[warning: incoherence ahead.]

I’m not a librarian. Have never been, don’t intend to be. (As should be clear from my previous library-related posts.) But I’ve been following a discussion about librarian professionalism* with more interest than would be indicated by my librarian fangirlism.

Reading through Deschamps’s piece, I kept applying his reasons to the question of professionalism to my own line of work. I came to much the same conclusion, too. Now I’m just trying to figure out if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, or if it even matters at all.

Here’s the thing…I’m in a “profession” that is still incredibly ill-defined, without the monopoly of labor that comes from “professionalism.” There’s been talk of such things in a variety of web circles over the last half-decade or so, mostly in reaction to “my nephew can make us a website in FrontPage over the weekend” sorts of things. (No offense to any quality web devs** who are nephews.) Just the nature of what education should even include is still WAY up in the air, so far as I can tell.

I’m of the generation of web folk who jumped in and came up entirely self-taught. Every so often I consider additional web-related education, and I think part of that impulse is the lure of professionalism — the status of the extra degree. But the impulse isn’t strong enough to outweigh all the counter-arguments.

In my experience, the autonomy of an individual employee is largely based on the management philosophies of those they report to and the credibility the employee has earned. (Rothman)

This rang a bell for me. For the individual professional, the total environment is key — and not just when it comes to autonomy. Academic librarians (and school librarians?) seem to have particular needs for the authoriteh (pace Cartman) that comes from degreed professionalism. (Dorothea articulated this particularly well…as usual.)

I think for most employees*** in the web professions, whether you get the place at the table or the autonomy to do your work how you see best, etc. — that all comes down to your corporate culture, or even your individual boss. Whether you are classified as salary or hourly seems arbitrary.

This is the point where my train of thought derails into hand-waving. Should professionalism matter to Information Wranglers****? How much of it is snobbishness? If it does matter, is there anything to do about it? Answers: I got none.


* Discussion(s):

** This is part of our problem. The “profession” includes developers (front-end & back-end), designers, editors, “managers”, etc., etc. There’s no good word to describe all web workers. I find this particularly personally frustrating as a jack-of-all-trades…somehow it always ends up as “webmaster” with all the ludicrous implications of THAT word!

*** Vs. entrepreneurs…to which this question doesn’t especially apply. Although there may be an interesting discussion to have re professionalism comparison with lawyers & architects. Also, how does all this sociological discussion relate to the trades: plumbers, electricians, and so on? Additional digression, possibly related: I think point #10 is a red herring. Name a famous/great engineer. Yeah, thought so.

**** See The Mystery and Guild of Bookhandlers, Information Wranglers and Data Mongers (hilarious!)