managed. Another
considertation is that the UCB program is not accredited by ALA.
SJSU is a more practical program for people who want to work in
libraries. I once heard the head of the San Francisco Public
Library say that she always recommends SJSU to people wanting to
get their library degree locally. Having been on many hiring
committees, I would say that the prestige of the institition
where the candidate got their MLIS/MLS is rarely a factor.
As for working in the library at UCB, the climate is not ideal
for getting a job. Like all of UC, the library is the victim of
dire budget times and there is currently a freeze on the hiring
of all positions. Even in the best of times when there are
openings in the UCB library, most positions advertise for
individuals with a few years of relevant, professional
experience (there are, of course, exceptions).
an anonymous librarian
First and foremost, UCB's program is not American Library Assn
accredited. For many jobs, a requirement is an MLIS (or MLS or
whatever) from an ALA accredited program. I don't think that
UCB even offers a MLIS - you would get a ''MIMS.'' I can't speak
for the program itself, however. I got my degree from SJSU, and
yes, it was nice to have eve and wknd classes - a common
strategy is to try to have all or most of your classes in a
given semester on the same day - ''majoring in Tuesday'' !!
I work at a UCB library, and it's great. I will warn you,
however, that due to the current budget situation, it is very
unlikely there will be much hiring here in the next couple of
years. Who knows - by the time you get your degree, the
situation may have changed!
this page was last updated: Jan 16, 2004
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