Library Technicians make a top 10 list

Elena writes "AOL Jobs has an article: "10 Legit Jobs That Don't Require Much Experience."

From the article:
Library technician
The job: Directing patrons to standard references, handling interlibrary loans, checking out books and other routine library tasks.
The requirements: High school diploma and strong computer skills.
Average pay: $26,720

It's the fifth one on the list, ranked (I think) by salary. I wish we paid our assistants/techs better. Hopefully none of them see this and quit for the more lucrative field of Traffic Technicianship."

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Just try...

and get an LT job in my school board with those (lack of)qualifications.

I'm sorry but that sounds more like the educational requirements/job description of a Library CLERK. Not an LT. In order to be considered a Library Technician in my current position you are REQUIRED to have the TWO YEAR diploma course (if you don't have it--you're classed as a Library Support Worker and they do not hire non-diploma LTs these days). And unlike my community college receptionist course, my LT course was not a "bird" course. It was a lot of work--we learned both manual and automated systems and original cataloguing. Granted, LTs aren't supposed to do original, but our course coordinator knew that many of us would end up working in schools, in boards where there is no central ordering system/cataloguing. It was a lot of hands on work--ordering books and cataloguing and shelving. I get tired just thinking about it!

My class started out with 19 people. Only 8 graduated--some weren't suited for it, others couldn't handle the work load and/or the stress. I persevered because I enjoyed the work, truly, library work is what I want to do. (Well, being a lotto winner would be a nice job, too). Although I must say, I would LOVE to make $26,000+. Of course if I worked and got paid for 12 months of the year I'd be close to that. And that's for running a school library...we have no MLSs in any official capacity (I honestly think we could use a coordinator at the board level...but that won't happen anytime soon, I'm sure).

(I'm sure some were wagering about how long it would take me to reply to this one...)

s/

$26,000?

I was making less than that as an MLS assistant director. And they wondered why I quit after a year.
What a totally screwed up profession...

Re:Just try...

Hmm. We took four original cataloguing courses at my school. I don't remember being told we wouldn't be expected to do it in the workplace, but we also concentrated pretty heavily on Dewey and only touched on LC cataloguing.We had a high graduation rate (I think only one person didn't make it through) but most of the class were either older people reentering the work force or people who already had a university degree. I'm technically an LIT as my diploma says Library and Information Technician. :) Our courses were heavy on computer work and database management/searching. There was a LOT of emphasis on training us to work in special libraries.With the exchange rate factored in... $26,000 sounds close to where I started at my current job. I agree, though. That wouldn't be labelled as a technician job in Canada.

Re:Just try...

I graduated from my course in *mumble* 1995; we had a mix of students, several mature students, a few uni grads, a couple like me, in our early 20s who were looking for the right career. The drop out rate was usual for our particular course.

We were told by our instructors (both MLS holders) that in big libraries (ie university or large public) that LTs didn't usually do original cataloguing--that was what librarians did. We focussed on DDC and touched on LC. We probably didn't get as much computer related instruction as we could've. Then again this was back in the days of Win 3.1. For our cataloguing classes we had to do one book a week and type up the main entry card on the TYPEWRITER. The actual library was automated but they still had the card catalogue which we were expected to file cards in (this was how I learned to do the alphabet starting from ANY letter). One never knows what sort of place one would end up at. It might still have a card catalogue. We only had 5 points per card and yes, our instructor DID give zeroes (I never got one).

We did labs everyday, in that school's library--we shelved, processed, did book repair...everything. I think I got a really good grounding with that course. I think because we learned the manual ways of doing things it helped me understand the computerised way. And I'm lucky, I'm good at learning on the computer and teaching myself what I need to know and how to do it, so that wasn't so much an issue for me.

Of course, once the coordinator left, the course went downhill. They focussed so much on the computer end of things that the graduates had no idea how to cover a book. *blinks* Um, yeah. The program has since been shut down at my alma mater and now the only course is the one in the city; I haven't met any recent grads so I don't know how good/bad it is.

I enjoy my school job but I also think I'd enjoy a job just doing cataloguing because I love doing it here. And yeah, I tend to be really picky about my work, whether I do copy or original. *G*

Re:Just try...

Ha, I think I graduated in 1996. I'm bad with dates, but Buffy started on tv during my second year. :) I went from learning DOS based email in university (Pine!) to surfing the net in college and it was such a huge change. I think our instructors didn't want to spend time teaching us practical, hands on things we could learn in the field (or that would be different from library to library) and stuck to searching, reference, etc. (My favorite class in school was indexing for some reason. I loved learning how to do that.) Thankfully we didn't have to do any typing of catalogue cards. I was in the first class in high school to learn "keyboarding" instead of typing so I'm bad with typewriters. :) I learned book repair and covering when I did my public library field placement and spent a lot of time in the workroom there perfecting the art. And... never used it again. When I started my first job here one of my duties was book repair and errata, but the person who I was replacing showed me the ropes. I got *very* good at errata before switching to a different position.I had a job cataloguing during the break between my first and second year of college. It was mostly copy cataloguing but the practical experience was eye opening. I remember coming across the term "cookery" for the first time and thinking, "What? No one's going to find that!" Part of the problem was that they had just gotten a new computer program that was meant to make catalogue/shelf list cards and were thinking they could use it as an OPAC too. I had enough experience to know something was wrong but not enough nerve to ask them how they thought it was going to work.The course at my college is gone now, too. It's a shame - it was a really great course and was always changing to pull in new technologies. I remember during our first year whenever the class would start getting into a debate on things like censorship or copyright we'd always be told, "save it for your theories class next year!" and then they ended up switching it to another computer class which annoyed everyone. :) I really felt able to work in any kind of library when I graduated, but of course now a lot of the stuff I learned and don't use is fading...

