Is librarianship a profession?

Yes, I know, this post is two days early: On any normal day, I’m the last one who would be trying to answer that question, for a variety of reasons (most of which I’ve mentioned).

But that’s the title of Dorothea Salo’s post (which in turn links to some related posts), and I think it’s an interesting, challenging read.

Which is just about all I’m inclined to say about that.

Oh, except for one correction clarification note: Dorothea sez:

Speaking of Walt, who’s a systems analyst by training and trade,

Well..I was never trained as a systems analyst (or as a programmer, for that matter), unless you consider the extent to which the Rhetoric program at UC Berkeley (technically, Speech most of the time I was there) included the study of logic.

By training, if anything, I’m a writer and editor–although, there again, it’s mostly self-taught (thus letting a bunch of teachers off the hook). And it looks as though that’s my trade at this point, by design or happenstance. Since I started doing that (that is, writing for publication and editing other people’s writing) years before I started doing library systems work, you could say that I’m a writer and editor who had a really worthwhile day job as a library systems analyst for a few decades.

I’ll probably always be an analyst (and synthesist, which I regard as more significant if only because it’s more unusual and less teachable); it’s in my nature.

That’s a sidebar, to be sure. Do I agree with everything in Salo’s essay? Of course not. Does she raise a lot of important points and state them well? Of course.

(Would I take an honorary doctorate? Certainly, especially if it included an interesting trip/speaking combination. I’ve spoken at four library schools in the past and enjoyed it each time. But, well, I’m not going to hold my breath.)


The use of crossed-out text in blogs doesn’t always mean you edited it post-publishing. It’s also a cute way to indicate you’re not quite sure what term you want to use, and are ducking the issue by using more than one. But you knew that already, right?

3 Responses to “Is librarianship a profession?”

  1. Dorothea Salo Says:

    Bleh, my bad, sorry. Will add a link and a mea culpa.

  2. walt Says:

    As noted in email: No mea culpa needed. I have not made a big deal out of being self-trained as a library systems analyst (of course, in 1968, I’m not sure where you’d go to get that training…), and that’s certainly where I’ve made my living.

  3. PaulW Says:

    Librarianship is a profession.
    Speaking as a reference librarian, the job requires the skills of research, of interpreting information well enough to know where to store it and how to make it accessible to others. It involves a lot of knowledge covering a lot of topics, almost a Jack-of-all-trades to where you know just enough about everything from computers to cars to art to literature to history to people to, well, the universe.

    I kinda like the title of Bibliographic Researching Expert.


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