Hack Your Art Librarianship Program: Wayne State University

I recently graduated from the Master of Library and Information Science program at Wayne State University’s (WSU) School of Information Science. I didn’t tailor my classes and coursework to follow a distinct art librarianship path, but the program offers a lot of flexibility for motivated students. 

The MLIS program at WSU has six required courses for all MLIS students:

  • INF 6010 Introduction to the Information Profession
  • INF 6080 Information Technology
  • INF 6120 Access to Information
  • INF 6210 Organization of Knowledge
  • INF 7040 Library Administration and Management or INF 7310 School Library Media Programs
  • INF 7996 Research for the Information Profession

Beyond this, students can tailor their electives to meet their individual interests. The school offers an Archives Specialization and a further Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration, which requires courses beyond the 36 credit MLIS. It is important to note that while the MLIS can be completed entirely online as a distance program, some of the archival classes are only offered in-person on the school’s campus. Even if a student is unable to attend in-person, there are a variety of electives offered online and a good deal of flexibility within assignments to pursue an interest in art librarianship.

In Digital Curation & Preservation, I focused an annotated bibliography project on issues of documentation in preservation of digital artworks. In Metadata in Theory and Practice, our final assignment had each student curating a collection of items of their own choosing. We created appropriate descriptive and administrative metadata for each item, digitized these items, and created a digital collection through Omeka. The professor for these two courses was Dr. Jean Beaudoin. While I didn’t end up pursuing this opportunity myself, Dr. Beaudoin let know about the possibility of creating an independent study with her related to my interest in art librarianship or assisting with her research on museum informatics.

Numerous classes offered the opportunity to focus specific assignments on issues and topics of a student’s interest. In Archival Administration, each student picked an archival collection of their choosing, located anywhere in the world, to focus on for small assignments throughout the semester, culminating in a final paper. For an Advanced Online Searching assignment we had to create an online pathfinder or reader resource on a topic of our choice. In several classes I was tasked with writing research papers involving a specific topic, such as a problem in the archival field or related to reference, which I believe could easily be adjusted to incorporate an interest in art librarianship.

While no practicum is required from graduating from WSU’s MLIS program, credit is available for applicable internship opportunities and this provides another avenue for students to pursue a focus in art librarianship. Practicums are worth 3 credits and can be completed during any semester. A practicum requires 135 hours at the work-site and attendance at three online meetings. A practicum is strongly recommended for students who do not have practical experience in the field and I think this could be particularly beneficial for those who want to gains hands-on experience in an art library. Students local to Detroit can find opportunities at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the College for Creative Studies, or other museums/institutions in the metro area. Opportunities for volunteering with archive or digital content projects are available to students and are routinely updated by the Archives Program Coordinator Kim Schroeder. The School of Information also supports an Alternative Spring Break program. Students apply for one-week internships at various organizations in the U.S. Many of these past internships have been assisting with projects in archives and museums.

Overall I had a good experience in Wayne State’s MLIS program. As someone who has been working as staff in an academic library since 2013, and who continued working full-time while pursuing my degree, the opportunity to do so remotely was a huge benefit. Wayne State and the School of Information Science also offer a variety of scholarship opportunities for new and continuing students. To get the most out of this program a student should be proactive, motivated to learn, and pursue their own particular interests and research.

If you have any questions about the MLIS program at Wayne State, please feel free to reach out to autumnwetli@gmail.com or comment below!

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