I started my library career as a library assistant. During my time at UCE Birmingham, I also studied for a Masters in Information and Library Management. My goal- a professional post. One with some strategic responsibility, some chance to develop collections.
And here I am doing those things, working alongside library assistants. I hope I don’t come across as arrogant or elitist. I never had that feeling about the librarians I worked with when I was a library assistant. I just recognised that there were different tasks to be done, by different people, working to different expectations. As I still do.
To have a professional library ‘class’ does not in itself demean the work of other library staff. And the ACLIP route goes some way to recognising service and commitment in library assistants. But I still see the need for a recognised professional qualification.
This could be delivered via a part-time ‘apprenticeship’ style training. And certainly library curricula need to be updated to take into account developments in library services. But there needs to be a progression route for people to follow, or where is the incentive to join a service, much less want to lead it? A modified way of delivering professional qualifications is needed, rather than a wholesale abandonment of them.
I think quite a bit of the debate around librarianship is implicitly about public librarianship, where maybe it is felt that such things as quals don’t matter. But in academic and school librarianship, I feel that they do. When teachers and lecturers have- indeed require- quals and CPD, so do librarians, to establish their status.
As a final point, in respect of some points made in this area, I certainly recognise the professionalism, skills and qualifications of the IT staff I work with.