What makes a librarian?

The Liminal Librarian has an interesting rant about whether or not people with a Masters of Library (and Information) Science degree (MLS/MLIS) are the only “real” librarians: If it quacks like a librarian …. Her premise is that lots of people do library work and that the public doesn’t know (or care) who does or does not have a fancy Masters degree, so we need to stop creating the division. There’s also a follow up where she replies to some of the main points brought up by those who disagree.

Personally I am a bit torn. There is definitely a difference between someone with a MLS/MLIS (a librarian) and someone with a Library and Information Technology (LIT) diploma (a library technician). But, I do get really tired of the unwritten, sometimes unconscious, idea that we (librarian) are better then them. Yes, we learnt different things: they learnt the more practical stuff, we learnt the more theoretical and managerial stuff. But, should their really be such a dichotomy?

But, at the same time, my time in the MLS/MLIS program was considerably harder and more expensive then my time in the LIT program (I did a year of the LIT program before transferring to the MLS/MLIS program), and I don’t want that effort devalued.

Granted, both MLS/MLIS and LIT professionals can learn what they other knows and they both have the capacity to do each others jobs if they really want to (i.e., an LIT can develop managerial skills and learn the theories, and a MLS/MLIS can learn the nitty-gritty of, example, cataloguing).

Maybe the answer isn’t to call everyone a librarian, but instead to acknowledge that we are both equally valuable and equally essential in a library. This means that librarians and the library profession need to start showing that they value library techs and recognizing library techs as “equal-tos”, instead of “lessen-thans”. It also means that library techs need to stop allowing people to devalue them and start working on proving that they are every bit as awesome as librarians.

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One Response to What makes a librarian?

  1. Pingback: The Liminal Librarian » Blog Archive » Who is a librarian? Links

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