In an article entitled, \"Who Needs Librarians? Let\'s get Some Trained Monkeys!\" the inimitable Uncle Frank holds forth on Orange County, FL\'s replacement of librarians with clerical staff. He has a great rant going here, but I\'m betting he\'ll get some unhappy letters from support staffers.
At the root of this crummy business lies the traditional under valuation of “women’s work.” Professions that have been dominated in numbers by female practitioners—teaching, librarianship, nursing—have always been grossly underpaid in relation to the education required to master them, and the skill and judgment their members have been expected to exercise.
Through history, women have come cheap (through no fault of their own), and the libraries of the world have not hesitated to take advantage of the fact. If they can take advantage by paying highly-educated practitioners humble wages, all to the good of the institutional economy; if they can persuade their clientele that they don’t really need these well-trained practitioners, that a clerk with a high school diploma and a year’s experience can do “just as well,” then why keep those “expensive” librarians on the job? Dump ‘em, and fill their places with even-worse-paid clerks expected to function at levels of responsibility far beyond their training and education.
See an archive of Uncle Frank\'s previous articles here. On a personal note, \"Uncle Frank\" is really Grant Burns, an academic librarian in Flint, Michigan. I just finished reading his 1998 book Librarians in Fiction, and I highly recommend it as a spur to new reading.