Dear 100 Hour Board,
I want to be a librarian. I talked to a librarian and he said, if possible, switch from your English major to a science major because the job prospects are better (who knew?!). I am now majoring in biology, have registered for all the major related classes, but still need 4-5 more credits to round out my schedule. The problem is I'm done with all my generals. Any ideas on supplementary classes that would compliment bio or library science?
-The questing bookworm
Dear Questing Bookworm,
First, I'm impressed that you're a flexible enough student that you were able to change your major from English to biology! Second, I'd like to give you a little background on why the librarian you talked to recommended that you major in science instead of English: The basic idea behind librarianship is to organize information and then help people find the information they're looking for. If you go on to get an MLS (as I assume you're planning to do), you'll learn a lot about working with patrons and information. However, in addition to having librarian skills, employers also look for people with knowledge in specific subject areas, such as English or biology. All things being equal, English would be as good a major for a librarian as biology (perhaps more so, since librarians need to have good writing skills). However, for a variety of reasons, library science programs and librarian positions tend to be flooded with English majors, while science majors are underrepresented, which is why the librarian you spoke to pushed you towards a science major, instead.
Now, on to your actual question. My first impulse was to suggest that you pick up some classes in physics or astronomy, because those fields tend to be even more underrepresented than biology. However, after giving it more thought, I think you should take some computer programming classes. Technology is having an impact on all aspects of librarianship, and having even some rudimentary programming skills will help you to stand out from the crowd. I wish you the best of luck and please feel free to write back with any more questions on the subject.
- Katya c/o Tally M.
My first thought when I read your question was along the same lines as Katya's answer. Technology skills will be a great asset for you as a librarian. Here are some course recommendations specific to BYU: CS 142 is the introductory computer science programming class, which uses C++. You could also look at the DigHT (Digital Humanities and Technology) classes, particularly their programming or web tracks. Lastly, you might be interested in the IT training courses. These aren't for credit, but I've found them pretty useful and fun.
It sounds like you're pretty early-on in your career planning, but if you have kind of an idea of what area of library science you want to get into, you could take classes related to that. For example, if you want to work with children, you might take human development classes, or if you think you'll work in an area with a lot of Spanish-speakers, you could take some Spanish. (Language skills would make you look impressive, I think.) I still think technology is the most marketable, but there are some other ideas if you have more time.
Have fun! Librarians rock!