What constitutes the ‘nature’ of professional academic librarianship?” Here is one perspective…

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about what defines a profession from para-professionals or in the library world, library technicians, as responsibilities and jobs in our field have shifted. Often our administrators forget where the divisions and boundaries are in the field of academic librarianship as jobs and skills have changed. The article by Rory Litwin, “The Library Paraprofessional Movement and the Deprofessionalization of Librarianship” in Progressive Librarian no. 33 (Summer/Fall 2009): 43‐60, revised for the web January 27, 2010, introduces some salient points which remain relevant today as we  thinking about what constitutes the “nature” of professional work in the library sciences compared to occupational jobs. The author turns to the theoretical frameworks supported in sociological analysis (Keith A. Roberts and Karen A. Donahue, “Professionalism: Bureaucratization and Deprofessionalization in the Academy,” Sociological Focus 33 no. 4 (2000): 365-383.) to assert six core aspects of what constitutes the ‘nature’ of a professional position (whether it be in medicine, law, academia):

1. Mastery of specialized theory
2. Autonomy and control of one’s work and how one’s work is performed
3. Motivation focusing on intrinsic rewards and on the interests of clients – which take
precedence over the professional’s self‐interests
4. Commitment to the profession as a career and to the service objectives of the
organization for which one works
5. Sense of community and feelings of collegiality with others in the profession, and
accountability to those colleagues
6. Self‐monitoring and regulation by the profession of ethical and professional standards in
keeping with a detailed code of ethics

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This entry was posted in Academic freedom, Academic governance, Academic Librarianship, Global librarianship, University of Toronto Libraries. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What constitutes the ‘nature’ of professional academic librarianship?” Here is one perspective…

  1. Michele says:

    This is something that has become a big issue for me while looking for jobs. I’ve been working as a paraprofessional for over four years at a very large academic library. My job has become increasingly specialized and I’ve managed projects on my own with little to no supervision. I’ve presented research at conferences and am involved with professional organizations. However, hiring institutions can’t get past the job title. My job duties and responsibilities are on the level of a professional librarian, but employers can’t look past the fact that my title doesn’t contain “Librarian”. My hope is that the “divide” between professionals and paraprofessionals can be bridged or gotten rid of.

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