Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Libraries need Librarians....

the clue is in the name....

I attended something very meaningful yesterday. My first protest. I was a very young person during all the protests of the 60's. I always envisioned myself protesting against the Vietnam war, or against human rights violations. My first protest shouldn't, couldn't have been imagined to be for people that I feel so strongly are so important to this information age. Over the last three years, I've struggled with my calling...and I've always considered being a Librarian my calling. As soon as I stepped into a library, I wanted to work there. When I finally got my chance I proved to myself and overs over and over again that I was good at the work. I was interested in helping others. Interested in the process of finding information, and that only grew when we came into the internet age...not to long ago.......


The Hampshire County Council, (my local government) however, feels the Librarians are not needed. Why pay people who have been trained and have an interest in the field do a job for "all this money".........sorry....I just had to pick myself up off the floor laughing about that one...who has heard of a well paid library staff member????? When we can put library assistants who have no experience and who in most cases (not all cases) are only there to have the job, not because they have a love of information and helping people and pay them less! I was there. I've seen it. Library assistants asked questions that they have not been trained to answer and put on the spot by patrons that have no idea they AREN'T talking to a trained Librarian! It isn't fair to the assistants, the patrons, nor the Librarians! Three years ago when I worked for Hampshire, they had just been through a restructuring where they had replaced almost all of the Library managers with non-library degree staff. All staff member then were trained to manage libraries....I mean really....lets pay a bunch of money to train people...LIBRARIANS COME TO THE JOB TRAINED! Management is a course you take to get your degree!!!! You then would only need to learn the management software and forms that need to be filled out. The management course I took covers human resource, project and money management!

Ok, I'm off the pedestal....but it makes me soooo angry. So I've decided that the best way to fight back, is to get the degree and then market the heck out of Librarians. We are needed. I see that everyday. Students need us to help them with online journals searches. Who else would the go to that has sat down and learned the ins and out of searching on this torturous things? How do you know the information you are pulling off the internet is correct??? Ask a Librarian! What book should I read if I like so and so.....ask a Librarian! Want to have a educational experience for your child during the summer? Ask your children's librarian! Is the stereotype changing? Yes!!! Do we need to change and grow as Librarians? Yes!!! But every job has to do that! The problem is, we are changing...but now one is taking the time to notice!!!

If you would like to read more there are online articles here and here

I promise that I am reading, but I've been trying to study and get things like that done. We are having an early spring, and it is hard to sit here at the computer. I have to admit, that I've hit a bit of a slump. I've picked up several books I couldn't get into, no matter how I tried...and that has been a problem. But I will have another review soon!

6 comments:

Poplar Reader said...

There was a really good article on cuts in libraries across the UK in Socialist Worker a couple of weeks back, it mentions the Hampshire cuts, and interviews one of the union stewards there.

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=11134

Lesley said...

Well I have to stand up for the Library Assistants here. As one myself, and someone who knows several very dedicated and knowledgable LAs, I think there's room and a place for both degreed Librarians and the paraprofessionals in a library environment. In my experience, the people who are there just for a job are in the minority, not the other way around. A good (and well-funded) library will support the continued education and development of both types of staff, for the betterment of their institution and the public. The problem is not the LA, but a government whose priorities are not in the proper mindset.

Dawn said...

Lesley-
I thought that I would make sure that you saw my response to your message on my blog. I have been a paraproffesional for 15 years, I am not a Librarian (thought I’m schooling to be one.). I am not blaming the Library Assistants in anyway. But to take away all Librarians who you must admit support the Library Assitants as much as the Library Assitants support the Librarians is a mistake. You are right it is the government and I say that in my post. I have been in several situation where good friends of mine have been put in a terrible situation tring to answer questions from patrons that they have no training to answer. They do not know how to ask the questions to get the answers, not the skills to get them. I’m among those, I often feel out of my depths because I don’t know how to answer a question because I’m not a Librarian and I’m not on the inside learning about the databases etc. I agree there is a place for both, but to take away the proffesionals is to give horrible service! I miss the Library I worked at in the States, because there we had a designated Reference area and the library assistants were trained to answer the questions. In this council they put you on the desk with little or no training and with no assistance. The system is different, people are different and the government is different here.

Lesley said...

Thanks for alerting me to your response, Dawn. I certainly didn't think you were blaming the LAs - I should have said so in my post - and I completely agree with you that removing or decreasing the number of Librarians is not the right move. I suppose I am spoiled in that the system I worked for is very keen to support both types of employees, and since patrons, as you said, oftentimes do not know (or care) that they're talking with a Librarian or not, then all staff should be given the tools and resources to effectively assist the public. You're right in that I do not know the system/people/government over there, and based my comments off my own experience. I hope you did not take offense at my comments and I apologize if you did so. I also hope your council comes to its senses.

Dawn said...

No offense taken, I just wanted to clarify that I wasn't picking on the Library Assistants in any way! Debate is always good, it clarifies how you feel and what you know about things.

Melanie said...

I can't believe the shortsighted behaviour of councils who would even CONSIDER getting rid of Librarians. (well, I can believe it, I guess that's the problem!) I agree with you that the fact that patrons (and apparently council members) think that anyone who works in a library is, de facto, a librarian, is a big hurdle. There are roles for Librarians and roles for LA's but you can't really run a library with one and not the other. I've been employed on both sides of the equation, and know that there are different purposes for both positions.
Would city council consider that they shouldn't really be paying councillors "all this money" and instead just let the office staff run the city? It's a lot cheaper that way.
Sorry if I sound a bit snotty. I guess you hit a nerve!