Club-Admiralty

v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

I too am a Librarian!

No, I don’t have an MLIS, but does it matter?

I know that this comment might inflame some people, especially MLS-holding librarians, but my response is ‘m-eh’. (No I am not trying to be a fire starter, I am just a little irked)

I have been following the comments on the Liminal Librarian’s blog (which I like by the way and I subscribe to). There are two blog posts, one entitled “if it quacks like a duck” (http://www.lisjobs.com/blog/?p=278) and one follow-up response to the 90+ comments entitled “a whole lot of quacking going on” (http://www.lisjobs.com/blog/?p=286).

The idea behind the posts is to give library employees, who contribute to the library’s function, and perform the work of a “librarian” the respect and courtesy they deserve. Often times MLS-holding librarians look down on these people, and I think it’s wrong!

In my personal experience, and from what I’ve read in the comments left in these two posts, I am getting the feeling that people are overly protective of their MLS and think that people without an MLS simply don’t get it. In meetings I have been told that “[I] may be smart, but [I am] not a librarian” whenever I offered ideas and opinions for the library.

The laminal librarian breaks it down to five reasons why people have such a visceral reaction to non-MLS employees being called “librarians”:

I spent a heck of a lot of time and money earning this degree, so everyone else should too, dammit.

My response to those individuals is “so what?” You got your MLS, kudos! There are many of us who work in libraries, have advanced degrees in other areas, and contribute greatly to our place of employment, and we do perform tasks that traditionally were only done by librarians. As I have written before, there are many paths to a particular destination. An MLS is one path, but don’t be condescending to others who have chosen different paths. Perhaps it is time for a CAGS for people with other advanced degrees that can give them the ‘basics’ in librarianship, and certify them as bona-fide librarians. Just because you did X, doesn’t mean other people have to.

How can you say everyone who works in a library is a librarian? What, do you think my custodian is a librarian?

You’re just plain silly. Just to humor you though, yes, he is a librarian. Let’s call him the waste collections & cleanliness librarian.
Librarianship is a profession akin to medicine or law. You don’t see people without law degrees calling themselves lawyers; you don’t see people without MDs calling themselves doctors; people without the MLS shouldn’t be able to call themselves librarians.
I really did laugh out loud when I heard this. If you believe this you are pretty deluded. If I were you I would not repeat this openly to anyone.

Working in a library provides only practical skills; library school gives you the theoretical underpinnings necessary to be a true member of this profession; it allows us to work from a joint understanding of who we are and where we are going.


What underpinnings are you talking about? From both family and friends, who have gone through an ALA accredited MLS program, they all describe the coursework as mickey mousey, a waste of time and money, and that “it’s just a union card.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked at MLS coursework, and I do think that there are MANY worth-while courses in theory that can be very valuable, but library schools do not allow you to waive all the mundane busywork you need to do. Many programs that I have looked at are usually 12 courses. Out of those 12, at least 7 are mundane busywork that provide no value whatsoever. If you do four courses: Management, Reference, Collections Development and Cataloguing/Classification that should be the entire base that anyone needs (in addition of course to your previous knowledge or other education)

Calling people without degrees librarians leads to deprofessionalization. It lends credibility to the decisions of library boards and other entities that devalue the MLS and hire nonqualified individuals for less money, or give jobs to friends or relatives instead of to qualified librarians.


Let’s outsource to India!!!! :-)

Well OK, I get it. You are fearful that your job will be devalued, and you won’t be able to pay back those student loans from those expensive Library Schools. The truth is that it’s in your hands whether you get deprofessionalized or not. Be inventive, go and continue your education, prove to your municipality or city or employer that an MLS-grad is worth something, that you need to have an MLS-holder because they offer something in the organization that other people can’t offer! Don’t sit back passively and try to hold other people back because you don’t want to prove the value of your degree!

For what it’s worth, I think that there are worth-while classes in Library schools. I just don’t think that the MLS itself is worth the money. They pay off for getting an ALA accredited MLS is not there.
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