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The ALA’s “I Love My Librarian” Award Excludes Special Librarians

August 25, 2009 1 comment

When I first heard about the “I Love My Librarian” competition/award being administered by the ALA Public Information Office and Campaign for America’s Libraries, I was quite excited.  How wonderful for librarians to be honored and recognized!  Then I went and read the details of the award.

The public is being encouraged to nominate eligible librarians.  Who does that include?  Librarians possessing an MLS and working at a public, academic, or school library.  So…..all librarians except for ones working at special libraries.

What?!

Yes, I know the award is sponsored by a business, the Carnegie Corporation.  Who cares?  This is an exclusionary award.  This is not a case of recognizing a select group within a group.  If the award was just for public librarians, I’d be disappointed I couldn’t compete for the cash, but I’d understand.  This award though specifies every group within the group except one.  This is more like if every librarian was eligible for an award except for the Asian-American ones.  That is exclusionary.   This award is not recognizing a select group already recognized within the library community as a definable group.  This is recognizing every group except for one.

To those who would say that the ALA cannot control who is eligible because the award money is being provided by a business, I say, would that be an excuse if the award was for all librarians except for Asian-American ones?  Just because an award is being offered does not mean the ALA has to endorse it.  Perhaps the business was unaware of special librarians, a lot of the general public is.  The ALA could have alerted them to the fact and requested they change the eligibility requirements.

The ALA Public Information Office and Campaign for America’s Libraries claims to be the ALA’s “public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians.”  So apparently, according to them, special libraries and librarians are not valuable or worthy of being in the public awareness.  Nice to know we’re so appreciated by our own professional organization.

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