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Yet More Trouble in the Pelican State

The Pelican State just can’t catch a break. First Katrina. Then the BP oil leak. And now the threatened closure of the LSU School of Library and Information Science!

I guess when put like that, the closure of the LSU SLIS doesn’t seem so bad, but the folks down in Louisiana sure think so. A couple of weeks ago the Louisiana Library Association Executive Board passed a resolution urging the powers that be not to close the SLIS.

As resolutions go, it’s not bad, and significantly better than some that pass through the ALA Council. It doesn’t just say, “hey, we need a library school!” Instead, it points out money the school brings in from fundraising and grants, notes the necessity for the degree for professional library jobs, and claims that most of the libraries in the state hire LSU SLIS grads, leaving out the fact they probably have no choice.

It also points out LSU is the 22nd ranked library school, but given that there are only about 60 ALA-accredited library schools, that might have been left out.

It seems a better defense than one offered by the Dean of the school, as reported in this LJ article:

“Our graduates are in demand across the state and the nation,” continued Paskoff, who noted that 57 percent of the state residents don’t have Internet access in their homes, but “every parish has a library where citizens have free access to computers to complete social service forms or find essential health information or where their children can do homework.”

That every parish has a library with a public Internet connection doesn’t really prove that the graduates are in demand. This just proves that lots of people don’t have home Internet connections.

The accompanying letter claims that the closure will force graduates to leave the state to get the degree just when Louisiana is “trying to retrain and attract educated citizens to the state.”

That’s an arguable claim in some ways. Is Louisiana really trying to retain and attract educated citizens? It seems doubtful. My experience of the Pelican State is confined to New Orleans, but it doesn’t seem to be a state that particularly values education. It seems hard to believe that’s a priority of Governor Bobby “I Hate Big Government Until I Need It” Jindal, but who knows.

Also, citizens won’t necessarily be forced to leave the state, since several library schools have online diploma mills library schools where students can do all the work for the MLS from the comfort of their own sofas, curled up with their cats and American Idol.

There’s only one problem with that, though: Louisiana is one of the poorest states in the USA. Looking at various poverty statistics, it seems to hover somewhere between 47and 49, with only Mississippi as the buffer keeping it from ever scoring last. Louisiana citizens probably can’t afford the out-of state tuition that the online schools charge.

That Internet statistic is telling. When the Internet has around a 75% penetration in the United States, having 57% of the Louisiana citizens with no Internet connection tells us something. The digital divide is enormous. That’s a sign both of poverty and a lack of interest in having educated citizens.

Another sign is that, according to the resolution, approximately 75% of Louisiana libraries hire LSU SLIS graduates. Unless 25% of them hire graduates exclusively from other schools, the likely assumption is that 25% of the libraries don’t have professional librarians at all. Another sign of poverty. Poor people can’t afford to fund good libraries. I hope those libraries at least have Internet connections and some children’s books.

It thus seems likely that if the LSU SLIS is closed, relatively few Louisianians (is that right? it looks weird) will be ponying up for out-of-state tuition for an online program.

They could of course go out of state to study, but that’s even more expensive. Based on this nifty map of library schools, the closest ones seem to be the University of North Texas-Houston program (which I’m pretty sure is in South Texas, but never mind) and the University of Southern Mississippi.

I’m assuming Houston, TX is more expensive than Hattiesburg, MS, so the most likely choice would be USM, which in most categories would be considered a step down from LSU, unless the category was How Much We Did to Keep an African American Out of our School.

The wiser ones might head a bit further east or north, where there are more schools. And, given that only 75% of Louisiana libraries hire librarians, there are also probably more jobs elsewhere, which would be an incentive not to return to the state, along with Katrina, oil spills, poverty, and low educational standards. This would be a tiny Louisiana brain drain.

Why tiny? Because the school doesn’t graduate that many students. About 60 per year. The number of MLS holders coming into the state would be reduced if the program is closed, but who knows if they’d have jobs anyway.

