Thoughts on an LIS Ph.D and bit of history

This posting about Ph.Ds for academic librarians at ACRLog made me think about my long, strange road to the Ph.D program here and where I’m going afterwards. I’ll talk about that, at length, in a bit. Basically I’m getting a Ph.D not so much to be be better qualified for a management job now, but to be ready for one when the opportunity arises. My thinking about a Ph.D was that if I kept going immediately after my Masters I would still be in grad student mode and things would be easier. I also got assistantships for both my first attempt at a Ph.D at UT and again here at Missouri. So I’m not investing a lot of money, just time.

This post is long, and is pretty much a personal narrative beyond this point. …

Back to the story of how I got here and where I’m going. Most of the people I associated with in college were people I knew through the Tri Cities Computer Club, or they were people that my mom knew. So I hung around with computer folks, librarians, teachers, and college professors. Education, libraries and technology were part of life for me. I was hoping to eventually be a technology trainer for the Washington County, Tennessee school system or maybe even technology director. I finished my B.S. in History in May 2000, a few weeks later I started a Masters program in Educational Technology at ETSU.

Unfortunately it was the wrong time to start that particular program. It didn’t have a program director at that point and was undergoing a bit of restructuring. So my classes that summer were canceled and decided to take some classes at Northeast State Community College that fall. By September 2000 I had been laid off from my job and had enough of community college. So I decided to try libraries instead of education and in August 2001 started the Masters program at the UT School of Information Sciences.

I thought briefly about getting a school media license, but decided against that in favor of a technology and management slant. The management spin had me thinking about a Ph.D, since most of the academic library department heads I knew had a Ph.D. Teaching in an LIS program also seemed appealing. So after I finished the Masters in May 2003, I started the Ph.D program in Communications with a concentration in Information Sciences.

But in October 2003 I broke my neck in a car accident and didn’t take any classes again in the program until June 2004. By July I was engaged to Stephanie and wondering if I wanted to go back to the Ph.D. I wasn’t really that crazy about the communications classes I was having to take. As luck would have it my adviser, Dr. Doug Raber, was headed to the University of Missouri and asked if I was interested in coming along. So I applied to the Ph.D program, got an assistantship and prepared to move.

In the midst of moving (we made several trips back and forth to Columbia between May and July) I got married. In August Stephanie and I found out we were having a baby. So by the time I started classes later that month my priorities were already shifting.

A little over a semester into the program I know a few things for sure. I’m not that interested in teaching in an LIS program, mainly because the employment opportunities are limited if you aren’t willing to move pretty much anywhere in the US. I’m not really a fan of travel, unless it’s a fun vacation. I’ve also discovered I really miss Tennessee and so does Stephanie. I’m also still interested in education technology and this is a Ph.D in Information Science & Learning Technologies. So I’m probably going to spin the Ph.D a bit more towards ed tech than I had originally planned.

Going back to educational technology brings me full circle. I already have the qualifications to work in a library, the Ph.D will expand my experience in education. So maybe I’ll get that job with the Washington County school system after all.

One Reply to “Thoughts on an LIS Ph.D and bit of history”

  1. Sounds like (as usual) you have put a lot of thought into what the future holds. Having a child will most definately change your life. One of those “givens”. My best advise is “never work a job you don’t enjoy” Life is too short to spend that much time out of your day doing something you are not happy in, just for the “money”. Sometimes we are forced into situations we do not “enjoy” but if we always look for the opurtinuity to change to something we do enjoy the doors open.

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