So You Want to be a Librarian?

VanWylenAre you interested in a job that allows you to solve new problems every day? Would you like to have the opportunity to meet and help many different people find the information they’re looking for? If you answered yes to either of these questions, librarianship could be the field for you!

While you may not know right now if a career as a librarian is for you, that’s perfectly all right. Many of the librarians associated with Hope became interested in the field through experiences as undergraduate students.

“I had worked as a student in my high school and college libraries and loved it,” Gloria Slaughter, a technical services librarian at Van Wylen, said. “I had planned on becoming a history teacher but then decided I would be able to combine my love for libraries and teaching by becoming a librarian.”

“My interest in library work started as a work study student in the Special Collections (archives) at Gettysburg College, in 1986-1987,” Geoffrey Reynolds, director of the Joint Archives of Holland, said. “That experience stuck with me through the rest of my undergraduate education and tenure as a high school history teacher. I left to earn my [Master of Library and Information Studies] at Wayne State with an archival certificate.”

One of the best parts about being a librarian is that you have the opportunity to learn something every day, according to Colleen Conway, Catalog Librarian at Van Wylen.

“I love being allowed to learn new things every day,” she said. “Learning new things is fun.”

To be a librarian, most libraries require that you have a Master of Library Science (MLS), Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) or another equivalent master’s degree. However, as an undergraduate, you don’t have to be too worried what type of degree you are pursuing.

“Don’t be overly concerned what your undergraduate degree is in,” Todd Wiebe, Reference and Instruction Librarian, said. “That’s the beauty of librarianship – anything you bring to the table will be beneficial.”

Both the University of Michigan and Wayne State University have library science programs if you are interested in the field, offering Master of Science in Information and Master of Library and Information Studies degrees, respectively. Many other schools nationwide also offer American Library Association accredited master programs.

Interested in learning more about being a librarian? The librarians on staff at Van Wylen would love to help you.

“Talk to a librarian at Hope!” Jessica Hronchek, Reference and Instruction librarian, said. “We are happy to answer your questions about the field and give you a better idea of the types of librarianship that are out there.”

— Bethany Stripp, Library Student Blogger

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  1. I started my library experience as a student worker at Hope’s Van Wylen Library, and it was because of my time there that I went on to UM’s School of Information and am now a librarian! (class of 2007)

  2. I think my quoted remarks could possibly be taken the wrong way (my fault, not Bethany’s). To be clear, I do not want to downplay the importance of the undergraduate degree and choosing to major in something you are interested in/passionate about. Of course, this matters significantly and can make a big difference. However, when considering graduate school in Library/Information Science, students often question whether or not their degree in (fill in the blank) will work. The answer is “yes!” So if you are thinking about getting a library degree after college, don’t lose sight or passion for your studies as an undergrad, but know that students in library programs come from a wide array of academic backgrounds, bringing with them diverse prior knowledge and skills, thus enriching the profession.

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