The smallish program might work against SLIS in the budget wars now, but I have the solution to their ills. Instead of resolving to beg that the school shouldn’t be closed, they should resolve to turn that baby into a cash cow the way some other schools have done. Go online only! And use the poverty to your benefit! LSU graduated 60 MLS students last year. SJSU graduated 471, most of them probably full payers. Big difference.

Here’s the list of schools offering an online-only MLS. What do we notice about that list? That all but one of those programs are in states richer than Louisiana, and the only one from a poorer state is USM again, and that’s one of the universities on the list ranked significantly lower than LSU. Those schools in richer states probably have higher out-of-state tuition.

So, the solution is clear. The LSU SLIS should start up an online-only MLS program, and set their out-of-state tuition lower than the rest of the programs. “We’re cheaper than SJSU and better than USM!” they could say, or something like that.

Sure, it would just generate more unemployed librarians, but it might be the only way to ensure there are any librarians left in the state.

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Comments

  1. EditorLibrarian says:

    That’s just an alphabetical list of accredited library schools, not a ranked list of those with online only programs.

  2. Lisa W. says:

    FYI: LSU SLIS is in the process of starting up an online-only program, or at least was until the proposed elimination.

  3. Louisa says:

    Someone is bitter… and seems to have very low opinions of others. In what since would LSU be backwoods? Please tell me. As an educated Louisianian, I’d love to know.

  4. bgs says:

    It’s not true that Louisiana students would have to pay out-of-state tuition to attend any other library school. See the folowing from the June 10 Baton Rouge Business Report:
    ——
    “LSU participates in the Southern Regional Education Board Academic Common Market, which ensures that if a degree program is not available in one’s state, the student can pursue the degree in an out-of-state university while paying in-state tuition from their home state…LSU is the only institution in the state that offers the degree. Southern Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama also offer the degree.”

  5. bgs says:

    EditorLibrarian said “That’s just an alphabetical list of accredited library schools, not a ranked list of those with online only programs.”
    ——
    Go to bit.ly/9ouxEY and check the box for the search option that reads: “100% online program available”. Then click on “Perform Search”. ALA doesn’t appear to have a permanent URL for a list of schools offering the “100% online” option.

  6. AnnoyedReader says:

    USM isn’t ranked — Not ranked lower. That is a big difference. Personally, I wish no school would supply stats to US News since the rankings are nothing more then a popularity college (and I graduated from one of the top programs, and teach at one as well). Maybe the Annoyed Librarian should learn how to read before attacking the educational level of people in a whole region of the United States.

  7. Bernadette says:

    You are so right, AL. These hicks do not deserve a library school. They can’t read. They are stupid. There would be more money for you in NY and me in Boston if we’d just have them send their oil to us. They can watch the tee-vee and go to NASCAR or whatever they do there. You are getting it, lady. Those hicks deserve nothing..not understanding, not support from the library community. What have they ever done for us?
    New England rules. LJ finally gets it. Your voice, AL, is all we need.
    Forgetta Bout It down on the bayou.
    Thanks, AL. As always, you avoid the sentimental and tell it like it is.

  8. Andrew says:

    “Someone is bitter… and seems to have very low opinions of others. In what since would LSU be backwoods? Please tell me. As an educated Louisianian, I’d love to know.”

    Perhaps you meant to use sense instead of since? But as an educated Louisianian I’m sure you already knew that.

  9. Annoyed Librarian says:

    “attacking the educational level of people in a whole region of the United States.” Hmm, I don’t remember doing this. The statistics speak for themselves. Despite the data, I’m sure the average educational level by any measure is the same in LA as it is in MA, CT, NY, NJ, or PA.

  10. Raynor says:

    “Someone is bitter… and seems to have very low opinions of others.”

    Welcome to the neighborhood.

  11. eruvande says:

    “I’m assuming Houston, TX is more expensive than Hattiesburg, MS, so the most likely choice would be USM, which in most categories would be considered a step down from LSU, unless the category was How Much We Did to Keep an African American Out of our School.”

    Yes. In THE FIFTIES. Believe it or don’t, time actually does progress in a linear manner down here.

    What a bunch of classist drek.

