I was thinking in the car this morning, which is always dangerous, that when I was a whippersnapper in Library school all of 5 years ago, I learned about public and private keys, Hashes, and all manner of technology shit.
The paraprofessionals from the regional library school don’t know what a hash is or why one would use it. We’ve interviewed candidates for a Metadata Librarian Position that couldn’t tell us what a metadata schema is or if it is related to XML.
That’s why I was a bit shocked to read Michael Kelley’s Article in Library Journal. And by a bit, I mean I was pretty fucking shocked. Replacing a master’s degree with what would essentially be a lowly paid internship, if paid at all. That opens up a can of worms that would leave the fishermen of the nation lining up at the doors of SLISs.
First, if apprenticeship is the way we want to go, then we need to understand that during apprenticeships, students often PAY to be apprenticed to professionals, essentially paying to work. This means that Librarianship would become whiter than it already is, filled with the wealthy who can afford to pay to work while they are otherwise supported, lowering pay for Librarians across the board.
Second, if our schools are not teaching what our students need to know, then we need to look at the schools, not chuck the whole system. While it is perhaps not realistic to expect new librarians to know everything needed when their first emerge from the cocoon of academia, no other profession expects that either. We shouldn’t either.
What Michael is addressing, however, is a lack of focusing on core technical and philosophical skills that will enable you to understand overdrive, explain metadata, and to be a good librarian. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of every link resolver product, but you should know what they are and how they work. You don’t need to know how to set up a proxy server exactly, but you need to know how to explain why and how you’re going to use one to your IT staff.
An additional issue lies in that many faculty members have not been in the field as librarians for many many years, meaning that their knowledge is woefully behind what is required from our students. One paraprofessional related to me that she had to download IE 4 in order to watch a video for one of her ONLINE courses.
We don’t need apprenticeships, which exacerbate current issues in librarianship (Low pay, white as hell), we need an educational system that is RELEVANT, taught by people who know what the fuck is going on in the profession.
We need to try to FIX what we have before we dismantle it. Librarian education is not broken, but many of our educational and library leaders are woefully out of touch with reality.
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