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APLA-LIST  July 2004

APLA-LIST July 2004

Subject:

My two cents worth

From:

barbara emodi <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 19 Jul 2004 15:52:58 -0300

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text/plain

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text/plain (67 lines)

Hi,

I have watched this dialogue with interest and have decided to jump in. I am
a professional in other fields and have decided recently to go back to
school to do the tech's course. The reasons I made this choice and my
perspectives on how employers view professionals may add something. First I
already have two degrees, one a masters. I have taught as a tenured member
of a school of architecture, worked for the government. written for both
Halifax newspapers, worked with Nortel engineering staff writing online
classes and been a national marketing manager for a German multi-national.
What I am trying to say is that my experience is with a variety of employers
and am aware of how the labour market and ways of work are changing. I feel
that the present discussion fits into that context.

First apart from pay rates much of the discussion of professionalism in
librarianship is academic. To compare the profession of librarianship to
medicine or dentistry or law is silly. Ryan are you prepared to pay $80,000
professional libability insurance ? Is there a statute that defines the
profession? Are you legally liable for suit for your entire career if you
make a mistake on the job, and does the law extend this liability to your
heirs? It is entirely reasonable and sensible to want to be paid and
respected for knowledge, experience and expertise. It is annoying and unfair
to see a graduate education passed over for undergraduate level training. We
all hate that, any occupation hates that. Any architect who makes half as
much income as his plumber hates it. But welcome to the world. Thinking that
you can put "pressure" on employers to recognize professionalism will be
seen as pompous and irrelevant. If you are good you will find work. If you
deliver value for money (which after all is what a salary is) you will be
compensated. If you don't like the compensation it is up to you to find a
work that has compensation you like. None of this is fair or about
professionalism at all. There are outstanding and deeply professional day
care workers who get minimium wage; there are unprofessional and unethical
operators who make fortunes. That is wrong and we all need to think about
the values that society places are work. Taking care of property means more
than taking care of children for example.

Truth is that there are very, very few institutions or organizations that
have unlimited funds. Every library I know is trying to make do with less
than they need. In most businesses the biggest costs are labour costs.
That's why the first thing to go is staff, ask the 10,000 who went from
Nortel's US operations. Therefore the cheaper labour, in this market will be
hired first. Only when the accountability or detail of the work, most often
at a management level requires more expensive labour will it be hired. Don't
expect any library to hire librarians over techs on the principle of
professionalism if the cost is fewer aquisitions or fewer services. Expect
librarians to be hired if necessary, and techs if possible. If you insist on
drawing medical analogies look at what is happening in hospitals, RNs are
hired only when LPNs can't do the job, hospital sitters are now replacing
LPNs when possible. Its called stretching the public dollar as far as it
will go. Try putting pressure on those employers, ask the NSGEU how that
battle goes.

Which brings me to what being a professional is. You know Ryan there isn't
an ALA guideline in the world that can enforce or make up for real
professionalism. It is one of those things that you know you have. What we
all should aspire to is being a pro. To be a pro at whatever the job title
is a goal that is worth a career. If you have it, no one can take it away
from you and no policy statement in the world can make up for it if it's not
there.

So why did I decide to take the Lib Tech course? I felt that the employment
opportunities were greater. I know when I finish my course and transfer from
this field to libraries that I will be taking an enormous pay cut, with all
the implications that has for my life. However life is about choices and I
have decided I want to work in a library. It is what I really want to do.

Barbara

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