by Daniel D. Stuhlman
Freedman's message is clear; librarians should be compensated for their expertise, counsel,
guidance and power of analysis. I seethe every time I hear a request for guidance in
organizing a library or information service. I teach my students what is out there and how to
determine proper questions to ask.
We all depend on experts and specialists. If a person who goes to a lawyer for a business
solution or a doctor for a health matter, they see a return and pay the bill (or makes sure
insurance pays). The person who goes to a librarian for help sees a return, but the person or
entity who pays the bills does not see the return. Even after graduating library school,
a librarian takes several years of mentored supervision and constant study for a neophyte
to be an expert and master librarian.
Administrators, city officials, tax payers, and others who pay the bills for the library
do not see the expertise of librarians and the value of libraries. One of the ideas behind
writing this column for the since 1997 is to show non-librarians the expertise of librarians.
Even though I get lots of positive feed back, some school administrators still don't "get it."
I hear stories of librarian cut backs to save money. I hear of cut book budgets. I hear
of lack of money to pay for basis services. Yet when people want books, information, or
bibliographic guidance they run to the library.
Many kinds of questions are appropriate for HaSafran or other listservs. Questions about
cataloging, reference, and where to find answers are appropriate to ask of colleagues.
Questions that require analysis or guidance for a particular situation should be directed to paid
consultants. I talked with one of my neighbors, who is a lawyer, about what is the line between
professional advice and general information. First, he said that if the situation is urgent (fire,
flood, natural disaster, etc.) one has an obligation to help our fellow Jews and colleagues. If
the situation is a friendly discussion about principles and ideas, this is not a consultation. If you
are asking for profession advice for a particular situation, then you must pay for that advice
I hope that I have not offended anyone. I really believe that all of us have expertise that we
must share and all of us deserve to be compensated for that expertise.
We are members of a helping and scholarly profession that prides itself on networking, sharing
ideas, and helping readers, librarians and libraries wherever they might be, regardless of their
financial circumstances or professional credentials. Most librarians entered the profession
because they love books, information, and knowledge and want to share that love with others.
To be a good librarian takes education, experience, and a never ending learning process.
Librarians have to be able to deal with any kind of information in every kinds of media that
people produce, save, and need in the future. Financial compensation should be fair and at
the level of other similarly trained professionals. They should be paid at least on the same level
as person who has a masters in a education, computer science or business.
I end with another quote from Maurice J. Freedman, which was part of his June 2002
presidential address. Librarians should and must be paid 21st-century salaries if Americans
are to enjoy 21st-century library and information services. It wont be easy, but I am confident
that by working together and using our collective power we will succeed!
©2003 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
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