  12. Louisa says:

    So sorry. It was early in the morning, and I didn’t look over my comment before I sent it in. My mistake was careless. It happens to the best of us. Just like the earlier comment where someone started a sentence with the conjunction “but”. I stand by my point.

  13. Annoyed Librarian says:

    Classist drek? Are you sure you mean “classist”? Is that really the appropriate adjective for the sort of drek this is?

  14. Just Another Dumb Southerner says:

    Ah, yes! Statistics. There’s no arguing that, is there? They prove everything! It is TOTES STATISTICALLY TRUE that everyone in LA is dumber than everyone in MA, CT, NY, NJ, or PA. Yes, these statistics tell us all we need to know, and there’s no such thing as, say, population density or per capita income discrepancies. There’s not even anything like a long history of state sponsored segregation that left a generational legacy we’re still dealing with today when it comes to racial gaps in achievement, income, and education. (unless the Annoyed Librarian can get a LOL’arious joke about how everyone in Mississippi is a racist who wants to keep darkies out of college, haha, SO TRUE and SO RELEVANT, what with USM being the only place ever that has a problematic racial history which doesn’t exist at all in places like MA, CT, NY, NJ, or PA!!!!) NO, those things don’t lie, THE STATISTICS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES and what they say is that everyone in the South/LA is a ignorant cousin-fu*ker! Hey, don’t get all mad with Annoyed Librarian, she’s just telling you THE STATISTICS. And besides, many, many of her close library friends are Southern!

  15. Just Another Dumb Southerner says:

    PS: it is in no way dismissive, problematic, arrogant, and just plain STUPID to compare Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, disasters that have ruined thousands of lives, destroyed economies and cities, and killed people all while devastating the South, to the closing of an LIS program that graduates 60 people a year. IN FACT, this is hilariously ironic and SOOOO FUNNY and I just don’t “get it” (most likely because I am not from MA, CT, NY, NJ, or PA) and how ironical and smart and witty and hip this fake and deliberately specious comparison is. It’s not at all trivializing or dismissive of Hurricane Katrina, the oil spill, and LSU’s problems and does not, at all, practically scream, “LOL, you guys, these stupids think they have problems but are too dummy-dumbs to know what counts as a real problem in their state, region, and community, amIright?!?!”

  16. John F says:

    Let me just say I was born and raised in NYC and now reside in LA. I have great pride in both areas for different reasons but, after reading this I’m almost embarrassed to admit being from the north east.

    Bernadette, I’ve been in your neck of the woods many times
    there are plenty of so called “hicks” there as well. People in glass houses…..

    The good thing about your post though is it just goes to show you, ignorance knows no geographical boundaries.

  17. Quick Study says:

    Close down all library schools.

    It is a waste of money to keep open libraries anyway, everyone has access to the internet.

    You don’t need a bunch of dusty old books to do stuff.

  18. M H Hayes says:

    I am not quite sure what my 2 cents would serve in this discussion; after all, I am somewhat biased, being a native of Louisiana, and a student of the SLIS program in question. And, personally, I have quite a few reasons for wanting to remain in my home state to complete my education. (Online only would not be an option for me…not for lack of an internet connection, but simply because I, personally, learn better in a traditional classroom setting.)

    Besides, how intelligent can I possibly be for actually wanting to remain in a place that my oh so wise neighbors to the North view strictly as an oil covered, hurricane ridden hell hole of poverty and ignorance? Silly me for thinking that closing our only masters level library program would only make the problems worse…ignorant country folks like us simply do not posses the capacity or the inclination to better ourselves.

    However, I would like to point out one factual misconception in you article. It’s just a small one, merely a trifle, but those 60 students that graduated from the program recently? Yes, yes, comparatively speaking, those are pretty small numbers. What you seem to have failed to grasp is that LSU’s MLS program is relatively small, especially when compared to other programs in LSU. My point being is that the LSU MLS program is turning out a proportionally HIGH number of graduates for the size of the program. And due to a combination of an aging population and recovery efforts from some of our recent disasters, there is a fairly high demand for trained librarians in our state at this point of time.
    Furthermore, we already have an online program of sorts…several of our course offerings are Distance Learning courses, which means we accomadate way more than just the students in the immediate Baton Rouge area. We are also experimenting with online only formats for some of the classes. It would not be much of a stretch to extend these services to out-of-state students, and further increase the numbers of our already growing program. (Oh, but wait…the looming threat of a potential full closure of the program may reverse that trend by scaring off potential future students! Clearly I am off base here.)

