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 Currently, we try to abide by a profoundly outdated CLA set of guidelines but we should be looking at the question of accreditation.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.