Friday, January 8, 2016

Decisions, Decisions

So, I am at a crossroads and need to make a decision about how to move forward.  I have been working in the library system for almost 3 years now, and I really enjoy it and feel that I have finally found my place.  If only I had known this 30 years ago....

If I could go back and do things differently, I would major in early childhood education and get a MLS and be a children's librarian.  I love working with all the families that come into the library, helping them find and select materials and getting to know the regulars.  I love doing programming in particular. 

While I am very happy with my current position working as a part-time library assistant in Outreach and have no immediate plans to change, I have this fear in the back of my mind that circumstances could change and someday I may need to work full-time to support myself.  In our state, full-time public service staff are required to be certified and I need to take two college-level courses in library science in order to get paraprofessional certification.

Now, my dilemma is what classes to take and where.  There is an MLS program in our area, but it is very expensive, has so many core requirements you have little chance to take classes you want to take, and doesn't seem to teach practical skills.  So that's really not an option.  But, there is also a program at the local community college for a paraprofessional certificate.  It costs much less, and the courses sound infinitely more practical.  

Then I recently found out about an out-of-state online MLS program that is half the cost of the local one, and has a curriculum that seems much more practical and flexible, and even if I only took the two classes, it would at least be graduate credit and carry more weight on my resume, and I would have the option of continuing on to get the MLS.  I would like to have the degree, but I have a hard time justifying the expense when I know it is highly unlikely I would ever get a librarian position due to the over-saturated job market, being geographically restricted, and my age (those of us over 40 know that ageism is definitely out there).  The other thing is that while this program is all online, it does require one in-person orientation at the beginning, which would incur fairly significant traveling expenses, and of course the hassle of writing admissions essays and getting letters of recommendation.

So, do I stick with the local community college classes that are much less expensive and less trouble and would get me the certification that would allow me to get a full-time program specialist or assistant position, or go to the extra expense and trouble to start the MLS program that I may or may not finish, and even if I did finish and get the MLS, I'd probably just end up with a paraprofessional position anyway.

I just don't know what to do....

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