    Oh, but silly me…what do I know? I’m just an ignorant Southerner. I can’t possibly be capable of accurately assessing the overall worth of anything.

  19. overmatik says:

    Gosh, are there people who still care for a MLIS? All over the world Librarians are able to work with a bachelor’s(UK, Australia, Brazil…), I really never understood that.

  20. Morse says:

    Methinks the Southerners doth protest too much. The citizens of LA and MS are, on average, poorer and less educated than the citizens of most other states, including states in the northeast, midwest, and west. That’s a plain fact, and no cranky, humorless, self-defensive southerner with an MLS changes it. It seems to be only the southerners here who are claiming that statistic means everyone in the south is poor and ignorant.

  21. Cole says:

    I’m tired. I’m tired of endless budget cuts, oil washing up on our coast, and of meteorologists gleefully predicting an increased number of hurricanes this year. I’m tired of Louisiana being exploited like an imperial colony and I’m disgusted by the fact that we have allowed this to happen. Is Louisiana perfect? I will definitely be the first to state that it isn’t, but it’s my home and I love it here. I’ve lived in other places but I have a connection to this place that makes me want to stay and help make it a better place.

    I get your brand of negativity; I understand that you like to be provocative and get under people’s skin. You don’t understand us or our problems and I don’t think that you really care to, but I will give you one thing. You gave the best, most honest reason of all for LSU to keep the library school open when you stated, “…there are also probably more jobs elsewhere, which would be an incentive not to return to the state, along with Katrina, oil spills, poverty, and low educational standards.” We’ve definitely got a lot going against us and we need all hands on deck if we’re going to get ourselves out of this, but we’re no strangers to hard work and we don’t give up. More than anything I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to those who have rallied in support of our program; your support is greatly appreciated. We will never forget all that you have done for us.

  22. needs a 'nym says:

    Yeah, the overwrought defensiveness my fellow Southerners show whenever anyone points out their educational and socioeconomic rankings has always bugged me. We are at the bottom of the pile; whining when people point that out isn’t going to make things better.

    The reactions to the LSU closing are a great example of why our field will remain way over-supplied (and, therefore, underpaid) for the foreseeable future.

  23. M H Hayes says:

    “Methinks the Southerners doth protest too much.”

    Oh dear, this should be enlightening…

    “The citizens of LA and MS are, on average, poorer and less educated than the citizens of most other states, including states in the northeast, midwest, and west.”

    Your point being…? Seriously, I’m mystified. I was under the impression that the topic at hand was ‘whether or not the LSU Library and Information Science Masters progrgam should stay open or not’, not ‘are the citizens of the States of Louisiana, in fact, poverty stricken uneducated hicks.’
    Although, I have to say, I love how those statistics fail to take into account such things as population size and overall demographics.

    “That’s a plain fact, and no cranky, humorless, self-defensive southerner with an MLS changes it.”

    Ahhh, Ad-hominum attacks, where would a discussion on the internet be without you?
    Also, I believe you meant “southerner with an MLS Degree.”
    Unless there is someway for someone to actually posses a Master of Library Science. (A Mastery of Library Science, maybe…) Personally, I am only a student in a Master of Library Science program, and thus am not qualified to have my own MLS yet. But one day, one glorious day, I hope to join their ranks!

    “It seems to be only the southerners here who are claiming that statistic means everyone in the south is poor and ignorant.”

    Now I’m completely confused…are you saying that we all believe that there is no wide spread poverty/poor education in the South, or are you saying that we are the only ones who believe it? Or perhaps are you suggesting that we don’t understand statistics? Or am I misreading your statement entirely?
    And I still have yet to see what that has to do with the MLS program; I’ve also yet to see a scrap of conclusive evidence that convinces me that this program is superfluous.

