MLIS Survival Guide

The unofficial UCLA MLIS Survival Guide (or How to Get Started in Library School).

This guide was written by the SLA student group and edited by the 2016-2018 MLIS cohort. Follow these steps to ensure a successful time at UCLA:


  1. Get your BruinCard

You can apply for your BruinCard online or at their office in Kerckhoff Hall.

  • It doubles as your UCLA Library Card, allowing you to check out books and make inter-library loan requests online.
  • It works as your copy card in UCLA Libraries.
  • It allows you use the BruinGo discount fare program on the Santa Monica Blue Bus and Culver City buses. Show the driver your Bruin card and ride for 50 cents one way. Or, purchase a FastPass and have unlimited rides for $33 a quarter.
  • It gives you free access to all UCLA Recreation facilities, programs, and services.
  • It helps you get discounts at museums and stores around the city.
  • You can add money to the BruinCard (via credit card online or in cash at the BruinCard office) and use it at the on-campus stores, eateries and some vending machines (no more fumbling for change for that last minute coffee!).


  1. Use BruinOnline to get connected to campus resources

BruinOnline allows you to:

  • Set up a UCLA email address/logon ID.
  • Log on to MyUCLA. This is where you’ll pay your bills, schedule medical appointments, view your transcripts, sign up for classes, etc.
  • Have access to the UCLA Library resources off-campus using a Proxy Server, or a Virtual Private Network. This is absolutely vital when you’re trying to read a journal article for a class but you’re sitting in Ktown.
  • Allows you to set up a personal website with a UCLA domain.
  • Gives you access to the campus wireless network.
  • With the UCLA Box server students can use up to 100 TB with uploaded file maximum being 15 GB at a time.


  1. Take steps to become a California resident if you are from out of state.
  • After 366 days in California and proving your intent to remain in California after you graduate, you are eligible to apply for residency to pay in-state tuition.
  • As soon as you arrive, get a CA drivers license, switch over your car registration and insurance, register to vote in CA, change your permanent and mailing address, etc.
  • Make sure to familiarize yourself with all the requirements presented by the Registrar’s office.


  1. Familiarize yourself with campus and the best ways to get to and from UCLA

The IS Location page has information on commuting and driving to campus. Familiarize yourself with:

  • Parking lots 3, 4, and 5 (possibly 7, 11)..
  • The GSE&IS building (where most classes take place, where our IS Lab is)
  • YRL (Young Research Library—our main library, archives, and special collections)
  • The Powell Library (our undergrad library and conservation center)
  • The Anderson Management School (good cafe; one of the most aesthetic libraries)
  • The Arts Library (just across the sculpture garden from YRL/GSE&IS and contains material relevant for anyone researching visual art, film history, design, architecture, and/or theater as well as a special collection of artists’ books)
  • The Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library (also a beautiful, nearby library; however, sometimes access is limited to law students)
  • North campus—the closest place to the GSE&IS building to get food and coffee
  • LuValle commons—go downstairs to the bookstore to buy your GSE&IS textbooks. They are NOT sold with the undergrad textbooks at the main Ackerman bookstore.


  1. Campus Parking

* Cost analysis*

  • Daily pass ($12/day).
  • Quarterly pass ($234/quarter).
  • Each quarter is 10 weeks, so if you are coming to campus over 2 days a week, the pass is worth it. Having the quarterly pass adds the convenience of not having to go to a parking kiosk to pay for parking each time you come to campus, however, many people don’t mind it—it is a matter of preference.
  • You have to apply and pay for a quarterly parking pass well in advance of the start of a new quarter. Campus parking application and deadlines
  • The Bruin Commuter Club allows members to drive to campus for $6/day—only 5 times per quarter.
  • To pay for day parking: remember your license plate number, then go to the nearest automated kiosk to pay for parking. PUT THE RECEIPT ON YOUR DASHBOARD. Or;
  • Parkmobile App: Download the Parkmobile app and put in the code for your favorite parking lot and never get a parking ticket again (they are $66—they are not fun). It has multiple options for paying daily or for designated increments. This app is great because sometimes classes go through break times and it can be difficult to get out and repay at a kiosk.

