Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This won't be popular but...

I recently read an Editorial in Library Journal. I was spurred to read it by a letter to the editor regarding keeping the quality of the MLS high.

Tony Greiner's article regarding the MLS degree takes the position that the MLS requirement for entry level library profession is keeping minorities away from becoming librarians. He quotes statistics regarding the numbers of minorities in the profession being below average for the number of minorities living in the U.S.

One problem Greinen, states is that minorities don't see themselves among librarians and therefore don't see the profession as being one for them.

However, the biggest deterrant to entering the library profession according to Greiner is the Masters degree. Minorities are more likely to drop out of higher education due to financial reasons.

This got me to thinking. I was extremely lucky in gaining my MLS because as a Graduate Assistant I had my tuition covered with the exception of two summer classes. But if I had had to pay graduate level tuition it could have taken me much longer to do while I worked full time.

I also began to wonder, if entry level librarian positions really do deserve the requirement of a Masters degree.

With out any hesitation I can say: I love being a librarian. I think it is a fun, interesting and worthwhile profession, that despite of, or even because of, google is not going anywhere.

Of course we need a good education to be librarians, or college students would already know how to do research. But I have come to believe that the majority of entry level librarian positions don't need a masters degree.

I am sure that certain specialties; such as research, technology, management and admin probably do require a Graduate level degree or certificate.

But think about what children's librarian learns in a 2 year Masters course and compare it to what an Undergrad student getting a BA in Elementary Education at the same school. I am sure that they are on par, if not slightly more rigorous for the education student. A school teacher has to observe and student teach in separate semesters. A librarian takes literature courses before being tossed in a room with puppets and preschoolers. An education major studies child psychology and learning outcomes at different ages. A children's librarian takes programming courses.

I've been a children's librarian. I know that it is hard work, demanding, and time consuming. There is a reason that children's librarians burn out after a few years. I'm not knocking it. But if we are truly obtaining a Masters degree shouldn't there be a substantial difference between what the undergraduate learns and what we learn?

Maybe I'm advocating a change in the MLS degree itself. But either way I really wish the profession would reconsider it.

No comments: