Like many others, I generally try to stay away from political issues. However, the passage of DOPA in the House of Representatives has the potential to have such a major impact on the way that libraries do business. Jessamyn West has a post over at librarian.net that summarizes many of today’s blog posts regarding the passage of DOPA. I think all are worth a read. I would add a post by post by Don Wood at Library 2.0 – Tell Your Senators Why DOPA is Bad for Libraries. Don Wood offers some great ways to help and get involved. (Found via Tame the Web).
In a post aptly titled Librarian – Just a Title over at Library Stuff, Steven M. Cohen discussed how he learned a lesson that one doesn’t have to have an MLS to be a librarian. In many ways, it doesn’t seem as if this should have been such a revelation. However, it isn’t a sentiment with which everyone who holds an MLS agrees. It is difficult to hold a professional librarian position without an MLS. This I can speak to from experience. Often times, people who hold an MLS find it very difficult to accept ones without an MLS in professional librarian positions. I can certainly understand – and even sympathize – with their point of view. They worked hard to get their degree, many have spent a good deal of money for it and worked hard to get their job. I’m sure there are many other reasons as well. Regardless of being able to understand their point of view, it is an attitude with which it is often very difficult to deal. Often when you meet librarians at conferences, workshops, etc., they ask right away where you work, what you do and inevitably where did you get your MLS. When you mention that you don’t have an MLS, they often ask why, are you thinking of getting it, you should consider going to such and such. There are even some that really do not want to deal with you once they discover that you do not possess the degree. Fortunately, I have only encountered this attitude a couple of times (and really look forward to not ever having to deal with it again when I complete my degree).
Sadly, people with this attitude are missing the fact that the best person for the job is the best person for the job regardless of educational attainment or experience. In my case, somebody (who has an MLS) thought I was the right person for my current job despite my lack of MLS. I can’t or shouldn’t allow others to undermine my belief that I am good at my job or that I deserve it. I try and remind myself of this when I do encounter people that question my abilities or right to my job. I think it is important to note that such questioning can come from both sides of the MLS divide. Library staff members who have paraprofessional jobs (and do not have MLS degrees) can also be critical – sometimes even more so than those with degrees. This can make me fell as if I don’t always fit in on either side of the divide. It is a tremendously difficult position to be in. Do I call myself a librarian or not? My current title is Head of Library Systems rather than Systems Librarian in order to subtlety convey that I do not possess an MLS. When I meet people casually, I tell them that I am a librarian. People outside of libraries don’t care about such idiosyncratic distinctions. However when dealing with people who work in or around libraries, I am careful to note that “No, I am not technically a librarian.” Admittedly, I will be happy when I complete my degree and won’t have to worry about such technicalities anymore.
Having said all that, this is not specifically the reason that I am going to graduate school to get my MLS. I don’t personally believe that the degree itself will make me a better librarian, but I do believe that the process of learning and being engaged about learning will. Something I intend to continue beyond my current stint in graduate school. Ultimately, I am too young to not get my degree. I have found my calling in life and want to continue working in library systems. One never knows what life will bring. I don’t think it would be wise to assume that I will work in my current job for the next 30 odd years until I retire. If I didn’t get my degree, I think I would be doing myself a great disservice. And that is the bottom line, I’m going to graduate school for myself not because the degree will make me a librarian.
7/29/06 Update: Nicole Engard from What I Learned Today chimes in on the issue. I particularly like Nicole’s take because we are in somewhat similar circumstances.
Information from my preliminary examination of North Carolina State University’s Library Catalog (web catalog is powered by Endeca’s ProFind Content Management System):
- Initial Search page: Keyword search options to “search for words” or “search begins with . . .” The “search for words” search can be limited via a drop-down box to Anywhere, in Title, in Author, in Subject Headings, or ISBN/ISSN. The “search begins with . . .” search can be limited to Title begins with, Journal Title begins with, Author (last name first), Subject begins with, Series begins with, Call number, or Gov Doc number.
- On the home page, there is a Hint box with links to Search other Catalogs and Search Help.
- There is a link to Search the Collection link which takes the user to a different search page where one can search the catalog, find articles, find Journal titles, find Reserves, find Databases, Browse Subjects, links to Special Collections, links to other collections, and links to Reference tools. While most of these services are outside of the library catalog, they all appear to the user as one system.
- The catalog has tabbed options for searching: Search, Advanced Search and Browse.
- The Advanced Search page has several more search options. Users can search by “Words Anywhere,” “Words in Title,” “Words in Author,” “Words in Subject Headings,” and ISBN/ISSN. There are optional search limits available: Library (Online Resources, D.H. Hill LIbrary, Design Library, Natural Resources LIbrary, Textiles Library, Veterinary Medical LIbrary, Satellite Shelving Facility, Special Collections (D.H. Hill), Learning Resources Library, and African American Cultural Center Reading Room), Language, Format (audio recordings, books, CD-ROMs, e-books, electronic resources, filmstrips, journals and serials, electronic journals, kits, manuscripts, maps, microforms, newspapers, scopes, software, theses & dissertations (NCSU), videos and DVDs, and slides), date range of publication and include document type (gov docs, reference materials, all others). The document types are all checked, so I assume that by unchecking they would be removed from the results pool?? Are there only three types of documents? I find this a bit confusing. There is also the ability to do Boolean searching on this page. Hints are available telling patrons to use quotes for exact phrases and that boolean operators are ignored in keyword searches.
- Browse tab: Patron can browse titles by subject – broken down by call number area. There is also the ability to browse all new titles received within the last week.
- There is a “get answers now” link which takes one to a page about getting help from reference librarians on every page.
- In the top navigation image, there is a link to log into one’s library account. This image appears on every page.
