Evaluating the role of the professional children's librarian: an analysis of functions and development

Fraser, Dorne Margaret (1997) Evaluating the role of the professional children's librarian: an analysis of functions and development. Doctoral thesis, University of North London.


This thesis examines the role and function of children's librarians in the United Kingdom; investigating the factors involved in the decline of both specialist posts and specialist education. An identified crisis in the specialism has culminated in a national report outlining the serious issues which need to be addressed if children's librarianship is to move forward in a strong and positive manner. The reduction of specialist foundation courses, the introduction of generalist staffing structures and an increasing tendency for heads of service to fulfil a ('portmanteau' role have contributed to the decline of the specialist area, Since the mid 1980's children's librarianship has changed direction, with a clear move from practitioner to enabler and co-ordinator. In focusing on that change this thesis considers whether services for children and their carers have been enhanced or diminished. The changing role of children's librarians raises the issues of professionalism and the research considers whether or not librarianship, in particular specialist librarians, warrant professional status. This thesis investigates the issues that decide whether an occupation is a profession or not; highlighting the public perception of librarians, the stigma attached to a largely female workforce and, in the case of specialist staff, the low public esteem for those professionals working with children. In attributing professional status to children's librarians the research identifies specific areas where specialist staff can play a strategic role in helping children develop to their full potential. The thesis suggests that children's librarians should take a proactive role in their support of children and families, developing services which emphasise the importance of libraries in terms of literacy, reading, child development and educational support.

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