What’s the matter with our profession?

16926192_a1eab8db27_mIt’s a question many of us with an MLS,  and those without, struggle with.  Just take a look at the Library Day in the Life blog entries.  You’ll see a wide, and I mean WIDE, range of variety in how we spend our days, weeks and years and our education levels.

Matt Hamilton wrote a post with some observations on the field,  he’s about to graduate with an MLS and he’s the Library Innovation and Technology Manager at the Boulder Public Library.   He points to some problems in the field, namely the wide variety of what we do.  I agree with him when he says :

The field is not in good shape. I don’t think adding “information” to the MLS is the answer, either. I don’t think that by further genericizing the profession by calling ourselves “Information Professionals” is any kind of an answer either..

I don’t completely agree with his solution.

It’s time to stop making our field generic in the I-schools, and to let our students get the specialized skill-set they need. And I don’t mean that you take a “track” that consists of three classes providing a shallow introduction to your area of specialization. I mean we need real, exceptional, challenging programs tailored to the specific specialties within our field.

Or Karin Dalziel (a recent  MLS graduate) – Why every Library Science Student Should Learn Programming

But the thing is I have to give them credit for trying.  I mean it.  That’s not snark.  Because the thing is, I agree with the problem both of them are discussing, I just don’t know what I think the solution is.  So I’ve been practicing the fine art of shutting up if I don’t have anything of value to add.

Then I realized I do have something to contribute. I may not have an answer, but I can spread the message and the more people that are aware of it, that think on it, that talk about it, that work towards a solution, the more likely we are to come up with an answer.

Do you think we have a problem? What do you think the probelm is?   What do you think is the answer?

7 thoughts on “What’s the matter with our profession?

  1. Thanks for commenting on my rant, Bobbi. I think I agree with you for than I agree with *me*. I don’t know the answer… but it does freak me out that we still have people in the field who ardently defend their right not to know how to use I-tunes or a wiki. I have to agree with David Lee King when he asks, “If we were a Taxi company, we wouldn’t hire someone who
    couldn’t or wouldn’t learn to drive a new transmission, would we?”

    It’s not me personally who would force them to change, it’s just the facts of the information landscape. Maybe Karin does have the answer– probably there’s no one answer, but I certainly hope there continues to be conversation!


  2. I actually agree with the suggestion that i-schools/library programs offer more specialized tracks. I graduated recently, and while I appreciated the broad scope and the insight it gave me into librarianship as a whole, I think a lot of us are left needing a lot of training once we find jobs. Its a catch-22, because while I deliberately tried to keep my options open while I was in school, had I known what area I was going into I would have focused more on developing a more specialized skillset.


  3. I completely agree that we need “real, exceptional, challenging programs” to teach future librarians. I’m a current student (almost done!) and have been appalled at times by how un-challenging my program has been. I often feel that I could have taught myself most of the stuff I’ve learned (not cataloging, though). LIS schools seem to be in a difficult place and there’s so much uncertainty around the direction the curriculum should take. Whatever we choose to teach, though, we need to make it better than it is, we need to raise the admissions requirements so people aren’t just going into the field because they have nothing else to do after college, and we need to make sure people in the field have the ability to be adaptable, innovative, creative, and knowledgeable about new technologies. As a baseline of competence. I’m nervous about being a new librarian, and whether this is really the field I should have gone into, because I don’t see it evolving fast enough.


  4. I think you will find the debate extending far and wide, to the L word, I word and the word itself.

    See my most recent post (Another graduate school serving the library field is about to lose the “L” name); it is not just about I word or U word that is the crux of the problem. It lies deep and deeper in the history of librarianship and in the way it has emerged: I call this emergence in two parallel streams, viz., a) the society’s info needs for day to day survival (met elsewhere such as info about insurance, health care and the rest of the whole life); and b) the society’s educational needs (met to some extent by visiting a library), but thats not the final solution even for all the educational needs… more by correspondence if you wish (mt2222 at yahoo dot com)


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