Monday, April 8, 2013

Let's Talk About Rankings

Not sure if many of you caught this, but U.S. News and World Reports recently released their rankings on library schools.  As a skeptic, and one who knows that these rankings are:  1)subjective, 2) relative and 3) cause unnecessary stress, I wanted to talk about what these rankings might mean to us as library school students. 

The rankings are here:

As you can see, my school (LSU) is ranked at #24.  Does this matter to me?  Not one bit.  Would it have mattered to me when I was applying?  Not one bit. 

I attended (proudly, I might add), a Top 20 law school (Tulane).  That was great, made me feel really smart and justified the ridiculous student loans I had to take out at the time.  However, did it mean anything when I went into practice?  No.  Did it make my life as a lawyer any better?  Probably not.  Do I still have those student loans?  You betcha!

You see, most of us, when we thought about pursuing our graduate degree in library and information science, fell into 3 categories:
1.  I just graduated with a liberal arts degree.  What kind of job am I going to get without a masters?
2.  I've been working in a library and I can't move up professionally without an MLIS.   What is the most convenient way to get this degree since I work full time and maybe I have a family?
3.  My job sucks and I've always wanted to work with books and libraries.  Where's the nearest grad school where I can obtain this degree? 

I fell into category 3.  My extensive research brought me to the conclusion that to work in a library in any professional function, I was going to have to get a graduate degree in the field, and it only mattered that the school be ALA-accredited.  Since I have not yet married for money, I needed to go to a nearby school where I could get the degree without going broke and to a school that had a good reputation.  For me that was #24 ranked LSU. 

You see, these rankings are relative, because most MLIS students need convenience, and are likely going to stay in the community where they get the degree.  University of Illinois is a great school, but for me, it was not an option. 

The most important things in a graduate education, in my humble opinion, are convenience, cost, course availability, job prospects and easy access to faculty.  LSU has all of these for me.  For someone living in Seattle, those things will likely not be found at LSU. 

What I'm trying to say is, rankings are only as important as they are relevant to you and your situation.

Having said that, and with a little plug to my school,


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