The LIS Masters is a qualification of convenience

03 Sep

They didn't have planes at my graduation. Mind you, they might have done; I didn't acually go

A few times recently I’ve read blog posts about the LIS (or Library & Information Management, or whatever version you want to call it) degree. Mostly this focuses on the Masters, because very few people I know actually have the full under-grad degree (although there are some). A recent post on the excellent Agnostic, Maybe blog has clarified my thinking.

Disclaimer: this is just my view, based on my own experiences of the degree I completed. As always this blog represents my views alone and, god knows, not those of my employer – in fact for this post, just to be on the safe side, this blog doesn’t even represent my own views. :)

I think the reasons the LIS qualification is most often a Masters are just reasons of convenience. Reason 1: The vast majority of library staff do NOT know they want to join the Information sector at the age of 17, when people are deciding which degree to do. So, if we want people to have degrees, we need them to be able to complete them as something of an after thought, most usually whilst working. Which is to say – it can’t take a full three years, who can wait that long? So it needs to be a Masters, that can be done via Distance Learning if necessary. Reason 2: is there three years of stuff you can teach about library work, really? Really, though? Perhaps if you cover all types of librarianship yes – school, health, academic, business, public, special. But when people realise they need the qualification, they are probably past the primer course stage. The reason which is conspicuous by its absence is: the subject matter and level of learning is at a very advanced level that couldn’t realistically be achieved by an undergraduate.

I think my Masters course was, to all intents and purposes, a 1 year under-grad course. There was not much about it that you could conclusively say: this is POST-GRAD level stuff. It was just latter stages of BA type stuff, with the possible exception of the dissertation – but you don’t NEED to do a super advanced dissertation to get a pass in the Masters. I’ve done another Masters, an MA, so I do know what post-grad study is like – that felt like another level on from my undergraduate learning; my BSc did not. I’m sure this isn’t the case across the board: I’ve heard great things about the course at Sheffield, and obviously the UCL one is supposed to be fantastic as well – but these are both residential and, increasingly, the majority of LIS Masters are coming via Distance Learning courses, so I think my experience may be the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps I’m wrong.

I thought I was just doing the course to get the piece of paper to get a better job – and I was, but actually I learned some really interesting stuff too. But when it comes to an employer assessing me for a role, are they going to know, look into, or even care what I learned on the course? Almost certainly not (I’m in the academic sector; it may be different elsewhere) – for a start the library Masters very quickly becomes out-dated because this field moves so quickly. What the employer needs to know is that I’m the type of person who did the Masters course – which is to say committed to the profession, willing to learn, committed to professional development, ambitious and here for the long haul – not that I learned about Research Methods and wrote a God-awful essay about it.

As part of the big CILIP conversational survey, there was a question about the value of CILIP ratified qualifications. It hadn’t really occurred to me that there could be any kind of library Masters that wasn’t, but I do know that CILIP continued to allow Leeds MET to be a certified course long past the time when any students on it believed it should have been; I don’t think CILIP can have assessed them very thoroughly if they continued to allow the course to run, by all accounts. So I’m not sure there’s value in the Masters being given the CILIP seal of approval either.

The Masters is also extremely expensive – my Distance Learning MSc was twice as expensive as my part-time MA. And as Andy Woodworth (again) just pointed out on Twitter, the course is a one-size-fits-all librarians course which doesn’t specialise in academic or public or any other type of librarianship. One year to study ALL types, even when some of them have almost nothing in common with each other?

So basically we have a system where we ALL, all of us who are working in libraries as a vocation rather than just as a job, have to fork out a fortune for a not-really-that-advanced degree which everyone else has anyway, that has to be a jack of so many sectors it can’t really afford to be a master of any of them, a degree that means you can tick the boxes on the application form but doesn’t actually help you in the interview, and which those outside the library profession are astonished to hear exists at all!

I’m not trying to undermine anyone who has the Masters, I’m not trying to besmirch the good people to teach the courses – I’m not even trying to devalue it, as I’d be very surprised if I apply for any job in the next 50 years which doesn’t list it as a requirement on the person spec. I suppose what I’m trying to say with this post is, why are we all of us complicit in a system that is so obviously unsatisfactory? Employers, employees, CILIP, and library schools.

Is this really a good state of affairs to be happy with? Can we change it? If so, what do we do, what are the alternatives?


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  • Ned Potter September 3, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    [Light friday afternoon reading! :-) ...] The LIS Masters is a qualification of convenience – via #twitoaster

  • Fiona_Bradley September 3, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    @theREALwikiman reading it now, and shaking my head. Hey gang, could be worse. In some countries, no lib school at all, others it’s 5 years!

  • sphericalfruit September 3, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    @theREALwikiman Brill post! Having a big old think – comment is pending!

  • Girl in the Moon September 3, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    I’ve been thinking increasingly about the actual value of the LIS MA I completed a couple of years ago. I remember completing an evaluation form on the course at the time of, or shortly after, finishing, and thinking then that my immediate evaluation was probably pretty useless. Maybe now’s the time to sit down and think about it some more (with all the interesting points you make, and those from the post and comments at Agnostic, Maybe, I ought to be able to formulate some useful thoughts). It was a useful course in many ways, but I wonder how well it equipped me for what I do today, and how well it ought to have equipped me…

  • Liz September 3, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    I’m about to start my own library Master’s, and it will be a second Master’s, and this problem is already a pet gripe on mine. No one I’ve talked to – NO ONE – has said anything that excites me about doing this degree (I should add – I’m not entirely unexcited, because I do love research and classes. But that’s just my geekiness). I invariably get comments from my colleagues along the lines of ‘It’ll be such a boring year’ or ‘Tell me if you actually learn something’. I loved my first Master’s, in English – but I don’t feel that I’m about to start something that is intellectually or even practically challenging. I feel like I’m about to start a year of pushing paper. I’m fairly sure that when it comes down to it, I’ll enjoy this one and get something moderately useful from it (hopefully?). But why am I spending so much money on what employers and even colleagues will see as a simple piece of paper?

