Becoming Successful in School Media Librarianship

This blog was first published on the School of Information Studies’ InfoSpace Blog on December 22, 2016, by Kara Conley, a first year MS in Library and Information Science student at the iSchool. 

Did you know that the iSchool’s Master’s in Library and Information Science with School Media Specialization has a career placement rate of 100 percent for 2016 graduates?* Or that it has a three-year rolling average career placement of 100 percent?

What makes the LIS School Media program at the iSchool special? Why is our career placement rate so high?

Recipe for Success

Here’s what I discovered. Our career placement success rate is due to a unique combination of job availability, job preparedness, and career development opportunities.

1. Job Availability

I started my inquiry by talking to Barbara Stripling, Senior Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Practice. According to Barb, the school media program’s success is in part due to job availability. “First, districts all over the state have openings for certified school media specialists,” she said. “But there aren’t enough candidates to fill all the positions.”

School librarians are in high demand in many regions of New York State. Our 2016 grads found positions locally, statewide, and beyond at schools such as A. Philip Randolph Campus High School, Bronx Center for Science & Math, New York City Department of Education, Oak Lawn Public Library, Solvay Union Free School District, The Gunnery - Mr. Gunn’s School, and Thurgood Marshall Academy.

2. Job Preparedness

Our school media students are given the tools to be the high-quality and effective leaders Barb mentions due to our rigorous curriculum and learning outcomes. “They are prepared and ready for the field,” she said.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to a few school media alums about their post-grad experiences. Here’s how the iSchool prepared them for their current positions:

Juan Rivera, Library Media Specialist at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in West Harlem, New York:

“It positioned me to think about myself as an educational leader within my school and to be hooked into a Personal Learning Network. Librarianship is constantly changing. The program helped me think about how to be an educational leader and also helped me be more experimental in implementing digital tools.”

Lena Hillard, Library Media Specialist at New York City Public Schools:

“As a librarian I want to empower students with the knowledge to compete in the 21st century. Syracuse gave me a strong foundation to walk into my role as the media specialist and know how to turn a non-functional library into a vibrant learning hub. My iSchool education helped me to revive the library, obtain grants, plan school-wide library events, and outline a curriculum for the students that produces life-long readers. The program helped me become a media specialist with plans, goals, and a vision for my school community.”

3. Career Development

In addition to job availability and preparedness, the iSchool’s career development resources are also top-notch. I’ve always known that graduate school prepares you for a future professional field. But I never imagined I would receive such a high caliber of career support so early in my academic career. The following resources play an important role in connecting school media students to jobs and career resources:

Career Services

My inbox is full of emails from the iSchool’s dedicated Career Services team. The team continuously offers resume workshops, provides one-on-one advising, and sends local and national job postings (among other resources).

LISSA (Library and Information Science Student Association)

All library students are members of LISSA, the Library and Information Science Student Association. This semester, LISSA sponsored alumni panels with school librarians and held workshops on topics such as interviewing and professional portfolios. These resources were available for both online and on-campus learners.

NYLA (New York Library Association)

I attended the New York Library Association conference in early November with my fellow LIS students. It was a weekend that deeply enhanced my knowledge of librarianship and allowed me to connect with Syracuse’s strong alumni network. Many of these alums worked in districts with open positions for School Media Specialists. If you’re an incoming student, I strongly recommend attending NYLA next year. (For a full list of conferences, check out our Top Conferences for Information Management and Library and Information Science Professionals blog.)

Even though I’ve only been at the iSchool for one semester, I have seen how job availability, job preparedness, and career development opportunities combine to create success. I’m no longer skeptical of the iSchool’s 100 percent career placement rate for 2016 LIS School Media grads. I’m excited to see where our future grads end up.

*Based on a 67% response rate