Older article (2006) that uses an analogy I love:
Academic libraries now hire an increasing number of individuals to fill professional librarian positions who do not have the master’s degree in library science….
Historically, the shared graduate educational experience has provided a standard preparation and socialization into the library profession. The new professional groups have been ‘raised’ in other environments and bring to the academic library a ‘feral’ set of values, outlooks, styles, and expectations.
The Brown University Library hires a fair number of “feral professionals”–it was interesting to find out this isn’t a relatively-new issue.
Stanley Wilder, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education also elaborated on this, mentioning the relative youth and high salaries of the “ferals”:
For example, people in nontraditional positions accounted for 23 percent of the professionals at research libraries in 2005, compared to just 7 percent in 1985.
But the most compelling aspect of the nontraditional population is its youth: 39 percent of library professionals under 35 work in such nontraditional jobs, compared with only 21 percent of those 35 and older….
Within the under-35 population, 24 percent of nontraditional library employees earn $54,000 or more, compared to just 7 percent of those in traditional positions. Our profession has no precedent for the existence of so large a cohort of young employees who begin their careers at salaries approaching those of established middle managers.
Wilder’s closing describes the issue I’m currently looking at:
The libraries that thrive in the coming years will be those that apply the full range of nontraditional expertise in the service of those timeless values, and not the other way around.