On an average day this past July, around fifteen CUNY librarians and library students convened at City Tech to debate an extraordinary topic: potential alternatives to the historically required subject master’s degree. Mediated by Katelyn Angell, a recent recipient of an MLIS from St. John’s University and former intern at Brooklyn College Library, this forum was spurred by Angell’s publication of an opinion piece in the May issue of American Libraries. Entitled “Squeezing out Specialists,” the piece entreated employers to reexamine their hiring criteria for academic librarians, citing the financial difficulties of two graduate degrees as well as recognition of undervalued relevant professional experience.
At the suggestion of her mentor, Beth Evans (Brooklyn), Angell contacted Jill Cirasella (Brooklyn) and Maura Smale (City Tech), co-chairs of the Junior Faculty Research Roundtable, and Anne Leonard (City Tech), co-chair of the Professional Development Committee, to inquire if they would be interested in co-hosting a forum on this contentious issue. Together, they planned the July 21 event. The forum began with Angell offering a brief description of the article and its implications and developed into a fascinating debate that lasted well over an hour. The presence and insight of seasoned CUNY librarians resulted in an engaging event. Although at times there were differences in opinion, everyone was thoroughly gracious and eloquent, and all who participated appeared satisfied with the conversation.