Western’s MLIS program

Getting a part time job as an MLIS student at Western

6330026859_fc101c2ae9_mHere is a question that my first- term mentee asked me, and one that is common for MLIS students: Where can I get a job?

I was lucky to get a part-time position in an academic library setting, but for most MLIS students, finding a position can be difficult. Here are some places that I can recommend to search for positions:

U of T’s iSchool Jobsite Sometimes has London or virtual jobs postings.

Human Resources Western/ Working at Western Check all areas of this site as sometimes research assistant positions are posted here that are part time and can be done virtually. Library assistant positions may also be posted here.
Photo by Lester Public Library, Flickr Creative Commons
AskOn hires LIS Students for virtual reference positions. Some of my friends work for them, but they only hire once or twice a year so you have to wait for them to make an announcement regarding positions. They also have volunteer opportunities as well.

Canadian Heritage Information Network Great jobs are posted on this site in the museum field and lately quite a few have been in London.

London Children’s Museum: They may have paid positions, I’m not sure, but they are worth investigating for anyone interested in children’s librarianship.

Charity Vilage: A lot of jobs in the nonprofit world here, including working with children- something that would come in handy if you want to do children’s librarianship.

Also, some people don’t know about the Work Study Program which supports students in financial need. There are usually several opportunities for MLIS students specifically in this program.

Hope these ideas help other MLIS students find positions!


Advice for New MLIS Students- 2 Terms In


Do all the fun things!

Leave the house and actually commit to exploring the city with other students. Such a great way to make friends and really enjoy discussing classes and concepts outside of school. I have had so much fun doing used bookstore tours, library tours, museum tours, etc.


Try to meet everyone

I must admit this is the one regret that I have, I that I wish I was better at just introducing myself to people I see in the hallways and going out of my way to meet the graduate & PhD students that I have not interacted with directly in class.


Keep Money in Your Locker

Sage advice from one of the other MLIS students! You just never know when you’ll need to add money to your printing account in a hurry or photocopy those few pages. Hint- both of these things require cash in NCB. Photocopying is coin machine only if your copier card is empty and to refill, you need to find a machine in another building like Weldon.


Try to ignore the academic politics…

…unless that’s really your thing, in which case all the power to you. I really enjoy not stressing about the politics of university administration, but there are certainly lots of issues in any university.


Grading Schema

Learn how grading works for the program. Really read the MLIS Grad student handbook where you’ll see the following:

80% and above (A)
70-79% inclusive (B)
60-69% inclusive (C)
Less than 60%-Fail (F)

There is also a longer description of how each of these ranges are decided. Keep in mind the fact that it does not matter what you got in your previous degrees, which had a completely different grading scale, if you get 80% that is an A! Congrats! Anything above that is just peachy! 70-79 is also a great grade! It’s a B! It can be hard to get over this and although it does vary a bit between teachers, most grades will fall between 75-85 and that is normal. You should not compare yourself to other programs you’ve done or other mlis programs, because each will be different.


Apply for scholarships

I know everyone says this, but find time at the beginning of term, or whenever you can, to apply for scholarships and bursaries. I applied to quite a few and even if I did not win many of them I do not regret it, as it is great experience and the chance to win them is far better than no chance at all. Unfortunately, scholarship applications are only for certain times of year and since this program has 3 different intake dates, this can be difficult to arrange. Unfortunately, I just started in the winter as many scholarships were either already closed for the year or closing soon so that made it not great timing. Still, if you can try to line up references as soon as possible and keep those deadlines in mind!

Second Semester

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I had a fantastic break and now I’m ready to get back to school! Here are some photos I took during the break of the Calgary Zoo. I’ve finished my first week and am now eager to get through the next one! I have some amazing (to me, anyways) courses lined up for the summer including Records Management, Readers Advisory for Public Libraries, Information Retrieval, and Legal Issues for Information Professionals. I wish I could take every course offered. That’s the joy of continuing ed! Hoping I’ll be able to continue taking courses after I graduate from another institution or one of the library associations to which I belong.

Advice for New MLIS Students- 1 month in


I’m going to be starting a series for advice for new grad students. When I was applying to Western I searched for advice and contacted a few of the students whose blogs I had found. Here is what I would tell someone about my experiences so far:


I’ve enjoyed all the classes so far. All my teachers have been great. I’m in 5 courses and the workload hasn’t been overwhelming. I’m attributing that mostly to the fact that I’m not working or volunteering, so all my time can be spent either on homework or free time. Also, I don’t have any social commitments as my significant other is 4 provinces away so I don’t have much to do other than study. Only about 30% (totally made-up number based on my observation) of the students are taking 5 courses, but many of them have more commitments than I do. So if you’re wondering about the workload I think it’s dependent on what other time draws you have in your life.

Is the work really hard? Yes and no. Of course it’s a lot of work, but if you managed to get an undergraduate degree you have some academic skills. I started grad school terrified that I didn’t have the writing skills to do graduate level work. Don’t underestimate your own skills. Even though you may be out of practice, if you’ve written academic papers before, you can do it again.


The Graduate Resource Center is the best thing in the world to me right now. It’s a place to congregate, a place to study, and a place to get help. It feels like home to me, which is kind of sad, but ultimately true. I’ve spent several weekends there and it’s essential to my sanity. So that’s something to put in a report to justify its existence and prove how it benefits the academic community: It keeps me sane! I only wish it had more books and was open more hours so that I don’t have to ever leave it.


Go to workshops and other events! I’ve been to several workshops, presentations, and a social event and they were all fun and I learned many things. Haven’t regretted going to any of them yet and seriously doubt that I will in the future.


I looked for housing on two sites:

Western MLIS Housing
Here is a website that is supposed to be for sharing house listings for MLIS students. I couldn’t really see any posted yet but it’s somewhere to check and maybe make a connection with someone who can help.

UWO OffCampus Housing
I contacted a lot of people on this off campus housing posting site. However, I ended up going with someone I found through networking, so it’s worth trying that route before this one. London has a high vacancy rate right now, so I think that makes it easier to find a better quality place. I stayed away from the people I talked to who said things like “I do all the cooking and all the laundry for the students” and “there’s a girl who sleeps in the living room who’ll pay you $150 a month to stay there.” Seriously. I couldn’t make that up.


I have a friend who went through this program last year and her biggest advice to me was to explore the campus and I agree. Exploring in general is a good idea. A lot of people aren’t from London, and part of this means there is a serious lack of knowledge about the city. For example, nearly everyone I talk to has given me bad advice for geographical info/ bus info etc. So make sure you find someone who is actually from London to go to for that sort of stuff.

My last point is not to stress about taking the plunge and going back to grad school. I know you are, I know you will, but it worked out for all the students in my cohort (the incoming new students each term). I haven’t heard any horror stories yet.


Are you thinking about going to grad school in an MLIS program? Let me know if you have any other questions as I’ll be happy to respond and/or blog about it as this series continues.