    OK, I know it’s not quite that simple – and I couldn’t agree more that what is being demonstrated by the degree is the personality and dedication that getting the Master’s means. And I know that it’s difficult for degree programmes to evolve as constantly as we might want them to. But surely we could follow a model that allows for more flexibility – more specialization, more choices – to address the MANY areas in which an information professional might work? Not to get all down on the UK (but I am an American :), but courses there tend to offer a wider variety – and a variety that sometimes addresses currently relevant issues like marketing, fundraising, etc.

  • Andy Woodworth September 3, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Ned, I’d say the conversation is really about where the line are drawn in terms of education and jobs. What would a master’s qualify you for versus a PhD or a bachelors? Could it be a certification process? What’s the long term impact on the field for any of these options?

  • Andy Priestner September 3, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: [Light friday afternoon reading! :-) ...] The LIS Masters is a qualification of convenience – via #twitoaster

  • SimonXIX September 3, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    I agree with most of what you said. And I’m sure different Masters in different institutions have different values.

    The main advantage of my Masters, which you haven’t mentioned, is the people who took the course with me. It was great to meet such a diverse group of people all working towards the same career goal. It put us all in good stead with professional networks too.

  • librarianry September 3, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    Such a great post! Have to thank you and Andy Woodworth for bringing up this topic and sparking discussion! I hope that we continue to look this over and see if it’s something that can be changed.

  • thewikiman September 3, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    Girlinthemoon I think you’re right – I was thinking as I wrote that, that it is only now a year or so after graduating from my Masters that I can start to objectively assess its value. That distance is required to make a judgement – previously I’ve cycled, between originally (cynically) thinking it was literally JUST the bit of paper, to then actually really enjoying and being pleasantly surprised by the Masters itself, to realising recently that perhaps the whole system is just a bit flawed.

  • thewikiman September 3, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    Liz, I think it’ll be more exciting than you’re expecting… Mine certainly was. It didn’t suffer comparisons with my Music MA very well, though (partly because my MA was at York which is a great University), so my advice would be don’t think of your library Masters in terms of its relationship with your English one! Just have it as a seperate non-comparable entity… It’s really not boring. Some of it is fascinating, and I found the module on hyermedia has provided a grounding in xhtml which allowed me to build my website etc, it was really useful. I’m just not sure it was all actually post-graduate level study, or indeed specifcally useful to my job and future job plans. And as you say, we all spend a lot of money – why do we do this if neither we nor our employers truly value it?

    (The answer of course is that we earn back the cost of the degree in our first year of post-masters-job employment, but still, as I say, the whole thing feels unsatisfactory somehow.)

  • thewikiman September 3, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    Andy, yes exactly – I don’t think the Masters qualifies you for anything MORE than a degree in the same subject would do, unless, ironically, you had BOTH in which case the post-graduate aspect would probably equate to more value. A PhD is a whole nother thing entirely, I have maximum respect for people who do Information related doctorates, you REALLY get to call yourself a specialist after that…

    Simon, I didn’t get that with mine (probably cos it was distance learning) but yes, you make a good point.

  • thewikiman September 3, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    Librarianry, that’s just it – I’m feeling like the ‘new professional’ cohort is so hyped up and empowered, maybe we actually CAN change it? I’m not sure how, but in the spirit of not just chatting about stuff but actually trying to wrestle the profession forward while we’re in our 20s and 30s, having the guts to say: we have value, we’re the future, listen to us NOW not just when we’re in senior positions, and making things happen.

    (See this blog post – – for more empowerment inspiration..)

  • thewikiman September 3, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    Just to add yet another comment – there’s a further related issue or problem I have with the Masters, which is that the library job market is actually so competitive, you get a LOT of people with a professional qualification not in professional posts. In fact, roles which only require GCSE or A-Level on the job spec are being applied for by so many over qualified candidates, that anyone who took the person spec at face value and wrote an application without at least a BA (in something) let alone a library Masters would be completely wasting their time. So, that’s another silly state of affairs. :)

  • jwebbery September 3, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    As a member of university validation panels I have been involved in QA discussions about different types/purposes of Master’s degrees which might be helpful to draw out here. In discussions about some professional courses there is a distinction between Master’s which are advanced study (so an MA in a subject you have already taken) and those which are professional preparation (like a business or librarianship course). The level of learning outcomes must reach M level but there may be a different approach to the curriculum as you have to cover a core body of knowledge that is assumed in the other kind of Master’s degree. I cannot comment on the level of different LIS courses at the moment, but I found great similarity in academic level between my two professional Masters studied at different universities ten years apart (librarianship and MBA).

  • Libreaction September 3, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    My MA was an endurance exercise from start to finish as I knew throughout that I was just going through the motions. The biggest problem for me was the course’s obsession with theory over practical application – still a problem at many Library schools. My Masters qualififcation ticked the job criteria box and helped me get my first rung on the ladder but left me me completely unprepared for the real world of work. I too thought the level it was pitched at was not exactly challenging.
    Having said all that I wouldn’t employ a Deputy without one so I’m a hyopcrite of the worst kind or maybe its just that I think that others should have to endure it like I did?!

  • Alexandria September 3, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    The LIS Masters is a qualification of convenience | thewikiman: Perhaps if you cover all types of librarianship ye…

  • Katie September 3, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    Just to put Liz’s mind at rest, I LOVED my MA! It is one of the most challenging academic courses I’ve done (which include an MSc and a PhD). However, I did the MA Librarianship at Sheffield: it’s well respected for a reason, very thoughtfully designed and justifiably at Masters level.

    I did actually consider distance learning, but I’m glad I didn’t go for it. I commuted to Sheffield, but I was lucky enough to have AHRC funding and so could study full-time. And yes, I’ve used the knowledge of issues affecting the profession I gathered on the course extensively since graduating, and it really helped me to grasp evidence-based practice in the information profession.

    There are obvious limitations to the ability of an MA to provide you with practical experience, and I think there are important questions to ask about how this can be done, but I’m always astounded to hear about the gap between how I perceived my course and others perceived theirs.

  • Laura Steel September 4, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    Really interesting post! I’ve just completed the MA in Librarianship at Sheffield and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve met some brilliant people, learned so much and generally feel more of a part of the profession than I did before – even though I thoroughly enjoyed my graduate traineeship, I feel like my experience of the Masters has been really valuable to me and will continue to be in the future.

