A Focus on Libraries and Librarianship: Simmons SLIS Celebrates the L in LIS

The Master's in Library and Information Science curriculum allows students to focus on different aspects of LIS work. We spoke to students Alessandra Hollowell and Aijaeh Hennessey on their choice to focus on traditional library work with the Libraries and Librarianship Concentration.

"My intent coming to Simmons SLIS was to focus on libraries," says Aijaeh Hennessey '24MS. "The practicality of the skills is really important to me, so I can jump into a professional position after getting my Master's."

Alessandra Hollowell '23MS found herself drawn to the concentration organically. "By the time my professor told me about it, I had already taken all of the required courses," says Hollowell.

For Professor and Director of the Libraries and Librarianship Concentration Daniel Joudrey, this concentration is at the heart of the Master's degree. "The trend for many LIS schools over the past few decades has been to focus on other aspects of the discipline, such as information science, technology, and data management," says Joudrey. "Simmons SLIS offers an education in those topics, but we've never lost sight of our foundation, our heart: the library. Libraries are a cornerstone of contemporary society."

Both Hennessey and Hollowell look forward to working in academic or public libraries. "I love to help people with their research," says Hollowell, who has experience working in circulation in an academic library. "You can ask whatever questions you want and they are happy to talk about it. I've found it really interesting." Hollowell has a Master's in classical clarinet performance, which she left to pursue LIS. "The competition to be a musician is harsh," she recalls. "I started to feel like I wanted to help other people reach their goals."

Hennessey, who has a Bachelor's in Psychology, enjoys seeing what other people are researching. "I want to understand how people think and why they are doing what they're doing," she says. "Psychology ties into information seeking behaviors, how people learn, and what makes them retain information."

Both encourage students to get experience working in public facing positions in libraries before they complete their degree. "It doesn't matter what level or what department," says Hennessey. "It's a lot of customer service and human interaction, and the concept is different from the actual experience. Having real work experience can supplement what you're learning in class, and allows you to apply what you've learned. It's good to feel like what I'm learning in class can be applied in my real life right now, as opposed to two years from now when I find myself at a reference desk."

Hollowell adds, "Email your professors and ask them about their careers." Learning from Professor Rebecca Davis about research in academic libraries has inspired her to follow a similar path.

Professor Joudrey is enthusiastic about teaching these future librarians. "Students who are interested in careers in libraries will have directed course work, programming, and a community of peers to support their academic, extracurricular, and professional endeavors," he says. "Here at SLIS, we celebrate the L in LIS!"

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