As soon as I began my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, I could not help but start comparing my recent library school experience to my previous law school experience. Initially I struggled between thinking like a lawyer and thinking like a librarian.
Law schools pride themselves on teaching their students through the Socratic method and developing legally trained minds. On the other hand, while library school does offer a practical approach, it does so through a more theoretical way of calling upon student group discussion in developing an idea.
In law school, students develop a concise way of writing, which uses IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion) format. However, in library school, students are encouraged to explain their thoughts and ideas in a less structured, but wordier manner. In library school, the Bluebook method of legal citation gives way to the ALA or MLA citation format. In addition, you will no longer have to worry about getting called on in class, as library school provides a much more relaxed environment for higher learning.
Library students seem to go above and beyond to help one another out. Maybe it’s our commitment to service or interest in reference. Nonetheless, library students are willing to discuss homework assignments and even post links and resources on the collaborative online Moodle space when they find something that might be helpful to the rest of the class. Therefore, library students are extremely resourceful and quick to respond.
While law school students do help one another out, I found they were not as forthcoming, most likely due to the ever-present competitiveness in law school. You are competing with your classmates for grades, summer associate positions, internships, jobs, moot court, journal, and everything else. In library school, while we are all competing for similar positions, we all have differing concentrations.
Library students are very passionate and well versed on worldly issues. They seem to look at the bigger picture and world at large. On the other hand, law school students seem to be inundated with the law, creating a self-contained law school world. However, law schools are developing more cultivated students by encouraging outside activities such as study aboard programs, community service, and a variety of athletic activities.
In the end, although law school and library school have many differences, there are some commonalities among the diverse fields. Both librarians and lawyers are very passionate, analytical, hard working, and provide a service that helps others. Both library school and law school create dedicated professionals to their craft. I look forward to putting both my legal and library training together towards a rewarding career.