Ten Reasons Why Professional Librarian is an Oxymoron


I absolutely concur despite this stance invalidating the $20,000+ that I will be spending for a piece of paper saying MLIS.  We as a profession have little to offer that is worthy of an advanced degree.  Do librarians really need MLIS degrees?  No.  Most of the work we do can be done by motivated staff.  Cataloging can be learned.  Reference can be learned (actually, reference can’t really be taught; it is an expertise best gained through experience).  All of the other stuff can be learned (and maybe learned better) by getting an MBA or Public Administration or other kind of degree.  Library schools don’t teach finance, accounting, budgets, human resource management, or marketing, and yet librarians are required to do and understand many of these things as they work in libraries.  The most sought after librarian skills are the ones that have little to do with MLIS curriculum: HTML, Java, and plain old work experience.

Am I unhappy with my chosen path? No.  I truly believe that this is where I should be.  Am I unhappy with my education? Overall, no.  My classes have asked me to confront the issues that libraries face in order to help them move forward.  But I do think that some of these competencies are not taught and better learned elsewhere.  Libraries are more of a business than other public services.   In order to move the profession forward, schools are going to have to give their students a better skill set coming out.

Also, politics.  I don’t know if it exists at other schools, but there should be a class on engaging in politics.  It should be a requirement.  Any librarian that thinks that they do not have to politic is part of the problem.  If we aren’t better politicians, then we are justifiably screwed by our local governments.

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