Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Occupational Classification of Librarians in different countries - Part 1

Occupational Classification of Librarians in different countries - Part 1

1. Introduction

It is interesting to analyze how LIBRARIANSHIP is classified in Occupational Indexes or Occupational Classifications from various International organizations and Government agencies, especially the labor laws enforcing organizations in the world. LIBRARIANSHIP is classified as a professional occupation, along with lawyers, health professionals, teaching professionals, business professional etc.

What does that mean? A professional occupant requires a professional degree/qualification in the field. A professional degree prepares the holder for a particular profession by emphasizing competency skills along with theory and analysis. These professions are typically licensed or otherwise regulated by a governmental or government-approved body (Wikipedia).

Let us see what the governmental and professional organisations say about our profession.

2. International Labor Office (ILO)

An occupational definition of “Librarian” is available from International Labor Office in their International Standard Classification of Occupations -ISCO-88.
    Librarians and related information professionals collect and store recorded or published material, and retrieve and provide information as requested.
    Tasks include
    (a) organising, developing and maintaining a systematic collection of books, periodicals and other printed or audio-visually recorded material;
    (b) selecting and recommending acquisitions of books and other printed or audio-visually recorded material;
    (c) organising, classifying and cataloguing library material;
    (d) organising and administering loan systems and information networks;
    (e) retrieving material and providing information to business and other users based on the collection itself or on library and information-network systems;
    (f) conducting research and analysing or modifying library and information services in accordance with changes in users' needs;
    (g) preparing scholarly papers and reports;
    (h) performing related tasks;
    (i) supervising other workers.

    Examples of the occupations classified here:

  • Information scientist, business services
  • Information scientist, technical information
  • Librarian
ILO classifies Librarian as a professional occupation (see below)
Major Group 2 Professionals
21. Physical, mathematical and engineering science professionals
211. Physicists, chemists and related professionals
212. Mathematicians, statisticians and related professionals
213. Computing professionals
214. Architects, engineers and related professionals
22. Life science and health professional
221. Life science professionals
222. Health professionals (except nursing)
223. Nursing and midwifery professionals
23. Teaching professionals
231. College, university and higher education teaching professionals
232. Secondary education teaching professionals
233. Primary and pre-primary education teaching professionals
234. Special education teaching professionals
235. Other teaching professionals
24. Other professionals
241. Business professionals
242. Legal professionals
243. Archivists, librarians and related information professionals
244. Social science and related professionals
245. Writers and creative or performing artists
246. Religious professionals
3. United States Department of Labor

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes Nature of Work, Qualifications required, Job Outlook etc of LIBRARIANSHIP, which is classified as a Professional occupation. Below is quoted from this US Department of Labor's "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition".
......Librarian positions focus on one of three aspects of library work: user services, technical services, and administrative services. Librarians in user services, such as reference and children's librarians, work with patrons to help them find the information they need. The job involves analyzing users' needs to determine what information is appropriate and searching for, acquiring, and providing the information. The job also includes an instructional role, such as showing users how to find and evaluate information. For example, librarians commonly help users navigate the Internet so they can search for and evaluate information efficiently. Librarians in technical services, such as acquisitions and cataloguing, acquire, prepare, and classify materials so patrons can find it easily. Some write abstracts and summaries. Often, these librarians do not deal directly with the public. Librarians in administrative services oversee the management and planning of libraries: they negotiate contracts for services, materials, and equipment; supervise library employees; perform public-relations and fundraising duties; prepare budgets; and direct activities to ensure that everything functions properly.....

......A master's degree in library science (MLS) is necessary for librarian positions in most public, academic, and special libraries. School librarians may not need an MLS but must meet State teaching license requirements........

4. Human Resources and Skills Development of Canada

National Occupational Classification (NOC) of Canada also classifies LIBRARIAN as a professional occupation with Master of Library Science as a basic requirement with below described duties.

Librarians perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Recommend acquisition of books, periodicals and audio-visual, interactive media and other materials for inclusion in library collection
  • Provide reference services
  • Select, classify, catalogue and weed library materials
  • Prepare bibliographies, indexes, reading lists, guides and other finding aids
  • Develop systems to access library collections
  • Perform manual, on-line and interactive media reference searches to assist users in accessing library materials and arrange for interlibrary loans
  • Develop taxonomies using various information and data sources
  • Provide specialized programs for children, seniors and other groups
  • Conduct library information and orientation training programs and tours
  • Perform related administrative duties and supervise library technicians, assistants and clerks.

Employment requirements

  • A master's degree in library science is required.
5. American Library Association

ALA is the famous professional association widely respected all over the world, and their standards are especially followed in library recruitment. They provides a clear description of “type of library professional jobs

  • Library Assistants or Technicians generally perform clerical duties, and are often mistaken for librarians as they are the first face people see, since most libraries' checkout desks are near the entrance. Library assistants often check materials out and in, collect fines and fees, answer general phone questions, issue library cards, process new library materials, and assist with items on reserve. Library assistant jobs may be part- or full-time and can range from $8 to $15 per hour.
  • Librarians help people with homework and research questions, decide what items to purchase and to discard, offer programs and training, help people use the internet, build websites, and more. Specialized librarians may run computer systems, work with seniors and non-English speaking populations, become specialists in a specific subject area, or maintain the records for the online catalog. Librarian jobs are often full-time, although most libraries also rely on a core of part-time and "substitute" librarians to help cover all of the hours many libraries are open. The average starting salary for a full-time new librarian was $37,975 in 2003, with the average for all librarians at $43,090 for 2002.
  • Library Managers such as department heads, branch managers, and assistant/deputy/associate directors, and are typically middle managers responsible for the operation of departments or other functional areas such as "all library branches." As managers they may be responsible for work schedules, employee evaluations, training, and managing budgets. Branch managers, in particular, can have additional director-like responsibilities, such as overseeing the condition of the facility or involvement in local neighborhood groups and projects.
  • Library Directors have the main leadership role in the library. Typical duties include preparing and overseeing the budget, developing employment and service policies, strategic planning, public and governmental relations, reporting to the governing board or official, ensuring compliance with laws, fundraising, hiring, motivating and firing staff, and more. Directors' duties and compensation can vary greatly depending on the size of the library. The director of a small rural library can literally be the only regularly scheduled employee with a salary of $20,000 to the director of a large urban library with hundreds of employees and a salary of $175,000.
6. Professional Degree for Librarians.

If we look at library education sector, there are hundreds of universities run professional library science courses (MLIS, MLS, MSILS, MSIS etc), which enable people to become librarians. A country wise list can be seen from here http://informationr.net/wl/ (not sure about its currency). Just like in any other professional courses, curriculum of these schools are also updated time to time. Established professions are not getting thrown away with the technological advancements, rather embrace them and let the profession grow on to much higher and varied dimensions. New generation libraries also follow the same old objective – collect, organise and disseminate knowledge/information – but may be through new (variety of) formats and technologies. Other convenient interpretations will proved to be wrong, by the time.

7. Conclusions

We can cite such official or government documents from any country. These are the facts and practices, followed by organisations, especially during professional recruitments, promotions and establishing institutions worldwide. Conveniently or ignorantly persons and institutions alter these practices and codes in several cases. These actions may be interpreted as violations of international practices/codes and professional ethics.

No comments: