The Dual-Degree Art Librarian: Survey and Guide for Career Planning (by Autumn Wetli & Sarah Bilotta)

Whether or not a second Master’s, or perhaps even a PhD, is needed for the subject specialist librarian is an area of debate. We have decided to think about this conversation specifically in the terms of Art Librarianship. Gathered are some pros and cons to getting the advanced degree in art/art history, formulated from the thoughts of fellow ArLiSNAP followers and some scholarly articles on the subject.

For the purposes of informally ascertaining a consensus among early career art librarians or those interested in the field, we conducted some preliminary research with scholarly materials that address the educational requirements for professional art librarian jobs, as well as the opinions of more established art librarians. We then used this research as inspiration to formulate methods for engaging the perspectives of new and emerging art librarians. This culminated in circulating an open-ended question to evoke the thoughts and opinions of our colleagues, both via e-mail with librarians we have worked with and through the e-mail listserv of ArLiSNAP. In order to achieve varied and unrestricted opinions, we solicited feedback on the basis that we were curious to hear about colleagues’ experiences in the field in relation to this topic in a broad sense. All respondents were informed that this information would be used for an ArLiSNAP blog post (with the option to remain anonymous). For this survey and the resultant blog article, “subject Master’s degree” and “second Master’s degree” are intended to refer to a Master’s degree in a subject other than librarianship, obtained before, after, or in conjunction with a librarianship Master’s degree, and meant to bolster the scholarly research capabilities of a librarian in the field of the arts and design.

From the results of this survey, we have drawn conclusions not necessarily about the overarching value (or lack thereof) of the subject Master’s degree to the field of art librarianship, but about individual librarians’ experiences with or without a subject Master’s degree and patterns among this small sample of librarians, which may be indicative of trends warranting either further study or consideration for librarians who are considering a second Master’s degree.

From the nine responses we received from our call out for opinions, four individuals have a Master’s degree in a subject other than librarianship and five do not. Of the five respondents who do not have a second Master’s degree, two have completed partial coursework towards a second Master’s degree and one is currently applying to dual degree programs.

Responses from our survey

PROS

Research Experience
“[Getting a second Master’s degree] is a rewarding experience…something that has come in very handy as an academic librarian.”
-Librarian with a second Master’s

“I think I would consider pursuing a second Master’s degree to not only further my understanding of the field, but also have a better grasp on the type of research [that] is done at the graduate level by participating in it myself.”
-Librarian with a Master’s degree in librarianship, but without a subject Master’s

“…the [Master’s degree in Art History] provided me with appropriate knowledge of arts and art history subject areas; resources, tools, and methodologies; and vocabulary to meet the requirements of the co-op role, and that experience has been invaluable for shaping my readiness to enter the workforce in art librarianship.”
-Librarian with a Master’s degree in Art History, currently working on MLIS

“[Getting a subject Master’s degree] is a rewarding experience and really helped me learn how to sculpt a scholarly research project, something that has come in very handy as an academic librarian.”
-Librarian with an arts-related subject Master’s degree, currently working on MLIS

Job Possibilities
“I have held two professional librarian positions since graduating from library school, and both asked for an Art History MA as a preferred requirement.”
-Librarian with MLIS and MA in Art History

“…feedback [from others in the art librarianship field] has consistently been a positive assertion that having the two degrees will help me have a competitive edge in the job search.”
-Librarian with a Master’s degree in Art History, currently working on MLIS

“My current job does not require the second masters, but other positions I might be interested in down the line do require it for promotion…”
-Librarian with MLIS and partial coursework towards MA in Art History

Enhanced Opportunities for Professional Development
“Though I have yet to determine if — or how — having a second, subject specific Master’s will help my career in art librarianship, I can say that it has had a strong influence in my professional development throughout the MLIS program.”
-Librarian with a Master’s degree in Art History, currently working on MLIS

“[Having a subject Master’s degree] has gone a long way to gaining acceptance and interest from members of professional organizations that cover the intersection of arts and librarianship.”
-Librarian with an arts-related subject Master’s degree, currently working on MLIS

