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Librarians are Like Social Workers, at Least in LA

According to AL Direct, the School if Information Science at LSU is going to be combined into a new department with the schools of education and social work. That should do a lot to raise its intellectual profile on campus and increase the intellectual rigor of the program. I was thinking about this in relation to my post on academic librarians desperate to be loved by the "faculty" while not really being taken seriously. It should hardly be surprising that real faculty don’t consider librarians to be real faculty. Would they consider someone with a master’s degree in social work or education to be "real" faculty?

Maybe it’s just in Louisiana that librarians are considered the equivalent of school teachers and social workers. Not that there’s anything wrong with school teachers and social workers; I just don’t consider anything I do similar to what social workers do. In my library snob way, I guess I also think it’s more important to have librarians than social workers, but then again I’ve never had much contact with either of them as a client. From what I hear about a lot of public libraries, a degree in social work would probably be an even more appropriate degree than an MLS. This could be the new trend as libraries become de facto homeless shelters and day care centers and such in places that aren’t willing to pony up to house their homeless and take care of their children.

It’s been a dark week. I’ll be glad when Chip is back from his vacation.

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Comments

  1. CUZ says:

    Academic libraries are quickly becoming learning centers so the dependence on librarians is going to fade away and cleaning up after kids, breaking up fights, wiping noses, … basically social work so I think that training and hiring social workers over librarians is a great idea.

  2. Anon says:

    In some of the public libraries I have worked in, a degree in social work should be a REQUIREMENT. Had one co-worker with a social work degree, and she was by far more valuable to the staff than any librarian. Of course, she couldn’t move up to a management position because she lacked a library degree, even though it would have been worthless in that environment. That particular library was a day care/activity center for underprivileged youth, nobody READ anything there.

    And that’s not uncommon. Most libraries today are getting social service tasks dumped on them with no training, funding, or staffing to handle it. Of course, it would be better to have a separate facility to handle the homeless and the latchkey kids, since they have driven out anybody wanting to use the library for its intended purpose, but that would involve effort.

  3. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    I don’t know where you work, CUZ, but I think you’re dead wrong. “Libraries are dead/moribund” is a theme that’s been playing ever since I was a wee library school student back in the early 1980s. Every fall I continue to be amazed at what students don’t know … yes, of course our library is a learning center. All libraries are. Our poorly prepared youth don’t know how to do much of anything other than pass state-mandated exams. So we teach them how to function in a real academic environment. We also do a heck of a lot of work with faculty – their PiledHiger&Deeper degrees don’t necessarily make them research whizzes. They want tenure and many of them visit us on a regular basis. How can you say no to people paying homage with flowers and chocolate? Like AL, I’d prefer a martini but that’s not allowed … sigh … a two-martini lunch would make our days ever so much lovelier.

  4. LSU-SLISGrad89 says:

    I have fond memories of our LSU library school intramural volleyball team, the Dewey Decimators, facing the school of social work’s Bleeding Hearts in what was affectionately known as The Wimp Bowl. Hard to believe they’re merging. Keep your enemies close, as they say…

  5. Just some guybrarian says:

    Why don’t they just call it the “School of Women’s Work?”

  6. Dances With Books says:

    Their Piled Higher and Deeper degrees don’t make the faculty very good teachers either. I was a public school teacher, and my degree is in teaching, so I know a thing or two about pedagogy. Not to mention library instruction experience. A lot of those PhD’s may be good at content, but know jack about teaching.

    Anyhow, back on track, I have wondered if getting my MSW would be a good idea. These days I deal with more issues than academic things here at Backwater Rural Branch (BRB) U. I wonder what college is that where the faculty give flowers and homage. It sure as hell is not here where Dr. Campus Prez would like nothing better than to shut the library down. But that would be another rant.

    P.S. Do you think you can get the damn captcha fixed?

  7. Abigail says:

    Perhaps librarianship is not akin to social work in an academic library setting. However, working in a public library system within an urban setting does require a certain amount of social work skills. Even a professor of mine in grad school touted this truth. (Touted it but within a curriculum that did not offer any social work instruction.)