  24. Karen N. says:

    AL, I can’t believe I used to like you.

    I moved from PA to LA specifically to take a library job. PA may be in the north, but it is not the land of milk and honey. It is a very, very “country” place, and much of America is. LA isn’t that different.

    Getting my library degree allowed me to leave that place. I would love to think that someone here in LA could get an MLIS and do the reverse. But I guess you don’t think they should be allowed to.

  25. Mary F-G says:

    As a long time reader of this blog and also a LA public library director who got my MLIS through LSU and who has two other master’s degrees from other states, I second the reactions of Karen N. and Cole. I’m a native Louisianian who moved back after a long time away, including 9 years near D.C. A poor population creates a poor tax base, and limited resources. In LA we do the best we can with the hand we’re dealt. If SLIS closes, that hand will be even worse. The public needs the libraries, and the libraries need LSU SLIS.

  26. Carolyn J Chatham says:

    I’m not a librarian, I’m not a college graduate. I’m not able to analyze statistics. What I am is a member of the support staff at a public library in Louisiana. Per capita we have more Librarians with MLS or MLIS degrees than any other public library in Louisiana and perhaps in several other regional libraries. Our librarians earned their degrees through several Universities. Yes, most received their degrees from LSU but several were from schools outside of La.. We have a librarian from Illinois who followed their spouse to a “better” job in Louisiana, a librarian from New Jersey who is a “converted” northerner who never wants to go back North. In a recent national search for a new Director, we received applications from Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Washington, California and Colorado. If Louisiana is so backward and stupid why did so many applicants from “better educated” areas of the country want to come here? Was it just so they could do their part to help the illiterate masses? Yes Louisiana is on the bottom of most of the so called statistical lists, but we are also aware that we are the ones who will have to change the statistics. Librarians have always been respected as keepers of knowledge. Our libraries do serve those who do not have ready access to the internet or even what is considered the basics of life. If the libraries do not continue to be supported by the knowledge of librarians with degrees, where will the public go for information. Not the biased news media, not the school systems that are also strapped by budgetary cuts and time constraints; it is the library. LSU might not be the highest ranked university but it is what we have and it is what we need.
    We are forced to work with the tools we are given and the LSU School of Library Science is a good tool.

  27. Eileenk says:

    Let me begin by saying I am a native of the Northeast but have lived in Louisiana for over 30 years, and I love this state and its people.

    The problem in Louisiana goes far beyond the probably closing of SLIS. Louisiana faces the systematic destruction of the entire higher education system because of unsustainable budget cuts. Everything except higher education and the charity hospital system is protected in the state budget because of the “good ole boy” network and deals struck in the state legislature. If there are any ignorant people in this state it is the legislators not the citizens.

    Our governor is so hell bent on becoming president (and God help us if he ever does) he won’t stand up and do what must be done to keep those of us who are fortunate enough to have a good education from leaving here. My two children were educated at LSU; both have left this state and will never come back.

    I suggest that if the Annoyed Librarian really gave a flying flip about anyone or anything other than his or her clearly overblown ego he or she would concentrate on trying to influence those who could keep the education system healthy in this state instead of insulting everyone who lives here!

    I figured I would have to forgo the sarcasm I’d dearly love to employ, like so many others above, and say it clearly so our Annoyed Librarian would get it!

    Signed – A Really Damned Annoyed Librarian!

  28. To Infinity and Louisiana says:

    I, too, moved to Louisiana to be a librarian. I’m originally from Virginia, grew up in Mississippi, and received a BS from a southern university. I moved to the Midwest after a few years to teach receiving my MLS from IU. I enjoyed my time in the Midwest but was ready to come home to the South. I love the South for the same reasons anybody from anywhere loves his/her home–simply, it’s HOME. Why would some of y’all want to condemn someone’s choice of home? Acting like that helps no one.

