Tuesday, 6 May 2014

What's in a name?

Recently my job title changed from Regional Librarian to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and it’s surprising how much more prestige the new title carries.  I have been congratulated by many on my promotion; however it is not a promotion at all.  No new responsibilities, no raise in pay – just a title change.  You see, Regional Librarian was the title used for the Head of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library for years; however many did not understand that it meant this position was in charge of all public libraries in the Annapolis region.

Lots of other libraries use the term Chief Librarian or Library Director to identify the head manager of the organization but lately more and more are using the generic term CEO and dropping the word librarian or library all together.

Why is it that the term “librarian” does not generate as much respect as CEO?  Possibly because the word “librarian” is overused and misused.  Not everyone that works in a library is automatically a librarian.  To become a professional librarian you must have a Masters degree in Library & Information Studies (MLIS) or Masters in Information Management (MIM).  The name varies depending on the school.  Most of the staff the public encounter in libraries are Library Clerks, Library Assistants, or Library Technicians.  Library Technicians have a diploma in Library Studies from a community college, and Clerks and Assistants typically have on-the-job training in library work.

Other professions grapple with position titles as well.  Take nurses for example.  There are Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Personal Care Workers (PCWs), etc.  The public often lumps them all together as nurses, but those in the profession distinguish themselves accordingly using the proper title.  Same with accountants: they are always distinguishing themselves as CAs, CGAs, etc.  Why not library workers?  If you have worked hard to get a Library Tech Diploma or a Masters degree, why be shy about it?

What’s in a name? Apparently a lot.

Posted by Frances Newman, MLIS
CEO of Annapolis Valley Regional Library

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