U.S. Supreme Court Decision Boosts ALA-MLS Requirement

Article excerpt

On Oct. 7, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Glenda Merwine's petition for a writ of certiorari. In effect, the action supports the appeals court decision that the American Library Association-accredited Master of Library Science degree is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory standard for hiring academic librarians.

Five years ago, school librarian Merwine charged Mississippi State University with sex discrimination for rejecting her application for a library position later filled by a male. The job notice had specified an ALA-MLS; Merwine has an MA in Education.

At the five-day federal district court trial in May 1983, ALA members testified on both sides of the case. Glen Zimmerman of the Library of Congress said the ALA-accredited degree was not a valid minimum requirement for the MSU job; Edward Holley of the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill library school said the degree is the predominant requirement for professional academic positions across the nation.

The jury awarded Merwine $10,000 in damages, but U.S. Magistrate Charles M. Powers overruled the judgment, declaring that Merwine could not meet the established requirement. Merwine appealed Powers' decision.

At the 1984 ALA Annual Conference, councilors debated whether or not ALA should enter the case in defense of the MLS. …