    Now, about the SLIS closure. It’s politics…for which LA is known. The folks “choosing” who gets to stay and who gets to go have agendas. Looking at simple statistics is not the best way to determine the worth of a program. There are other factors that should be considered like the fact that it is the only one in Louisiana. LSU just wants an easy way to add a little more $$ to another program’s pot and getting rid of the SLIS program is it.

    Let’s start putting shame where it belongs–NOT on AL or even the few bitter Yankees replying on this blog who are not indicative of the sweet people I know from New England and not on the loving, gentle people of Louisiana who know that being a good human being is not based on how rich or educated you are.

    Shame on LSU for taking the easy way out. Yes, the legislature is ignorant of how an education system should be run (just because you WENT to public school or university doesn’t mean you know how to RUN one). LSU, be courageous and cut the salaries of some of those highly paid administrators you have (several with over $200,000 salaries). There are more financially creative ways that could be used to solve LSU’s money woes. Someone just needs to be courageous and do them.

  29. Carolyn Underwood says:

    Let me tell you people who have no respect for libraries or librarians. You must have NEVER had a grandchild sit in your lap at the age of 2,3,4 and had one beg you over and over to read a captivating book such as Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Bears in the Night, or Curious George. There is no replacement for the bonding and priceless memories that are created when sitting down with your grandchild and reading to him/her. It instills in that child a love for reading (and for dusty old books)and a curiosity to learn about every imaginable thing in the world. A computer is a cold tool-devoid of any human interaction so desperately needed when children are beginning to learn. I work in a library and I can tell you that our books, our journals and our microfilm are valuable tools for those who have respect for a quiet, cool place to load their brains with knowledge. We have many students escaping to the library to find a quiet corner to study for exams – you can depend on the library for being ‘the’ place to ‘get er done’. I just wonder how many of the negative statements are coming from people who have never spent any time in a library, or had a parent or grandparent read Hungry Caterpillar to them. You negative, disrespectful people ARE sad and I don’t care how educated you are or where you are from, if you don’t love the library, you are not educated enough!

  30. Quick Study says:

    Flyover country does not need libraries or any other social services. They just need to pay their taxes so that New Yawk and LA are serviced.

  31. Southpaw says:

    One issue that doesn’t seem to have been mentioned is that the market here is already flooded with unemployed and underemployed MLS holders. The state has been under a hiring freeze, more or less, for the past 2 years; it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. Many positions, from public to academic to medical libraries, are not being filled for budget reasons. I know multiple MLS holders with extensive work experience who are working as paraprofessionals or in other fields because they’ve been unable to find a librarian job. And it doesn’t look like the situation is going to change any time in the future.

  32. Mary F-G says:

    As Carolyn J. Chatham suggested, people do want to come to Louisiana, so that says something good about it. My nephew will start Tulane Med. School in August, and I’m told there were over 43,000 applicants for about 1,800 slots. His apartment roommates will be from other states.

    EileenK and Infinity are right: politics is a big part of our problem. For example, while LSU SLIS is the only ALA accredited library science program, I think there are six journalism programs. We can’t blame anybody else for the bad resource allocation choices we make here at home for all kinds of agenda-driven reasons of various political stripes. But condescending insults and assumptions from those outside Louisiana are still not appreciated.

    For the record, I’m posting at home on vacation leave.

  33. Dr. Q says:

    A few corrections first. bgs is incorrect. The BR Business Report is poorly worded. Louisiana students would not be allowed to pay the Louisiana in-state tuition rate; they would be charged South Carolina’s in-state tuition rate without having to move to SC.

    AL, surprisingly, “classist” is correct. Your column reeks of snobbery and class privilege; it is classist in the same way that others are racist or sexist, etc. I suspect that it masks a deep and abiding sense of inferiority.

    Southpaw, the state government has a hiring freeze on, not local governments. New Orleans Public Library is opening 10 new branches next year; East Baton Rouge Public Library has 2 or 3 new branches slated to be built next year. SLIS students find jobs within 2 months of graduation, if they don’t find one before graduation. However, they do have to be willing to go where the jobs are in the state. Most of those who are not working in libraries are unwilling or unable to relocate. That’s true in any field.

