Happy National Library Week! You’ll be happy to know that the librarian shortage has been pushed back another few years. You’ll be even happier to know that advances in health care combined with the rising costs of health care mean that librarians are living longer and keeping their jobs longer. While there are plenty of creative ways you can give your work away for free or for cheap, you might want to look at this as an opportunity to go back to school or maybe find a new hobby while you wait.
Seriously, this is not an April Fools post, though I wish it were. I just wanted to let you know that Michael McGrorty posted a message to the ALA Council list talking about the librarian job market and the odd juxtaposition of the Library Corps idea. I followed up with my own response which you might find interesting. Catch up on the whole thread here and hope people don’t get too turned off to the entire idea of librarianship with the post that followed mine.
In the meantime, if you need a bright spot among all this darkness, please enjoy the Rock n Roll Library video created especially for this week. Got anything else to share for NLW? Add it in the comments.
8 thoughts on “dear recent and upcoming library grads”
I especially love the woman who is talking about all of the job openings at the North Suburban Library System (which is in the Chicago burbs). Having lived in that area and having applied for every job on that board that I was remotely qualified for, I can tell you that those jobs are deluged with applicants. I only saw two (maybe 3) full-time professional position on that list that looked like it would even be open to a new librarian and I can gaurantee you that they probably will get 100 or more applicants (as a job I interviewed for at the Des Plaines Public Library did when I was looking). For someone in Chicagoland (one of the tightest markets anywhere) to think THOSE openings are impressive has to be completely out of touch.
My perspective: As a freshly-minted Lib School grad I felt cast upon the rocks, recieving no practical job search strategies or assistance from an otherwise terrific MLS program. Within a short while I wasn’t able to regard the job market in anything but stark Darwinian terms–it was necessary to adapt, evolve and hunt fiercely. Otherwise, well, you know; no need to get (any more) melodramatic. It took me 11 months to find a job, and I’m fortunate compared to most of my fellow graduates. We all know that most jobs are closed to recent graduates w/o experience. What jobs are there are too few. Having a thoughtful conversation about this issue is useful, but fellow librarians and professional organizations can’t give jobs (that aren’t there) to our castaway grads. LIS programs must enact enrollment policies that intelligently reflect the reality of the job market and the desparate situation of the scores of recent graduates born into a profession that cannot support them.
Why doesn’t ALA direct the energies and funds into cultivating us recent graduates who are career changers? This could be done through leadership trainings and placement services that are perhaps informed and/or run by the “brain trust” of the retired librarians.
I am a recent MLS in my 30s with a background in non-profit administration and web project management. My dream would be for a library hiring manager to actually see the value in this and snap me up as at least “manage-track”. (ha!) However, libraries seem narrowly focused on # years affiliated with libraries and never mind that the entry salaries are about on a par with my first post-BA position.
Whatever benefit Library Corps would make while the Baby Boomers are in their still-active goldens would be stop gap and potentially harmful to the survival of libraries themselves. It sends a terrible, confirming message to communities about the value of libraries when the value place on its human capital in $0.
A good point for Jessica on the hiring. The libraries do seem stuck on the number of years in librarianship rather than on the experiences that many people bring in. Librarianship often brings in people like Jessica and others with a broad and diverse range of work and real world experiences. I have a pretty broad experience set in public and higher education, yet in many places where I applied for positions in Instruction (where you would think teaching ability is crucial), they would not even acknowledge me without the precious X number of years in an actual library as a librarian (I worked in academic libraries for three years prior to my MLS and then during my MLS and still some places would not give me the time of day). Go figure. Anyways, I could tell you my horror story of job hunting, but I will refrain.
I really wish that the post was an April Fools’ prank, but sadly it is not. That the professional organization simply adds to the problem rather than solving it is disturbing. I saw on the thread you linked to people trying to defend the use of retired librarians as consultants as if new librarians lacked experience. Apparently, narrow vision goes with administrative territory? Just a thought. I better quit now before I really rant.
Best, and keep on blogging.
Yet again the Council listserv provides evidence of how out-of-touch some of the ALA councilors are. Do they not realize the archives are easily available for anyone to read?
I often wonder about that. One of the messages I got off-list said, and I quote here “if you, or anyone out there in Library Land, are basing reality on Blogs or listservs, then you guys have other issues…” from an unnamed library professor.
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