EDIT I still believe in librarianship as a profession, an organised body of knowledge and practice, with a body representing and developing that body of knowledge. For posts in leadership positions, for sole librarians, for posts with serious technical or managerial aspects, a rigorous and demanding qualification structure is needed. And any qualification structure needs to be differentiated. Not to pepetuate hierarchy, but to recognise the different roles in libraries AND the different needs and interests of those who work in them. Now read on…
Leaving aside the vexed issue of professional/non-professional divides
Too many Masters programs lack rigour. Too many fail to prepare for actual work. Few if any involve placements or other practice.
Librarianship is above all vocational. This does not in any way rule out reflective practice, research etc- indeed it makes them more important.
Training for work in libraries needs to mix a core of ‘academic’ disciplines- research, information organisation, technological awareness and management, including budgeting- with a flexible range of sector training- curriculum studies, local studies, business information etc etc.
The Library Schools seem unable to deliver this, as there is not a wide enough coverage of these areas.
What to do?
Perhaps all library training should be job based, with the academic side handled by distance learning and the practical side by accredited units relevant to the work done. This would enable people to train in a specific area, but not limit them as they could develop a range of skills in each job should they so wish.
The outcome of this training regime may not be a Masters- or any form of degree. It would be open to all, but all who wanted to work in libraries would need to undertake it. It could be differentiated to allow for progression into management, and for specialisms such as cataloguing, elearning, school librarianship etc.
The need is for a flexible system which does not merely train people to serve the system as it is, but does equip them to work within the systems. One which would open librarianship to people, without abandoning a structure of training and CPD. Perhaps Chartership could thus become the gold standard, where people doing appropriate level work can attain that qualification.
For we still need qualifications- to reward and foster commitment and as part of ensuring standards of service.