I don't know if you made a decision, but for you and anyone else in your predicament, I can offer my own experience. I also considered both an MA in English and an MLIS.
A lot of programmes tell you up front that it takes more than a love of books to be a good librarian. Librarians, broadly considered, are concerned with either providing access to or preserving the materials in their collections. In both cases, there is an emphasis on the material nature of information. There are so many different types of information and it really extends beyond books.
Libraries are educational institutions. There isn't really a purpose for storing information if no one reads it. Some books at the Bodleian Library in Oxford may be hallowed artifacts that nobody will ever touch again, but those are extreme examples. If you are passionate about teaching, a library, in any setting, would afford you opportunities to teach. However, the topic is unlikely to be literature or literary criticism.
What libraries offer that literature programmes do not is an engagement with technology. There may be the odd course at certain English programmes where a professor engages in an exercise using web technologies. But humanities scholarship generally seems to approach the Interwebs with suspicion. There are far better resources for people studying pure sciences, business, law, medicine, engineering, or social sciences.
That engagement with technology really helps you hedge your bets in employment too. When there is an oversupply of librarians, we can always do other things. Right now, I am working in the finance industry in knowledge management. I don't know much about securities or derivatives, but I can find resources on them pretty quickly thanks to my library skill set. On the other hand, once you have a PhD in English, you realize that there are five positions nationwide, and your class alone was five times that size, what are you going to do?
posted 3 years ago. ( permalink )