Re:$26,000?

I was making less than that as an MLS assistant director. And they wondered why I quit after a year.

To paraphrase Three 6 Mafia "It's hard out here to be a Librarian"

Re:Just try...

I have an MLS (actually an MS in LIS or something like that I'd have to look at the wall decoration) and an undergraduate degree in Information Studies.

I have cataloged maybe 3 books in the last year -all copy cataloging, and all because the were on hold for someone and the catalog librarian was out.

On the flip side I have 'checked out' a computer to at least 10,000 people - something a 4th grader could do.

Every day I see less and less value in library school and if library tech, or assistants are starting at 26K why did I need four more years of school with attendant student loans to get another grand?

Re:Just try...

So... How many people advocate ALA accrediting BACHELOR'S degree programs in LS? Some say it would contribute to the "de-professionalizing" of the field. But at least it might bring us more in line with the salaries. Of course, they may also use that as an excuse to lower them even more...My grad school graduated an MLS the semester before me that could not use a computer. She couldn't work the mouse. Not at all. It was horrible. To be honest, I really don't think three or four semesters is really enough time to prepare a person for a professional degree. We had students who had entered the program, knew nothing about the field, and 1 year later were entering it. It wasn't enough. With 4 years, you can take the time to get all the classes you want, do an internship, really spend time learning the ins and outs of the profession. When I entered grad school, I'd been working in libraries for 6 years. By the time the profs were done introducing the basics to everyone else, it was time to go. I learned nothing.

Re:Just try...

I'm at my pay rate after almost 9 years in my job and working 30 hours/week, which is considered full time in my board. I'm at the top pay band for our classification. I don't actually make 26K because I don't work for close to three months of the year (summer and I'm not paid for xmas vac or march break). IF I worked 12 months at my current pay, I'd get around 26K (Canadian, btw).

So, yeah, starting pay of 26K? I'd've loved that!

Re:Just try...

If they are going to pretend that a few semesters of what they call graduate school prepares one to be a librarian then the public will soon be sorry that the ALA got involved.

To get a Masters in Nursing you have to have a BSN, to get an MBA you have to have an undergraduate degree in business (or 40+ upper level hours in business),even medical school requires a founding in the natural sciences, and maths.

To suggest that a year, or 2 in library school is good enough simply accept the terrible librarians that some -if not all - libraries are churning out.

You want to know what de-professionalizes librarians? Paying them 27K per year - my starting wage in my first librarian position 2 years ago. I made more as a nurse with an associates degree a decade ago. My coworkers, my patients and the physicians with whom I worked recognized nurses as professionals. Find someone who does not work in a library that knows a librarian must have a Masters and I'll buy them dinner.

Not valued much

The fact is that library professionals are not valued much, period. This is because much of library work has been devalued to a checkout/checkin function, at least as far the public is concerned.

Re:Just try...

I think at the end of the day it really depends on the person in question. There were people in my class who had enough prior experience (either in management, in other degrees, etc) that they were prepared to do quite a bit after graduation. Others, not so much. Our teachers were interested in making sure we had a lot of work options after graduation and the program reflected that. I think we were pretty progressive, but it was all technical stuff. No management training, no budget management/accounting classes, etc. We weren't being taught to run libraries, but I don't think that's why anyone was there in the first place. Part of my job now is doing the accounts for the library and I often think, "why didn't they recommend I at least take bookkeeping as one of my electives?"I had been working in my university library while I went to school and when I graduated from college and started at the hospital library my job was pretty much what I was doing back then. It's not that I didn't need to know anything to do it, it's that I had had three and a half years of on the job training already. While the act of checking out a book is usually simple, there's a lot more to working a circulation desk than that. Good customer service is important and quite often the circulation people are the only contact with library staff that a patron has. You shouldn't dismiss that so easily.I decided to leave university to go into the library tech program instead of getting a masters in library science. I had no experience actually working in libraries before university and didn't know I could do anything else other than get a masters. The division of labour in the library there was Librarian: the manager and the gov docs person, Library Techs: everyone else. It made an impression. I knew I didn't want to be a manager and didn't like heavy in-depth reference work so I was happy to suddenly have another option. (And I'm going to publicly confess now to making a huge life decision when I was twenty that was based on really incomplete information: both of the librarians who worked there were usually rude to the student assistants and didn't show much respect for the other staff who worked there. THAT made an impression too.)As for the salary thing... libraries and salaries are different everywhere. I work in a special library in a big city and I know I don't make anywhere near what the librarians do. I started out at around 28K nine years ago, but raises have not been consistant since then, and if you want to convert that to US dollars keep in mind the exchange rate was a lot higher back then. :) I do agree that librarians are underpaid, but I confess to not paying much attention to the rates for public librarians here in Canada. I'm not sure how well we compare to the States in that.

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