Monica3800’s Weblog

This blog is tracking my Library 2.0 journey.

Anti-gaming or something else?

Obviously quite a bit has been stirred up after reading the Annoyed Librarian’s post about our class’s gaming night. I was reviewing some of her other posts to get some idea of where she’s coming from and I have to admit that she’s got some valid points. I’m not crazy about the style. I love sarcasm and satire, but I get turned off by the overabundance of that which she criticizes in others: a seeming intolerance for other viewpoints. Contrary to what she might write, I’m not a Pollyanna and I don’t want more fuzzy bunnies in libraries (ninja bunnies are a different story). I just don’t like the guerrilla communication style.

To my point, I do not work in a library, but I do work for a professional association. AL has a lot of criticisms of ALA and those associated closely with it (which I think is part of the reasons why library schools draw her ire). Professional associations are struggling for relevance. The community building, professional development, and networking that were the hallmarks of professional associations are no longer exclusive to the association largely (and perhaps ironically in this case) because of the Internet and its many applications.

So what do library schools have to do with any of this? Many professional associations are still very involved in institutional accreditation, hence their relevance to the profession they serve. ALA created and administers the most widely used accreditation standards for MLIS programs in the US. According to the ALA website, graduation from one of those programs “provides greater flexibility in the types of libraries and jobs you can apply for and enhances your career mobility. Most employers require an ALA-accredited master’s for most professional level positions, and some states require an ALA-accredited degree to work as a professional librarian in public or school libraries.” If you think library school is a joke then this accreditation process can seem like a money making scheme and even seem like arbitrary and elitist barriers to participation in a profession. It’s important to remember how fraught with conflict the accreditation/professional association relationship can appear. If a masters is required from an ALA accredited program to call oneself a librarian, somebody better be making sure that all of those programs are rigorous.

Believe it or not, I am not calling into questions the ALA accreditation process. I generally agree with ALA and I certainly don’t have the expertise to dissect their actual accreditation process. I bring this up to share some of the insights my current profession has given me. Graduate programs bring in big money, accreditation programs bring in big money, professional associations bring in big money. All rely on the goodwill and trust of the public that the mission of each is being served. I think the point is well taken that with all this money flying around, are the interests of the students and the profession best being served? Hold your professional association accountable, hold your school accountable, it will help both  grow, it will engage you in your profession, and overall, it’ll help libraries.

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