In order to combat the alleged shortage of librarians, a library school in Missouri is getting over $600,000 in Federal grant money to train people not to be librarians.
At least someone is benefitting from the alleged "librarian shortage" we keep hearing so much about. You know the routine: "According to a 2004 study by the American Library Association, 45 percent of current librarians will reach age 65 between 2010 and 2020." I'm terribly concerned about this alleged potential shortage, as my loyal readers know (thanks, you two!), and I'm really concerned about how to fix this terribly important problem. Fortunately, someone else is trying to fix the problem as well.
Check out this article from the Show Me State.
"In the wake of what many [idiots] see as an impending national librarian shortage, MU’s School of Information Science and Learning Technologies is set to receive a grant to replace those leaving the profession."
Hey, wow, replacing those leaving the profession. That sounds like a good idea. And who are those people leaving the profession?
"With many librarians set to retire, especially those in senior positions, the grants are intended to aid in the education of those seeking to enter the profession and bolster its ranks."
Especially those in senior positions! Since all those leaving the profession are going to be geriatric library directors, perhaps we should recruit some of them. But we're trying to recruit new librarians now to replace all the retiring ones? Isn't this something ALA should have thought about, oh, TWENTY YEARS AGO! So what's this grant for? Is MU going to train some newbies to be library directors?
More importantly, is the grant going to "aid in the education of those seeking to enter the profession and bolster its ranks"?
"The school got word on June 26 that it would receive $615,365 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to recruit and educate nine doctoral students. "
That's right. Doctoral students. Doctoral students in LIS, no less! Does this count as "entering the profession"? There must be some point to this. Are the doctoral students going to become library directors? Or even librarians? I don't think they'll be responsible for much rank-bolstering.
“(The nine students) will become educators,” said John Budd, a professor of information science and learning technology. “In their careers, they will probably reach thousands of people each.”
Educators!! Is there anyone less likely to be useful to libraries than "library educators"? Regardless, notice the logic here. It could be called Grant Logic. How do I justify getting half a million dollars when I'm not really fulfulling the purpose of the grant? Because I need money!
In all seriousness, how far are we at this point from addressing the future potential dearth of librarians in "senior positions." So we prepare these doctoral students, and they spend the rest of their careers inflicting upon us such exciting courses as "Libraries, Society, and You" and "Rapid Response Informatics." I should point out that NONE of these "doctoral students" is going to "enter the profession." They won't be librarians, and they will be of very little use to librarians.
They're getting a grant to pay a bunch of people in Missouri to become library science professors, who are going to reach thousands of people by teaching the most boring and useless classes in the entire universe!
Perhaps I'm in the minority here as in most other things. However, looking back on library school, I can honestly say I learned some things, and I had a couple of worthwhile classes, but I can just as honestly say I never learned anything from an actual library school professor that was either inherently interesting intellectually or practically useful for my job. Never. All my most interesting and useful classes were taught by librarians. And I went to one of the best library schools in the country, as you can probably tell by my sparkling prose (though I unfortunately missed the class in writing for librarianship).
I have a friend who became a library science professor after he failed at everything else, even at being a librarian, and he keeps telling me how much we librarians will learn if we just read library professors' articles, because apparently no one reads most of the "scholarly" output of library school professors except other library school professors. My friend doesn't take the obvious lesson from that, which is that he's doing research for a group that finds most of his research totally irrelevant to actually working in a library. And I oughta know whether something is relevant to being a librarian, because I am, in fact, a librarian.
At least Professor Budd is honest about it. He's not doing anything useless and underhanded, he no doubt thinks. He's helping to improve the "librarian shortage" by getting Federal grant money to train people NOT to be librarians, and to do research that no librarians will ever read but which will no doubt be incredibly fascinating to other library school professors. It makes perfect sense! Part of what annoys me is that a library school professor who in fact does do some interesting work has a hand in this.
"Budd will be working with others in the school to recruit students nationally to the project. For each of the nine students, the grant will cover tuition and include a $21,000 stipend. He said that the school hopes to attract students who have an interest in taking library faculty positions."
Free tuition and $21K certainly attract them! Is that $21K/year? Not bad for a grad student in Missouri, I bet. And if they're interested in library faculty positions, you can be sure they don't want to be librarians. Those who can't do, teach; and those who can't teach, teach library science.
But wait? Is this grant really meant to help save us from that terrible librarian shortage? Are we being totally honest here? Not according to yet another MU library professor.
The grant project is called “Educating Doctoral Students to Prepare the Next Generation of Public and Academic Librarians," so it tries to make us believe the problem is the librarian shortage. I mean, who else is going to prepare that next generation of librarians if we don't have any doctoral students? Who's more useful for educating future librarians that people who aren't librarians?
However, "Charles Seavey, associate professor at MU’s School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, published an article in 'American Libraries' in October about what he calls 'the coming crisis in education for librarianship.'" And what does he think the coming crisis is? Haven't we been assured by the best and the brightest at ALA that the crisis is the librarian shortage? But this must be a different crisis.
What could it be? I assume the coming crisis isn't that everyone is going to suddenly wake up and realize what a joke library science "education" has been for its entire existence. We all know that, so it wouldn't be news.
No, the crisis is different.
“It is past time to consider who will educate that next generation and where those library and information science faculty members will come from,” he wrote.
You see, the crisis is where the library school faculty will come from! Yes, that certainly sounds like a problem--for library school faculty! I can't see how that effects anyone else. Librarians need more library school professors like they need your grandmother's old issues of National Geographic.
I sure rest easy knowing $600K of Federal taxes are going to support 9 lousy Missouri doctoral students who might become library science professors. That will certainly solve someone's crisis. Maybe with more library school professors, the current library school professors will get reduced teaching loads and more sabbaticals. At least someone benefits.