Some years ago, E. D. Hirsh burst onto the popular scene with his book Cultural Literacy (http://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Literacy-Every-American-Needs/dp/0394758439/ref=sr_1_1/176-3464292-8649704?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265833270&sr=1-1) His point was that there were things which every American should know.
I’m not sure I’d agree with all of his choices, but inasmuch as I agree with the vast majority of them I consider myself to be more or less in agreement.
Anyway, I entered into a brief correspondence and explained the role of the reference librarian as a facilitator for those who don’t know what they are looking for … and he agreed that reference librarians working in public libraries should have an expanded range of “cultural literacy.”
How to get it, though, is something of a problem. The existing MLIS programs are, in my view, quite useless and the few “Masters in General Studies” programs out there do not seem to meet any particular need (except maybe revenue for the universities offering them).
We need a new degree.