Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rethinking Titles (Even More!)

After I published the Rethinking Traditional Titles post, one of my colleagues, Layne, posted a comment that got me thinking. She wrote, "...I am still one of those people who really likes telling people that I am a librarian, and I lament the fact that we have not successfully rebranded the title itself. I wish we could continue to just be librarians..."
During the last week, I have pondered this response. Since I am also a librarian, to think that my hard-earned title lacks meaning is a bit disconcerting. After a bit more thought, I realized that perhaps it is up to the library schools to rebrand (public) librarianship. I could see this being done in two very different ways:

Option #1:
Rethink Major/Minors 
Adding additional titles, specialities, or concentrations, plus an internship. This would help realign library school classes with real life librarian responsibilities. Some sample specialities could be:

  • Employment Librarian (classes in online job searching, technology instruction, career assistance, maybe even classes in working with veterans and special populations)
  • Community Outreach Librarian (classes in grant writing, marketing, collaboration)
  • Literacy Librarian (classes in learning theory, lesson planning, and either childrens', adult or YA literature)
  • New Technology Librarian (classes in social media, web maintenance, database technologies)
  • Social Services Librarian (classes in social work, focusing on mental health and other issues)
  • Manager of Library Services (classes in management, marketing/branding, leadership, team building, organizational development, funding options)
  • Infrastructure Librarian (classes in cataloging, ILS, shelving, circulation)
  • Research Librarian (classes in database searching, best practices in finding resources (think: small business, genealogy))
  • Archival Librarian (classes in various techniques for preservation, including digital and non-digital methods)
This could be an endless list, and just thinking about having to decide on a career path would be intimidating for a library school student. In fact, if I had gone through library school with this list, I would have been torn about which option to take, since I have an interest in all of the options except for the last two options, Research and Archival Librarians.

(I realize the below option will make people really angry)
Option #2:
Ignore the above list, and instead ONLY focus on Research, Archiving, and Infrastructure. 
Although it would cut me (and many others) out of librarianship, perhaps research, archival, and infrastructure work are the only areas of librarianship that truly, honestly, and genuinely should be staffed by an MLS earner. They are important areas that require patience, attention to detail, and "library values."
I really want someone to argue with me and say that the BEST person for an Employment Specialist job, or a Community Outreach position is a librarian, but I'm not sure it is. It COULD be a librarian, but right now, I'm not convinced that it was library school that helped a candidate prepare for a position in today's library. As less of our world is about books, and more is about people, I think that experience and knowledge trump a confusing title.

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