Who says I am a professional?

This is my personal perspective on it. I’m still working my way through this topic. My views may change. This is today’s reflection.

I completed the requirements for my M.L.I.S. in 2006. –> I became a new librarian.

I attended my graduation ceremony in 2007. –> I became a new graduate.

I became professionally registered with LIANZA in 2011. –> I became a new professional.

However, if I wasn’t professionally registered with the New Zealand industry association, would I still be considered a professional? I would definitely still consider myself a professional librarian, but I don’t know if Library Land would.

My behavior has changed little since my professional registration. I still read voraciously, I still actively participate in discussions, I still develop myself professionally. I now make notes of what I do professionally to fulfill registration requirements for my professional association, but I don’t think that makes me more or less professional. It does mean that I keep track of and reflect on my PD to fit specific criteria for specific assessment. It demonstrates to employers that I meet the benchmark for the industry (or at least it will when I submit my journal for successful validation in 2014 – I am thinking positively about the future!).

It will be an interesting challenge to determine what exactly is a new professional for the LIS industry. Is this year going to be a tipping point for NZ? Are Kiwi New Librarians emerging from their studies keen & ready to fully immerse themselves in the professional registration process? Will we see all NZ LIS graduates take up professional registration? Do we have enough mentors stepping up to support the 12 months mentoring scheme?

The embedding of professional registration will take time in NZ’s Library Land. It took time overseas for professional registration to become the standard for other Library Associations. Registration has become part of the fabric of other NZ industries, such as teaching (NZ Teachers Council – Registered Teacher Criteria), social work (ANZASW – competency & re-certification) and architecture (NZIA). No doubt there was initial resistance in many of those sectors. No doubt there is still not 100% registration within these industries. No doubt professional registration means different things to different sectors.

I can see lots of potential research emerging from this topic with the lens on new librarians and new professionals. I don’t think this research should only be undertaken by LIS students, but I’m not sure who would find funding for this research otherwise.

  • Investigation of the impact(s) that professional registration has on new librarians.
  • Investigation into why new librarians choose not to participate in the professional registration process (are the reasons similar or different to those of established librarians who have chosen not to register?).
  • Comparison of the NZ experience against overseas experience in LIS industry.
  • Investigation of whether or not being a professional librarian has an impact on salaries in NZ, and across different library sectors (e.g. school, tertiary, special, corporate, law, public).
  • Investigation of the impact of professionalism in the school librarian community, who are working alongside teachers who have to be registered to be able to do what they do.
  • Comparison of LIS industry with other professions.

3 thoughts on “Who says I am a professional?

  1. Pingback: Are you a professional? | New Professionals NZ

  2. Thanks for this excellent article, Megan. I think in the eyes of the LIS world in New Zealand, you’re an information professional when you move from a library assistant position to a librarian position. When you are no longer an ‘assistant’, you are expected to be committed to librarianship as a career, expected to be concerned about increasing your professional development, and expected to contribute to the librarianship in your country.

    One major difference between your career path as stated above and mine is that I finished my MIS last year, but I’ve been working full-time in libraries for the last 6 years, and in what’s termed a ‘professional librarian’ position since 2009. So, I would say I became a professional librarian when I got my role as an ‘Information Librarian’ – a role that expects you to have a library qualification and have shown that you are committed to librarianship as a profession.

    Having said that, I am in the process of applying for professional registration, and I recognise the importance of this as well. It further shows your commitment to meet a quality standard and to ensure that you are staying up to date with issues, changes and opportunities in the library & information sector. I do believe that new graduates should become professional registered. However, two reasons why I can see why people may not do that are:
    1. It’s hard to justify when people think they are ‘just a library assistant’.
    2. Some employers pay for the professional registration scheme, and some don’t.
    3. Only some employers are requiring or preferring professional registration. If it became more of an expectation (as it is for senior staff within Auckland Libraries, for example), then I think we would see much greater sign-up to the professional registration scheme.

    • Thanks for the comments – and congratulations on successfully completing your MIS.

      I think you’ve shown that the tide in NZ Library Land is turning. It used to be that moving into what was always called a “qualified” role (i.e. anything above a library assistant position where it was expected that you had some sort of LIS qualification) used to be the line in the sand about being a ‘professional’ librarian. However, I am not sure so much now. There are plenty of library assistants out there who have moved into libraries from another career and are now studying towards a LIS qualification, so while they aren’t yet in a “professional” position, they have already made a commitment to a LIS career.

      I am still not sure where I stand with employers paying for the professional registration of their employees, similarly I am not sure how I feel about employers paying for an individual’s professional association fees. While I can see both sides of the argument, and I have heard the argument for part-timers and students not having to pay full price, I am still swayed by the argument that belonging is an individual choice, and it is up to the individual to pay for it. Membership fees for LIANZA, TRW and ARANZ are still cheaper here in NZ than many overseas equivalents.

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