Posting to Autocat
On 20/06/2011 22:41, john g marr wrote:
I disagree that “certification” can guarantee competence. People who just want to *get by* will not change (especially if no one is checking their work), unless, through some critical thinking training (and excellent constructive supervision) they can be motivated to do more.
Certification does indeed guarantee competence; that is its very purpose. If all someone does is “get by and not change”, that person will not get the certification and cannot practice in the field. This way, an employer (e.g. you) know that your dentist, who may have gotten his degree 35 years ago, did not stop learning but has kept up with the newest methods and technologies whether he wanted to or not. If he had not demonstrated this to a jury of his peers (i.e. the certification board) he would not be licensed to work on your teeth and would be barred from his practice. (I am reminded of that incredible novel “McTeague” by Frank Norris dealing with this! http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=title%3AMcTeague%20creator%3Afrank%20norris%20-contributor%3Agutenberg%20AND%20mediatype%3Atexts)
If someone took a couple of cataloging courses during their library degree 20 or 30 years ago, and did not increase their knowledge, are they competent catalogers today? The 20-year old degree does not guarantee that. Today, we look at someone’s resume and see if they have been working as catalogers or not, thereby assuming that they have kept up with the field, but other professions have shown there are actual ways of measuring this competence, and one way is through certification.
When there is no certification or enforceable standards, the public is left helpless and must simply *hope* that the expert they are paying actually knows what he is doing and will do a decent job. Critical thinking and constructive criticism can motivate someone, but being stopped from practicing because of a lack of demonstrable competence is an even better motivator!
Here is an organization that certifies records managers http://www.arma.org/careers/certification.cfm. There is certification in computers, accounting, and all kinds of professions. If there were certification for metadata creation, then if somebody wants to become e.g. a music cataloger and can’t get an opportunity to do it at work, they could get a separate certification that would increase his or her future possibilities. Correctly implemented, certification empowers the individual who wants to get ahead.