* Time to arrive*

The Lots begin selling daily passes at 6:30 a.m.; if you can muster the strength, it’s good to get here early so you will be more likely to get a pass for the lot of your choice. Anderson Business school’s cafe (and Northern Lights) opens at 7 a.m.; YRL opens at 7:30 a.m.; the IS lab opens at 8:00 a.m during the academic year. A good bet is to come to campus as early as possible on class days (before 9 am), to get a decent parking lot and just do your homework if you don’t have a morning class.

* Best Lot*

Parking Lot 5 (right across our building). This lot is right off of Charles E. Young Drive North and Royce, and is the most convenient if you are running late. However, it does fill up very quickly. You can purchase a pass from the kiosk or through Parkmobile. Lot 5 is more expensive than lots 3 or 4.

*2nd Best Lot*

Parking Lot 3 (up the hill, close to Hilgard street. See Map). For daily-pass parking, enter Lot 3 in the side closest to Hilgard, then turn right (turning left leads you to a gate for parking spaces for those with quarterly passes) into the lot and look for an available space.

* 3rd Best Lot*

Parking Lot 4 (Westwood Plaza and Sunset). Usually doesn’t sell out until 10 a.m. Try to park closest to the area underground that corresponds with Powell Library/Fowler Museum.

* 4th Best Lot*

Parking Lot 7 (right next to 4). This is about the same level of “okayness” as Lot 4. It’s under the athletic field, so sometimes you can see sports teams practicing.


  1. Learn to Love Public Transportation (avoid the parking hassle altogether!)
  • If you live in Santa Monica or West Los Angeles, it may be easier for you to take the bus to campus. With your BruinCard, you can ride the Santa Monica and Culver City buses for 50 cents (excluding weekends, university holidays and summer). You swipe your Bruin Card and then drop 50 cents into the machine. It’s easy but makes a really loud beep.
  • If you live on the Eastside of Los Angeles, public transportation is still an option for you depending on where you live. Some people take the train to the #2 bus on Sunset. If you’re near a train line, this is actually quite doable. Others have taken two buses to get to school, but beware of the time it takes doing this.
  • If you ride the bus frequently, you may want to buy a quarterly ‘flash pass’ that will cover your quarter fare. The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus (BruinGO Flash Pass) together cost $33/quarter. BruinTAP for Metro bus and train costs $65/quarter but they throw in the BruinGO Flash Pass for free, so basically that covers all public transit in the area. The ‘Flash pass’ is only on sale for the first couple weeks of the quarter.
  • For information on bus routes:
  • If you need to get to LAX and you are around Westwood, there is the LAX FlyAway transportation system. There are multiple access points across LA county, but there is one that stops specifically at Westwood (Parking lot 32). The schedule and instructions are posted on their website. Make sure to always have a credit or debit card on you since they do not accept cash! A ticket is $10 one-way, and you can either pay the driver there, or purchase it ahead of time online (within 30 days of the flight). If you are arriving at LAX and waiting for your FlyAway bus, be patient! They cannot strictly adhere to their timeframe due to traffic.


  1. Sign up for the discussion and announcement lists (the best way to find out about jobs, events, EVERYTHING) Information on all lists


IS-Announce is the Department’s primary online communication vehicle for major announcements regarding curriculum, policy, special programs, emergency announcements and the etc. Other sources of postings to IS-Announce include: GSE&IS information which impacts IS directly and; all official postings from the UCLA administration which have not already gone to the UCLA community. This list is only for currently enrolled students in the degree programs at Information Studies, IS faculty (ladder, emeriti, adjunct), and IS staff.


