Integrating New Paraprofessionals Into an Old Profession

  • Wendy Duff


"How can a library technician catalogue and classify material, without a graduate degree?" "No one without a university degree could ever work on a reference desk!" "I have eight years experience working in this department. I have learnt everything I know on the job. How can a two-year programme teach them what I know? Well they don't even understand how we do things around here. Who are these technicians anyway?" These questions and similar comments reverberated through Canadian libraries when library technician programmes were first proposed. Librarians, who worried that technicians would become "cheap librarians," opposed any formal training for support staff. Library clerks, afraid that their job advancement and mobility would be hindered, complained about the hiring of technicians. The development of library technicians' programmes and the integration of their graduates into libraries has been a long and arduous process. Furthermore, the availability of trained technicians has had an immense impact on all library workers. Technicians have enabled librarians to rethink and restructure their profession. While some librarians relish being released from routine duties, others still react in fear that their jobs are at risk. Archival technicians' programmes are just now beginning in Canada. Will archivists react with fear or joy?


Nous connaissons les programmes de techniciens en bibliothéconomie depuis quarante ans; nous assistons présentement au développement de programmes similaires dans le domaine archivistique. Comment notre profession réagira-t-elle devant ces initiatives? Cet article passe en revue l'évolution de la formation des techniciens en bibliothéconomie; il décrit les mesures que la profession de bibliothécaire a entreprise afin de pallier à ces problèmes, et enfin recommande l'intégration des techniciens en archivistique à la profession archivistique.

Author Biography

Wendy Duff
Wendy Duff is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. Previously she has been the Coordinator of Technical Services at the Provincial Library, a teacher in the Nova Scotia Community College Library Technicians Course and Librarian at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. She has also taught a course on the Organization of Knowledge at Dalhousie's School of Library and Information Studies. She presently serves as an ACA member on the BCA Planning Committee on Descriptive Standards and on the International Congress of Archives Ad hoc Commission on Descriptive Standards.
How to Cite
Duff, Wendy. 1994. “Integrating New Paraprofessionals Into an Old Profession”. Archivaria 38 (February), 97-104.

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