Returning to school after 30 years for Online Master’s in Library & Information Studies

school librarian doing research online

Joy Stevenson received her master’s degree in international management in 1985, taught college in Singapore, and decided that a career in academia was not for her. She had always believed in the mission of public libraries, and had happily volunteered at the American Club of Singapore’s library for 16 years. That experience inspired her to look for a library degree she could pursue online.

Joy Stevenson appreciated the program's flexibility and high-caliber instructors.
Joy Stevenson appreciated the program’s flexibility and high-caliber instructors.

Stevenson found what she needed in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Online Master’s in Library & Information Studies, which prepares students for information work in library, nonprofit, and business settings. The program includes a one-week residency at the beginning of the first year, allowing students to meet with faculty, staff, and members of their cohort. It also includes a practicum—which can be completed close to home—that gives students experience in a real-world setting.

Stevenson faced significant challenges in returning to school after so long.

“When I graduated in 1985, personal computers were hardly in use,” she says. “And here I am taking a database course! I had a very steep learning curve to learn the processes.”

Fortunately, the Online Master’s in Library & Information Studies provides opportunities for students to support one another.

“Our cohorts have a private Facebook page that has been a lifesaver,” Stevenson says. “We can see how other people also have issues from time to time so that you don’t feel so alone.”

The special needs of distance learning

Stevenson likes the program’s flexibility, which allows her to take one to three courses a semester. She also appreciates the high-caliber instructors.

“They really know their stuff and are tuned in to the special needs and requests of distance learning,” she says.

Stevenson now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and hopes to become the director of a public library.

“I firmly believe that public libraries are a critical component to communities,” she says.

For more information about the Online Master’s in Library & Information Studies, see here.


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