The MLS Debate

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.”


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

  2. 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. 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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