Deciding to pursue an MLIS degree could be considered a leap of faith in light of the doomsday prophecies surrounding librarianship. Fear not, prospective MLIS students! Libraries are not going away; a master’s in Library Science is not a bad investment, and by the way here are 61 non-traditional jobs that you can get with an MLIS.
Even with these reassurances, funding your degree can be a difficult proposition. If you’re anything like me, you have a pile of debt from prior degrees, and working full-time while pursuing your degree is not an option.
Voices of reason implore you to pursue scholarships, but where do you look?
It’s common knowledge that there are a ton of scholarships “out there,” but the process of finding relevant awards can be daunting and overwhelming. I compiled this list through aggregating other websites, my own research, and the advice of my classmates. The list is broken down by categories to make it more manageable. Hopefully this will be a good starting point.
While many of these awards are for relatively small amounts, they could add up to a significant dent out of the cost of your degree.
When applying for scholarships, make your interest explicit and emphasize how your credentials further the goals of their organization. Scholarships are a two-way relationship, organizations are offering money to fund your success so they have a stake in your future. It pays to be savvy about this exchange.
The first place to start should be the schools to which you are applying, as they can often give you bigger awards and they have a vested interest in attracting you to attend their school. Here is a link to the Syracuse University’s iSchool scholarship page by way of example.
When considering different MLIS programs, the potential for scholarships and awards should be a key component of your research.
Open to a broad range of students, these awards offer general guidelines and requirements.
- American Library Association (ALA)
- Beta Phi Mu
- Paul Evan Peters Fellowship
- Alice L. Haltom Educational Fund
- ProQuest Graduate Education Program
Awards for Specific Areas of Librarianship
These library associations offer awards that can give you an opportunity to explore specific interests.
- American Association of Law Libraries
- American Chemical Society
- Association for Library Service to Children
- Library Information Technology Association
- Medical Library Association
- Music Library Association
- Society of American Archivists
- Theatre Library Association
There are a number of organizations dedicated to assisting particular groups with their education.
- American Indian Library Association
- ARL/MLA Diversity & Inclusion Initiative
- Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (for students with disabilities)
- Asian Pacific American Librarians Association
- Bibliotecas Para La Gente
- Black Caucus of ALA
- Chinese American Librarian Association
Local, State, and Regional Awards
Most of these awards require that you either be a resident or attend school in their region. Rather than list all of these associations, I will offer a few examples and give instructions for how you can find your own.
- New York Library Association
- Southeastern Library Association
- Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium
As you can see there are a variety of organizations out there. In searching for applicable associations, I suggest using Wikipedia’s List of Library Associations and List of Library Associations by US States as a starting point.
Scholarship Lists and Databases
Many of these lists and databases were fundamental to my process of finding scholarships for this post. Some of the databases can be used to identify awards based on your specific traits–making them powerful tools for finding more obscure awards.
- I Need A Library Job
- Library Land Index
- School Soup
Organizations and Employers
Here’s where your search becomes even more open-ended. Rack your brain and think of any organizations where you or your family is a member or constituent. See if your employer offers scholarships. It pays to be creative both in your search and your application.
Scholarships are not the only way to fund an education–many schools offer graduate assistantships that can be used to help pay for your studies and cost of living.
Another option could be to find full-time employment at a school that offers an MLIS and take advantage of an employee tuition waiver. The bottom line in applying for scholarships and looking for other funding opportunities is be creative!
Do you have any great scholarship resources that you would like to share? Please weigh in below!