In my city, there is one public library system where I have always wanted to work as a librarian. Fortunately, in my city, there is also a University with an accredited School of Information (formerly School of Information and Library Science (SIRLS)), where I finally took that scary step and went to “library school.” My focus was in public librarianship.
After I graduated, I saw my dream of becoming a public librarian come to a screeching halt. I was offered an opportunity in the public health department, where I was responsible for developing a workforce development program, to include staff training and development and a library. What an exciting venture! I would be doing information resource and librarian work, only without the official “librarian” title. I would be able to use my education and professional resources to learn and grow and develop a corporate library and services from scratch. One would think this is an excellent way to gain librarianship experience. Right?
Wrong. My job is classified as a Special Staff Assistant, Senior, and is a mid-level professional position with a grade 51. An entry level professional librarian position is a grade 39, a Librarian I is 48, Librarian II is 54 and Librarian III is a grade 58.
So while my current position is graded higher than a base Librarian and Librarian I position, and even though the work I am doing IS information resources and librarianship work, I still do not qualify for the Librarian II or III positions. I do not have the title.
The qualifications just to interview for a Librarian II are: (1) A Master’s degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS or MLS) from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited college or university and three years of professional-level experience performing library work and one year of general supervisory work-place experience (Note: supervisory experience may run concurrently with library experience identified above or may be ancillary) OR (2) One year of experience with the Public Library as a Librarian I.
Professional library associations, including ALA, AZLA, and SLA all recognize the non-traditional librarianship work AS library work; human resource analysts do not. Despite the fact that I have single-handedly developed a corporate library, created both online and paper catalogs, produced staff training and programming, acted as the sole resource and reference for staff development opportunities (especially for staff requiring CEUs), promoted the library, its resources and training, tracked usage and attendance, and worked with other departments to implement a learning management system county-wide (all things librarians do), in the eyes of human resources, I am not a librarian, nor do I have professional level librarianship experience.
If I was satisfied as solo librarian, then “L” word is just a word. The work I do IS librarianship. I know I am a librarian. I am recognized as such by some of my colleagues, by professional associations, and I know what I bring to my organization is valuable.
However, my ultimate goal is to become a public librarian, and without the title, and without open minded human resource analysts (who do not really know what librarianship really is), the likelihood of my even interviewing for a library position at the appropriate level is minimal. In order for me to just get my foot in the door, I would have to apply for, compete for and accept a lower level position with much lower salary. Without that “L-word” in my title, I’m stuck.