    If you are working in an affluent, suburban neighborhood you probably won’t need these skills. If you’re helping undergrads find articles for their expository writing class, your ML(I)S degree should be all you need. Working in the Bronx, NYC? Yes… a course in social work would help any librarian. As well as self-defense…

  8. Geaux Tigers says:

    LSU’s library school kept the “L”-word. It was (and still is, at least for a little while longer) the “School of Library and Information Science”. I’m sure they’re not taking this attempt to combine them with Education or whoever laying down. AL may have been implying the LSU SLIS’s programs are lacking in intellectual rigor with her statement that the combination attempt “should do a lot to raise its intellectual profile on campus and increase the intellectual rigor of the program.” I went to LSU. While some of the classes were a lacking in rigor, others were quite rigorous – some had major reading requirements and required a seminar paper. AL is probably right that any attempt to do away with the LSU SLIS’s independence won’t help its credibility though. She misses the point, though, about when and under what circumstances teaching faculty would consider librarians “real faculty”. I’ve found they consider them real faculty when they have doctorates, when they publish well-researched, well-argued scholarship, and when they act assertively to advance their institution. Librarians who do all that are few and far between and I doubt a chancg in the name of the master’s level libraryish degree will matter for them.

    I also have good memories of the LSU SLIS – I graduated in the early 2000′s and we had heard legends of the Dewey Decimators. In our day the main action was in tailgating. If you think librarians are mousy the LSU SLIS contigent in the student section in Death Valley would have proved you wrong. Geaux Tigers ya’ll.

  9. HZF says:

    Why do we need librarians anyway?

    Why not hire social workers to deal with the public, IT professionals to do the technical stuff, MBA’s to manage the people, and people from sheltered workshops to slap labels onto the books and stick them onto the shelves?

  10. publibrary says:

    Because most librarians are trained to do all of that, plus a lot more, HZF.

  11. HZF says:

    “Because most librarians are trained to do all of that, plus a lot more, HZF.

    They are poorly trained in all these areas. I would much rather see some highly competent person working at something they are good at rather than some bun wearing, spinster, Jill of all trades fumbling around hoping that I will just go away so they can return to their Harlequin Romance novel.

  12. questioner of HZF says:

    Hey, HZF, I’m trying to figure out which of those people – the IT professionals, the MBA’s and peoplle from sheltered workshops – can tell me whether there’s any bibliographic resource that does for pre-1800 French imprints what ESTC does for English imprints. I need to verify a citation and I’ve checked the BNF and the older BNF printed catalogs but I can’t tell if any of the records in there describe the book I saw cited. If it was an English book I know the ESTC record would cover it. I need to know if there is there a similar source for early printed French works? So, ah, HZF which person from among the three types you mention should I ask?

  13. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    HZF – if you’re in the profession, get out. Sounds like you hate libraries, librarians and information-centered work. Or you’re a frustrated wannabe. There are some duds, won’t deny it, but many many librarians are phenomenal teachers, techno whizzes, and married, to boot.

    Dances with Books – I work for a very small private university. It was founded by Catholic religious and the “do unto others” is taken seriously. And they have no problems with OnTheHighwayToHell Episcopalians.

  14. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    HZF – if you’re in the profession, get out. Sounds like you hate libraries, librarians and information-centered work. Or you’re a frustrated wannabe. There are some duds, won’t deny it, but many many librarians are phenomenal teachers, techno whizzes, and married, to boot.

    Dances with Books – I work for a very small private university. It was founded by Catholic religious and the “do unto others” is taken seriously. And they have no problems with OnTheHighwayToHell Episcopalians.

  15. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Beautifully put, question of HZF!

  16. SKP says:

    Not only are librarians easily annoyed they are fun to poke at with a stick.

  17. Techserving You says:

    I have not read all the comments yet… but Abigail was the first one to point out the distinction between academic libraries and public libraries when it comes to the topic at hand. I’ve noticed that most posters here have their perspective, based on the type of library with which they are familiar (either through work or their own experience as a patron.) Public library work and academic library work can be two VASTLY different things. Just remember this when you say ‘the dependence on librarians is going to fade away and cleaning up after kids, breaking up fights, wiping noses…’ or that there is no similarity betweenthe work of librarians and social workers. It all depends on the type of library.

  18. don't f*** with the librarian says:

    “Not only are librarians easily annoyed they are fun to poke at with a stick.”

