Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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This essay analyzes the development and status of professionalism in general and in the fields associated with library and information studies (LIS) in particular. The notable American resistance to educated professionalism is explored and placed in its historic, multinational framework. Throughout, the limitations of various theoretical approaches to analyzing professionalism are addressed and more realistic methods of defining professionalism in context are offered. The field of school librarianship is examined as a domain where professionalism and appropriate LIS education are sustained to some degree in law and regulation but face challenges at the system and building level. Expressed preferences of funders and customers for LIS educational programs, as reflected in recent government reports and other studies, are explored, as well as the approaches to service that appeal to significant stakeholders within and without selected LIS fields. Recommendations are offered for equipping practitioners with the knowledge necessary to determine and strengthen the contemporary relevance of their missions, as well as for managing the perceptions of significant stakeholders while sustaining multiple LIS professionalisms.