Survey Respondents Suggest that Some Academic Library Professionals without a Graduate Degree in Librarianship Have Prior Library Experience and Do Not Plan to Pursue a Library Degree
A Review of:
Oliver, A., & Prosser, E. (2018). Academic librarianship without the degree: Examining the characteristics and motivations of academic library professionals. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 44(5), 613-619. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2018.07.006
Objective – To examine the motivations and career paths of professionals outside the field of library science who work in academic library settings, including their reasons for not pursuing a graduate degree in librarianship.
Design – Multiple-choice survey questionnaire.
Setting – Not clearly stated.
Subjects – 193 adults without graduate degrees in librarianship employed in professional positions in academic libraries.
Methods – A nineteen-item multiple-choice questionnaire hosted on Select Survey and a previous study by the same authors. Filtering excluded survey respondents who did not currently work in academic libraries, who had graduate degrees in librarianship, or who do not identify as an academic library professional.
Main Results – Most of the survey respondents (n=115, 59.9%) had positions in a library prior to pursuing a professional academic library career. Of those with prior library experience, most (n=98, 85.2%) had gained experience in academic library settings. The two top reasons cited for becoming an academic library professional were an interest in employment in academic library settings (n=59, 52.2%) and meeting position requirements (n=54, 47.8%). A fifth of respondents both met the requirements for their position and had an interest in working in academic libraries (n=23, 20.4%). Most respondents had less than five years’ experience (n=41, 36.6%) or six to ten years’ experience (n=43, 38.4%) in an academic library. Less than half of respondents had became academic library professionals after applying as an external candidate (n=83, 44.6%) and a number of respondents had applied as an internal candidate (n=52, 28%). Several respondents had become academic library professionals because they were promoted, appointed, or recruited within their academic libraries (n=35, 18.8%). Few respondents were actively working on a graduate librarianship degree (n=21, 11.3%) and most expressed that they did not need such a degree (n=112, 67.9%). Those who were pursuing a graduate degree in librarianship did so because of their desire to advance their careers (n=17, 81%). Respondents’ current positions were mostly categorized in areas such as administration (n=77, 31.2%), scholarly communications (n=34, 13.8%), technical services (n=27, 10.9%), and information technology (n=20, 8.1%).
Conclusion – Having prior experience working in an academic library served as a notable motivating factor for entry into the position of academic library professional. Two main pathways towards obtaining such positions included positions without graduate library degree requirements and the transition of paraprofessionals into professional-level jobs. Most survey respondents noted their lack of interest in pursuing an advanced degree in librarianship, as they did not see the significance of having one. These findings may help library education programs to better understand growing needs in librarian education and prepare the future library workforce to meet these new demands.
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