31 Oct 2012

Back to School... for an MLIS

Guest post by Lorraine Curran, who has recently converted her Graduate Diploma into the Master's in Library and Information Studies (MLIS)

This time last year, I had decided to take the leap and return to UCD School of Library Studies, after more years than I care to remember.

In ‘my day’ it was called DepLis, headed up by Professor Mary Burke - today, the Department is called SILS, with Professor Diane Sonnenwald at the helm.

I was taking up the opportunity to convert my Diploma in Library and Information Studies into an MLIS. Librarians such as myself who hold the old DipLis can now convert it into an MLIS. Attendance was part-time, one afternoon per week and consisted of completing two modules and the submission of a Capstone Project (thesis).

On my first day I arrived at the old library school department expecting my lecture to be there, only to find that it was in the Engineering Building. This was my first inkling that things were now very different. What used to be a class of a maximum of 39 was now over 90 students, a mix of full and part-time, conversion students and newbies.

I arrived breathless, nervous (and late!) into the huge lecture theatre, to be met by the wonderfully warm and enthusiastic lecturer, Kalpana Shankar. Kalpana’s lectures proved to be an absolute treat, engaging, thought provoking, bringing me gently back into the academic world after a long absence. Kalpana’s door was always open to any query, no matter how big or small and I found her enthusiasm for the course contagious.

The next semester with Norman Makoto Su‘s Research Methods II module was much more technical and analytical, and although initially very challenging, this module proved to be invaluable to the later capstone work. The Capstone Project is the core of the MLIS and I was very fortunate to be able to find a topic, Information Literacy, which matched my interests and work experience.

Throughout the Capstone Project, myself and my team colleagues were consistently met with encouragement, courtesy and enthusiasm from the library/information professional we met in the course of our research. Even when we finished and submitted, we were receiving emails from our contributors. The whole experience underlined for me what a strong and supportive community exists amongst librarians.

Returning to education is never easy, particularly when you are working, but from my personal experience, despite a few thrills and spills along the way, I’d heartily recommend it .

(This is a personal account, for more information on the MLIS please visit UCD's website.)

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