I have been following this debate with much interest, but I am noticing that
the "debate" is on the verge of turning into an "argument". I agree with
Ryan that he seems to be singled out, and some of the comments definitely
indicate that some people are NOT reading the messages thoroughly before
they post a reply, especially as to the definition/explanation of what a
"professional" library worker is exactly. Please everyone, take the time to
read the messages thoroughly before any of you send a rebuttal/reply, and
please please please, no insults or accusations. I have seen this happen
much too often on these types of forums, mostly because the person is
somewhat "invisible" on the web. We talk of varieties of "professionalism",
well, if you want to behave in a "professional manner", send replies that
are well thought-out and considerate. Aside from the "facts" of the matter,
everyone is also entitled to an opinion on any subject, including this one.
Remember that body language and tone of voice are non-existent on the
Internet, and it is sometimes dangerous to assume the meaning or tone behind
an e-mail message. I know we all know this already, and this is but a gently
reminder on my part as I watch a healthy debate and discussion slowly going
downhill. Personal attacks may also discourage some people from posting, as
they may fear a personal attack on them (I admit I am one of these people,
and post this message with much trepidation).
For the record, I am a librarian (graduated 1999), and I can see both sides
of the issue on this (but am obviously more informed when it comes to
librarians since that is what I am), but my opinion (I said opinion) on this
issue is that there SHOULD be a difference between what a tech is assigned
to do and what a librarian is assigned to do. I didn't spend 8 years (should
have been 6 but my undergrad took a while...) in university to do the same
exact work and receive the same exact paycheck as someone who has spent 2
years in college. If I did, I would have gone to college and be able to pay
off my student loan before I reach 50 (and the way it's going, that's how
long it will take!), and I would not expect the level of responsabilities
that I now shoulder in my position.
Again, this is my personal opinion. Believe me, I've met librarians who have
little passion for their job and do the very minimum they are required to
do, and I've met techs who have literally blown me away and put many
librarians to shame (can you say lesson in humility?). I just think the
level of education (as it applies to any profession) should account for
something in life, regardless of what the realities of the job market are in
our field (as well as many other fields, as has been aptly pointed out by
many people). As it has been mentioned, if you do your job very well, you
will find work whether you are a tech or a librarian. Having a Masters'
degree does not mean that you are a better person or better employee than
someone with a college degree - that is not relevant. And although many
tasks DO overlap when you compare what a tech does and what a librarian
does, if the two programs were exactly alike, why would they both exist? If
that were the case, there would only be one program for all library workers.
I have seen techs and librarians work harmoniously side by side, and
complement each other extremely well in their positions - and that is what
(in my opinion) should be happening! Librarians and techs COMPLEMENTING each
other make for a dynamic, productive, efficient and effective team. And to
me, that's what it's all about - teamwork.
Please be kind with your replies! I realise not everyone will agree with me,
but it's my opinion, and I hope my opinion will be respected as I strive to
respect the opinions of others as well.
----- Original Message -----
From: "barbara emodi" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 19 July, 2004 3:52 PM
Subject: My two cents worth
> I have watched this dialogue with interest and have decided to jump in. I
> 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
> 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
> and am aware of how the labour market and ways of work are changing. I
> 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
> 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
> to see a graduate education passed over for undergraduate level training.
> 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
> 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
> 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
> hired first. Only when the accountability or detail of the work, most
> at a management level requires more expensive labour will it be hired.
> 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
> 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
> So why did I decide to take the Lib Tech course? I felt that the
> opportunities were greater. I know when I finish my course and transfer
> this field to libraries that I will be taking an enormous pay cut, with
> 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.