    Some us know how to disarm you of that stick pretty quickly (and a few of us even know how to hit back). So perhaps you’d better watch yourself.

    (No, that’s not a real threat of violence, before anyone gets their underwear in a wad…it’s a response using an allusion of the same tenor and level found in the original comment. But it’s a serious statement.)

  19. sidney says:

    “AL may have been implying the LSU SLIS’s programs are lacking in intellectual rigor with her statement that the combination attempt “should do a lot to raise its intellectual profile on campus and increase the intellectual rigor of the program.”"

    Considering comments I’ve read in the past on the blog, or at least the old blog, I think it’s more likely the AL is mocking the intellectual standards of social work and education. Thus, joining with those schools would lower the intellectual profile of the library school. Then again, who knows.

  20. the.effing.librarian says:

    I’m waiting for the job to devolve from social work to security guard to soldier of fortune; then I’ll come out from hiding in my office.

  21. another f-ing librarian says:

    “school of women’s work”. heh heh.

    can we all quit now? seriously. have we ever, as a pile, staged a walkoff?

    library science & education are definitely simp-magnets. not everyone’s a simp, but all the simps are here. or something.

    yeah. fix the dang captcha. is that a capital ‘s’ or a lower-case ‘s’ and what the he!! is the difference anyway? it’s for sure the same size as the upper-case ‘m’ it’s next to. And hey! What about that ‘u’…?

  22. Whining Librarian says:

    Maybe the influx of library school students will raise the intellectual standards of the social work and the education students. –

    No? –

    Well then, this could get the library grads ready to work in places where libraries come under departments of education.

  23. Whining Librarian says:

    Maybe the influx of library school students will raise the intellectual standards of the social work and the education students. –

    No? –

    Well then, this could get the library grads ready to work in places where libraries come under departments of education.

  24. Whining Librarian says:

    Is there an echo in here?

  25. XPV says:

    As a Tiger I am so glade I am getting another masters now and more then likely switch fields because now my degree is worth less then it was before.

  26. Dr. Pepper says:

    Questioner, what you said can be done if someone works in an environment and wants to learn. I know MLIS librarians, in the field for the last 20 years, that don;t know how to do what you described, but I do know specialists with other degrees that can (not necessarily IT/MBA). I do agree that the management and IT components can be done by other professionals *better* than MLIS grads can. Just like I acknowledge that specialist knowledge can’t be undertaken by any joe-the-plumber (hard core MLIS-only) librarians need to get that librarians can’t do everything. Libraries are at a point where the multidisciplinary nature of the institution needs to be reflected by the professionals that work in it in order to provide the best possible service to patrons.

  27. questioner of HZF says:

    “Questioner, what you said can be done if someone works in an environment and wants to learn. [etc.]”

    Yes. But many IT people, MBA’s, et. al. do not. Kudos and the utmost respect to the ones that do.

    “Just like I acknowledge that specialist knowledge can’t be undertaken by any joe-the-plumber (hard core MLIS-only) librarians need to get that librarians can’t do everything.”

    Sure, in the example I gave there would be some historians, scholars of French literature, etc. that could answer that whether or not they had MLS’s. I was just offering that question as a way of deflating the trite and undefensible trope that comes up on this blog OVER and over a-f***ing-gain that “all librarians are a bunch of useless idiots, etc. etc.” (Few refine and qualify their statements as you do, Dr. Pepper – most just hype the same ill-substantiated trite & hackneyed points).

  28. questioner of HZF says:

    “Questioner, what you said can be done if someone works in an environment and wants to learn. [etc.]”

    Yes. But many IT people, MBA’s, et. al. do not. Kudos and the utmost respect to the ones that do.

    “Just like I acknowledge that specialist knowledge can’t be undertaken by any joe-the-plumber (hard core MLIS-only) librarians need to get that librarians can’t do everything.”

    Sure, in the example I gave there would be some historians, scholars of French literature, etc. that could answer that whether or not they had MLS’s. I was just offering that question as a way of deflating the trite and undefensible trope that comes up on this blog OVER and over a-f***ing-gain that “all librarians are a bunch of useless idiots, etc. etc.” Few refine and qualify their statements as you do, Dr. Pepper – most just hype the same ill-substantiated trite & hackneyed points.

