There are in fact 16 TAFE locations and one private provider, in every state and territory, where you can study to become a library technician. There were a little over 2000 enrolments in library technician courses in 2005, down from 3000 in 1995. My role at the event was definitely to observe - I went in knowing very little about library technicians' education, and came out knowing slightly more.
What were the educators concerned about? This is a personal take and I might have got some things wrong, but some of the concerns were
- the attrition rate has fallen - fewer drop out of courses - but it is unclear why
- there does not seem to be much information about graduate destinations - what do graduates of library technician training end up doing?
- in general it is not possible to be very selective in choosing entrants, although they all require completion of year 12
- most of the intake are mature age
- many of the students have been referred by Centrelink
- the diploma course is inexpensive compared with a one- or two-year higher education course, for which full fees are likely to apply
- there is a significant proportion of graduates who are studying to be library technicians - maybe 5-10% of intakes
- a significant proportion of students are teachers who wish to work in school libraries - although they do not qualify as teacher librarians, schools may accept them as such anyway
- many courses do not permit choice of electives
- there is significant variation in conditions in different states
- it seems likely that we haven't got a systematic enough approach to articulation between paraprofessional and professional qualifications
- there is a strong preoccupation with the relative roles and status of librarians and library technicians, as one might expect