I’ve had some differences of opinion with Will Manley over the years, most specifically his seeming distain for Movers & Shakers, but his current column regarding the reduced impact of the Masters of Library Science degree hits fairly close to the mark.
In general, the Masters degreed librarian position is being reduced by attrition. As retirements, layoffs, and career changes occur, as often as not the position itself is changed. Cost pressures alone have aided in eliminating many of these jobs.
Unfortunately, there are few other choices. The Bachelor’s degree is such a rarity in the library world, and for no good reason. Support Staff certification is an expensive route seemingly without a direct benefit (does it aid in obtaining a position in a library, vs. simply having a good range of library experience under one’s belt?).
I think that the ALA and other influentual library organizations and people need to recognize that their profession’s professionalism is at stake, and relying on the MLS alone to preserve it is a losing battle. Encouraging the proliferation of Bachelor’s and Associate’s programs with a variety of focus will be a great long-term solution. Creating an inexpensive certification process for those without degrees, in order to establish depth and breadth of knowledge and experience, would be a fantastic step to “professionalize” most of us in the profession.