  29. questioner of HZF says:

    “Questioner, what you said can be done if someone works in an environment and wants to learn. [etc.]” Yes. But many IT people, MBA’s, et. al. do not. Kudos and the utmost respect to the ones that do. “Just like I acknowledge that specialist knowledge can’t be undertaken by any joe-the-plumber (hard core MLIS-only) librarians need to get that librarians can’t do everything.” Sure, in the example I gave there would be some historians, scholars of French literature, etc. that could answer that whether or not they had MLS’s. I was just offering that question as a way of deflating the trite and undefensible trope that comes up on this blog OVER and over a-f***ing-gain that “all librarians are a bunch of useless idiots, etc. etc.” (Few refine and qualify their statements as you do, Dr. Pepper – most just hype the same ill-substantiated trite & hackneyed points).

  30. questioner of HZF says:

    I obviously didn’t post that thing four times on purpose. F***ing LJ blog system.

  31. Dr. Pepper says:

    Let’s all send mass emails to LJ about this horrific comment system. How hard is it to incorporate Disqus on here? :-) (by the way – good points questioner) —- (stupid comment system didn’t let me post this until the 6th try)

  32. TheCompleatLibrarian says:

    Most of what I see is that the job is more about being security than really anything else. Now I have gotten the occasional, “where is the bathroom,” but that is simple lessons learned LS school. Someone may spill a smoothie on the keyboard, but I learned that in LIS 7654 a napkin is the appropriate tool for the job. Rampant children running aimlessly around need one of the child catchers of Vulgaria to bring them in.

  33. Mr. Kat says:

    What happens, Questioner, when your precious Z section gets Digitalized and the print version gets dumped?

    My problem with any bibliography collection is reviewer bias, coupled with company scope, further coupled with the amount of the bibliographic universe that the editor could cram in the edition, and finally finished off by the year the volume was published.

    You keep bringing up these rare Obscure questions only a Librarian could come up with – OR someone who has become used to having a Librarian do their work for them [the very definition of welfare!!!].

    I have no sympathy for Noob People [people too dumb to figure things out for themselves] because as I see it, they are Noobs because nobody every challenged them to find the answer ont heir own when they were younger. As a result, now that they are adults, they are helpless and powerless to do work for themselves.

    I was checking resource citations the three years before I went and got an MLS. All it takes to become fluent in the informaiton resources on a topic is an investment of time in the subject matter. There are no shortcuts to competency and expert positions on the subject matter. If Ph.Ds are coming in asking for this information, I have to question the calibre of their degree of study.

    The people who configure budgets have figured it out…the library is just enabling the rest of the unversity to slack off – SO CUT THEIR BUDGET!!!

  34. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Mr. Kat … you boggle my mind on a regular basis. In my experience people enter graduate programs without a whole lot of knowledge about research resources. Maybe because that landscape is ever-changing? I believe that is why libraries and librarians will persist in one form or another. We are the subject matter experts and know how to navigate the information tools students need. Our faculty can’t be considered SMEs – they tend to have super-narrow fields of interest/study.

    On a final note, Mr. Kat: Surely there is something in this vast universe you are too stupid to figure out. So cut why don’t you try cutting others some slack?

  35. Questioner of Kat says:

    Mr. Kat,

    I’ve tried to be polite to you in the past on this blog, but your attempt to question the question, as it were, only reveals your own arrogance and vacuity.

    First of all, your claim that I keep “bringing up these rare Obscure questions only a Librarian could come up with” is ridiculous. Long before I was a librarian I used to ask questions like that; I asked plenty of librarians questions like that when I was in graduate school earning my Ph.D. Nor was I the only one to do so, and nor am I today. Whether the question is “rare and obscure” depends upon one’s point of view. In many public libraries it would be. But is it so rare in academic libraries? There’s a lot of universities out there with history and literature departments and it’s not like there’s only 1-2 people in the whole world who study eighteenth-century literature. You might not meet them on the street every day, but so what? Many questions asked in an academic research library aren’t the kinds you’d hear on the street every day. That doesn’t mean they’re not important. So the obscurity is dependent on point of view. Step down from your arrogant posturing and you might realize that.