    This is in contrast to the way I felt before starting the course, which was that I was doing it simply to gain a piece of paper. Although, like Katie, I was lucky enough to get AHRC funding and I’m not sure I would feel so optimistic right now if I had a large loan to pay back, especially as I haven’t managed to secure a job yet.

  • Ned Potter September 6, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    Interesting debate about the value of the Library Masters, in the comments of my blog post here:

  • Hilary Bowler September 6, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Response to @the REALwikiman's blog post on LIS Masters – Should MA be replaced by apprenticeships or work placements?

  • Hilary Bowler September 6, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Response to @theREALwikiman's blog post on LIS Masters – Should MA be replaced by apprenticeships or work placements?

  • Ned Potter September 6, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    RT @hillierose: Response to @theREALwikiman's blog post on LIS Masters – Should MA be replaced by apprenticeships or work placements?

  • Tina Reynolds September 6, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    I can see where you’re coming from but I would say that judging by what I have heard, the 3 year librarianship degrees are overly long and dull with odd stuff like IT thrown in to fill up time. I think stick to an MA although I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to go back to it being a more vocational qualification which would avoid the need to artificially add MA-level analysis in for no real reason…

  • Venessa September 6, 2010 at 10:33 AM

    What the employer needs to know is that I’m the type of person who did the Masters course – which is to say committed to the profession, willing to learn, committed to professional development, ambitious and here for the long haul – not that I learned about Research Methods and wrote a God-awful essay about it.

    Oh so true!! And yes, its a hell of a lot of money for something I haven’t finished yet but already feel is very much outdated. I’m looking forward to writing my Dissertation because it can all be on forward thinking and progressive librarianship of the 21st century!!

  • thewikiman September 6, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Hey Jo that’s very interesting, thank you for explaining that. Makes a lot of sense – particularly because of the idea that advanced study should be done in an area you’ve already studied, as opposed to something like librarianship being more preparatory. I guess an Arts versus ‘Science’ Masters were always going to be very different in style anyway, hence my experiences differing between the two.

    Anyway, I wish there were a cheaper way of doing it! I could only do mine with parental support – and I finished it last year. I was 29. When I started the course I had as good (and as well paying a) job as I could expect without the Masters, and I still needed help. It seems a lot of money to spend on something vaguely unsatisfactory..

  • thewikiman September 6, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Andy, by the time you get to Deputy level though, doesn’t the ‘or significant experience’ caveat actually mean something? If you had an ace candidate you wouldn’t rule them out cos of no Masters if they’d been in the service for years and years, would you?

    It’s nearer the start that that clause winds me up, because none of us have the number of years in the sector required NOT to need a Masters.

  • @hillierose September 6, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    With the Masters, and the need for workplace experience (i.e. traineeships), it will take post-grads at least 2 years to land a professional post. Is it worth it?

    Are traineeships more valid than the Masters? If so, should the need for Masters courses be replaced by CILIP (or such like) accredited work placements or apprenticeships?

  • [...] Sep Yet another thought-provoking post by Ned Potter (the wikiman) has got my juices flowing – this time on the topic of the value of the LIS MA which he [...]

  • thewikiman September 6, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    Katie and Laura – I guess the moral of the story is, go to Sheffield! I have to say, EVERYTHING I’ve heard about the course has been positive, and I’ve met two of the lecturers there both of whom seemed absolutely ace. So I think the Masters has, naturally, more value at a great institution where you can study full-time and throw yourself into it. But I do know that fewer institutions offer the residential course this year than last – I’m not for a minute suggesting Sheffield will stop, just saying that as more people to the qualification by Distance Learning, so the ‘it’s not that advanced but it still costs a fortune etc etc’ problems outlined above become more prevalent.

    Tina, I’m definitely not advocating a full BA, I think that would be madness. Just casting around for something potentially better than what we have now, really.

  • Tina Reynolds September 6, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    I didn’t think you were…that was more of a count your blessings! But I think we should stop it being academic and make it vocational – that isn’t going to happen though given the qualification inflation all around!

  • Libreaction September 6, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    There are usually candidates with MAs who are superior because of their info & lib experience not because of their qualification, but I’d be lying if I said having the MA didn’t matter at all as it speaks of vocational committment and engagement (regardless of how good the course ends up being). Our busienss school HR department would have something to say too. Even at the Information Assistant level at which I soemtimes employ people without much, or sometimes any, library experience, I am asked to explain my actions by HR.

    I’ve now blogged more fully about my feelings on the issue here:

  • meimaimaggio September 6, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    I think that the MA (or MSc) LIS course is what you make it. If you view it as something you just have to pay for and get out of the way in order to proceed up the career ladder then it is a long, expensive, boring year. And it can be frustratingly theoretical if you’re working full-time on top of your studies.

    But it can be extremely stimulating and a great chance to meet others in your chosen field. You have to make a conscious effort to research, write about and debate the issues and topics that you’re interested in or that affect your work – don’t just go with the flow. During my year at UCL I got to indulge in my passions and have my opinions challenged.

    My fear is that the MA/MSc is becoming the only route into professional LIS work and, as Ned points out, all these qualified people aren’t even taking qualified-level posts. We’re actually taking jobs away from paraprofessionals and forcing them to do MAs too!

  • Niamh September 6, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    I’ve been following the debate here and decided I really needed a proper post to add my thoughts, so here it is:

    And Ned, I’d say the moral of the story is to go to Sheffield OR do the distance learning course at Aber while building experience (and still earning!

  • woodsiegirl September 6, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Jumping in a bit late to this discussion, but here goes…

    I agree that requiring a Masters to enter the profession can feel a bit like box-ticking. I have heard LIS qualifications described as “a hoop to jump through”, and I think there is some truth in that. I should say at this point that I actually really enjoyed my Masters, and I certainly don’t regret doing it – but did it make me a better librarian? Frankly, I’m not sure. My course (I went to City) was mainly theoretical, but I actually think that was quite a good grounding – it has taught me to think critically about how we develop and evaluate our service provision. There were also practical aspects of the course which were very useful, although City don’t teach cat & class. My main criticism of the course is that there wasn’t much focus on management, which I thing would have been useful.

