Walter Minkel has a post with a link to an article about librarians in Wausau, Wisconsin, dealing with pay cuts and demotions. Besides financial anxieties as a result of higher health insurance costs, library director Phyllis Christensen said that, "Librarians today do less complex work." As a result, there is a call for "pay adjustments" and "more technological assistance."
When I worked in the public library system, "technological assistance" sometimes translated to "tinker with the jammed printer" or "show the caregiver how to find the games on the library homepage for her 2 year old son." More often, that technological assistance involved teaching children and grownups how to find online materials that had authority and relevance to what they needed for research projects, book reports, and independent seeking of knowledge.
In my first year of library work, I once helped an adult patron who said in a chirpy voice, "I really don't see why you have to get a degree for this work." She uttered this remark after she had asked for my help for some in-depth children's reference question. I tried to explain to her that I couldn't summarize for her in two minutes what I had learned in two years. One spends a relatively short amount of time in library school, learning about organizational and research tools, ethics and philosophies of services, usually followed by an internship in one's speciality. The majority of library education is on the job experience, but that prior schooling is as important as prepping one's walls with TSP before painting.*
Over the years, librarians have been working to help educate the public on what they do so that people actually understand (and therefor value) what they do. The public, however, needs to let library directors and elected officials know why they value librarians with specific examples of how they have benefitted from being helped by professionals. These specific examples can't come from the librarians themselves, or it looks as if we're working in our own self-interest.
It may well be that the people don't value the services they've previously received, and would prefer just to have someone around to fix the printer or show them how to find the games on the internet. Perhaps the people don't want toddler and preschool storytimes planned by professionals who have bothered to study a wide range of stories and rhymes to know what works for different groups. If the demand for excellence isn't there, then librarians probably will be phased out in favor of technical assistants and library host/esses. But here's the question: when the librarians go, will you miss them when they're gone?
*You did wash your walls before you painted them, I hope...!