What is a librarian?

Library Journal has a short article about a session at the recent PLA conference in Boston, titled “Is the MLS Needed for a Career in Public Librarianship?”. Daniel Walters, director of the Las Vegas–Clark County Library District, sees nothing wrong with hiring non librarians, especially in technical areas such as cataloging. Cataloging is being outsourced in many libraries. Michael Gorman, president of ALA, took issue with outsourcing, saying to leads to lower standards.

I don’t know who’s right on that score, it depends who you outsource to I suppose. But Gorman has a great quote in this article in response to whether library science and information science are the same discipline. “Information people work in kiosks, librarians work in libraries.”

Some may liken this quote to the now famous “blog people” article. But Gorman has a point when he says that the ALA degree accreditation system is flawed. What ALA accredited programs need is a well defined core. If a degree is going to be accredited by the American Library Association, it needs to prepare librarians. If you can get an ALA degree without having taken a collection development course or a reference course, something is wrong.

I’ve got nothing against the I schools, I’m a tech oriented library person myself. Nor do I think information science and library science are entirely separate. But you have to wonder if LIS programs shouldn’t offer different degrees for information science and library science.