Who should write my letter of recommendation?
October 14, 2013 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Two of my recommenders are obvious choices. Who should write the third?

Hi guys, thanks to your earlier advice, I've decided to move forward in applying to library school. I'm really excited! However, I'm having a hard time identifying who my third letter of recommendation should come from. I have already made requests to my current supervisor who is also a former professor, and a former professor with whom I took a class on archives. As I see it, I have three choices for the third letter:

1. My graduate adviser from my MA in Anthropology. I have two reservations about this. One, he wrote a recommendation for me earlier this year for an MUP program I decided not to attend and I don't want to seem flaky. Two, he can be extremely unreliable on issues like this and I'd rather not deal with the stress.

2. The person who supervised me in a music library as an undergrad. He is a librarian but this was five years ago.

3. Some other former but more recent supervisor.

Many thanks for your input!
posted by Polyhymnia to Education (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You need a letter from someone who can write "Polyhymnia is the best student/worker/person/candidate/whatever I have ever seen and has my highest recommendation." Ideally, this person would be a professor with an established positive reputation in the library field.

The closer you can get to that ideal, the better. Given what you've told us about the options you have, it seems like you've got them ranked in the correct order -- the graduate adviser would be the best option, followed by the music library supervisor, followed by another supervisor.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:26 AM on October 14, 2013


The way I see it is you've got "academics" covered with your former professor, you've got "professional" covered with your current supervisor. I'd get "librarianship" covered with your former library supervisor.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:31 AM on October 14, 2013


Does the application have a three letter minimum, or three letter maximum?

If it's the former, why not ask both your MA grad adviser and the library supervisor? If they both come through, it's great, but if the MA adviser flakes, you don't have to stress as much.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:04 AM on October 14, 2013


To me, it's a red flag to NOT have your MA advisor-- you spent presumably at least two years getting that degree, during which time he would have known your work the best (whether he actually did or not is another matter-- in theory he did). Not having your MA advisor makes people wonder why.
posted by redwaterman at 8:19 AM on October 14, 2013


I'd go with your graduate advisor - it is in no way flaky to apply to a program and then decide not to attend for some reason. Professors are used to writing multiple letters of recommendation for the same student for different programs, because in most graduate school situations, admission isn't a given to any specific program. When I was applying to graduate programs while still an undergrad, one of my professors ended up writing about six letters for me for different schools. Plus, since your advisor's written a letter for you previously, his own flakiness might not be such an issue since he's already got most of the new letter written. I'd go with MA advisor for sure.
posted by augustimagination at 8:34 AM on October 14, 2013


1. My graduate adviser from my MA in Anthropology. I have two reservations about this. One, he wrote a recommendation for me earlier this year for an MUP program I decided not to attend and I don't want to seem flaky. Two, he can be extremely unreliable on issues like this and I'd rather not deal with the stress.


That's not a reason not to ask him. If anything, it's a reason why you should ask him: he's already written you a recommendation letter, so he'll be able to come up with this one faster.
posted by John Cohen at 10:49 AM on October 14, 2013


Great advice all around, as expected. I went ahead and requested letters from both the music library supervisor and my graduate advisor.

Thanks!
posted by Polyhymnia at 12:55 PM on October 14, 2013


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