Why the MLS matters

In the news today, education professor Bill Ayers was turned away at the Canadian border. Professor Ayers noted that such seemed to be a violation of his academic freedom. While never tried and convicted in the United States for any Weather Underground related events, Canadian law cares not. Canada's counterpart to our USA PATRIOT Act can be somewhat more draconian and goes places that would scare Americans. The notoriety picked up during the campaign as well as his lack of repentance likely led the Canada Border Services Agency to exclude him as an undesirable alien. While he would have let himself into Canada, Canada's standards are different from those in force in the United States.

In the United States, we often don't ascribe much meaning to the MLS. This has been a lovely topic over the past couple years. Once you exit the United States and cross a national border, the MLS means everything. In far too many English-speaking realms, the lack of the MLS cannot be compensated for by position let alone position title. Whether you head up a hospital library or make great pieces of software that means nothing in too many realms when it comes to border crossings if you attempt to cross as a librarian instead of as a library paraprofessional if you lack the MLS. Even though I am notionally in private practice, I am able to be recognized for border-crossing purposes as a librarian while those lacking the MLS cannot. No amount of action to make paraprofessionals feel more respected will change the rules of foreign governments in terms of professional recognition. The MLS is the sole recognized credential that says librarian.

Speech that was okay in the United States was deemed undesirable abroad. Such isn't a violation of the First Amendment because that only applies to the US government and not foreign administrations. Recognition of professional status in the United States does not export abroad easily as the MLS matter shows.

Globalization can be interesting. Who really thought Pax Americana was even possible? This shows that we're hardly there at all.

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What's the connection between William Ayers and an MLS? He didn't get turned away at the border because he lacked an MLS. I'm guessing I won't get turned away when I go to OLA SuperConference, by their invitation, to speak to a bunch of librarians--and I'm pretty sure they know I don't have an MLS.

I must admit, I've never been asked at the U.S.-Canadian border whether I was a librarian, or indeed what my job was at all. What am I missing here?

The thought I think I was driving toward was: American culture and thought is not dominant in this world. Even though Mr. Ayers sees himself as just an average prof, Canada Border Services Agency doesn't. Even though we have seen Movers & Shakers define "librarian" downward pretty severely, that's not shared elsewhere if work visas become involved. I've been whacked with the charge of relativism before but I also recognize that the US is only a part of the whole world and is not itself the whole.

I actually had somebody here read through it and they said it made sense. Today's been a little hectic. My apologies for a logic hole. Right now those are just thoughts I am trying to connect together. I've done the Internet equivalent of thinking out loud.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

Is an undesireable alien. Would you want him in your country? We don't want Roman Polanski here. Same concept as other states not wanting the Mobro 400 garbage barge - keep your own trash.

Realistically, unfortunately, American pop culture has an outsize influence on the rest of the world--but we should be one of many nations, cultures, thought systems.

So if I want to get a work visa for Canada, I shouldn't call myself a professional librarian--which I wouldn't, because (as a too-long ALA member) I respect the MLS-holder definition of the term. But I still guess they won't turn me away next Wednesday when I cross the border to speak to hundreds of librarians...

As for a couple of other comments here: Today more than usual, I'm learning to ignore the LISNews Anonymous Squad.

I guess I also do not catch your meaning or purpose for this piece? It even got more confusing when you said "we have seen Movers & Shakers define "librarian" downward pretty severely" because I do not know what that means either.

This is pretty obvious in Ohio, anyway. People who aren't the least bit qualified for the position can be hired as a librarian or a manager of a library. The degree means nothing here.

When watching "The Wall" by Pink Floyd someone will always comment, "This is better to watch if you are high."

I think that may also be true of StephenK's MLS post.

Whoever you are, it matters not. As for narcotics, they weren't involved. I apologize for offending you with thinking out loud. That you chose to read what I wrote means any injury was self-inflicted.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

If you cannot play nice, why even participate?

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