> -----Original Message-----
> > Date: Mon Jul 19 10:07:50 ADT 2004
> > From: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: Discussion about job posting-
> > To: "Ryan Deschamps" <[log in to unmask]>
> > This appears to be a very touchy subject. As a library technician who has 15
> > years experience in public and school libraries, I have to comment on the
> > concept of being a "professional". Although I am only an LT, I always been a
> > very professional person. Librarians do not corner the market on
> > professionalism. I have worked with many librarians and technicians over the
> > years, some good at thier jobs, some not. As the sole staff member in a school
> > library that serves 1200 students and 75 staff members, I do a very demanding
> > job and get paid very little. Although I do the job of a librarian I do not
> > ever try to pass myself off as one. I would not be able to do this job well if
> > it were not for the experience that I have behind me.
I think we have to be careful that we do not have a problem with semantics here. You speak of "professionalism" in a very broad sense, which I can certainly appreciate. Indeed, everyone from a high school student to Bill Gates can be a "professional" person, meaning to behave in a professional manner -- ie. return phone calls, saying "thank you," putting 100% behind one's work, ensuring accuracy etc. In other words, your version of a "professional" distinguishes someone from a derogatory meaning of "amateur" or "amateurish."
But there is also a more narrow meaning to the word "professionalism" that refers to accountability in a very explicit sense. For instance, a doctor, lawyer or engineer that conducts themselves in a way that is against a code or ethics or below professional standards has to stand among his/her peers and explain themselves. If they do not explain themselves adequately, they lose their "professional" status, meaning their ability to practise their profession -- whether they conduct themselves in a "professional" manner on a daily basis or not.
> > Perhaps Ryan could understand this analogy a bit better in comparison to the
> > posting: there are many people in the business environment applying for and
> > getting jobs requiring an MBA which they do not have. They get these jobs
> > because they have required thier education through years of experience.
I think the comparison of a medical library to a business is an extremely flawed one. A business will hire anyone who will bring profit to the company (and then probably encourage them to take an MBA so they can bring even more profit). The concept of ethics and standard of service stands only so far as they impact profitability (eg. a company gets into a scandal and loses customers because of it). That even said, try applying for an accountant's job without a CA, even with 20 years of bookkeeping experience!
A medical library is a more public-oriented service. The goal is quality/efficiency/effectiveness for the alloted funding provided. To ensure this quality, it needs the professional (read the more narrow definition) who will have his/her credentials put on the line should he/she not follow ALA standards of practice.
In short, -- because I do understand the analogy quite well -- a dental hygenist does not work on his/her own. Instead a dentist is always there to be the one for whom the malpractice suits will fall when something goes wrong. And if the malpractise suit doesn't fall, he/she will still have to be judged by his/her peers through the CDA.
The economic reasoning for professional associations involves "asymetrical information" -- professionals know something that most other people do not know about; thus clients cannot always tell if they are really getting quality service. The only way to keep this somewhat in check is to have the professionals be scrutinized by peers: Thus, the ALA guidelines etc. And, as said before, a library tech does not have this kind of scrutiny and therefore an employer cannot be sure a library tech will have the necessary credentials to do the job (whatever experience they have). Further, a library tech could inadvertently be doing something against ALA standards and not be reprimanded because an employer is not likely to understand the standards themselves. The "professional" librarian can be pressured by associations -- and has consequences associated with his/her professional status (although some may argue that the professional regulatory system is a bit lax).
And how do I know this? Well, I have 10 years public library experience myself. And then some besides that! Not to mention a solid understanding of public sector HR, and a good study of what "experience" means in a library context as well.
Us MLIS students aren't all naive lil' spring chickens here! :)
Ryan. . .
> Ryan Deschamps
> MLIS/MPA Expected 2005
MLIS/MPA Expected 2005