    The main problem with having the Masters as an entry requirement is that it is a massive barrier to people who might be fantastic librarians, but can’t afford the time or the fees. It isn’t cheap – I took out a career development loan for mine, which I’ve now been paying back for a year, with two more years to go. A fairly substantial chunk of my monthly income goes on repayments, which I can only just afford – and I know I’m lucky that I can afford it at all.

    I think that, as with so much else, you’ll get out of studying towards an LIS Masters as much as you put in. If you go in thinking you’ll just be marking time, going through the motions to get that bit of paper that’ll get you your next job, then you’ll probably hate it. If you go in prepared to put the effort in, explore what you’re interested in and use the time to develop your own ideas, then you’ll get much more out of it.

    Oh, and Liz – my advice would be to ignore people who delight in telling you how boring/worthless your library masters will be. I got a lot of that when I started my course as well, and even more when I was on my course and actually enjoying it! I got really sick of people telling me how awful theirs was, or how shocked they were that I was actually getting something out of it, or that the novelty of studying again would wear off soon and I’d start to hate it too. I’ve never really understood this, but there are some people who just love to moan about things, and can’t stand it when others don’t share their pessimism. Ignore them – life’s too short!

  • africker September 6, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    I am another satisfied customer of Sheffield (MSc Information Management). I found it a great opportunity to deeply pursue some interests, met some brilliant people and learned an awful lot. It included stuff that helped me get my first professional post – though I went to Sheffield very much in the knowledge that they had an excellent Health Module.

    I was one of the lucky ones in that I got a studentship which both paid the fees and gave me a reasonable sum (for a student) to live on. I wonder if I would have looked at the qualification differently without that financial support?

    The chance to complete a high quality dissertation was also something I was keen to grasp having made a right pigs ear of the one for my first degree. It was deeply satisfying to go back to university sure of my interest in a topic and really make the most of it.

  • Libreaction September 6, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Worth mentioning that are some people who don’t naturally recourse to moaning and who went into their Library Masters very excited at the prospect and fully prepared to put loads into it, who still had a miserable and disappointing experience.

  • Laura September 6, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Another option is to complete the MSc part time and work part time. I’m currently studying the MSc at UWE. I’ve completed year one (four modules) and am about to go on to year two (another four modules). I think it’s really useful to combine part time studying and working as you can apply the theory to the work you are doing. Also it means you are not giving up a years salary. Approximately two thirds of the students on the course are studying part time, and nearly everyone even the full timers were working in a library as well.

    I’m really enjoying my MSc, the UWE course has a definite management focus, and I just love the wider reading the course exposes you to, which you have little understanding of as library assistant. Plus it’s great to study with others which I think the distance learners lose out on.

  • Erin September 6, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Ah, the great LIS qualification question. As a US-born librarian currently working in Scotland, I have seen this debate played out on both sides of the Atlantic, with more or less the same comments being made on both. Have a look at the Annoyed Librarian blog to see what my fellow Yanks have to say about this.

    I’ll admit I wasn’t entirely impressed with my LIS MSc programme, which I completed in the UK. In fact, having attended a university known for its rigorous academics as an undergrad, I actually found my course frustratingly unchallenging at times. That said, I chose my course primarily for its location and personal reasons. Had I been looking for the best education, I would have gone to Sheffield or Chapel Hill.

    I don’t have much to add that previous commentors have not already touched upon, but I will say that there is another reason why LIS qualifications are at Masters level. Many people still enter university as undergraduates with the primary motivating factor of getting a good education. This may be seen as a luxury by many, but there are still students for whom finding a job upon graduation is secondary to challenging themselves academically.

    Even if it were possible to qualify as a librarian in the US with a Bachelors, and even if I knew that was what I wanted to do at 18, I still think I would have chosen a rigorous liberal arts BA followed by a postgraduate librarian qualification. In many library jobs, especially those in education, advanced subject knowledge is an asset. This can only be achieved if the qualification to become a librarian is at postgrad level. However, can we honestly continue to classify these postgrad qualifications as masters degrees if we *know* they are not as challenging as masters should be?

  • thewikiman September 6, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Everyone – thank you so, so much for all the comments. I agree the MAsters can be rewarding and enjoyable (I got lots out of mine, much more than I expected), I believe it’s an important step which we all need to take (my future career plans depend on my having the qualification) and I agree you get out what you put in (analysis from my dissertation was used in Jane Secker’s book on copyright and the VLE). The kind of people who put more in will eventually get more out, over the course of their career, anyway. But inspired by all the energy and optimism around the group of new professionals that is emerging, I don’t want to just accept an unsatisfactory situation and just go “well at least I put more in so I got more out” – I want the thing I’m putting so much into to be more worthwhile.

    It’s like the fact that CILIP should be doing more in terms of advocacy – I also agree that its members should be doing their bit, and they are, but that shouldn’t mean that CILIP don’t also have to work hard on it. Similarly, the fact that the switched on are indeed able to make something excellent out of the qualification (even the ones not doing at the God-like Sheffield or UCL!) shouldn’t equate to “no change is neccessary”.

    I don’t know what to do about it, however. The more my peer group makes things happen (and the next blog post is going to be about how that increasingly seems to be the case) the less satisfied I am with being just a commentator.

  • Girl in the Moon September 7, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    @thewikiman – your last point really hits a nerve with me. Yes, it’s all well and good to say that people will get more out if they put more in, but I agree that that shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to improve the thing itself. By doing that you give the people who are naturally less inclined to ‘put more in’, or who just need a bit of a push to give it a try, a better chance of getting something out of it. And spot-on analogy with arguments about CILIP.

    Anyway, I put together a few of my thoughts on this last night – — focussing on course content and applicability to real work — which might be of interest.

  • Liz September 7, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    I should rephrase to say perhaps that I AM looking forward to the degree – and I’m glad everyone has been so encouraging! But I have been so frustrated by the attitude surrounding it, from colleagues especially. And that’s a huge problem – if we ourselves as librarians aren’t attaching much value to the degree, then how can we really stand up to those who write to the Guardian complaining about the uselessness of librarians with Master’s? I’m not saying the Master’s is useless (although I suppose some might argue that way) – just that there’s clearly a perception issue here, and that it seems to be as bad within the profession as without (well, perhaps not quite as bad…!) – and that to me says that something needs changing, whether that’s the course or the way it’s used.

  • thewikiman September 7, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    Girlinthemoon, yeah I’m really glad that point struck a nerve with you because it really struck a nerve with me when I wrote it, too!

    And that follows on to Liz’s point about how will other people value it if we don’t value it ourselves – the answers are either to value it more ourselves, or try and make it worth valuing MORE. It’s 99% certain that Woodsiegirl and I are going to do our Echo Chamber presentation at an event at my old LIS Masters Uni in November, so I’ll try and talk about it with the course leader then – if change of any kind is possible, it’ll start with dialogue.

  • Joel Kerry September 7, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    I agree with the consensus that CILIP needs to review the accreditation process regarding the differnt level qualifications available to study.
    However, I feel passionately that is also extremely important that we don’t turn this debate into an educational tier debate, whereby those of us like myself who chose to do a librarianship qualification are seen as inferiorn professionals because we knew from the Moses basket that we did want to be the information professionals we are today. Furthermore, as someone who studied my degree part-time, whilst working full time, first as a Library Assistant and then as a Librarian throughout the 5 years my course lasted I feel that my course had some professional benefits to better understanding the theory behind the work I do, but admit there are part of my course which weren’t in anyway relevant except to gain the final piece of paper.
    By studying my qualification has in no way hindered my career progression, after successfully gaining Chartership last year (yes CILIP recognises my qualification as suitable and worthy enough to Charter me!)
    I feel slightly insulted and frustrated that there is still such snobbery from other professionals based not only on the level of qualification, but also on where a person takes it!
    It’s worthwhile to recognise that every person’s circumstances are different and there are factors on where a person studies and also at what level they study.
    As a professional who’s worked for 13 years in the profession and has a wealth of work experience, most employers don’t have a grasp of this imaginery league table of library schools that we seem to be creating within the profession and therefore we are in fact sabotaging our own efforts to improve the profession and its future by creating this league table, snobbery regarding the different levels of qualifications and this leaves me very dismayed.

  • thewikiman September 8, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Joel, thanks for commenting – I was thinking of you when I wrote the bit about how I do know some people who did the full BA!

    First off, I personally certainly don’t value the BA less than the MA. I agree with the argument that having another degree in a different subject and then the MA could make a well-rounded librarian, but as you say people certainly shouldn’t be penalised for knowing what they want to do early. I hope there’s not snobbery about the BA – as I say, I think my MSc was basically BA level, so basically you are two-and-a-half times better qualified than I am becuase your course was two-and-a-half times longer! I just question the need for that long a course – but that’s not my real beef with the system.

    As for snobbery about where the course is done – I think that’s entirely justified, but I wouldn’t use the word ‘snobbery’. I think it’s just recognising the merits, or otherwise, or what people choose to do. The main difference between a good university and less good one (in my opinion – this is generalising a bit, but still what I believe applies to a LIS course) are a: the course content, b: the standard of teaching, and c: the harshness of the marking (which is to say, the same piece of work submitted at a top institution and a lesser one would get a better mark at the lesser one). So where you do the qualification has a bearing on all three of those – and if, like me, you choose to do the qualification based mainly on convenience rather than academic excellence, then your qualification should rightly be judged as slightly less good than someone who did it at Sheffield or UCL. I’m fine with that.

    I’m particularly fine with it because I can’t envisage a situation in which it would make a damned bit of difference, quite frankly – you’d have to find yourself in an extraordinarily rare & specific situation if you lost out on a job because of where you completed the qualification: you’d have to have two literally otherwise-identical candidates, and for the interview to be taking place very soon after graduation for it to mean anything as compared to work experience and CV. In fact looking back at your comment again, I’m basically agreeing with you – employers don’t have the imaginery league table! So it doesn’t really matter.

  • [...] metadata management, Professionalism, qualifications scarlettlibrarian 5:15 pm Oh yes having read Ned Potter’s post on his views and opinions on library qualifications, I thought I’d put in my 2pennys worth [...]

  • [...] Ned Potter brought a UK perspective to the discussion with The LIS Masters is a qualification of convenience [...]

  • Alfred September 9, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    I don’t have time to read all the comments right now (but I will), so I might be saying something that has already been said.

    I think a big problem with a Masters in LIS is that we don’t have enough S about L and I.

    The journal articles in LIS don’t seem to build on each other in the same way that science articles do.

    For example, does good weeding increase circulation? I believe that it does, but I don’t think that this has been sufficiently demonstrated with good experiments. So, weedings effect on circulation hasn’t been rigoursly established in the way that scientific principles have been established.

    Just to make sure, I did a very quick and dirty search of Lib. Lit and LISA. I was surprised to find that American Libraries published an article on this topic in May, but of course this isn’t an actual study.

    Collection Management has a lit review from 1988. Unfortunately, this is in remote storage, so I can’t just take it off the shelf and read it. Did the review reveal definitive agreement on this issue? Maybe, but I doubt it because I know a whole bunch of people with LIS degrees who don’t believe there is a connection. And if it was definitively established, and if LIS programs are teaching this, why do we need the current American Libraries article?

    I understand why we don’t have more S about L and I. I’d like to do some studies myself, but I’m too busy doing my job. However, I think the relative (compared to chemistry, biology, etc.) lack of a rigorous theoretical underpinning to the concepts taught in LIS programs prevents the MLIS from being on par with other Masters degrees.

    I just thought of another way to say this. LIS programs have some very practical courses (Resources in …) and some very theoretical courses (bibiometrics), but there’s not, to my knowledge, a very strong connection between theory and practice.

  • thewikiman September 13, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    I think you’re absolutely right – it’s not something I’d considered in detail before.

    As you say, we’re all too busy doing our job to do this research – researchers, by definition, have time to do the kind of studies that appear in journals etc. But we could really do with some, perhaps JISC funded, rigorous insight into what works and what doesn’t.

