Academic Librarian’s Webmaster Experiences During Post-Master’s Certificate Program Enhance Job Prospects

“There are frequent course starts and so many offerings. I could always find something that would apply to the certificate and didn’t have to wait for course rotations to get what I needed.“ 
Charles Seymour
Phoenix, Arizona
Post-Master’s Certificate student

When Charles Seymour finished his MLIS at Indiana University more than a decade ago, he had high hopes. He searched academic institutions nationwide for the ideal job as a college reference librarian.

He settled at Wayland Baptist University, a small college in northwest Texas. For five years, Seymour was a collections development librarian, responsible for “selection and deselection of resources in all subjects and formats, as well as acquisitions (tracking the collections budget, plus a little reference and instruction work).” Although “it was a good job,” Seymour soon discovered he was not particularly suited for small town life on the plains. He updated his resume and started looking for a position in an urban environment.

The Brave New World of High Tech Librarianship
Seymour moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to become a reference librarian at Grand Canyon University, which has a large online student population. 

While the university’s assignments required library-based research, students lacked familiarity with the mostly online system. This meant Seymour and the team of reference librarians were in high demand. The majority of requests to the library call center focused on finding relevant journal articles and citing American Psychology Association (APA) style. “We’d dig those out and help students walk through the process of finding information for their assignments. We [also] did some tech troubleshooting, especially for off-campus students who had an issue with the software or firewall.”

Seymour participated in the enormous project of weeding the university library’s print collection as well. “All journals and half the books were removed. All the collection development efforts went into subscription databases.” His eight-year experience with the increasing digitization of the library profession made Seymour want to transition to something more technology oriented, he said.

“My MLS covered the more traditional library track into collections development.” It was great at the time, he recalls, but “everything now is going electronic.” Today’s MLIS degree provides a more up-to-date and relevant curriculum, he observed. To bridge the gap in his education and experience, and to enhance his job prospects, Seymour turned to the iSchool’s all-online post-master’s certificate program. 

The iSchool Post-Master’s Certificate Program Expands Career Opportunities 
The iSchool offers “flexible career pathway options,” Seymour notes, with many different choices each semester, making it easy to find interesting and useful classes. “There are frequent course starts and so many offerings. I could always find something that would apply to the certificate and didn’t have to wait for course rotations to get what I needed,” he reports.

Seymour completed the Post-Master’s Certificate in Digital Services and Emerging Technologies in two full-time semesters. 

The hands-on experiences gained in classes – including Web Design, Information Architecture, Web Usability and a seminar in Information Science on emerging technologies gave Seymour new insights and marketable skills. “We evaluated websites, created websites, used JAVA Script and CSS, tested prototypes – all of which [are] very applicable to actual university library jobs where experience with usability technology is required,” he notes. “It’s cool that I’ve had real experience with this” and can demonstrate qualification for a range of positions.

A New Career as Webmaster 
With circumspection, Seymour acknowledges finding the right job in the right place “is a balancing act. In Texas, I enjoyed the job but wanted a change of scenery.” At the same time, he wants to find something worthwhile and fulfilling.

As much as he’d like to go west to California, or closer to his family in Alabama, Tennessee or the southeastern United States, Seymour is looking for jobs all over the country.  The search has taken him online to several job boards, including the iSchool’s career posts, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the American Libraries Association careers page and I Need a Library Job. Every day he checks the national listings, and looks at state-level opportunities at least once a week. 

Seymour relishes the prospect of maintaining a website in an academic setting. “Every university library has a website,” he points out. “I’ve expanded my job possibilities by going this route” and completing the Post-Master’s Certificate. While his first choice remains a position in academic librarianship, after his experience in the iSchool, Seymour is now hopeful his technology skills could land him a place in corporate America or a museum as well.