I can haz a lie-berry educashun?

Image from the Library Juice Press website, libraryjuicepress.com.

An interesting read awaits me! Once I figure out how to buy a book that I am QUITE CERTAIN will not be at Chapters anytime soon I am buying The Politics of Professionalism: A Retro-Progressive Proposal for Librarianship by Juris Dilevko. He is a professor at the Faculty of Information (and from whom I took a fantastic class called “Literature of the Social Sciences and Humanities”), and has published a most controversial book on the shortcomings of library education. A shortcoming, he argues, that has resulted in a profession distracted by fleeting technologies, preoccupied with professional advancement,and unconcerned with “the possession of meaningful knowledge that can be turned toward social good.”


The first chapter is online (Merci a Monica for sharing that information), and is an enticing read for those among us who care about library education. Which is me. Why? I dunno. But I’ve blogged about the issue before. And I’m NOT EVEN IN LIBRARY SCHOOL ANYMORE.

I think I agree with some of what he says regarding subject knowledge, and the need for more reflective thinking in our profession. But I wonder about where many of my colleagues fit into his vision of librarianship, i.e. Librarians who work with eLearning, or digital initiatives, or information systems. I’ve seen what happens when those arenas are left to non-librarian technical teams, and it ain’t pretty. Or those who manage the libraries, and worry about glamorous things like who’s going to cover the desk when everyone is on vacation, or where we’re going to get the money for more computers. I wonder about where they fit in. But perhaps those questioned will be answered in Chapters 2 through 6.


6 responses to “I can haz a lie-berry educashun?

  1. Meg, thanks for writing about this!

    I also found the first chapter to be a very interesting read. He raises some issues that nagged me during and after library school. It seems so easy to get swept up in the ‘careerist’ mindset — ie/ how do I become the ueber-professional?? — but contradictory especially in what is at it’s core a service profession. It’s unfortunate that we at some point adopted a corporate model to justify our value. I wonder about how this compares to ‘professionalism’ as it is taught to future teachers, nurses, or other service professions.

    The ‘information field’ is going in so many different directions these days that the content of a MLIS/ MISt/ MLS etc etc degree will continue to be a hot topic. From reading the synopsis, I’m not convinced that his model of librarianship is a good fit with many of the job postings I see, or how my colleagues spend their days. But, I should reserve judgment until I’ve read the entire book!

    Lots to think about! Let us know if you do read the whole thing — I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

  2. Hai Monica,

    Thanks for commenting!

    Yeah, very interesting indeed. While it’s unfortunate that many in librarianship have undertaken a “corporate” model of professionalization, I wonder where we’d be if such changes hadn’t taken place?

    I’m thinking back to the major changes all public institutions faced in the 70s/80s when all that money sort of dried up and Lean+Mean was the new game (thank you Brian Mulroney/Ronald Regan/Maggie Thatcher).

    Perhaps it was a case of “adapt or die”, and librarians chose to adapt to more business-minded, generalist, tech-oriented profession to avoid being extinct. I dunno — it’s all presuppositions at this point. I’m eager to get my hands on that book!

  3. Megs,

    I am soooo happy to finally see you thanking Brian, Maggie and Ron for something.

    I knew you would come back around and see the light one day.


  4. Most interesting – I often think about the development and nature of the profession. I am going to see if I can track down this book!

    I don’t know if he was able to include it, but some of this analysis seems to conflict with some trends like the Special Libraries Association alignment project. I think Monica is on to something with the “adapt or die” imperative that drives a lot of librarian activity and adjustments.

    In terms of comparing librarians to other professions, I don’t think it works to compare us with nurses since that is a formally regulated profession with a licensing body.

  5. Good news: Chapters has it!