  • jwebbery September 18, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    Just wanted to add that CILIP does have recognition routes to Chartered Membership that are open to candidates who do not have undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications in librarianship. You can progress from ACLIP to MCLIP or, exceptionally, apply direct for MCLIP within the Framework of Qualifications. You need to be in a professional role and be able to demonstrate that you meet the criteria for Chartership through your portfolio.

    It’s not easy to do this, but it’s worth noting that CILIP does make access to professional status accessible to many people working in libraries.

    In my view the professional academic qualification is valuable, but it needs to be combined with critical reflection, so I am a firm supporter of Chartership as completing one’s professional development.

    As a manager of a lot of qualified librarians, I do generally find that Chartership is a powerful professional development opportunity. It is not a guarantee that staff will be better, but many of my colleagues have enhanced their already good practice through the process.

    I should, however, note that I am an External Examiner to the Chartership Board and am a Chartered Fellow.

  • madamswal September 21, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    A one year Master’s program? I wish I had known about this three years ago. hehehe. I’ve only had time to skim the article– since I’m in the middle of an assignment for a Web 3.0 clas– but it seems that this article and its comments present a UK sensibility. But the same seems to apply to my American experiences with the MLIS.

    I started my program in 2007, when it was mostly an on-campus major. Unfortunately, the program moved all of its classes online– and I feel the value of the Master’s degree has suffered. I never thought I would feel this way about online classes– especially since I do (and have done) almost everything online for ages (20+ years).

    The one and only reason I have put on my dissatisfying program is that most libraries here require the American Library Association-approved Master’s Degree to work as a librarian. I lucked out a couple of years ago, and got hired by a library that took me as a Librarian I with my Bachelor’s degree in English about 30 MLIS units under my belt. I had found that I used more of what I learned as an undergrad in my work as a librarian, than what I learned in library school.

    I recently moved to a new state, Texas, and all the library jobs I have applied for require the Master’s. Because I am one semester short of graduating with mine, I haven’t been able to apply for many jobs here– in spite of having already worked as a reference librarian. My coursework in MLIS has helped me bolster my resume, because I list some of the projects I have done as “Experience.”

    At this point, I just have to hold my nose and hope that my e-portfolio, the culmination of my work in the program, gets accepted. I have been procrastinating on finishing the e-portfolio, because I don’t give a fig about my professional prospective is…I just want a frigging librarian position– because I have already proven that I’m a damned good librarian, even without my degree.

  • [...] to do the Masters. Forget the merits or otherwise of the LIS Library Masters, forget the fact that most job descriptions will ask for it ‘or significant [...]

  • Brian Leaf October 28, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    Old post by thewikiman that I just caught: The LIS Masters is a qualification of convenience

  • [...] The LIS Masters is a qualification of convenience [...]

  • value of the mlis degree | The Dubious Monk December 1, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    [...] then I read a bunch of posts about where the value of an MLIS degree [...]

  • Biddy Whatmough September 13, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Hi all
    Like a lot of people, working in libraries is my ‘second career’ which I didn’t come to until my mid 30s. I was a teacher before and have a Masters in Education. What with the dip in the economy and the fierce competition for jobs, I’ve struggled to make any professional progress in libraries. There seems to be a tide of younger people with LIS Masters who seem to be favoured by employers, regardless of their inexperience. I’ve been accepted on the distance-learning MSc at Robert Gordon Uni but our circumstances have changed over the past few months (my husband has been diagnosed with cancer and we are struggling financially, as a lot of people are these days). As practically everyone I have spoken to has said that doing the MSc is the ‘only way’ to ‘get on’ within the profession, I am really upset that I can”t afford to take the course. A colleague suggested that the CILIP Certification and then, eventually Chartership, route might be the way for me to go but other colleagues say these qualifications, compared to the MSc, have no ‘currency’ with employers. Any thoughts on this? I’m really confused!

  • Ned Potter September 14, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Someone in difficult situation w/ the library masters and money is asking for advice on my blog; can anyone offer any?

  • thewikiman September 14, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Hi Biddy, that sounds like a very difficult situation, I’m really sorry about that.

    I work in the academic sector, and in my experience (and it is just my own experience) Chartership doesn’t carry the same currency as the Masters, certainly. There are job descriptions which call for a professional qualification and / or chartership, but I’ve not seen many in my career of applying for things – I think that’s more common in the public library sector, although I may be wrong. I’m not sure about the Special Library sector, but I imagine Chartership probably doesn’t hold as much currency as the MSc / MA there either. It’s seen as something that works well in addition to the qualification rather than instead of it.

    Am I right in thinking the Diploma is cheaper to do than the full Masters? I think that’s the case, and I’d say that based on many discussions I’ve had on this blog (see the comments section of this post in particular) and with others, the reservations I’ve outlined above about Chartership do NOT apply to the Diploma. People who have the diploma (which, to clarify, is basically the Masters minus the dissertation) seem to get on just as well as those with the full Masters. So I don’t know if that’s an option financially, but it’s worth looking into.

    Finally, I’d say that most jobs ask for the qualification ‘or significant experience’ – I’d say that equates to at least five years worth if not more, so it will take a while to acrue.

    It IS possible to ‘get on’ without it, but you definitely hit a ceiling beyond which it’s very hard to progress. Is the diploma an option? Sorry I can’t be of any more help!

  • Biddy Whatmough September 14, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Thanks for the reply and for the helpful advice. I have worked in libraries in the public sector for 5 years now and, apart from people who have worked here for decades and did the old Chartership process which didn’t require a first degree or postgraduate study, I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t done the Diploma (about £5K to do) or the full Masters (about £7K to do) which is why I was sceptical about the value of the CILIP qualifications as an alternative. I guess I shall have to find the money somewhere!

  • Nicola Franklin September 14, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Biddy – as a recruiter to the library & information sector I can echo Ned’s comments and say that candidates with the PGDip instead of the full Masters are usually at no disadvantage when employers are shortlisted, so if that is an option for you at all then I would encourage you to go for that.

