Never the twain shall meet?: professional and para-professional LIS education and training in a changing information environment
This paper reports on aspects of a comparative study of first level library and/or information science (LIS) qualifications offered at South African universities and technikons. The study was conducted in 2002. The qualifications that were the focus of the study included: • the National Diploma: Library and Information Studies (ND: LIS); • the Bachelor of Technology: Library and Information Studies (B.Tech.(LIS)); • the Post-graduate Diploma in Library and/or Information Science; and • the Bachelor of Library and Information Science (B.Bibl.) or equivalent four-year university degree. The study surveyed the views of employers, past students and educators in the LIS field regarding these qualifications and their relevance to the LIS services work environment. It resulted in a number of conclusions some which included: • The study supports the view that general education as provided by a university bachelor’s degree distinguishes between professional and paraprofessional LIS education and training; • The study confirms that the university Post-graduate Diploma in Library and/or Information Science and the B.Bibl. (or equivalent four-year university degree) are established professional LIS qualifications in South Africa; • While the technikon national diploma is generally viewed as a paraprofessional qualification, LIS services employers are not using this qualification in its paraprofessional context with paraprofessional post designations and career progressions separate from designations for clerical staff; • The technikon B.Tech.(LIS) cannot be viewed as a professional LIS qualification as it lacks general education. Furthermore, it is a qualification in the hierarchy of paraprofessional LIS qualifications that runs parallel to the professional LIS career path and thus the B.Tech.(LIS) is not a step in the direction of LIS professionalism. It is part of an alternative career direction; • In view of the traditional purpose of technikon education and training vis-á-vis university education and training, limited general education and not extended general education is necessary in the technikon LIS curriculum. In the time allotted to me this morning, I hope to provide some of the empirical and/or philosophical bases for these conclusions. I hope to do this under the following heads: • General education; • Post-graduate Diploma and the B.Bibl. or equivalent four-year university degree; • National Diploma: Library and Information Studies (ND: LIS); • Bachelor of Technology: Library and Information Studies (B.Tech.(LIS)); • National Qualifications Framework; and • Traditional purpose of university and technikon education and training in South Africa.