Where should I go to grad school?
May 14, 2009 10:19 AM   Subscribe

What kind of grad program should I go to if I'm interested in the preservation of digital media archives? Museum studies? Information science? Something else entirely?

Lately, I have been considering going to grad school. I have a bachelor's in theater, and I've been working at a theater for the past 5ish years.

I've been looking at the University of Texas' School of Information Master of Science in Information Studies, but would that degree prepare me to work with digital media later? (And, I guess, analog electronic media like VHS tapes.).

Are there programs out there that specifically prepare people to work with archives that focus on electronic/digital media?

Should I just get a master's in Art History and find another way to get the preservation experience?

Is this a terrible idea in general?

Jeeze, life is full of difficult decisions. Thanks for helping with this one.
posted by hapticactionnetwork to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You should look into an MLIS with a specialization in archives. I would suggest an archives program that is more technology-based, such as the one at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

This is the major question facing archiving today, so if you're well-schooled in it, it will help you find a job in the future. Good luck!
posted by elder18 at 10:33 AM on May 14, 2009

Not museum studies.
posted by Miko at 11:19 AM on May 14, 2009

Yup, MLIS in archives. Or MSIS, or MSLS - there's a bunch of different names for those programs. The keywords you want are "digital preservation" or "digital libraries" - in course catalogs, descriptions of concentration options, lists of faculty specialties. Talk to faculty about it before you pick your program.
posted by clavicle at 12:01 PM on May 14, 2009

The UT LIS master's degree will prepare you for digital archiving if specialize in archiving (I have friends looking at the program). FWIW, I've been told that it's fairly difficult to get into the LIS school at UT, and the archiving program is particularly competitive.
posted by lunalaguna at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2009

I've been applying to MLIS programs for this fall, and I've seen a number of schools that offer digital libraries or archiving as concentrations. Drexel comes to mind, and they have an all distance-ed option if you want to stay where you are now/keep your current job (as I am- my work will help pay my tuition). The American Library Association has lots of info the accredited programs, but you will have to do a fair bit of hunting to narrow down your picks.

Best of luck!
posted by wowbobwow at 12:39 PM on May 14, 2009

ALSO: if you happen to see any programs that offer concentration in cataloging, please let me know! I've got the impression it's not so much a specialty as something you gradually work you way into, but I'd like to be proven wrong.
posted by wowbobwow at 12:42 PM on May 14, 2009

Pratt has a new program for pursuing a Dual-degree MSLIS and MFA in Digital Arts.
posted by unknowncommand at 1:59 PM on May 14, 2009

I'm a student in the School of Information at UT now. (After a bachelor's in drama as well.) It's pretty good, especially if you already know what you want to do. I could steer you toward a couple of particular professors at the school that would help you do exactly what you're talking about. Memail me if you want.
posted by nushustu at 2:01 PM on May 14, 2009

Also the MA in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at NYU might be worth looking into: "This two-year course of study trains future professionals to manage preservation-level collections of film, video, new media, and other types of digital works."
posted by unknowncommand at 2:26 PM on May 14, 2009

MLIS, but you should be aware that all the talk a few years ago of a librarian shortage was vastly overstated; unemployed librarians are quite common at the moment, and archivists aren't doing any better than any other kind of librarian.

If you have questions about the Drexel program (from which my wife recently graduated), feel free to email me.
posted by JMOZ at 3:00 PM on May 14, 2009

I agree about archivists being unemployed, as many of the people I went to school with are. That's why it's good that you're concentrating in an area that's currently quite "sexy" in the archival field.

Archives and sexy. Yeah, that's not a common combination. Except when I'm working, of course.
posted by elder18 at 3:06 PM on May 14, 2009

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