The Thing 10 post for 23 Things for Professional Development deals with the training and qualifications for librarians in the United Kingdom. It’s made me think this afternoon about the qualifications for librarians in the United States. To apply for most librarian positions I’ve seen, you have to hold a masters degree in library science from an ALA (American Library Association)-accredited library. I can appreciate it more now that I’m on the verge of starting on my new academic journey.
It made me curious, though, about the definition of Librarian. The simplest definitions I found online were on Wiktionary:
- The keeper, manager of a library
- One who cares for the publications, files etc. in a library, whether staff or volunteer
- A person who processes and organizes information
The opportunities for librarians have grown exponentially in recent years, even since I got my first full-time library support staff job in 1997, so the definitions above are obviously simplified. But does someone need a library degree to be a librarian? Maybe yes, maybe no. (It depends on the job and the person, perhaps.) And who decides? Well, the employer does! But I’ve known several non-MLS staff who know a bunch about the library and how things tick; I’m sure others know those sorts of colleagues too.
When people ask me what I do, I think I often give a longer response than they expect. I work for an academic library (but not IN that academic library), and I supervise a wonderful group of support staff, but I don’t have an MLS. I must admit that, on rare occasions, I just say I’m a librarian, even though I don’t have the graduate diploma yet. I don’t do that often, because when I do, it feels a little weird. And yes, one time someone called me on it and asked where I went to library school. *sigh* That will start changing in less than three weeks, though!