Love Your (Future) Librarians

For those of you who don’t know (which, for all I know is all of you, since I haven’t written in a year) I will be starting my fourth semester (of five) of graduate school. I am studying library and information science.

That’s right – I want to be a librarian. A children’s or teen librarian, to be specific.

You can stop laughing now. Because yes, I’m aware that many people think libraries are dying out as printed media begins to be pushed aside in favor of electronic media. And I’m aware that Forbes recently (well, in June) named Library Science as the worst Masters degree for a job in this article. Sure, they list a low growth rate of the profession and a low median salary as their evidence, but do they stop to consider the range of options someone with an MLIS has as they seek employment?

Forbes listed school librarian, reference librarian, and library director as common jobs for people holding this degree. While these are jobs someone with an MLIS may hold, they are a very limited selection. My school alone offers graduate certificates in Arts and Museum librarianship, Records and Information Management, and Archival Administration to name a few. Students can also specialize based on their courses (Digital Content Management, Organization of Information, Law Librarianship, Health and E-Science to name a few), or follow a more general course of study. All of these options open up a myriad of doors and possibilities.

But my big issue with articles like this is that people throw them in the faces of those of us studying for this degree. Lower pay or limited job growth doesn’t mean we don’t work hard and put in a ton of time to get the degree. It doesn’t mean that the jobs we seek are less difficult or not as necessary as jobs that other Masters degree holders are seeking. It means that many of our jobs are being cut due to lack of funding and misunderstanding of what we do. Maybe it means Forbes didn’t consider all the options we have, but only those that obvious. It means people flaunt these articles as evidence that we, their friends or family, or complete strangers are wasting our time and tuition.

Here’s the problem with that logic – I know I didn’t pursue this course of study to make boatloads of money. I may never be obscenely wealthy, and I’m okay with that. I’m aware that the starting salary of the job I want is well below the average for someone with a Masters. I want to be a youth services librarian and the job requires a Masters. I want the job so I can put stories in the hands of children and teens. I believe in the power of stories to teach, to be therapeutic, and – above all else – to entertain. Stories are necessary and libraries make access easier and inexpensive. If I can help one child find the book they need at the right time, I will have made a difference. I know the power those books (or movies, stories, poems, etc) can have because they’ve affected me and changed me and made me who I am. Everyone should have access to that chance.

This is why I study, work like crazy so I can manage to survive grad school, and why I picked my degree. So please, stop throwing articles like the Forbes article in my face and telling me it’s worthless. Because to me, it’s not. And I’m betting that many of my fellow MLIS students feel the same. It’s frustrating when people don’t even try to understand that it’s not about the money – we love what we do and what we want to do. So instead of saying we’re wasting our time (or that those who came before us did), love your librarians and your future librarians. If you haven’t needed one at some point in your life already (you might’ve without even knowing it!), chances are you will someday.

Surprised by the Verdict in Casey Anthony’s Trial? I’m Not.

At 2:15pm today, the jury of the Casey Anthony trial re-entered the courtroom and the verdict was delivered. Casey Anthony was found not guilty of First Degree Murder, not guilty of Aggravated Child Abuse, and not guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child. She was found guilty of four counts of Giving False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer in Reference to a Missing Person (understandable given that they did say, in court, that the story about Caylee being taken by a nanny was a lie).

Within minutes, if not seconds, social media outlets Facebook and Twitter were flooded with posts expressing different opinions about whether the verdict was correct or not.

I will not say whether or not that verdict is correct or not – at least not in terms of whether or not Caylee Anthony was killed by her mother. I don’t know if Casey Anthony killed her daughter, if the girl drowned by accident, or if aliens came down and stole her away, returning her body later. And nobody else who is passing judgement on this does either. The only living person who could know with absolute certainty what happened is Casey herself, and, given the extraordinary lengths the human mind can and will go to in order to cope with things it finds unpleasant or traumatizing, Casey herself may not be entirely sure of what happened. All we are left with now, three years after the tragedy of Caylee’s death, are perceptions and stories.

All that being said, I will say that, in terms of the way the United States Justice System runs, the verdict returned was correct. The burden of proof in a trial does not lie with the defense, but with the prosecution. I challenge any reader (if I manage to get any) to find me hard evidence that proves what happened three years ago. It cannot be denied that the circumstances surrounding the two-year-old’s death were suspicious, nor that Casey’s response to her daughter’s disappearance is difficult to understand or justify. Regardless of the cause of Caylee’s death, her mother certainly did not help the investigation by delaying it with lies and misinformation. However, nothing proves what happened. Physical evidence is sparse in this case, and nothing presented in court undoubtedly names Casey Anthony as her daughter’s murder. That, my friends, is what we call “reasonable doubt,” and, therefore makes the verdict of the jury unsurprising.

While I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding anything in life, including this case, I have to ask, what information are you basing your opinion on? Unless you’ve been exposed to the massive quantities of potential evidence in this case, or at least following the trial on TV, where does your opinion come from? Most people only know what they know about this case from what has been reported in the media.

News flash: the media has pegged Casey Anthony as guilty for almost as long as this case has been covered, and that causes an extreme amount of  bias – bias that has been repeated over and over and is easy to accept without questioning.

If this is not your only source of information, I apologize for the generalization, but for the majority of America (and the world) the opinions expressed sound like verbatim echoes of the character bashing and accusations of the media rather than researched and well thought out arguments.

I will not profess to be an expert on the case; I am also not out proclaiming Casey Anthony as guilty or innocent. All I ask is that before others do so, they use logic, rationality, and sense in drawing their conclusions. Given the severity of the punishment of this case, it is understandable that the jury wanted to be sure of guilt if they were to give a verdict of guilty, and, given the case I watched, I can’t blame them for doubting the “proof” offered by the state.