by Chris Eaker
Did you know your ALA-accredited master’s degree is accepted in countries other than the good ole USA? That’s right, the US is not the only place where you can use your ALA-accredited master’s degree to work in a library. As Laura explained in her post on becoming an international school librarian, you can take your degree and work in an international school overseas. But have you considered working in a public or academic library in another country? If not, you should! In addition to being an exciting adventure — what could be more fun than working in a foreign library? — it’s also a great way to build goodwill between people of different countries. I’ve done a little digging and found several countries where you could go and put your degree to use right away, and others that might need a little more work, such as learning another language. Below are some brief examples of places you can go.
Places where no additional qualifications or knowledge are required
The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has a reciprocal recognition agreement with the ALA. Under this reciprocal arrangement, American graduates of ALA-accredited master’s degrees are eligible for ALIA Associate (librarian) membership and may apply for positions advertised at librarian level in Australia.
The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) accepts the ALA-accredited masters degree in New Zealand, as it is a considered a sister organization.
The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has a reciprocal agreement with the ALA. This allows graduates holding American bachelor’s and master’s degrees in library and information sciences to apply for jobs asking for qualified librarians and information professionals in the UK.
The Library Association of Ireland recognizes library and information qualifications from sister associations, especially the ALA. Each overseas qualification is considered on a case by case basis. Ireland may soon have a formal agreement with ALA. Recently, the only LIS school in Ireland (University College Dublin) has had its courses formally recognized by ALA because the Library Association of Ireland accredits their courses.
The Canadian Library Association (CLA) accepts the ALA definition of what constitutes a professional qualification: “The master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (or from a master’s level program in library and information studies accredited or recognized by the appropriate national body of another country) is the appropriate professional degree for librarians.”
The Hong Kong Library Association accepts a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program. Click on this link to the Hong Kong Libraries Gateway, which includes a directory of over 600 libraries in Hong Kong: http://dir.hkla.org/.
Singapore accepts an ALA-accredited master’s degree if an American student is interested in working in a library in Singapore. In fact, Singapore sends some of their librarians to the USA to obtain the professional degree. No additional training is required. The only thing is that the library must apply for an employment pass for a foreigner to work in the organization from the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore before he or she could start work.
Places where you may need to learn a new language or jump through a few more hoops
According to the Berufsverband Information Bibliothek (BIB), in Germany, the more important issues are that the graduate fits into the working place, has an understanding of the German language, and that the library is interested in getting him or her for that particular job than it is where he or she comes from.
There is an other good opportunity for graduates and experienced colleagues: The BIB-ALA: German-U.S. Librarian Exchange. ALA and BIB signed an agreement to help each members in finding exchange libraries for professional exchanges. So if you are interested, just fill out the questionnaire.
It is possible that Danish libraries would accept graduates from the USA, but only when they have the right job to offer to the person. Also, the language is a barrier. Danish public libraries will require fluent Danish speaking from their employees, and Danish can be a very difficult language to learn.
In Finland there are regulations concerning the training of personnel working in library services. This means that in order to work as a qualified librarian, you would need to apply for a decision from the Finnish National Board of Education. However, a formal decision is not necessary for a person to be able to work for a short period in a Finnish library.
Recognition of qualifications is always made on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, they cannot guarantee a certain decision in advance or give a definitive assessment of which Finnish qualification a specific foreign qualification corresponds to, nor is there a list explaining the equivalence of qualifications completed in different countries. The prerequisite is always that the person is qualified to work in library services in his/her country of origin, and that the degree and the degree awarding higher education institution are both accredited and a part of the official higher education system of the country.
An ALA-accredited student will always be strongly considered by any American company located in Belgium. Regarding public libraries, unpaid placements are always possible (depending on the language level of the students) but a professional hiring would be difficult as one of the main recruitment conditions is Belgian nationality. Placements in information centers and university libraries are also a possibility. If students do want to go to Belgium to get a job, they should investigate obtaining a PhD in a Belgian university.
Be sure to read the comments on the original blog post for more thoughts on working in another country.