    As for the statistics, it’s always easier to simply cite them than to understand and interpret them, but I’m not going to waste time arguing about that. The fact that Louisiana is ranked so low on all economic and educational measures argues for retaining the one program in the state that educates and trains public, school, academic, and special librarians, as well as archivists and other information professionals. As noted by Stephen Krashen in “The Case for Libraries and Librarians,” http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/case_for_libraries/index.html “Research shows that better public and school libraries are related to better reading achievement. . . . the presence of librarians and overall staffing contributes to reading achievement independent of other measures of library quality.” And as documented in “Libraries as a precondition for the creative economy” http://www.isocarp.net/Data/case_studies/577.pdf “There is no modern, electronic democracy
    without developed libraries, nor progressive society without dynamic activity in these
    organizations.”
    The only rational conclusion is that Louisiana needs librarians and libraries more than any other state in the nation.

  34. Gosh!! Close down all library schools.

  35. Mr. Kat says:

    Nicely spoken, Southpaw – This is not about LIBRARIES or even about LIBRARIANS but about MLS LIBRARIANS!

    Carolyn, does it take a Masters to build a collection for children that includes “The Hungry Caterpillar,” “Bears In the Night,” “Fox in Socks” or “Curious George?”

    Meanwhile, the organizations that represent libraries and library schools are all telling us that we MUST have a Masters to do this job. There are a number of boilerplate reasons, most of which fall apart after the reiteration of “but do you really need a MASTERS to do that [boilerplate reason]?”

    The reason we demand the MLS [if I have to attach "degree" to MLS so that you know what I'm talking about...you may be legally retarded...] in this profession is simple:

    By default, a person with a Masters should always be paid more than a person with a BA/AA/HSD, at least, in the minds of those who sell those degrees. If we want to raise the average wage in this field, and attract exciting new people to blow out the dust aka keep library school professors employed, we have to somehow force the market to offer the best wages possible. So as professional organizations, we demand that if a library wants to be part of our prestigious natilanl Library Association, they have to commit to requiring an MLSA for all Librarians! Poof, the status quo in the field goes from the old standard [BLIS wages] to the new standard {MLIS wages!] and that must mean our field is important and full of opportunity for the higher book-educated!

    Library schools are in the profession of selling paper. Just becasue they are selliong it doesn’t mean you need it, no matter what anybody says. Bill of Goods…Bill of goods,…bill of goods.

  36. Barbara B. says:

    I am not up on the statistical data but I do see the trend of cutting out educational programs whenever the money pursestrings need to be tightened. It seems like that is the first place government looks. I thought the lottery was to bring in money for education. Where is that cash flow? Additionally, why does the government cut education programs before looking at other aspects of the education system that can be revised. How about when a department hires a new employee during a “hire freeze” into a postion that was not even available (a who is friends with whom situation)? How about when an employee is pulling in over $100,000.00 for a non-supervisory position in the parking department? I’m just thinking out loud…

  37. Mary F-G says:

    About the MLIS or MLS requirement, at least for public library directors in Louisiana: LA Revised Statute 25:215 authorizes parish library boards of control to “elect and employ a librarian. . . provided that no contract of employment shall be made for a longer period than four years nor with any person as head librarian who has not been certified by the State Board of Library Examiners as provided in R.S. 25:222.” There can be exceptions; however, generally one doesn’t take the board test until after receiving the MLS or MLIS degree. These are considered the appropriate professional degrees now. Back when my mother graduated from LSU SLIS in the early 1940′s, the “B.S. in LS” (acquired after first acquiring another B.S. or B.A. degree) was the appropriate professional degree to qualify to take the exam.

    I am not arguing for or against the MLIS or MLS vs. other degrees or credentials; just pointing out that it has evolved into part of the normal requirements for contractual employment as a public library director for a parish (i.e. county) library system in the Pelican State. This is one of many reasons why loss of the LSU SLIS program would really hurt us. It would become much harder and/or more expensive for LA residents to prepare and compete for jobs as public library directors here, at least where contracts are expected. And, whether offering contracts or not, library boards generally want to hire directors who are already board certified or who can fairly soon take the certification exam.

    I am not suggesting that any of this has even a fraction of the magnitude of the oil spill, which is weakening this state’s economy more every day. Far inland we are helplessly watching local businesses close up now, due to “ripple effects,” and we are seeing our tax base erode like the coastline. The combination of the ongoing spill and the drilling moratorium is devastating.

  38. Mr. Kat says:

    I find it interesting how many people take the situation and simply accept it exactly for what it is and do everything possible to maintain that status quo even when the evidence suggests the current state is contorted. Naturally, though, this is a matter of self preservation as most of us have the degree and recognize that if we are in a place with BLS degreed people of otherwise equal merit, we obviously have the credintial to automatically make more than those people.

    The MLS degree has become the new fad in the library field. But this doesn’t mean that is how the field should be or how it will stay. The degree has evolved into the field, and now it can just as well evolve back out!

    If anything, the current trends are telling us that the MLIS was innapproporiate in the first place. Sure, it was nice while we had the money to afford such frills, but in all honesty, it’s a bigger credential than we need to do the job. Take a look at Santa Cruz’s Grand Jury Suggestions on how to better run a library – it was very recently on the LJ main page.

    The unfortunate matter is that now the boards have written the rules as stated: the contracts for people without the right credintails are limited but not exclusive to just those who qualify – aka – GREAT for the libraries. It doesn’t say they can’t hire – they just can’t retain.

    Even though the library loses the corporate memory, the board sees numbers and dollar signs in the financial ledger. And what they see is a savings because they can continually hire short term people who ultimately cost less to the system. The person can’t stay long enough to build much above the starting wage, and they can offer the jobs at salaries that only attract those people who are willing to work at wages far below the MLS. And then once these people are there for four years, they kick them out, reopen the hiring process, and if anybody wants to come back they’re back to fight through the heap for the entrey level wage all over again. Libraries win, Lirbarians…eeks.

    If anybody turns and gets the MLS, well, then it’s a matter of politics and a willingness of that individual to compete against those with no degrees and no dignity when it comes to how much they make.

    There’s one other part to consider – just how many people on these boards have degrees themselves? If these people are the hiring board, which contestants are they going to hire? Those who are like themselves, who they can empathize with, or the gungho college kid with a freshly minted degree, who “should be off doing higher things” than doing the blue collar job in the library?

  39. USM MLIS says:

    Typically, a student does not pay out-of-state tuition to “attend” on-line classes. USM’s MLIS program is no exception.

    I guess I would be bitter if I were a librarian who couldn’t conduct even a cursory level of research, too.

    http://www.usm.edu/slis/FAQ.php

  40. Mary F-G says:

    Mr. Kat, I know it does sound almost like a non tenure track situation, but it’s not. Public library directors in LA may stay for a long time, with or without contracts. Boards go to a lot of trouble to get them, and are not quick to change. There can be turnover for a lot of reasons, but the board trying to start back at a cheaper rate for the director isn’t a driving reason.

    And the parish library boards didn’t come up with the LA revised statute governing the contractual issue: most of the parish library boards were created after the revised statute governing whom they could or couldn’t offer a contract to was already in effect. The statue created the authority for the police juries (think county governments) to appoint library boards and set up public libraries in their parishes.

    Also, in LA at least the B.S. in LS was from early on treated like a graduate degree, where you had to first have a B.A. or B.S. degree in another field before you could apply to LSU SLIS. When my mother went in the early 40′s, she chose between going to grad. school in history or going to LSU SLIS. Later, when she became a high school librarian and English teacher, the LSU B.S. in LS was counted as a graduate degree by the school system.

    As for library board composition, it can vary. The police jury (again, think county government here) appoints the library board members, in accordance with another LA revised statue. One member, by LA statute, has to be the police jury president or some other member of parish government that he sends in his stead. Others are appointed to represent different parts of the parish.

    I’ve only worked for one board, so can’t speak for how they are generally. The one I serve is well-educated, comes from a variety of different professions (but majority teachers or former teachers), and is dedicated. They serve for no pay and do a lot for the library system–and for the director.