I’m giving you a short one today, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m feeling a bit down in the mouth. Chip thinks I might have the swine flu, but I’m pretty sure he’s not a licensed physician.
No, I’m giving you a short one because I want to take a survey of sorts. Some colleagues and I were arguing over what the criterion is for being a librarian. It’s amazing how heated a silly argument could be, but we were all in disagreement.
Is a librarian anyone with an MLS? Would someone with an MLS, but who didn’t work in a library or as a librarian, still be considered a librarian? My position was that just having an MLS doesn’t make someone a librarian. One has to actually work as a librarian or in a library to be a "librarian."
But what about those people who do work in libraries, and who do high level work normally considered professional, but who don’t have an MLS? Can they ever be considered librarians? I said yes, but I was distinctly in the minority.
And what about that tiny minority of people with a bachelor’s degree in library science who don’t have MLS degrees. Can they ever be librarians?
So what is a librarian? Do we use a formal criterion – having an MLS? Or a functional criterion – working in a library doing librarian-type work? Or some combination of the two?
My position is that if it look like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a librarian. Thus, a librarian would be someone doing librarian-type work in a library, and those people with MLSs who no longer work in libraries aren’t librarians. Would you consider someone with an MSW a social worker if they didn’t work as a social worker? I wouldn’t. And the longer it’s been since the person worked in a library, the further from librarian the person is.
But what do you think? What is a librarian?