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The MLS Debate

Mar - 31 - 2008
Nicole C. Engard

I didn’t respond to Rachel Singer Gordon’s post about what makes a librarian – mostly because I’ve made it pretty clear what my opinion is in the past – but I just have to laugh at this comment and Rachel’s response:

Librarianship is a profession akin to medicine or law. You don’t see people without law degrees calling themselves lawyers; you don’t see people without MDs calling themselves doctors; people without the MLS shouldn’t be able to call themselves librarians.

This comparison is ludicrous. Go ahead: compare your year or two of library school to law school + the bar, or medical school + a residency. Do it with a straight face. I’ll wait for you to compose yourself…

Unfortunately I have heard this one before too! My response (while Rachel’s is awesome) goes a different way. Doctors & lawyers are required to continue their education. They (and other professionals) have to attend X number of credit courses a year in order to keep up with their fields – are librarians? Some – but not all. If librarians were all required to continue their education in order to keep up with changes in the field of research then I’d say this was a valid comparison – but it’s not – because librarians get their MLS and then they get to be called librarians for life – that’s what I consider “ludicrous.”

4 Responses so far.

  1. Kay says:

    Nicole, I agree with you completely!
    There really isn’t any comparison to be made!

  2. Nathan says:

    Do you think this calls for a more standard continuing education requirement for librarians? As information professionals it would certainly make sense for us to keep up with innovations in the field.

  3. Nicole says:

    Absolutely!!! I’ve been saying it for years. Before I got my MLS I was taking more opportunities for continuing ed than the “librarians” around me – and yet I was not a “librarian” – what’s that about? If I know more about the profession because I’m out there learning everything I can – then I absolutely better be considered a librarian – and if you have your MLS and haven’t taken the time to go out and learn more in the last 5+ years – you shouldn’t be called a “librarian.” That’s just my opinion.


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