SLA is attempting to clarify their recent initiative to re-brand the association. A few notable points from the posting (which I recommend reading):
“[The SLA is] no longer an association of ‘special libraries’ as more than 50 percent of our members do not work in a ‘library.’”
Nothing about where members do work, and if it is a library under a different name, or really something else entirely. The only thing clear is that the SLA exec wants to move away from being associated with libraries.
” There is nothing wrong with being a librarian or working in a library but there are instances when it limits how we are perceived and what we have to offer.”
So: moving away from the term ‘librarian’ as well.
All librarians are info professionals, but not all info pros are librarians. Specialized libraries are information-providing units within an organization, but not all info-providing units are libraries. It means something more to be a librarian, and to work in a library.
“After an information professionals first job, the MLS is less emphasized. It is the experience and performance that is valued. The MLS degree is a means to an end and the credential to get one in the door. SLA realized this many years ago when they removed a professional library degree as a requirement for membership. And it has not hurt the association.”
No, because it broadens the potential (paying) membership of the organization. The SLA, which has recently raised membership rates to cover increasing costs, has no interest in restricting who can join, so there is no way they would re-introduce the MLIS as an entrance requirement.
But as someone whose job it is to help deliver an MLIS program, and to help students earn their MLIS degree, I have to wonder about the SLAs continuing and public devaluation of this degree.
It is clear that a focus on librarians, libraries, and the MLIS degree are not considered to be in the best interest of the SLA. They’ll gladly have librarians join, and even I think that librarians may benefit from membership in the SLA. But I don’t think that specialized librarians can look to the SLA to represent their best interests.
Given all this, I think that it would be in the best interest of all that the SLA change their name so that it no longer includes the terms ‘library’ or ‘librarian’, since this will more accurately represent the reality of the SLA today as well as the direction in which the organization appears to be going.
This leaves specialized librarians without a true professional association to assist and represent them. Could this be an opportunity for the ALA? Or time to consider something else?
Update: I’ve commented on the SLA’s original post, trying to be as constructive as possible. If you are an SLAer, I encourage you to do the same.