IS-Net is a discussion and announcement list for interested students, faculty, and staff. Its focus is on issues relating to Library and Information Studies education in general, and the Department of Information Studies in particular. In addition, announcements of scholarship opportunities, conferences, student and professional job opportunities are posted here. This list is optional, but highly recommended as its scope is wider. Students, faculty, and staff must subscribe themselves.


IS-CHAT is a discussion list that is open to any topic. Where the previous 2 lists must be related to the department, or information studies topics, any topic may be discussed on IS-CHAT.

Facebook Group

If your cohort has put together a facebook group, join it! It is a great way to communicate throughout the year and will facilitate any event planning you may choose to do for student organizations, etc. If your cohort has not put one together—put one together!

Current FB Groups: 2017–2019 class group and 2016–2018 class group.


  1. Registering for classes
  • Get a list of the classes offered for the quarter by going to My.UCLA and search for Classes. You may also find this information on the Registrar’s page.
  • The IS department administrator (Elizabeth Kalbers) sends out a schedule of courses every quarter. Fall 2017 course offerings are now available.
  • Find out when you are officially able to register (they mete out different times for different students, in order to stratify the registering), and do it the very second you can (online through My.UCLA)
  • Register for the core classes first (get these over with so you can sign up for the internship class in Year 2 and get on with your life). The core courses are:
    • 211 (Artifacts and Cultures)—offered in the fall
    • 260 (Description and Access)—offered in the fall
    • 270 (Systems and Infrastructures)—offered in the winter
    • 212 (Values and Communities)—offered in the spring
  • Make sure to check with your advisor for any specific courses that are required for your track or emphasis.
  • Take summer school classes, when you can (if you can afford it). It is a great way to give yourself a cushion if you are forced to cut a class in a later quarter. This way, you won’t be behind in hours, which is crucial if you want to start internships as soon as possible (you can’t intern until you’ve completed 36 hours—which should be after your Spring quarter of your first year). Summer school classes are great: there are less people on campus (parking is much better); and you can focus on fewer classes than during the regular quarter (usually, you only take one or two summer classes); and there are often excellent classes taught by adjunct professors offered that aren’t offered in the academic year.
  • Once you’ve registered for your courses, go to CCLE to find the syllabus and readings for the class.


  1. Book buying
  • We are in library school. See if a UCLA library or public library carries the book you need before purchasing.
  • You may be able to find better prices for you books outside the campus bookstore.
  • Buy or rent on the internet at Amazon, or, or Ebay, or Google it.
  • Our bookstore is usually LuValle, but most books that are assigned are not available through UCLA.. UCLA Lu Valle Commons (310) 825-4014.
  • Most readings will be available on CCLE. Make sure to download articles from your CCLE class website. Once the quarter is over, you won’t be able to access the pages due to copyright. You may never know if an article could help you later on!


  1. Staying Healthy
  • UCLA students have access to all recreation facilities with their Bruin Card. The brand new Kinross Recreation Center graduate gym on Kinross opens September 28, 2017 and can only used by graduate students, faculty and staff. We’re looking forward to seeing that space.
  • The John Wooden Center gym (and locker room) has a decent gym, as well as basketball courts, racquetball courts, rock-climbing area, treadmills, elliptical machines, weights, and a sauna inside the locker room. You have to pay for lockers (can’t use your own lock but you can rent a locker for $8/quarter), and bring your own soap. The Wooden Center tends to get a little overrun with undergraduates by the afternoon, so keep this in mind.
  • Sunset Canyon Rec Center is a little out of the way, but it has an outdoor pool and is pretty beautiful.
  • Rec classes are available for fall quarter starting September 20, 2017.
  • Many gyms and exercise studios in the area offer discounts with your student ID!


