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The Silverfish 2008 Alumni Survey

The Study | iSchool Experience | Job Hunting Tips


This past winter, the staff of The Silverfish conducted a study aimed at alumni of the UW’s MLIS program.  We designed a survey asking alumni about their jobs, their job search, and their impressions of the education that they received at the UW now that they are out in the professional world.  The link to this survey was sent out over the iChat and iAlumni listservs, and respondents were encouraged to pass the link on to other people that they knew.  We can't know for sure how the survey got around, but through this snowballing method we received 139 responses.

There are many ways to interpret the mountain of data that we collected – far more than we could reasonably be expected to pursue in a single story.  To that extent, if readers are interested in getting their hands on our dataset, send us an e-mail at and we will gladly pass it on to you so that you can crunch these numbers however you want.

This study had two major limitations.  First, because respondents to this survey were found using snowballing techniques and self-selected for participation, we can not claim that the results of this study are necessarily representative of the demographics or opinions of MLIS alumni.  Also, the Silverfish team neglected to ask survey participants when they graduated.  As a result, we will not be able to track changes in reaction to the MLIS program over time using this data.  Future surveys should obviously correct this oversight, and somebody should probably make the ‘Fish staff take LIS 570 all over again… 

What we did get out of this study were a number of recommendations for iSchoolers about looking for jobs, getting the best out of their education from a professional perspective, and when to start that dreaded job search.  We might come up short on scientific rigor, but if you’re looking for advice, we've got plenty of that.

Due to the overwhelming responses we received, we've broken the results into the following sections to reduce the scrolling burden:

  • The Study - includes a summary of the quantitative responses to the survey
  • The iSchool Experience - summarizes feedback on skills acquired through the MLIS program and employability of MLIS graduates
  • Job Hunting Resources - summarizes job hunting advice for upcoming grads.


The Silverfish would like to thank the more than 130 alumni who responded to the survey. We asked for your help, and you gave an overwhelming response! Thanks so much for all your generous advice!!

April 7, 2008
Vol. XII Issue 3

link to the iSchool blogroll

Find more at the Silverfish Blog

Ridiculous Library of Congress Subject Headings
139 Responses Received!

Where do they work?
- 37% academic library
- 28% public library
- 21% in non-library settings
- 11% in special libraries
- 3% school library

What do they have to say??

See the results..

Words NOT to use in your MLIS portfolioirregardless, succulent, manipulate, lackluster, Bacardi, synergy, poseur, bloodshot, technological muscle, litter box, existential, beleaguer, The Wiggles, importune, lascivious, America’s Next Top Model, baby penguin

Courtesy of Jamie Hancock and Katie Maynard