In other words, they're expected to know everything.
What's involved in "cataloguing?" Is that just knowing where something is put in the library stacks? I think there must be more to it...
Cataloguing involves the processing and identification of materials. At the most basic level, it's taking an item, working out where it should be placed in the library, working out a call number (Dewey or some other system), finding some subject headings (so you can find it in the catalogue) and then entering that information into a database.
Main references of cataloguers are AACR2 (which describes how database entries should be formatted), MARC (for machine readable databases), DDC (for call numbers), and LCSH (for subjects).
Sounds simple, but can actually be quite complex in practice, and most students take at least a couple of semester long classes just to get the basics.
What software is in use? Is there a "standard, off the shelf" program or are most systems contracted out for design/implementation? Or are many systems in use of the "roll your own" variety?
There's hundreds of different packages. Most of them are dreadful. Dynix is very popular in large systems. We use Textworks where I work, it's not very good. Many special libraries have custom solutions, using Filemaker.
There's also a new range of open source systems springing up, which are great for co-ops and non-profits. See Koha for example.
I get the impression that only an MLS is offered. Is there a PhD in Library Sciences? What schools have notable departments? If not, what is the degree you (or others generally) work towards?
MLS is the standard everywhere in the US, as it is the qualification that is most widely recognised by the ALA and employers. Those who want a doctorate get a Doctor of Philosophy, most schools offer it. Some librarians choose to study in other departments depending on the topic of the thesis. The best schools in the US are Rutgers, Illinois Urbana-Champagne, North Carolina Chapel Hill.
In Australia, there's no school that stands out as being well and truly beyond the rest.
What does analyze collections indicate? Is that akin to a valuation of sorts - monetary or otherwise?
Collections need to be managed and rationalised on a regular basis. Libraries have what's called a Collection Development Policy that lists the kinds of materials that they collect, conditions for accepting bequests, their specialities in different subject areas, etc.
Due to space and fiscal requirements, most libraries have to rationalise their collections by weeding or dropping subscriptions. The rising cost of journals has led to massive cuts in these resources in recent years across the world.
What types of research grants do you get? Is that funding to "stock the shelves," or is it for publishing papers on library science. If the latter, what are some of the "cutting edge" topics?
Grants come from many sources, public and private depending on the nature of the library. It may be to run an exhibition, purchase a new collection, build a new room, all sorts of things.
There's very little opportunity for researchers to get fellowships or reserch grants in the field. As most social science people will tell you, it all goes to the hard sciences.
Cutting edge topics? Where to start! I'm interested in Information Literacy, which is about how people find information. It's strongly related to lifelong learning and cognitive sciences. There's lots of development in every area of librarianship, it's such a diverse field that it's hard to know where to start!
Why do you feel that "the public will no longer see MLS qualified librarians doing the rounds" is a bad thing?
The average person assumes that the person they see at the circulation desk in their public library is a librarian. When that person can't answer their questions, they get upset and get a bad impression of what we do. This is nothing against library technicians, they do a fantastic job, but the public often has a hard time knowing what we actually do if we don't ever see us doing anything. Hence you get comments like, 'oh, you just shelve and stamp books, that's not hard'.
Lastly, what is your opinion on the effect Google (and other such tech) has had on librarians' status?
The only people who think Google can replace us are those who don't actually use libraries in the first place. There'll always be a place for every kind of librarian we have now. Automatic check out machines haven't replaced the circulation desk anyway.
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