Tuesday, 4 March 2008

We are still needed...

Librarians demoted - Move dictated by budget, customers' needs, director says from the Wauau Daily Herald in Wisconsin, US: 4 senior level librarian positions replaced with lower level positions, with, of course, less pay.

This happens entirely too often, and not in just the library world of course. The problem is that, especially with librarians, after the staffing and budget change, those involved work even harder to try to make sure that service continues as it had before. Very often service quality (and quantity) is reduced but the reduction is focussed in an area that will get the least amount of complaints. All this does is show those who initiated the staff and budget cuts that they made a good choice and that maybe even more cuts should be made.

The really unfortunate thing is the justification given sometimes for cuts like these: "Librarians today do less complex work" said the director of this particular library. Hardly. What with the constantly growing number of resources, many of which are not so trustworthy, and the increased reliance the public has on good information sources, our job could not be more complex at this time. Not only that, but part of our job is now constantly defending good resources and tools against the public and administrators who think that ease of use is the most important quality an information source should have: "I don't have time to actually look up the answer to my important question, so I'll just take the advice that this match book is giving me!"

As a profession, librarians need to focus on making it clear to the government, to educational institutions, and to our customers that accurate information searching is worth a little extra work, and certainly worth the salary of the person who can do that extra work for you.

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