NLS4 Debate – Should Librarians trained pre-Google be made to qualify again?

Moderated by Craig Anderson.

Positive: Julie Rae – would love to say that they dont need to requalify, but experience shows that they are not keeping up-to-date. Need to be more competitive, need to be recognised as industry leaders and cant do this unless we are keeping current. We need to better understand our communities, build our profession, be proactive – when is it going to happen. Will have to agree with the affirmative, because they will employ you.

Negative – Roxanne Missingham – NLS4 storytime. Long time ago, people started on a learning journey, right from the time of using fire. Their learning journey didnt involve university, short courses or watching TV, but they learnt how to provide for themselves – there was a little bit of the librarian in all of them. In some, that librarian within was strong and they brought all the stories together, shared them and built communities. The true profession developed and librarians were placed into their temples, which is where they should be. As the world developed the world became confused and so librarians again took the lead to make sense of the world, and so lead the people forward with meta-data. Take the little bit of librarian in you and grow it by engaging in your professional development.

Positive – Karyn Siegmann – she scoffed in Roxannes general direction. If Roxannes argument held up, then we would never have gone to uni in the first place. The online world alone is ever changing and we need to keep current. Although there are librarians who are taking up the challenge, not everyone does. Need training to be able to plan strategically. We need to be able to deal with the questions that people are asking us, from finding information to using the technology available in our libraries. Staff need to understand what our users are talking about and if they need to requalify to do that, then so be it.

Negative – Gill Hallam – requalifying – we dont have the educators to do it. Universities have far more aging problems that librarians. They have more problems with keeping up to date than librarians do. Technology is allowing us to have new learning opportunities, enabling us to learn from each other. Libraries are lifelong learning centres, if we cant teach ourselves, then how can we lead the way. What are we doing for the next generation?

Positive – Andrew Finnegan – Tragedy of Batgirl – noone remembers her glory days as information champion, only as they girl who ran alongside Batman and Robin. Librarians have a trusted brand when it comes to books, known as passionate founts of knowledge with no bias. However, when it comes to technology, we have enormous problems with branding. Friends just believe that librarians are bigger nerds than they previously thought. There is no clarity in professional branding with some corporates divorcing themsleves from the librarian label. Books are our brand, not technology. The public doesnt recognise our formal qualifications. CPAs need to requalify – economy might collapse if they were responsible for their own professional development! We need a PR revolution – with every librarian guaranteed by ALIA on requalification. Roxannes assertion that is a little bit of librarian in all of us sounds a bit rude. If thats the case though, why do we need training and where are the standards? If we cant do it for ourselves, do it for Barbara Gordon – Batgirl!

Negative – Kate Davis – single best reference librarian Kate ever worked with was not qualified. She didnt learn her search skills in her library degree. Will requalifying bring us to the place that Julie wants us to be. The answer is in marketing,not requalifying. Its about a commitment to lifelong learning and a passion to learn – if we dont have that, requalifying is not going to change that. If we dont have this commitment, we need to requalify as something else, not a librarian. Google is not going to be the end of us, its ourselves, our lack of marketing of our services, our collections, our lack of customer service techniques, our lack of business acumen, some of which is inate. Failure to find external fundings sources and the demonisation of big business and the lack of partnership opportunities. We dont need to requalify, we need to upskill. Book: get into bed with Google – we are already there, but need to ask ourselves will Google still love us in the morning.

Craig Anderson did a beautiful job of doing an amusing summary of the arguments, coming from a pre-Google librarian.

By the vote of claps, the winner was determined to be the positive.

This was a great session.


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    • harps on December 6, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I’m pre-Google qualified, but have learnt. I’ve taken the time to teach myself and learn from others. I know other librarians who have qualified in the last 5 years who don’t get web2.0, who fear putting a YouTube connector on an OPAC. I’m trying to teach them, but some are resistant. It’s more about attitude than when you qualified. It’s also about making the contemporary web relevant to them and alerting them what’s good in it for them – including keeping their place in the profession.

    • petra d on December 12, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I agree that is it all about attitude. It does not help if you know and have been taught about all the new technologies and Web 2.0, if you are not enthusiastic about it and think everything that’s new and different is automatically suspicious.
    Anyway, I have just been to NLS4 and came back inspired :-), and have now decided to be more active about all that. Hence this post, which is my first one!

  1. Thanks Petra, glad to hear you are working on the involvement side of your profession. Have fun!

  2. Hi there!

    Um … is there another Librarian named Craig Anderson out there?

    I was totally not present for this meeting, yet there’s my name up there. I know that there’s a professor who specializes in gaming and education with my name, as well as the goalie for the Colorado Avalanche. Is there now another librarian named Craig Anderson, too? That’s just bizarre to me.

    I mean, either that, or I moderated this talk and then blanked it from memory. 0_o

    — Craig (or so I thought!)

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