Friday, September 18, 2009

What's in a Certification?

As I look at various credentials used by other professional fields, I can't help be a little cynical about ALA's recent announcement of their Library Support Staff Certification Program (LSSCP). Described as a means of creating standardization in a field where more than half of library workers are not librarians holding a MLIS, this certificate is voluntary for library support workers.

I had the apparent nerve to ask organizers at IFLA in August 2008 whether this might lead to standardized education in the field and I got the strangest reaction. They were afraid to comment. I was floored as I saw it as a simple question - yes or no. As it turns out, Canada is in a very unique position, having a significantly smaller number of library training programs, to offer a more standardized educational practice. Currently, we try to abide by a profoundly outdated CLA set of guidelines but we should be looking at the question of accreditation. Like librarians, would it not be valuable to techncians and libraries who employ them, to offer accredited diplomas that must adhere to specific guidelines? Indeed, accreditation would very likely mean that techs could demonstrate their professional committment through recognized professional development after graduation. Their positions would have more value and recognition, as well.

Getting a certificate that acknowledges competencies that one has acquired over time, like the LCCSP program, might help some employers understand and recognize the abilities of their staff but it does little to force educational institutions to deliver standardized education. Yet, the most successful professional programs: nursing, education, accounting, etc. require accreditation - a process that forces educational programs to adhere to set guidelines, undergo regular reviews, and site visits by accreditation teams. There is rigor to the process.

We have the opportunity to provide that rigor in Canada.

1 comment:

Christina Neigel said...

This comment was actually passed on to me from a former student that was having trouble posting...

"I saw the movie "9" on the weekend and among the characters were twin cataloguers. I don't want to spoil too much of the movie for anyone but it was interesting to note that the film maker's (Tim Burton) idea of cataloguers who help to save the world would be ones that memorized and recalled everything in a library. They presented the information they had scanned from books as though it was an old-style film strip. Not entirely sure what this says about how our information should be saved or how people prefer to see it but it was thought provoking. It also makes you think about how blurred the lines are between archivists and library folk in the minds of the average person."