  1. Websites you should know about


  1. Eats
  • Northern Lights, in the North Campus Student Center right across from GSE&IS. The coffee is okay, most of the food is overpriced. It’s the only place to buy Odwalla-style juices. Best item: ice cream. For breakfast especially, the other vendors in North Campus have cheaper, heartier food.
  • Vending machines in plaza near Northern Lights. Decent for quick junk food, and the vended hot chocolate/coffee bevs are much cheaper than Northern Lights and just as good.
  • Convenience store attached to North Campus Student Center. Good for health food bars, nuts, etc., and the newspaper. A quick stop.
  • Cafe 451 in YRL sells coffee and snacks.
  • Lu Valle Commons: a short walk from GSE&IS through the sculpture garden or Bunche Hall, has burgers, burritos, salads, et al.
  • Try to bring your own lunch to campus, because prices/quality can be questionable.
  • There is a fridge and a microwave in the IS Commons (last room on the right at the end of the first floor hallway) that students are free to use.
  • The cafe in Anderson is a hidden gem of delicious paninis, magnificent chopped salads, and decent coffee. It is also significantly nicer than anything allotted to us, poor information studies students. Take advantage. Wallow in the beauty of people who will always make more money than you.


  1. Write-up your experiences in each class the minute the quarter ends
  • This will be extraordinarily helpful for you when you compile your “portfolio.”
  • Buy a 3-ring binder or expandable file and designate it for your portfolio. Every time you attend an event like a colloquium, forum or conference, store a flyer from the event or your notes you took in the binder—these are invaluable to writing about your participation in professional, organizational & service opportunities.
  • Every time you produce a flyer for an event, or photograph you and friends on a library tour, etc., store a copy in your portfolio—this is invaluable to being prepared for the “supporting documentation” of the portfolio.
  • Lastly, consider meeting with classmates from your core classes to discuss what you learned in the cores. Having multiple perspectives produces the insight and verbiage you’ll want when writing the portfolio.
  • Take if from the experience of one notable graduate: she had a 6-page outline for her Core-Class section from so-called “portfolio parties!”
  • Keep in mind that a 50 word statement of your portfolio topic is due at the end of Spring quarter. You can always change your topic if you change your mind.


  1. Try to talk to your professors, one-on-one, immediately
  • Check out the faculty list on the IS website, but bear in mind that this is not a complete or totally up-to-date list.
  • Make sure to talk with your advisor every quarter to prepare for your portfolio or thesis. Remember, it’s okay to switch advisors or have an “unofficial” advisor.
  • Scholarships come down the pike early-on, and oftentimes they ask for professorial letters-of-recommendation. This is a tough task, because early-on, your professors don’t really know you.
  • Focus on getting to know on-site professors who have areas of interest you are interested in. Some examples:
  • Jean-François Blanchette (on sabbatical 2017-2018 school year): Authenticity of electronic information. Social and political dimensions of information security. Digital preservation. Sociology of mathematics. Privacy and data retention. Materiality and computing. Technology, memory, and oblivion.
  • Christine Borgman: The empirical research on the creation, use, and management of scientific data and its implications for science policy; and, analytical work on the changing nature of scholarship in an environment of ubiquitous computer networks and digital information.
  • Johanna Drucker: The history of written forms, typography, design, and visual poetics. Digital Humanities. Letterpress. History of the book and book arts.
  • Jonathan Furner: (Chair of the Department 2017-2018) Cultural informatics and the ways in which cultural institutions (libraries, archives, museums, etc.) organize information about the resources (books, artworks, images, etc.) that they collect.
  • Anne Gilliland: The various intersections of information technology, recordkeeping and cultural heritage; social justice and human rights issues as they relate to archives and records; and archival education.
  • Greg Leazer (on sabbatical 2017-2018 school year): Bibliographic control; organization of information; bibliographic works and relationships; cataloging and classification; evaluation of bibliographic retrieval systems.
  • Leah Lievrouw: Information society; social and cultural aspects of communication/information technologies; scholarly communication; communication and knowledge.
  • Ellen Pearlstein: Preventive care as a preservation method; conservation methods.
  • Ramesh Srinivasan: The development of information systems within the context of culturally-differentiated communities.
  • Michelle Caswell: Archives and social justice, community archives. Archival use and users, and archival appraisal.
  • Beverly Lynch: Traditional public and academic librarianship, library management. Founder of California Rare Book School.


