MMLIS propels student’s digital library career
Louise Smith knew she wanted to shift her career to work in a digital library. After doing some research, she was drawn to the University of Southern California’s Master of Management in Library and Information Science online program. USC’s MMLIS seemed like her best option to break into the field. Her plan worked — and sooner than she anticipated.
“I live in Los Angeles, so it was easy for me to get a student job at the USC Digital Library in the Digital Imaging Lab,” Louise said. “I now work part-time at the Digital Imaging Lab and part-time at the Clark Library at UCLA as a metadata specialist working with 18th and 19th century British manuscripts. My USC education was absolutely critical, because I was able to get the student worker job.”
At first, she thought she wanted to be a reference librarian, but once she reviewed the MMLIS degree curriculum, she altered paths to align her goals with USC’s more modern direction.
“The USC program focuses on a very new idea of librarianship, including entrepreneurial librarianship, managing special libraries and incorporating technology into libraries,” Louise said. “The program at USC inspired me to look into working as a consultant who creates new and better user experiences for digital libraries and their users.”
Small cohort, close connections
Currently enrolled in the online MMLIS program, Louise is part of a small cohort of eight students. She said she and her student colleagues have grown close, using group chats to stay connected and even occasionally meeting in person. They also rely on each other for constructive critique.
“Since the cohort is really small, we have a really strong bond and zero fear in class discussions,” Louise said. “We often challenge each other’s thinking, and it makes for such a better learning experience. We know that we all support each other.”
That supportive learning environment extends to her interactions with faculty.
“My favorite thing about the MMLIS program is the small size and the individual attention from the professors,” Louise said. “Whenever I have a question, I can email the professor and know that I will get a great answer within the day. They know who I am, and I know that I can get one-on-one time if needed.”
Making libraries her business
Since Louise is new to working in libraries, she found the MMLIS degree’s management focus intimidating at first. That changed as soon as she had more experience in the field.
“I knew the management focus would be challenging, but the professors were amazing and very helpful,” Louise said. “I now feel confident in my management skills, and even though I am not a manager right now, just having that foundation has helped me professionally. I can understand how my managers work and thus how to work well with them.”
Adapting and advancing fast
Louise is preparing to start her capstone course this summer. She said the MMLIS degree is giving her an extra edge to compete for jobs, and part of that is due to USC’s reputation.
“Completing the program through not just USC, but through the Marshall School of Business, gives the degree an undeniable legitimacy — everyone knows that USC is rigorous and prestigious,” Louise said.
She also recently started working as a metadata specialist, where she’s already applying what she’s learned from her online courses.
“I haven’t even graduated yet, and the USC MMLIS program has propelled my career,” Louise said.