    The question I posed wasn’t a matter of simple factual information. It was a question that required the subjective judgement of someone familiar with the bibliography of early modern printed books. Notice I *didn’t* ask a question that had a simple cut-and-dried answer.

    So your carp about “noobs” being too lazy to do work on their own or not knowing how to look for information is also invalid. You MIGHT have had a point if I had asked something like “give me a bibliography of early French books” and had been too lazy or ignorant to know about obvious answers like the BNF catalog. I didn’t. Instead I asked a question that would require someone to think about what ESTC is, what it does, how people use it, who had made anything similar for French works, how people used THAT, and how those uses actually and potentially converged and diverged. That requires judgement, not just knowledge of facts.

    Further your statement “My problem with any bibliography collection is reviewer bias, coupled with company scope, further coupled with the amount of the bibliographic universe that the editor could cram in the edition, and finally finished off by the year the volume was published” reveals you don’t even understand my original question itself. We’re not talking about enumerative bibliography of the type used for evaluating contemporary collections and selecting materials. The question had to do with finding a resource that was similar to ESTC but covered early French imprints. So what the F*CK does “reviewer” bias have to do with it? There are obviously no “reviews” in ESTC (or that would be obvious if you knew what it was; one would think you would know what it is before you set to arrogantly dismissing a question about it). And what the h*ll is “company scope” and what the h*ll does it have to do with ESTC or resources like it? ESTC isn’t published by a company; it was came from a national library collaborative.
    So your very claim about the “problems” you have with bibliography only shows – once again – that you don’t know what the f*ck you are talking about.

    I have no idea who the he!! you really are, and I don’t care. I do know this – you have an attitude and display a level of arrogance that is unwarranted.
    If you really are smarter than everyone else, why do you choose some anonymous blog comments to display it? It seems like to me if you’re so f***ing brilliant you should be out making money or working in an intellectually rewarding job or living some other fulfilling life than sitting around complaining on some LJ blog.

    Lose the ‘tude dumba$$. At least know what you’re talking about before you spout off.

  36. Public Librarian questioner says:

    My guess is Mr. Kat is someone who never did find a job although he looked, is bitter about it so haunts this blog to justify himself by belittling librarians and library users. With that attitude, he wouldn’t be good at working with people because he’d dismiss everyone who walked through the door. I work in the public sector where many people are poor; they don’t have the educational background to find what they need on their own. Of course they don’t ask the more complex questions that Questioner lists, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not rewarding work, that the people I help are stupid, nor does it mean that these people and their information needs don’t matter.

  37. Mr. Kat says:

    I did find a job, it starts in September, and it has the best benefits package barring none in the United States. Complete healthcare, complete childcare, complete housing, complete education, complete retirement, it’s all in there whether I want it or not. If I get the position I want, I’ll be very comfortable. If I get the lowest possible position I qualify for, I’ll still be very happy for the next 30 years. If I decide to go back to libraries after this career, I will have enough management experience to be a director if I wish.

    I come from a background where the graduate students must have a firm background on research resources because that is the only way they get positions with advisors to go on in their education.

    Don’t give me this crap that Poor people can’t do research for themselves – I came from a Poor background. It’s not physcial poverty that brings you patrons – it’s mental poverty you’re fighting.

    I went to the reference desk with my requests once and I learned in about ten seconds I was wasting their time. Anything they could tell me I already knew. Anything they could show me I already used. The only function they could actually fill was InterLibraryLoans of journal documents – and you’d think there’s be higher scanning standards for what passes as an acceptable scan.

    I have to question the value of resources that take this much cognitive ability just to be used. If it takes this much mind power to use them, then these resources are ripe for replacement.

  38. Mr. Kat says:

    Oh yes, and I looked up your ESTC and it’s a GREAT resource – 30 years ago!

    I’ll be very content when Wikipedia overhauls this flat database skeleton.

  39. Public Librarian questioner says:

    Unless you were laid off in the present economy, Mr. Kat, I figured you had a job; this being a website for librarians, I was referring to a library job. Congratulations on your new job. Seeing that you are about to start this job, why not just relish that? There’s no need for justification. And you don’t know anything about where I work, what I do, nor what my patrons need, so why not cut my library’s users a little slack? It’s not necessary to cut down other people.