Monday, January 7, 2008

Specialist vs generalist

What came out so clearly at the SA library academy was the need for research librarians to get PhD's in order to be acceptable to the research community. The nature of SA librarianship is that library schools produce generalists who then develop specialist knowlege in academic libraries but its not the same. The academic library community here cannot afford PhD librarians per subject. Most academic librarians deal with a range of subjects unless in a specialist branch library. Librarians with PhD's are more likely to end up in more lucrative posts at management level than stay as a 'subject' or research librarian - if the qualification is in librarainship; PhD's in subject areas are likely to move into those fields and out of librarianship. PhD's amongst librarians are the exception rather than the rule. The argument is of course, a PhD is usually gained in one specific area; is the PhD needed to be a subject specialist or because it reflects success at managing the research process. Are there other ways of becoming specialsits and becoming acceptable to the research community without a PhD? In terms of the emerging researcher it would seem that knowledge of the research process and the detail involved in steps along the way as one's role may be that of mentor not just teachign how to find resources. Perhaps it is a case of finding a niche in the researcher's work