Friday, March 28, 2008

What's in a name?

What about the term "Library Professionals"? Is this better and more respectful? You get the "para" thing out so that it doesn't then center around the MLS-librarians. What we're arguing about here is a word, and perhaps we wouldn't argue about it if we could find the right word that adequately describes it.

I found this casually mentioned in the Hedgehog Librarian, who has some good points not mentioned in other posts. I am impressed by the intelligence of the posts about Rachel Singer Gordon's post, though surprised that my opinion seems to be the only one who is even remotely against her. I'm not entirely, really, just concerned at the implications.

One thing in nearly all of the posts that seems mis-represented is how easy it is to get an MLS. The Hedgehog Librarian suggests to non-MLS library professionals that they may want to go ahead and pick one up to provide mobility for the future... just in case. There are very few library schools in the country as all of us with an MLS know. If you happen to live close to one and can pay in-state tuition or have your employer cover some of the cost, and happen not to have young children, then go for it. But most people have to move, most people have family obligations which are more important than a just-in-case degree. Education, even in a state school, is incredibly expensive, and many people are not able to go in-state for library school since there are so few of them. There are online programs, but most still require you to travel at some point, so you're still geographically limited. Or you need to have a job that will give you time off for residencies. While the courses tend to be easier than other graduate programs, they are still incredibly time-consuming.

I put my heart into library school and got myself into a tight financial situation for my MLS. I have a hard time believing that other peoples' programs were so much easier that they see getting an MLS similar to picking up a value meal at a Wendy's drive-through on the way home from work one day.

1 comment:

Toni said...

What about "assistant librarian" and "associate librarian"?

Where librarians have faculty status, they are assistant professor, associate professor, and (the highest level) professor. I couldn't tell you who of my professors in college were assistant, associate, or full, or held a degree beyond undergraduate. They were simply professors to me.

I have met people who work for major library vendors and call themselves librarians: they have the degree, and many have worked in libraries.

My point is that the term librarian can be used to indicate education or responsibility, and responsibility especially varies from position to position, library to library.

(Thanks for linking to the Hedgehog Librarian. I agree with what she wrote: "If the majority of the job ads for what you are doing require the degree, it is probably in your best interest to look into completing it." Isn't that great advice for any job seeker?)