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The Library Sweatshop Revisited

July 22, 1990

I am writing on behalf of the Librarians Assn. of the University of California-Los Angeles (LAUC-LA) in response to the "Endpapers" by Ron Kelley . . .

The UCLA Library is in the forefront of applying technological developments to the acquisition, processing and accessing of its vast collections. It is inevitable that as a traditional work environment adapts to a new technology, some employees may find it difficult to make the transition. This is true not only in the library, but in any work environment in which automation has altered the way information is being processed.

Large research libraries are no longer a quiet refuge from the turbulence of the world. Vast amounts of information must be organized so that access/retrieval is possible. The computer has made this traditional library mission easier to accomplish; unfortunately, like most changes, it has raised other issues that need our attention.

The negative portrayal of librarians presented by Kelley is far removed from the reality of the 150 librarians at UCLA. Librarians at the University of California are academic appointees who have completed a Master of Library Science program and are professionally active in state and national associations. The charge that "librarians typically achieve only the minimal level of 'computer literacy' to do their jobs" is particularly galling, since most of us spend many hours using computers to enable us to improve the quality of service we offer to the University community.

As professionals, we are involved in all aspects of ORION, UCLA's state-of-the-art on-line information system, from its development and implementation to instructing library staff and library patrons in its use.

One of the characteristics that does indeed separate librarians from library assistants is the broad perspective and core of knowledge that comes from the graduate education required for appointment.


Chair, LAUC-LA


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