I will add to this that I am a System Librarian and do NOT have an MLIS. I started in libraries as a web applications specialist and eventually moved on to a librarian role (accessibility librarian) and am now a systems librarian. I have taken some MLIS courses and would like to eventually finish the degree, but I'm a nerd.
I'm a quintessential example of an exception to the MLIS. I have a PhD in computer science. While that would normally be an indicator that I cannot do anything in terms of systems maintenance, my area of work was in educational technology, human-computer interaction, and accessibility with a focus on reading and literacy. I've made a point of picking up library technobabble and knowledge in my jobs over the years.
This is something to consider. Equivalent experience is an option that can let in other candidates.
From: Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Cindy Bowen
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2023 8:27 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Systems - to librarian or not to librarian?
Kate's questions are definitely good ones, and Eric's perspective seems like the complement to mine--I'm a Systems Librarian with an MLIS, and my work (so far!) has been mostly focused on Alma-side config and improving the ways our metadata (usually MARC, but also some Dublin Core) is showing up in Primo VE. My cataloging course in grad school has certainly helped, but so has my previous experience, plus a fair bit of googling and inquiries on listservs! I also have colleagues who are devoted to the server/API/coding areas, so certain problems pass out of my realm and into theirs.
Since you said you've had difficulty in the past with getting candidates, maybe listing the degree as preferred rather than required would increase your odds of a favorable candidate? That seems like it might improve the candidate pool, at least, and during the hiring process you'll be able to decide who best suits your library needs whether they have a degree or not.
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On Thu, Feb 16, 2023 at 6:54 PM Eric Phetteplace <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi Will,
> As a Systems Librarian myself, *a lot* of what I do doesn't require an
> MLIS. Web dev, dev ops, data munging, API integration between systems, etc.
> The only thing that gives me pause is that you've stated the position
> will work primarily with your ILS, which is one area where a library
> background is really helpful. You are not going to find many folks
> without a degree who know what MARC is, or are familiar with the intricacies of an ILS.
> Maybe that isn't an issue, my honest answer to your question is "I
> don't know", but it'd make me a little worried. People can, of course,
> pick up this knowledge over time, so maybe a related question is how
> much of a learning curve you're willing to accept.
> On Thu, Feb 16, 2023 at 3:32 PM <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Two questions:
> > 1. Are there benefits or advancement differences between a librarian
> > and technical position at your institution?
> > 2. Is the MLIS requirement strict or do you consider also
> > equivalence
> > as experience plus technical degrees?
> > Kate Deibel
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of
> > Martin, Will
> > Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2023 6:25 PM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: [CODE4LIB] Systems - to librarian or not to librarian?
> > All,
> > We're considering taking our Systems Librarian position and removing
> > the requirement for a library degree, making it a technician
> > position
> > The job's primary focus is in working with Alma configuration and
> > troubleshooting the perennial off-campus access issues. The hope is
> > that removing the library degree requirement will make recruiting
> > easier. In past we've had difficulty getting candidates who had both
> > the library degree
> > the requisite technical proficiency.
> > I am curious to hear from other universities: do you require your
> > systems person to hold a library degree? Why or why not? If you do
> > require one, do you find you have to do extensive technical training
> > with new hires? If you don't, do you wind up having to train people
> > on library-related stuff?
> > Either way, how has your approach worked out?
> > Will Martin
> > Head of Digital Initiatives, Systems and Services Chester Fritz
> > Library University of North Dakota he/his/him
> > 701.777.4638