Ask WPL: Urban and Joint MLIS/MSW Programs

The following request came in through our Ask WPL hotline:

I am trying to find information about MLIS programs that either offer courses that prepare students for urban librarianship (especially re: issues that impact people experiencing homelessness) and/or programs that offer a joint MLIS/MSW option. I have found very little so far and I wondering if you might be able to point me in the direction of a useful resource.

I put this question out to our Community of Practice and didn’t get much information back. It seems like Dominican University in Chicago is still the only program to offer an official joint MLIS/MSW. I’m opening up this Google Doc to anyone to add other programs or note programs with a particular social justice focus.

I responded to the person who asked:¬†Regarding an urban focus, the MLIS degree is pretty flexible no matter where you go. I would recommend either looking at schools in major urban areas or finding an online program you can do while living in an urban area. The main thing I would emphasize in either case is getting work experience if you don’t already have it. No matter what courses you take, on-the-ground experience that shows you can work with people of diverse backgrounds is going to matter the most to future employers. The great thing about being a student is that it’s generally pretty easy to find people who are willing to help you out with internships, etc. All you need to do is find a library or system that is doing something you think is worthwhile, then reach out to them for a conversation. If for some reason that doesn’t work, you can always reach out to shelters, community centers, and schools (especially charter schools) to do literacy-related work because non-profits are often short staffed and grateful for any help they can get with those kinds of projects. I don’t know what your personal circumstances are, but I know it can be hard to find time for an internship when you also have to work. But I think the experience is so important that I would recommend taking longer to finish your degree, if needed, in order to be able to build your resume.

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