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What did you get an MLS for?

Aug - 4 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

Boy, I have a lot of catching up to do. There is a very to the point post at the Blog about Libraries titled: “I didn’t get an MLS to do that.”

  • Professions do not stand still.
    Have you ever met a plumber who doesn’t work with PVC? An electrician who only uses knob and tube wiring? A firefighter who thinks those new fangled breathing masks are just too complicated? No, professionals who don’t keep up with the technologies that affect their work go out of business. Librarianship is not immune to that.
  • We don’t have a choice.
    To me this is the most important reason. Even if we don’t like computers, our patrons do. Libraries have established themselves as the place to get on the internet. We market this. We brag about it. We get federal funding for it (well, a little…). It is not responsible to provide access to computers without also providing the staff training necessary to make sure our people have the competencies to help patrons with them.

    Furthermore, the line between information tools, social software, games and productivity tools is thoroughly blurred by now. To expect that we can choose what part of the technology we will help patrons with is simply unrealistic.

I love that last line (which is not the last line of the post – so make sure you go read the whole thing).

5 Responses so far.

  1. Dave Hook says:

    It’s been said before and I’ll say it again. I can’t believe that we actually have to have this discussion again and again in this profession, but it seems that we do.

    When I did my undergrad in engineering, it was pretty much understood that what you learned in school would pretty much be obsolete 5 years after graduation, and so it was up to you to maintain your relevance in the profession. Doctors, lawyers, accountants are no exception. Why is that our profession seems to think that it is the exception – the one profession that doesn’t need to keep up? Do people not get that we are a profession? Do they not understand what it means?

    I love the quote by US Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less”

  2. Linda Nelson says:

    I agree, Dave! I can’t believe it either! I have one thing to add. While growing up, I have always admired librarians for their caring, service minded qualities. I still feel that way and that is one, among many reasons why I am becoming a librarian. In this profession it is about providing access to information and teaching how to acess, use, and evaluate information, about encouraging the love of reading and learning. How can we encourage our patrons if we don’t hold these values dear for ourselves?

  3. Nicole says:

    Obviously I agree – but sometimes I think it bears repeating for those out there who are having trouble agreeing – for those that are still saying “I didn’t get an MLS to do that.” Although I guess those aren’t the people reading this blog anyway.

  4. Meg Kribble says:

    Good point, Nicole. I finished my MLS last year, and some of my classmates’ facility with basic, BASIC computer tasks was shockingly non-existent. Perhaps we need to start submitting blog posts like these as essays to print publications to get the word out that technology skills are not optional in librarianship. And perhaps library schools should consider adding a basic technology aptitude requirement for acceptance into programs, nevermind graduation.

    There’s a fun idea to send to Michael Gorman… :)

  5. Nicole says:

    I actually went to Drexel hoping that it would be more technologically advanced than other LIS programs. While they did require a systems analysis course (something different from other programs I’ve heard about) – they do not use much technology in any of the other courses.


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