To "What Degree" Are Librarians Hired?

The Capital Times (Madison, WI) has an article on the Madison Public Library, who recently hired two youth librarians who didn't have master's of library science (MLS) degrees. Veteran librarians were puzzled, since this hasn't happened in over 16 years, and since they all have MLS degrees.

The veteran librarians are puzzled because Madison has no shortage of people with MLS degrees. Many graduates of the UW's School of Library and Information Sciences work clerical jobs in the system in hopes that they'll get hired as librarians. Large cities like Milwaukee and Chicago simply require the MLS of all applicants, Knapp says.

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Complete BS

"Under the Civil Rights Act, Madison tries to attract candidates of minority and disabled groups who might not have the same access to MLS degrees as others."

What complete nonsense. Do they not have access to the MLS because they are black? Or female? Or a midget? That is complete nonsense library schools are so inclusive as to be discriminatory against white men. There are scholarships for the non-traditional librarian, scholarships for latina library students and many more 'diversity' scholarships that allow all who meet the requirements for admission to Library School.

Did these two new staff members not have the same access to library school because they don't have an undergraduate degree, or perhaps their grades were not good enough to get into library school. If so then they should not have been hired as the children deserve bright, educated people to fill these positions especially since MLS degreeed librarians applied.

This is just more bastardization of the profession. No one - not the school, and certainly not the ALA has the cajones to say "You are not hiring librarians if they don't have an MLS!" Well apparently nobody but me.

They may say MLS preferred, but truthfully it is MLS or inability to get an MLS preferred.

Re:Complete BS

I'm a white dude and I got into library school.

Nothing new in smaller libraries

Smaller libraries oftentimes do not require an MS for their staff. If a higher degree is required it is required for the Director job. This is usually because salary and remote locations limit the applicant pool.

To hear of this in a larger city is surprising. The article does not say if these were internal candidates or what the jobs entailed.

This is happening in th UK too

In the UK we have started to see that some public library authorities are no longer recruiting qualified librarians for certain jobs. This is mainly due to the fact that they want to get education professionals or marketing professionals for some of the areas of the service. But the job titles are still Librarian. This is leading to lively debate about who should be employed and who shouldn't.

My blog on working in UK public libraries is viewable at: http://publiclibrarian06.blogspot.com/

Re:Complete BS

See there is diversity. I am a white dude and I got in (and out) of library school.

It may just be anecdotal but from what I've heard library school is not that hard to get into. It sure is not medical school, probably not business school, but it trumps law school any day.

Re:Nothing new in smaller libraries

I have to agree with GregS on this one, an undergraduate degree (especially in Info Science -or whatever the trendy term for librarianship is) would probably serve smaller libraries which were led by an MLS director just fine.

I have no problem with the MLS for management and BLS for staff. That of course would take a paradigm shift in the profession. That and I'm not going to be around long enough to see it.

N.B. I do have an BS in Information Studies from FSU, I thought it was like nursing school where students have to have a BSN before getting an MSN. I was 2 semesters into the 3 needed for my additional BS when I found out I could have just applied to the MLS program. That is where I should have asked a librarian.

Re:Complete BS

I wouldn't say that "all" library schools are easy to get into. It also isn't what I would call an "easy" master's degree either and I have a master's in another field. I guess it depends on the school and the faculty that teach the courses. I have friends with decent undergrad grades still trying to get accepted.

The trend of hiring folks without MLS degrees and calling them librarian's is scary. It is something that all the library associations should be alarmed about.

Re:Complete BS

As one of the two new hires written about in this article, I'd like to mention that the article left out the very important fact that I am halfway done with the MLS degree and was in the process of completing my MLS at the time I was hired. (I also am still a student an will complete the degree). Apparently this author thought the article was more interesting by leaving out this fact.

Information neglected in article

As one of the two new hires written about in this article, I'd like to mention that the article left out the very important fact that I am halfway done with the MLS degree and was in the process of completing my MLS at the time I was hired. (I also am still a student and will complete the degree). Apparently this author thought the article was more interesting by leaving out this fact.

Important fact

And an important fact indeed. I certainly hope that the journalist (and that term gets creepier every day) corrected the error.

Please don't feel obligated to answer this specifically, but if you are getting your MLS what were they looking for if they had to look outward to the pool of MLS applicants to others "not have the same access to MLS degrees as others."

The director noted the skills they wanted did not come bundled with an MLS. What skills were those? (Please don't take this the personally but since you were able to prepare for a career in library school and get offered a position while still in library school - an amazing feat, I hope you would share some generalities.)

Re:Complete BS

Heh, heh, heh. That's cool. Subject of article responds to thread. You should drive over to the Capital Times and yell at them for buying an inaccurate and poorly fact-checked article.

Re:Information neglected in article

Well, that sheds some extra light on the subject--thanks for contributing. Good luck with the rest of your studies.

Nonetheless, I'm not sure how large the Madison library system is, but in my parts of the country, it is highly unsual for a large library system to seriously consider non-MLS candidates for librarian positions.

Re:Important fact

I think when it comes to Youth Services, there are some skills that you cannot get solely through a degree. Basically, it is a performance-based job. In our system, we spend very little time on the desk, and the majority of our time is spent either planning programs or performing them. For me, I have years of performing experience through music and theater groups, and I have been a writer and editor (which, as we write many promotional materials and write book reviews for a city paper, is of special importance in our YS positions). These skills were, of course, on top of my years of public library youth service experience.Now, don't get me wrong. I think a degree is very important, and I am finishing mine. I just think that in Youth Services, the emphasis on performance requires an added element of previous performance experience.

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