Monday, March 26, 2007

Deprofessionalization, updated figures!

"Between 2004 and 2014, the number of librarians is expected to increase by 4.9%, while library technicians increase by 13.4% and library assistants by 12.5%. Total employment in the U.S. is expected to increase by 13% over this period.

These projections for library workers are all lower than the previous projections for 2002–2012, when the number of librarians was expected to increase by 10.1%, while the number of technicians increased by 16.8% and the number of library assistants by 21.5%. But the overall trend of jobs for librarians [is] growing more slowly than those for library technicians and assistants is the same.

This trend points to “deprofessionalization”: Work once performed only by librarians is now performed by support staff. In a recent American Library Association Support Staff Interests Round Table (ALA SSIRT) survey of 212 library support staff, 73% stated that they are now performing tasks previously performed by Masters of Library Science (MLS) librarians at their library, or have the same or similar duties as MLS librarians at other institutions."

Source: Department of Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, 2006

CCL would gladly post Canadian equivalents. Please forward any information to our email: CCL

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Legislative Library, the Internet and the Idiots

Dark day for legislature library

Les Leyne
Times Colonist

March 16, 2007

"The B.C. Legislature Library is closing down to make room for a reception area for visiting dignitaries and more office space for politicians and their staff.

The 29 staff in the 90-year-old building attached to the back of the Legislature Building were informed of the decision Thursday. The bulk of the library's vast collection of historical documents will shipped to a warehouse. A core collection of essential materials will be moved to another government building on Superior Street, just behind the Legislature. Significant staff reductions are expected, but librarians have been told work will be found for anyone laid off.

The closure is apparently driven by space restrictions brought on by the steady increase in the number of politicians who inhabit the buildings. The number of MLAs has increased from 65 to 79 over the last 20 years. An electoral boundaries commission currently reviewing B.C. constituencies could increase that by another four.

The library was founded in 1863 for the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island and includes hundreds of thousands of historical documents, microfilmed newspaper archives going back 100 years and a reading room. It now primarily serves the needs of the MLAs and their staff and researchers.

The reorganization of the venerable institution has outraged a former head librarian. Joan Barton, who ran the library for more than 30 years, said that successive legislatures have ignored the space problems in the building. "It was the optics. They were worried about building grand new offices for politicians."

Several plans were drawn up over the years to build new quarters and make more room, but nothing was done. "Now they're in crisis mode, and the premier's office is driving this agenda." Premier Campbell and senior staff spent some time touring the library several weeks ago.

One of the arguments advanced in favor of the reorganization was that much of the reference material often asked for is available on line. But Barton scorned that explanation.
"There is no such thing as 'everything is on the Internet.' When you say that to a librarian, they're too polite to say so, but their first thought is; 'I'm dealing with an idiot."

Legislative Library website

Monday, March 05, 2007

Deprofessionalization exposed

CCL's been trying to bring attention to this issue for the past two
years. It appears that it's finally being debated.

The Embattled MLS
by John Berry

"My initial, knee-jerk reaction was to be alarmed at the growing number of reports of both academic and public libraries assigning duties once performed by credentialed librarians (MLS holders) to support staff. I would also cringe when I heard about reference and circulation desks being combined, materials selection being centralized or worse, outsourced to a vendor. I would cry out when a division of the American Library Association, which accredits LIS programs leading to that MLS, would initiate a certification program to certify folks who don’t have an MLS as public library administrators. I’m still deeply concerned, for even if these are rational changes in the nature our our profession, they should not be adopted without debate and discussion among all of us. The erosion of the power or our basic credential, or entry-level degree, and the replacement in jobs once held by those with that credential by Ph.Ds in other fields, paraprofessionals and support staff, or simply by vendors is not a local matter. It is a profession-wide concern, if we are to be able to call ourselves a “profession.”

While I no longer have that knee-jerk reaction, I still feel it is urgent for us to address these changes as a profession, and to ensure that our practice is carried on with the rigor and standards of quality that have endowed it with reservoirs of public support, and support by other experts and professionals in other fields and disciplines.

I asked a public library director what jobs he would fill only with candidates who held the MLS. It wasn’t cataloging, or reference, or acquisitions he listed. Only childrens services and high level administration required a graduate librarian. A research library director recently told me he no longer hires “librarians,” preferring the subject expertise of those with advance degress in other disciplines, or the expertise of those educated in the technical or administrative skills and talents of other professions.

I will devote much of my work now to these concerns, and to the building of a healthy debate over the direction in which library administrators and governing boards seem to be taking our field. Are these changes simply cost-cutting, budgeting measures, or is there a substantive set of reasons to eliminate the reference desk, the crculation librarian, the credentialled library director? Are these changes eroding the core values of what we once called librarianship, or has a new value system come to us on the wings of a user friendly information and entertainment world where everyone and anyone can be his or her own librarian?"

Source: Blatant Berry Blog, Library Journal