- Note, I found it very difficult to figure out how to return to the library catalog’s home page. There is no obvious way. The “Search the Collection” link is on every page – however, this does not return on the catalog home page. I eventually discovered the link the catalog home page in a drop down menu with the “Most Used” resouces.
Information from preliminary examination of Arkansas State University – Beebe’s Library Catalog (ILS is Library.Solution 2.0 from The Library Corporation (TLC) – additional use of Aquabrowser):
- Library catalog home page has several options: Search (refine searching to obtain more precise results), Browse (expands searching by viewing results alphabetically/numerically), Combination (search titles, authors, subjects and/or notes simultaneously), Patron Review, Online Help and Aquabrowser library search.
- Main search page: There is a search box with several options. One can find information from certain fields (Any fields (default option), Titles, Authors, Subjects, Notes, Publisher, and Series) that begin with, contain (default option), closely match the words, stem from or sound like the item being searched for. Results default to 20 per page. The user can change from preset numbers in a drop down menu. Searches can be limited to locations: All branches, Abington Library (ASU – Beebe’s library), and ASU Searcy library. Users have the option to limit search to available items only.
- Browse search page: Users can search for a keyword and browse the results by Title (default option), Authors, Subjects, Notes, Publisher, Series, Local Call, Dewey, GPO, ISBN, ISSN, LC Call, LCCN or LCCN 2000+. The ability to return a specific number of results, limit to select locations and limit the search to available items only is also available (available on every page).
- Combination Search: (name itself is quite confusing). This appears to be the place for boolean searching. There are three search boxes which can be combined with AND, OR or NOT in one of three indexes: Title, Author or Subject Note. Each of the three search boxes is labeled term 1, term 2 or term 3. Under the search boxes are the options to group terms like (term 1 * term 2) * term 3 or term 1 * (term 2 * term 3). Again, there is the ability to return a specific number of results, limit to select locations and limit the search to available items only.
- Patron Review page contains a place for the user to log into the system. It appears that this is only in order to request items (not to check circulation record, etc.).
- Online Help – There are fairly extensive help pages.
- There is top navigation menu with several options: Home, Help, Search, Browse, Combination, Reading Programs, Set Limits, Logon and Patron Review. Search, Browse, and Combination link to the same search pages that are offered from the home page. The Logon and Patron Review icons technically go to two separate links, but appear to be the same page. The Home icon takes the users to a different page than the initial catalog home page (This is a bit confusing since the page has some different options).
- The Set Limits icon links to a limit page where a user can choose several additional limits: date range, language, format (book, serial, kit, projected, printed music, manuscript music, sound (music), sound (non-music), printed map, manuscript map, computer file, 2-D graphic, mixed material, artifact, manuscript, archive, and any non-print), and collection (Arkansas Reference, Audio Books, Audio Visual, Circulating, Computer Media, Electronic Equipment, Electronic Collection, Instructor Reserves, Inter-lib Loan 3 wks, Inter-lib Loan 4 wks, on order, Reference, Reserve Collection, Serials, Special Collection, Special Status and Technical Services).
- From the second catalog home page, there is an option to do a Visual search. This option presents the user with 15 images (a baseball, a basketball, a sailboat, a car, a god, an elephant, a football, hockey players, a plane, a train, a farm, a cow, the Grand Canyon and a pig. Clicking on one of these images will present the user with a list of items about that item.
- Aquabrowser link – On this page, there is one simple, search box. Searches can be limited by location: All, ASU Beebe and/or ASU Searcy. There is a link to help using Aquabrowser. Note that there is no link back to the library home page or the regular catalog.
Information from preliminary examination of UMass Dartmouth’s library Catalog (ILS is Voyager from Endeavor Information Systems:
- Tabbed search options: Basic Keyword (default option), Title/Author/Subject/Call No., Course Reserves, UMD Journal Locator (not ILS product), New Titles.
- Navigation under logo at top of screen with several options: Search, Headings, Titles, Patrons, Login, History, eResources, UMD Library, and Help. Headings, Titles and History links are not active. eResources link leads outside of the library catalog.
- Basic Keyword search: Three basic search boxes with and, or and not options. These searches can be completed in Keyword Anywhere, Title, Subject or Author indexes. Results default to 50 per page – this can be changed to other present numbers: 10, 20, etc. There is a link to a movie to help patrons locate books in the library. There are alos links to a Virtual Catalog site and to the library’s interlibrary loan department.
- Title/Author/Subject/Call No. search tab: There is a search box labeled Find This. Results can be limited to several indexes: Keyword Anywhere AND with Relevance, Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance, Title Keyword AND, Subject Keyword AND, Journal Title Keyword AND, Keyword Relevance Search, Author Browse, Left Anchored Title, Call Number Browse, Subject Browse, Date Seach (left anchored), and Name Title Browse. (Upon first glance, these options seem very confusing. I’m not exactly sure what they mean. Hopefully, what these searches do will become clear when I actually start to do searches). There is also a quick limit option to limit material to after 1990, after 2000, videorecording, serials in English, and Main Library.
- Course Reserve tab allows users to search for reserve material by instructor, department, course number or section number. On this page, there is a link to the library’s ereserve system and a link to the UMass journal locator (both are non ILS systems).
- New Titles tab: Patron can select location, but UMass Dartmouth library is the only location offered. There is the ability to choose the period for new books: last week, last 2 weeks, last 3 weeks, and last 4 weeks. The results can be sorted by call number, author or title. There is also a search box for patrons to search for something in the new titles (this is optional).
- Patron/Login links on navigation menu: There are two links which allow patrons to log into the library catalog. Each link (patron and login) seem to take patrons to the same place. This seems a bit confusing.