Thursday, November 8, 2007

What's in a title? professionalism in the information studies & library field

When I started out in the library and information field, there was talk about the de-professionalism of departments within the field, like cataloging departments and at times, reference departments. I was cataloging even though I was not formally trained as a cataloger and that was my title, "Cataloger" not assistant cataloger.

After I graduated from UCLA, I would talk to my friend about titles. Her assistant was titled, "Librarian" not "Assistant Librarian." At the time, I could see her point, she worked hard for her degree and had a masters specifically in "Library and Information Studies." But then I wondered if she was being too sensitive. I am also trained as an archivist and while working in various archives, some of the archivists I met did not have degrees. But they had worked in the field for a long time and their experience made them "archivists."

Where am I heading to with this? Today I received an email from my sister-in-law (whom I love, she's amazing) but under her name was the title, "Librarian." She works at a professional college and she does work in the library. She is in charge of assisting professors with collection development, she is responsible for acquisitions, and basically, she does most of the work in that library. However, she has only worked there for a couple of months. She does not have a degree. Why am I feeling so sensitive about her using the title? Probably because I spent 2 years working on my Masters and also worked for 9 years in the field before I was accepted into graduate school. I am not sure if I am being too sensitive. Does it even matter?

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