By Elizabeth Wroten
On 03, May 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten
I guess I’m hopelessly out of the debate loop in Libraryland, because I had no idea until this week that people were debating the need for librarians to have an MLS/MLIS. I don’t want to turn this into a lengthy opinion piece, but I wanted to add a couple thoughts and share three links to some good posts about the debate that I read this week. First the links:
- From Andy Woodward: Yes, We Should Talk About the MLS
- From the Effing Librarian: Why Buy an MLS? and Buying an MLS, Part II
- Updated 5/8/2013: Guest Post on Andy’s blog: Why am I getting my MLS? Because I have to.
As I said, I was totally clueless that this was even something up for debate. I always thought it made perfect sense to require an advanced degree to be a librarian if for no other reason that it shows some level of dedication. Plus I think it lends professional librarians an air of credibility and legitimacy outside the library community. Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is another conversation.
I agree with the Effing Librarian, because library school does give you a good philosophical foundation, just like getting a teaching credential would give you a good pedagogical foundation. Sure it’s expensive, but education is. Maybe we should discuss reducing the cost instead of no longer requiring the degree all together. Although I think Andy’s idea about a certification isn’t bad either, especially for people who already have professional degrees.
Update: While I really agree with most of the sentiments in the guest post on Agnostic, Maybe my own experience with the degree was different. I worked full time in a really poorly paid position. The economy had just tanked and jobs were disappearing. I didn’t have the option to quit my job and find a library job. San Jose State, where I was enrolled, had many internship opportunities but they were all unpaid and in the Bay Area, a good two hour drive from where I was living. Taking one of those just wasn’t an option. I also noticed that many of the other students enrolled were older than I was and married. They either already had a library job or had a second income that gave them the flexibility to take unpaid internships or low paid internships. I wish I had been that lucky. I tried to get library jobs while I was in school, but no one was hiring in my city. I used library school, even if it wasn’t perfect, to get a theoretical background, to get a sense of the directions I could go, and earn the necessary degree.
That isn’t to say only librarians with an MLS/MLIS are good librarians. There are bad librarians with the degree and there are good ones without it. But I ultimately agree with the Effing Librarian that without some sort of educational requirement/certification it potentially opens the field up to a lot of unqualified individuals and when the administration that does the hiring already thinks you just run a book museum, that’s a problem.