Tag Archives: rules

value of the mlis degree

Crossposted from Librarianaut because it’s in the process of being marked for an assignment so I’m trying not to clutter up its front-page with unrelated writing. This’ll show up there once the project has been marked.

We’ve talked in class about the image of the librarian, which well, whatever. I don’t really care about professionalism and all that bullshit. It reeks of snobbery and hiding behind dehumanizing rules. I do believe in providing the best possible service I can, but on my terms. Whatever. So the question comes up about whether you need the degree to be a librarian. And conversely whether the people with degrees should be on the reference desk or helping fix the printers.

So it’s possible to address this situation and sound a little privileged and snotty about it. The thing I dislike about that Agnostic Maybe article is that somehow helping people damages the professional image of a librarian, since it’s the kind of thing people without an advanced degree could do. Fuck that.

Happily, that post spawned responses, which caused Agnostic Maybe to clarify and sound a bit less like a jerk. But I don’t like the Officers/Enlisted analogy he employs, because nobody likes the officers. The officers are the planning mucky mucks who make the enlisted people’s lives terrible. Why the fuck would I want to be that? The Shelf Check response to that response was also a bit more moderate.

And then I read a bunch of posts about where the value of an MLIS degree is.

So yeah, I pretty much feel like I am a damned fine librarian, with or without this degree I’m buying. I know I need the paper to show that I’m the kind of person who goes to library school, which helps winnow out people who can’t afford library school, keeping the profession middle-class, which is bullshit. My mom doesn’t want to hear me say that I’d be fine with being a library school dropout, but really, I would be. Library school is teaching me that I am a librarian already, regardless of the paper I can tuck in a box somewhere. This also make the whole getting marked on assignments part of school really insignificant, which I like.

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that was a long goddamned day

I’ve been reading 2666 but because it’s divided into five parts, I’ve been breaking it up with other (lighter) books in between. (I owe you teeming handfuls a review of American Gods; it’s coming.) Right now I’m reading The City and the City and I just love it. It’s about a crime that happens in a city where there’s another city right there sharing the same streets but they’re in different countries and in each city you aren’t allowed to see (or interact with) the things that are happening in the other. Things aren’t invisible; you are not allowed to see them. If you look at someone/thing in the other city too closely you’ve broken the rules and the all-powerful group that deals with Breaches comes and takes you away. Possibly to kill you, but I’m not done the book yet (I’ll review it for reals when I am).

This organization, Breach, is so powerful they could act with utter impunity, but if it’s not an emergency they have to follow the rules and be asked to handle things. I like this common idea of powerful entities having rules to follow. Vampires can’t cross running water. Police need a warrant. Breach must be asked. But. I don’t care about the little guy breaking the rules. In fact, I expect it, and get sort of sad when the powerless person doesn’t try doing something other than follow the rules. I’m having a weird time with how few people agitate against Breach in The City and the City. There are some, but I keep on wanting to shout at everyone, “You can see things! You shouldn’t have to unsee them!” But it’s a book and the characters (thus far) are well enmeshed in their setting.

A lot of fiction I read deals with the individual and celebrates the individual, especially in the face of power. For example, there’s an article I linked to a long time back about Murakami always wanting to be on the side of the egg not the wall, and you know how I feel about Murakami stories. Yesterday I watched a National Film Board movie from the 60’s called “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen.” He was all young and bright-eyed. In one bit Pierre Berton is trying to get young Leonard Cohen to say what he stands for, what great idea drives him, what issue burns in his soul. And Leonard Cohen says, “No idea; I just check if I’m in a state of grace.” His companion explains that Leonard Cohen is talking about the task of the individual to live one’s own life, but Leonard Cohen is sort of dismissive. I like that.

Of course, it’s easy to “identify” with the powerless when you’re a white guy with a beard and a Mac.

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