Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thank goodness the ALA president has no real power or authority...

Flawless Logic

In between the lulls from answering questions at the Info desk ("Where are the bathrooms?"), I spend a lot of time browsing the interwebz.  I try to keep it library related lest Johnny Taxpayer see me browsing electronic websites and complain about their tax dollars being wasted.  There really aren't a lot of interesting library related websites out there, at least not enough to quench my ennui, so I read even the "boring" stuff.  That is how I came across the Library Journal interview with the ALA presidential candidates.

What disturbed me the most was Gina Millsap's response to the question regarding paralibrarians damaging the elite and pristine status of the Almighty MLIS of which was blessed to be accredited by the infallible ALA.  Okay, so that's not completely verbatim but I could read the underlying tone the question was trying to evoke.

She says, "There are more MLIS graduates than there are entry-level positions, but we’re having trouble finding managers and library administrators who are really qualified." 

Okay, first thought, why is there such a dearth of qualified librarians if the supply is so high?  Would it be because current managers did not do a good job, or any for that matter, of training and nurturing their potential successors?

She ends her answer with:  "I think we are going to have MLS librarians moving right into management from their studies, especially as we boomers retire.
How do you prepare a librarian to be a manager if that is their first job? 
There are library schools working on this, but part of it can only come from experience, or from a practicum. 
LIS programs will have to provide more opportunities for MLIS students to work with administrators and managers."

WTF lady!?!?  Thanks for giving the middle finger to every librarian out there who "is stuck" at a Librarian I position or the countless other underemployed and unemployed MLIS holders.  Do you know what this is?  This is a clear symptom of Library Management Syndrome.  It is a sign of the complete and utter lack of touch management has with branch employees. 

If  my current supervisor was replaced with someone right out of library school I would go ape-ish.  Forget Going Postal, I'm "Going Biblio": I'm kicking over book carts, jamming all the public printers and copiers, I'm going to circulate the Reference collection, hell, I'm going to tear down every single one of those damn Kitten Calenders in the backroom!  

You have to be crazy to think that just because someone with no library work experience, who just "earned" an MLIS, must mean that they can go from the classroom to the Info Desk successfully, let alone one with a II or III at the end of their title.  You are just the visionary role-model the world's biggest library association needs!  If this position had any real authority what-so-ever, you would see me on the next episode of "Doomsday Preppers."

Yet another example of how current and past librarians are screwing over the profession and field in general.  YOU LIBRARIANS WILL BE THE REASON FOR LIBRARY EXTINCTION!  My friend is going through this right now.  She has been in the library system as a Librarian I for about 5 years now, she's put in her time and hard work.  She's joined numerous committees (not like there's any shortage of them to join but still), she has taken the training and shown the initiative to lead.  And it has all been for naught, she is now looking out of the system, out of the region for a chance to climb the library managerial ranks.  She isn't the power thirsty/power trip type either.  Do libraries not care about succession plans for employees and managers?  It will be the library's loss when she leaves and they'll end up hiring Jane Greenhorn as a branch manager.  You know they don't teach you how to handle "special patrons" in library school.

How about this, now this is just me spit-balling here, brainstorming, you know, using my BRAIN/COMMON SENSE, how about instead of having LIS schools attempting (wasting time) to train students for these managerial positions, the library, you know, take a serious look at the current supply of able-bodied MLIS holders who already have library experience.  Crazy sounding, I know, some might even call it revolutionary, put a pin in that.


  1. Oh ho ho. The whole failure to grow from within as well as the giving the finger to librarians already in the trenches is certainly right on. I could go on (I may blog about this) because it is indeed so wrong. And yet, the so-called experts in our field take it as gospel.

    1. Damn Librarians and their passive-aggressiveness, they've taken so much ish already (budget cuts, ebook issues) and now we have to worry about this coming from within the system.

  2. As a first-year MLIS student who actually works in a library full-time (no, really. crazy, I know) it does worry me a bit when I see fellow students with no library knowledge discussing how libraries should work. It also worries me when they have never heard of Google Scholar before we talk about it in class. Yikes.

    1. I encountered a lot of these "I have all the answers to the library's problems even though I have zero experience working in one" students. Yes, their enthusiasm is nice, but I feel like when they do end up working in a library, if they can even find a job, they will quickly become the latest generation of disenfranchised and bitter librarians.

  3. Sorry to be so late to the party. I just found your post. With respect, you've misinterpreted what I meant. That's the problem with not having a real conversation and not seeking clarification. In my library, we've created a cohort of librarian leaders. None of them are in formal leadership at this time, but we are investing in them with training and assignments to be leaders and to demonstrate the value of librarians within the institution and in the community. I had wonderful mentors as a new librarian and I'm paying that forward with less colleaguesin my own library and around the country. Here's what I meant with my statement about new graduates moving into management. Look at the data --- we are graduating more entry level librarians than there are positions available. So, what does a new graduate do? He or she either seeks a job out of the profession or seeks a position for which they may not have all the qualifications, specifically experience. My point was that we need to look to library education to help prepare newly graduated librarians for the reality of the workplace they're coming into. If the only job available is supervisory, how do we help them improve their chance to stay in the profession? That is what I'm seeing as a library administrator with 35 years of experience in the profession and 16 years as a public library director. Not all librarians will make good managers, regardless of their tenure in the profession. The goal should be to identify those folks whether they're already in libraries or in library school and make sure they're prepared to lead and manage effectively. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

    1. Hey Miss Gina,
      Thanks for the reply! I have taken the opportunity to turn my reply into a post of its own since it would have ended up being a long, long comment. Comment Reply Over Here