  1. Join student groups (or attend meetings)

Student groups plan and provide off-campus tours of libraries, panels of library professionals, workshops, and many other helpful connection-facilitating activities. They are invaluable and a great resource! (don’t be frightened by the massive quantities of acronyms you will encounter: embrace the acronym!)


  1. National/local groups to think about joining:

Joining national organizations can give you an opportunity to get funding to attend conferences, which is a great way to network.

  • SLA (Special Libraries Association) and SoCal SLA
  • ALA (American Libraries Association)
  • AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists)
  • ARLIS/NA (Art Libraries Society of North America) and ARLIS/SC
  • CLA (California Library Association)
  • LAAC (Los Angeles Archivists’ Collective)
  • SCA (Society of California Archivists)
  • SAA (Society of American Archivists)


  1. Conferences

But there are many other conferences, including those for the …


  1. Internships
  • Invaluable and rare opportunity to see if you really like a specific aspect of library and information science
  • Take as many as possible! You can use up to 12 combined units (120 hours minimum per internship) of interning and field work (interning outside of the L.A. area) towards your degree. There will be seminars about internships and fieldworks that explains the process. Go to them!
  • Visit Snowden Becker and ask her about it, or email at:
  • There is usually an Internship/Career Fair during the spring quarter, at which about 70 different institutions and organizations are represented. They will be seated at tables throughout the GSE&IS building and you can just go up to them and talk, very casually, give them your resume, etc. It’s invaluable!
  • Usually there is an information session to fill students in on all the particularities and requirements of interning. We expect that this practice will be continued.
  • First year students can’t take an internship for credit, but you can get a job at one of the many campus libraries. You can apply online. You’ll get experience and some extra spending money!


  1. Miscellaneous Advice
  • Your co-students in the program are your future colleagues and/or bosses—get to know them and establish relationships. Do not be afraid to talk to 2nd year students. The 2018 cohort is especially friendly and eager to help! We are literally waiting for you to ask us questions.
  • You will need a B to pass a class, and a 3.0 GPA to continue the program and graduate.
  • Skimming will become essential. There are several guides online on how to read for graduate assignments. Do not procrastinate or show up without reading your assignments.
  • Write down everything you do, write, and attend—you can use it in your portfolio.
  • Attend as many events staged by student groups as you possibly can and whether or not you are a member of the organization. There are workshops on technologies and applications that you may never hear about in class; there are panels of information professionals which can give you insight into a potential career path; and, there are field trips to area libraries and information centers.
  • Think about obtaining a mentor. Contact ALA about the status of the student-to-student mentor program. In winter quarter UCLA IS Mentor Program sets up a student-to-professional mentor program to help you with preparing for your career.
  • Our department is very open and flexible, and the students create much of the added-value that compliments what you learn in the classroom. If there is a type of event, student group, panel discussion, special interest group, or meeting you would like to see happen, GO FOR IT! You can create and put on almost anything you are interested in.
  • There is so much to learn outside of the classroom—getting involved as an officer in student groups is a great way to expand your horizons and network with your peers and practicing information professionals who will be hiring you in just two years! This is a short program, so don’t be scared to get involved right off the bat. If a group doesn’t turn out to be right for you, you can switch to new groups in your second year. Also, you can definitely be involved in many groups at the same time.
  • Create a LinkedIn account to get to know your community and promote your skills, interests, and experience. No one’s favorite social media platform, but pretty important once you start interning and growing your network.
  • Don’t worry about choosing a specialization when you begin your first year. Taking classes throughout your first year will help you decide on what you’re interested in.

*(last updated 9/30/17)


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