    Generally – The people whose comments here are related to the usefulness / suitability of CILIP’s accreditation of the Masters courses might be interested to read a post made yesterday by Susie Kay about her suggestion that the wider information sector (ie libraries, information management, knowledge management, records management) would benefit from the development of a professional competency framework. This could then be used to inform advocacy efforts (what is the key value/skill that we add), help employer’s draft job descriptions, form the foundation of course accreditations, etc. See her article at

  • Andy Priestner September 14, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Reading this latest flurry of comments with interest. I scrolled up to see what I’d said on this thread last year and note that I must now eat my words as I have since employed a Deputy without a Masters degree and haven’t regretted it for one minute, so as far as I’m concerned the Masters isn’t essential even for a fairly senior position. A candidate’s outlook, ideas, skills and professional engagement are the most important factors.

  • Charles Oppenheim September 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    I would concur that a PGDip is as good as a Masters; CILIP Chartership is only of value if you want a career in public, academic or government libraries, and is not that useful for breaking into the first professional post anywhere. There are bursaries available at some Universities to pay for fees and living expenses, and this avenue should definitely be explored.

  • Laura Steel (@PalelyLaura) September 14, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Hi Biddy,

    I don’t have much to add from personal experience but I thought I would point you in the direction of Rachel Smith’s blog at – she works in a university library and is going down the certification / chartership route, so her blog might be helpful.

  • Karen Hall (@karenelainehall) September 14, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Hi Biddy
    I’m starting the MA/MSc next week and have applied for a Career and Professional Development Loan as there is no way I could afford the course otherwise. The govt. pays the interest while you study and you start paying it back I think a month or two after you finish studying. They are provided by either Barclays or the Co-op bank. You could possibly consider applying for a grant through you can do a search to see whether you are eligible on that website although I think many of them you can not apply for until you are already at least two months into your course. Good luck.

  • Jolibrarianne September 14, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Hi Biddy

    You don’t say how much experience you have or at what level you are working. But I understand your frustration and it’s an issue I am struggling with myself.

    I’m an ex-nurse. I’ve been working in libraries and information provision for over 10 years. My route into being ‘professional’ is unorthodox, incomplete and not recommended! After 5 years working at para-professional level (In public / university libraries as a ‘library assistant’), I was lucky enough to get a job in a specialist library, where I was encouraged to do the qualification, and thrown in at the deep end with all sorts of exciting projects and levels of responsibility no-one else would have dared trust me with. I studied BSc Library and Information Science via distance learning. And then got to diploma level. Life took over. I had a child, lost my partner, became homeless and suffered with severe depression. The idea of finishing the qualification went out the window.

    Oddly, at the same time, I secured a ‘professional’ position within my own organisation. I’m aware that it was done on the understanding that at some point, I would ‘qualify properly’. And then they changed their minds. Decided that a qualification didn’t matter and experience and continuing professional development counted for more.

    I’m now attempting to figure out what I do about qualifying. I’m in a lucky position, but the fear nags – if I lost this job, would another organisation look at me, without nothing more than the nominals DipLib after my name? I’ve taken the ACILIP route – hope to complete the Certification process shortly. I’m throwing myself into CPD – getting involved in my professional organisation and cramming as much out-of-work activity to gain additional experience as I can muster. And at the moment, I have confidence that this will make a difference. But I’ll admit I’m not completely convinced. I have yet to come across someone that has secured a professional position on ACILIP – Chartership alone. Rather ACILIP is used as a stepping stone to doing the MSc. (And there’s nothing wrong with that!)

    In terms of what is happening in special libraries – I’m not sure what the situation is in the wider community, but in my own organisation, it was recently decided that someone working at Grade 4 (24K+) no longer needed a library qualification to do the job, and Cilip was not recognised as a relevant professional body. Out of a team of eight, only 2 are qualified (I don’t include myself in that quota), both with a BSc. I am the only Cilip member. The focus is on ‘skills’ and ‘competency’ not qualifications, but I don’t know if that represents the wider ‘special libraries’ community.

    I can’t offer advice – and I don’t think it would be worth anything if I did – but if I were, it would be that rather than do nothing, at least do Acilip. It will show you are serious about CPD, will open you up to new opportunities, and also help you to ‘keep your hands in’ until you are able to perhaps reconsider doing the Masters / Diploma at a later level. I also think Ned makes a good point about considering doing just the Diploma – I know plenty of librarians who have got on in their professional careers without ever having written a dissertation.

    Apologies for the long post. First time I’ve commented on a blog, I’ve been up since 04.00 this morning, and my editing skills appear to have just flown out the window. But hope the ramble helps.

  • Biddy Whatmough September 15, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks to everyone for the replies.

  • Ned Potter December 8, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    @hacklibschool @librarian_kate I pretty much agree, have written along similarish lines in the past. (

  • Emma Welsby February 3, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    I’ve come to this post via today’s chat on the Guardian website. I haven’t yet read through the comments – I’ll have to do that when I’ve got more time available. But I wanted to give you my perspective.

    I’m currently on my second year of a part-time MA in Information & Library Management, at Liverpool John Moores University. I have previously done an MA in Archaeology, so like you I have a previous Masters to compare it to.

    I think you have a good point in that LIS doesn’t NEED a Masters-level qualification, that it’s just done that way for convenience as most of us tend to do other things first. However, I personally haven’t found any drop in difficulty from one MA to the other, and my marks are on average pretty much the same. So even if a Masters isn’t strictly necessary, the work has been designed to be properly on Masters level. (I can’t speak for distance learning, of course.)

    In terms of how the modules I’ve done fit with the profession, obviously I have limited experience of the profession itself (though I’ve been doing voluntary work to get experience) but I’ve talked to lots of LIS professionals and the topics which have come up the most ARE covered in my course – management & marketing, information literacy (including teaching it), cataloguing & classification, various types of IT (including social media), etc. The main problem I have though is that in my entire course, I only had one option (between just two modules). In a diverse field where work as, say, a children’s public library is incredibly different from a health librarian which is in turn rather different from that of a digitisation expert, I don’t feel that a “one size fits all” approach is remotely appropriate. (I also think it’s probably just because there aren’t enough staff at my uni to have more options – I assume Sheffield or UCL would have more, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to consider moving out of Liverpool to do my course.) I think we have managed to at least touch on everything important, but some things need more than brief mentions!

