Q: I’ve decided to take a few library science classes before applying to graduate school, mainly because I don’t have any prior experience working in a library and my undergraduate degree is in an unrelated field. Which would look better to the admissions office: a certificate from a local community college in library science or a couple of graduate courses? The certificate is in ‘library science basics’ and is 5 classes and would cost about the same as 2 graduate courses. Would one be more beneficial than the other? Are either really necessary?
SM: If you plan on going to library school at some point in the future, to pursue a graduate degree in library and information science (or equivalent), then the graduate courses would be better… because you are applying your money to that one degree. If you choose the certificate, which may be beneficial and help you get a library job (although not a librarian job), and then you decide that you do want to be a librarian, you will need to start over again in the graduate program. The certificate degree really won’t count and you will end up spending more money in the long run. As for what would look best for the admissions department – I think both would look good and show that you are motivated to learn and determined to work in libraries. But (and this is a big but), neither one is necessary to get into an LIS program. So, you might want to wait and apply to graduate school, and get into an LIS program, before spending any extra money on classes. And while you are in the program, work (or intern or volunteer) in a library to get the much needed experience which will help you get a job once you get the degree.