9/05/2011

Looking Forward-eish

So it’s almost that time of the year when the South African Librarians Professional Body meets for its Annual Conference.   Since I’m pretty sure I’m not going, I thought I would excavate and resurrect some issues that had me chomping at the bit at last year’s conference.

To prevent from being a victim of the Managerial Finger Twinge (see previous post for world ending specifics) I will not refer to the specific Local Authorities by their copyrighted trade names but will use the friendly and generally accepted names like Cape, Jo’burg, P.E. and Harold. I will also refer to the specific Universities in these provinces by even friendlier names like That-Steppy-One-Near-The-Mountain-in-the-Cape, or the One-That-Has-Lots-of-White-Waters near it, in Gauteng.
Sadly Harold only has UNISA.

I will endeavor to call public librarians, by their names: Public Librarians, and academic librarians by there’s, which as a matter of interest isn’t P.E.S.T.S but rather Academic Librarians. And any indications that I think Public Librarians are better than Academic Librarians is completely a figment of some of our overpaid imaginations.

So. 
Too the issues Library Boy!

Euthanising the Profession (or how University Library Departments and Faculties are killing Librarianship and how you can’t really help because it might be too late.)
So at last year’s Conference, the ‘Steppy’ University from the Cape made a motion (by waving their hand in the air quite vigorously thereafter followed by talking) and asked if the Library Association (that represents all librarians)  could send a strongly worded communication to the Steppy University’s Management, to (pretty) please "not close the Library school", which had been around for a very long time. (Put it too you this way, it’s been around so long, it has a Dewey System stamped out on stone tablets.)

The reasonable reasoning behind this was that closing the school would mean one less library school to train librarians, and also it would give the other Universities the brass balls to do the same to their library schools, which would ultimately lead to undergraduate students seeing a lot of brass balls lying around the campus but also have the University Library staffed with trained monkeys and ring tailed marmosets (which actually love the taste of  books), OR devoid of humanity altogether in favor of a talking vending machines that dispense Kindles and Nooks.
The close-to-home reason, is simply that my colleagues and I wouldn't be able to get ourselves trained properly and that would put us at the tender, overpriced mercies of UNISA in Harold.

So the motion flew to the floor, and then got crushed beneath the heel of a University that has lots of beaches. Let’s call them: the Beachy University.
The Beachy University felt that the Librarian Association would be overstepping its mandate.
What What WHAT!, you say. A Library Association representing all Librarians everywhere (In South Africa) not saying anything while a mechanism that creates said librarians is stopped, dismantled and sold for scrap, is staying within their mandate by NOT SAYING ANYTHING!
 
That's like the ANC circa 1950-something, saying that this Apartheid thing is really none of our business because this is a policy decision that those Pale People made, and nothing will really come of it, we'll just ignore it because its not really in the mandate slash bylaws. Sorry.

So cue, this year and I honestly don’t believe that anyone will say anything.
At all.Despite UNISA changing their Library Degree Post Graduate qualification again! 
That other Flattish University in the Cape is phasing out their Library Science departments and changing the qualifications. 
 
Who knows what will happen next year or the year after that.

So how is the Association going to survive when 2015 comes round and there is no such thing as a qualified Librarian anymore? 
How can the Association justify its existence then? 
Hell how does the Universities justify the existence of these Academic Library Management types now that they’ve rid themselves of the Library school?
And horror of horrors, at what point does the Local Authority feel its okay to take a handyman from a Depot and stick him behind a Library Desk, because it would be cheaper?


Public Library management will have to make concessions employment requirements if there is no way to get qualified in South Africa. If it ever gets that bad that the Local Authority has to accept a 1 year coursed librarian with an "accredited" certificate of completion (as oppose to the piece of paper you get in a ceremony where you have to wear a robe and special hat), and the Library Association is found, shall we say lacking, in its response, how long before we could see a PUBLIC Library Professional Association taking up the new mandate?

Now wouldn't that be something. 

See you at the conference in 2015. Maybe

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