Strengthened Relationships with Art Scholars

“…it’s always helpful for an academic librarian to have a second master’s degree or even PhD. It can go a long way in your ability to gain respect or trust from faculty and administration.”
-Librarian with MLIS, previously enrolled in MA program in Art History

“I definitely find it easier to be an art & design librarian without an extra Master’s than I think I might serving art history [faculty].”
-Librarian with MLIS but no subject Master’s degree

“Having an advanced degree helps when you are working with senior scholars, whether curators or university academics.”
-Librarian with MA in Art History and Master’s degree in Librarianship

CONS

Cost
“[Enrollment in Master’s degree program in Art History] was costing a fortune, and I knew my loan debt was already staggering.”
-Librarian with MLIS and partial coursework towards MA in Art History

“To me the biggest reason not to get a second master’s was the money. I wasn’t sure that the investment would be necessary or pay off sufficiently to warrant the debt.”
-Librarian with MLIS but no subject Master’s degree

“If I could go back and do it again, the only thing I would change is lowering the amount of student loans I took out…Luckily I qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program because I work for a university, but who knows what will happen with that program in the near future…”
-Librarian with MLIS and MA in Art History

A Degree is Only What You Make of It
“I do think it’s a challenge to find a good position in the field regardless of whether you pursue the second degree.”
-Librarian with MLIS but no subject Master’s degree

“I think the more you do and achieve, the higher your chances will be for potentially landing that ideal position you’ve got your sights set on…”
-Librarian currently applying to Master’s degree programs

“…having served on a few search committees now, I can say that it’s not necessarily the education that gets you the job, but rather the way you present yourself and articulate the ways in which you can/have applied that education to a practical position as a librarian.”
-Librarian with MLIS and MA in Art History

Not All Art Librarian Positions Require a Subject Master’s

“[A second Master’s degree] is not required for my current role where I lead the library’s instruction program and work with a variety of subject areas.”
-Librarian with MLIS, previously enrolled in MA program in Art History

“[In my current position] the second Master’s is less needed because I’m not being asked to help with graduate level research. So in general, I think it depends on your position and the level of research you are expected to help with.”
-Librarian with MLIS but no subject Master’s degree

Responses in the Literature
In addition to reaching out to our colleagues, we looked at a couple articles that performed studies on the MLIS and an advanced subject degree. This was not an exhaustive search into the literature on this topic, but rather, a very brief look into the results of a couple similar surveys. Much like the results of our own informal survey, the importance of a second advanced subject degree, really depends on the individual and should be evaluated on case-by-case scenarios.

Echoing responses we heard from ArLiSNAP followers, one of pros of an advanced-subject degree was found in its ability to make the librarian a better researcher than if they had just pursued the MLIS. This helps the librarian in two ways. First, it better prepares them for research and publication of their own, which can help with career advancement in regards to tenure and/or promotion (Mayer & Terrill, 2005, p. 68). Secondly, the librarian has first-hand research experience that many patrons, perhaps particularly graduate students and faculty, need (ibid.) One article made an interesting note, that from their research, the demand for second masters or advanced degrees was found to be most desirable for library administrators (Ferguson, 2016, p. 732).

Many School of Information programs offer dual degrees, which allow students to receive the a second, subject specialized Master, at less cost and time than pursuing the MA/MS solely on its own. Art History as a second Masters is commonly a part of these programs. A few programs that offer such are The University of North Carolina, Indiana University Bloomington, Pratt Institute, and Kent State University.

References

Ferguson, J. (2016). Additional degree required: advanced subject knowledge and academic librarianship. Libraries and the Academy, 16(4), 721-736. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/article/632342

Mayer, J. & Terrill, L. J. (2005). Academic librarians’ attitudes about advanced-subject degrees. College & Research Libraries, 66(1), 59-70. https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.66.1.59

ADSL Afternoon Chat: Makerspaces and Alternative Modes of Outreach and Engagement

Join the Art & Design School Libraries Division (ADSL) for an afternoon chat on the topic of makerspaces and alternative modes of outreach and engagement next Tuesday, August 2 from 3-4pm EST // 12-1pm PST. Whether you’re a veteran of the maker movement or a true newbie, you’re invited to bring your questions, ideas, and experiences with adapting library spaces to foster art practices and experimentation.

Prior to the chat, ADSL will share a set of guiding questions to shape the discussion. In the meantime, you can learn more about makerspaces and alternative outreach from our list of suggested readings on the ADSL blog.

Link to chat (via GoToMeeting): https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/825326981

More information can be found at https://artdesschlib.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/mark-your-calendars-adsl-afternoon-chat-next-tuesday/

Please welcome your new Student Liaison, Amanda Leftwich!

3207_525413680165_2022509_n (1)Hello ArLiSNAP, I’m Amanda! Currently, I am a MSLS candidate at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. I’m excited and honored to volunteer for the ArLiSNAP Student Liaison position for the 2016-2017 term.

I am currently the Library Assistant for Reader Services at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I also work part-time at Glenolden Library in Delaware County. Both positions focus on outreach, reference, and strong communication with the public. I earned a B.A. in Art History from Arcadia University. After graduation, I spent two years in Southeastern China as an English teacher.

I look forward to communicating with the ArLiSNAP community, as well as the student population. My goal is to foster a relationship between student and professional librarianship. Please contact me for any advice, stories, and moral support.

Newsletter

arlisnapThe new issue of the ArLiSNAP Newsletter is here once again to catch you up on all the news and posts from the last week.

Receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday by subscribing via the link below. Nominate yourself or an associate to be highlighted; keep up with ARLIS news and exhibits from around the world; jot down important events and upcoming deadlines; say your piece in one of the ArLiSNAP discussions; or view and apply for jobs you might have missed. Thanks for reading!

Newsletter 048: June 8-14, 2015

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arlisnapThe new issue of the ArLiSNAP Newsletter is here once again to catch you up on all the news and posts from the last week.

Receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday by subscribing via the link below. Nominate yourself or an associate to be highlighted; keep up with ARLIS news and exhibits from around the world; jot down important events and upcoming deadlines; say your piece in one of the ArLiSNAP discussions; or view and apply for jobs you might have missed. Thanks for reading!

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arlisnap[The newsletter from last Monday, May 25th, was postponed; the single posting from last week was included in this week’s newsletter.]

The new issue of the ArLiSNAP Newsletter is here once again to catch you up on all the news and posts from the last week.

Receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday by subscribing via the link below. Nominate yourself or an associate to be highlighted; keep up with ARLIS news and exhibits from around the world; jot down important events and upcoming deadlines; say your piece in one of the ArLiSNAP discussions; or view and apply for jobs you might have missed. Thanks for reading!

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arlisnapThe new issue of the ArLiSNAP Newsletter is here once again to catch you up on all the news and posts from the last week.

Receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday by subscribing via the link below. Nominate yourself or an associate to be highlighted; keep up with ARLIS news and exhibits from around the world; jot down important events and upcoming deadlines; say your piece in one of the ArLiSNAP discussions; or view and apply for jobs you might have missed. Thanks for reading!

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arlisnapThe new issue of the ArLiSNAP Newsletter is here once again to catch you up on all the news and posts from the last week.

Receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday by subscribing via the link below. Nominate yourself or an associate to be highlighted; keep up with ARLIS news and exhibits from around the world; jot down important events and upcoming deadlines; say your piece in one of the ArLiSNAP discussions; or view and apply for jobs you might have missed. Thanks for reading!

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arlisnapThe new issue of the ArLiSNAP Newsletter is here once again to catch you up on all the news and posts from the last week.

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arlisnapThe new issue of the ArLiSNAP Newsletter is here once again to catch you up on all the news and posts from the last week.

Receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday by subscribing via the link below. Nominate yourself or an associate to be highlighted; keep up with ARLIS news and exhibits from around the world; jot down important events and upcoming deadlines; say your piece in one of the ArLiSNAP discussions; or view and apply for jobs you might have missed. Thanks for reading!

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