The massive budget cuts of the last five years have forced school, academic, and public libraries to learn to function with fewer and fewer MLS holders, and library users don’t seem to notice the difference. Can they tell that there are fewer new books to choose from? Absolutely. Do they realize that there are longer and longer waits for popular ebooks? Absolutely. Do they notice when main library hours are slashed and branches are closed? Absolutely. Do they know when a professional librarian has been replaced with a paraprofessional or even a clerical person? Rarely, if ever. To the average American, a librarian is a person who works in a library.
Don’t be shocked that school boards, university administrators, city councils, city managers, library boards, and even library directors are taking close notice of this lack of perception. Yes, people still want libraries. That’s not the issue at all. No, I take that back. That is precisely the issue. People want libraries so desperately that they are quite willing to sacrifice the cost of professional staff to get full hours and robust book budgets restored.
So when a professional librarian resigns or retires, what should a library director do? The temptation is great to downgrade the professional position and put the resultant savings into books and hours. If the last five years have taught us anything, it’s that difficult choices have to be made. Administrators and trustees are under the gun to deliver the goods, and that basically means three things: computers, books, and hours.
My only surprise is that the library profession is slow to admit this reality and even slower to brainstorm new ways to train people to work in libraries.
Will Manley, “The Matter of the Master’s”, American Libraries, May/June 2012.
While the Forbes article is correct that recent MLS/MLIS graduates face a low growth and pay rank, it doesn’t really dissect why. Will Manley tackles this in his latest commentary on Will’s World.
This isn’t going to be what I do, but it’s still one of the many reasons what I’m getting into is important.
I really love Henry Rollins.
Denise E. Agosto, “Building A Multicultural School Library: Issues and Challenges”.
I feel as though this is a very “no shit” statement. (via morerobots)