    The one thing I adore my university for, though, is how dedicated the staff are to ensuring that we get immersed in the LIS world – aside from the placements, we have regular guest speakers who encourage us to contact them, we have organised visits to libraries etc, workshops… it’s not all academic, which is a really good thing.

    I may have more to say but will think about it!

  • thewikiman February 3, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Hi Emma – thanks very much for commenting; I always feel a pang of guilt when people currently in library school read this, because I hate the idea of being discouraging!

    It sounds to me like your course is excellent – I’m so glad that stuff is being covered. Perhaps things have simply moved on (you’d hope they would anyway) since 2008ish when I was doing mine, and as you say the courses are different anyway.

    Andy Woodworth (who I think might be in the comments somewhere – it’s a long time since I read through this thread) feels very similarly to you, I think – one-size can’t possibly fit such a hugely diverse profession. I’m not sure there’s a logistically sound solution to this, certainly not within the confines of a 1 year course.

    The stuff about placements and guest speakers sounds fantastic. I think you’re basically on to a good thing at John Moores, by the sounds of it… If you fancy it, I’m sure the New Professionals Network would love a review of your course once it’s done.

  • Nicola Franklin February 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I’m not sure if it’s a workable solution for the UK, but at Internet Librarian 2011 I shared a platform with two LIS staff from a university in Poland, and there they have Archives/RM, Librarianship and Electronic Publishing courses all within the same faculty, allowing them to share a few core modules and then offer a wide range of options. Each student’s degree therefore ends up being slightly different from any other. I wonder if there is a review anywhere of how the LIS courses work at all the universities across Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, etc? It would be interesting to see how others have approached this same problem.

  • Emma Welsby February 4, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    Thanks for the link to the NP network – it’s one place I really haven’t spent any time and I really ought to.

    On the whole, I’m pleased with my course. We’ve studied some very useful subjects and I’ve made so many contacts. I’ve recently completed my placement and while I unfortunately didn’t get the one I wanted (my voluntary work has been in an NHS library so I wanted to try a different sector but ended up at a history of medicine library) it was still a really valuable experience – I’m going to enjoy updating my CV I think!

    It is my only regret that I didn’t get the range of choices that I would have had if I’d gone to Sheffield or similar, because there’s particular things I would have loved to focus on (and a few things I could have happily not done to make time in the schedule – archives and children’s services were interesting but not very useful for the type of LIS work I want to do). I’m seriously wondering if there are short courses or something I could do at some point.

  • Ned Potter November 7, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    @jemima1984 @herslantfinely @greebstreebling @abbybarker I'm just not a fan of the MA system (see – I genuinely >>

  • [...] I already have a Masters. However this is merely my humble two cents.  The Wikiman has written on this issue from the other side of the degree with some hindsight and [...]

  • Rosie Hare October 14, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I remember reading this post a couple of years ago and being a bit annoyed that somebody who had a good, academic librarian job was writing this. It felt discouraging to somebody who was just starting out and would have to complete this qualification just to compete with others in the job market.

    HOWEVER, I have been studying via distance learning since January and have not been satisfied with my course so far. My main issue seems to be that (for 3 out of the 4 modules I’ve done so far) the VLE is mainly used as a repository for PDF files, which are our ‘learning materials’. We’re then encouraged to ‘debate’ various activities in the discussion boards, with the lecturer dipping in once or twice to provide feedback. Sometimes these ‘discussions’ can have up to 100 lengthy replies in them, so if you come to the activities a few days later than others, just looking at the amount of replies – and the length of some of them – is enough to scare you away. You’d be there for hours just reading them! I do wonder if these universities are perhaps getting greedy and letting what I feel is too many people on these courses at any one time.

    In relation to the questions you ask at the end of your post, I do now wonder why we are all complicit in this system that seems wholly unsatisfactory. This MSc I’m doing now is nowhere near as academically rigorous as my undergraduate degree (a BA in History) and I’m fairly sure I could pass all of the assignments with minimal effort. My issue is with the lack of effort that seems to be going into the delivery of my distance learning course, and the blatant ‘recyling’ of lecture notes that are probably in excess of five years old. Again, the issue of CILIP accreditation comes into question. Also, CILIP have been saying for a while now that they are going to re-vamp their qualifications and deliver them via a VLE. I am interested in getting involved with this and I am also interested in the profession developing a more vocational, work-based learning qualification. Kind of like the GTP of librarianship. These ‘graduate trainee’ roles that many places offer could be extended to 18 month or 2 year long placements where a qualification is completed at the same time, kind of like Chartership but better.

    I feel really passionate about this, because in times such as this when Higher Education is SO EXPENSIVE I feel like the time has come to stop whinging about this qualification structure and try to change it. I have no doubt that I would probably have preferred attending a full-time course, as distance learning itself does not fully suit my personality and learning style, but I don’t think that expecting some different types of learning materials that are focused towards people with different learning styles is too much to ask.

    I feel like I could ramble on about this for DAYS but I’ll leave it there for now. Personally, I want to see a change in the way librarians become ‘qualified’ and I think it is achievable if we work together with these MSc providers, CILIP and employers.

  • thewikiman October 15, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Hey Rosie

    I’m sorry you’re finding the same things, it’s a bit depressing really. I think the distance learners do suffer – from what I hear Sheffield and UCL’s full-time courses are very good, and the whole degree seems a bit more robust in the US. Me and Alan Carbery are working on a proposal for rethinking the Masters as Problem Based Learning degree, which I think would genuinely solve a lot of the problems, but of course we’re not in a position to enact what we propose… I like your GTP librarianship suggestion too.

    The one good thing is that all the actual meaningful information we need can be found elsewhere (conferences, unconferences, social media etc) so at least people can learn outside the system. But yeah, it’s dissapointing all round.

    p.s in my defence, when I wrote the post I didn’t have a good academic librarian job, I was working on a JISC project on preservation which was far and away the worst thing I’ve ever done in my career :)

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