Sarah Morrison is an information professional based in Toronto, Ontario. Her posts explore the intersections of technology, knowledge, feminism, social justice, and fandom.

Not All Press is Good Press

Not All Press is Good Press

I came across this article via the Facebook void - "Good jobs long overdue at public library, workers say" from the Toronto Star, on December 31, 2015. While my first gut reaction is vindication that this issue is getting mainstream media attention, after I read it, I honestly don't think this kind of article is doing us any good. 

Basically, it's a decent surface article but it doesn't go deep enough, to the point that it's actually obscuring a lot of crucial issues in the LIS professions. 

This paragraph stood out to me in particular:

While public library jobs are at least unionized and fairly compensated, O’Reilly said creeping instability is especially concerning given that library workers are 75 per cent female and 50 per cent visible minorities — demographics that already experience higher rates of precarious work and poverty according to research by McMaster University and United Way.
— http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/12/31/good-jobs-long-overdue-at-public-library-workers-say.html

The article is not breaking down the term "library workers". A huge issue in our profession is that not only are the vast majority of MLIS holders women (contributing to the feminizing of library work) but they're also white. (I've written before about some of the research being down within the profession about interrogating this problematic nature of librarianship.) And yet, the Toronto Star article states that "library workers" are "50% visible minorities". So who, exactly, are making up this group? 

This indicates to me that grouped into "library workers" are people who aren't MLIS holders and are making up a lot of that 50% visible minorities portion - which is a huge problem in and of itself, as they're not getting the MLIS for, I'd wager, a lot of reasons that have to do with class, money, access, and structural racism. 

As screwed as MLIS holders can be regarding contract work how much more screwed are the people lumped in with "library workers" that don't have the MLIS - library technicians, pages, etc? Not to mention unpaid volunteer labour! 

This isn't even touching the fact that a lot of those people in "library management" are probably MLIS holders. Aka, white. Those of us who have the degree may be struggling at the start but, if you can claw your way in, we certainly reap the benefits later - better pay and job stability based on a foundation of a degree that is being taken by mostly white women. 

Our professions are chronically undervalued. But even within the fight for job stability and permanence in LIS there are strata of privilege and inequality. This article, unfortunately, completely obscures that. 

Sarah's E-reading Checklist

Sarah's E-reading Checklist

The Value of Online Communities

The Value of Online Communities