| May 13, 2013

A Conversation on The Value of the LIS Degree

  • David Lankes

    One of the values to me of professional preparation is looking beyond a single type of institution, and certainly providing guidance and support as the professional area evolves. Librarians need to be able to meet community needs (across the hierarchy) both within libraries and outside of them. If we don’t consider this, then the profession becomes little more than a guild fighting for employment.

    By focusing on librarians and their development within and outside of libraries, we can make a more responsive professional. We introduce new perspectives from other fields, and we continue to try and evolve new service models.

    • Matthew Gunby

      I agree, but i think we need to bring organizations that hire librarians (and I am happy to keep this as broad as possible) into this conversation as well. To some extent the future of an industry should be developed within the framework of student-faculty relations, but we leave the current professionals out of the conversation at our own peril. If current employers are asking what they can do with cheaper non-LIS staff and part-time staff, we need a value added proposition that can rigorously support why an MLIS graduate is the best choice. If they are not or the MLIS has evolved into something else, this is something we need to be very transparent about, and ask honest questions about the educational and economical underpinnings of this new model.

  • Erin Antes

    I agree with Matt in that if we don’t focus on ourselves first, we’ll never get to the point of accomplishing Jill’s goals. Having graduated in December and applied for 10+ paraprofessional positions vs. 1 full-time librarian position, I’m having a tough time seeing the value. In a field where there are employees still in high school AND employees with MLIS degrees, combined with our fantastic economy, I am not surprised in the least that parapros are being hired to do what we’ve been given a degree for.

    I’ve told several people this already, but I wanted to mention that the most recent part-time, parapro position I applied for, I was passed up for a woman who had just gotten TWO Master’s degrees.. MLIS and Children’s Studies. How can I compete with that? And even more alarming, why is this the only thing she has to apply for? I have always been of the opinion that this degree should be a Bachelor’s and I stand firmly behind that.

  • Circulating Ideas: The Librarian Interview Podcast recorded an episode on this topic entitled “The State of the MLS”, http://www.circulatingideas.com/2013/05/the-state-of-mls.html This is the first of a two-part podcast, with the second part being released on May 15 as a LitTech podcast at http://edreach.us/podcast/littech-80-do-you-really-need-a-masters-degree-to-be-a-librarian