All those letters behind your name……

I am a qualified librarian and I can put a whole long list of letters behind my name. Between my Bachelors degree, my Masters degree and my Associate membership of ALIA, the letters are as long as my actual name.

So when should I use them? This all came from my dad – who is a fitter and turner by trade. I showed him a copy of my beautifully presented report from my study tour and he asked where all the letters were from behind my name. My dad is very proud of what I have achieved, even if he doesn’t understand the fuss and what its all about, but that question caught me by surprise.

So why didn’t I use the letters – its a formal report, going to be read by many people in library circles (and maybe some who are not). Would it have been legitimate to list degrees etc on the cover, to further indicate my qualification to conduct this tour, or would it have seemed like bragging to those who already know me and who will also read the report?

What about the presentations I will be doing that will also come out of this study tour? Should I put my qualifications on that, or just leave it as my name and position/library? I have been pondering this at work today, with some of the other librarians and none of us was able to come up with a definitive answer. We thought it would be appropriate to mention qualifications in a speaker’s introduction or on the blurb of a journal article, but anywhere else? We couldn’t decide.

So I thought I would ponder it here and see if any of you had any thoughts on this. We have worked hard for our qualifications, shouldn’t we be more forthright in displaying them and more often? Or is that bragging and inappropriately so in some circumstances. I would love to get your feedback, so please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

By the way, all those letters for me are:
Michelle McLean
Bachelor of Arts in Librarianship, Master of Business in Information Technology and Associate member of the Australian Library and Information Association. At least I can use the letters and not have to spell it out in full!


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    • Sarah on July 10, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    As someone who is not technically part of the “library field” (yet), I would say that it is always appropriate to list one’s credentials on a formal paper, report or journal article. That is what I have seen from those in my field, Audio Engineering/Acoustics, and from other specialized science or academic fields where a Master’s degree is the standard for many of the non-entry-level jobs. I might suggest that you list your membership in AALIA slightly differently, since it’s not a degree. Perhaps: “Michelle McLean,
    BA(Lib), MBIT, member: AALIA” Not sure about the punctuation but that’s the idea. I too am curious how those in the library profession would list their credentials, especially those who might have a PhD as well, and membership in multiple professional associations.

    • Fiona Bradley on July 13, 2007 at 5:21 am

    I usually describe qualifications in bios for articles/conferences.

    My organisation doesn’t permit post-nominals on business cards.

    I do include AALIA (CP) in my email signature after my name.

    So the only time I really use the list is at the top of my Resume.

    • Michelle McLean on July 13, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Thanks for the good advice. I will do that in future when I submit professional reports/articles etc.

    I hadn’t thought about my email signature, so I’ll be sure to fix that up too – especially the bit about the CPD, of which I am a participant.

    • Byron S. Cox, MBA on February 26, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Michelle, here in the united states we usually put the highest degree earned at the end of our name. For example, Tom Smith, PH.D or Dr. Tom Smith, Tom Smith, BS or Tom Smith, MS. Bachelor of Science or Master of Science. IT well know that if you have a masters, you have a bachelor. We also list special liscene. RN registar nurse, never membership of an business. But under the name job titles (CEO,COO,CIO) so on.

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