If the numbers are there, I’d like to see them. Otherwise this speculation about the graying of the profession doesn’t really seem to be fact-based.
“ALA is still promoting the idea that we are approaching a librarian shortage and cannot possibly train enough people to continue on the grand tradition of librarianship. This information was suspect a couple years ago, and considering the state if libraries right nowâ€“academic, public and specialâ€“ itâ€™s a damn lie.” [via @librarianmer]
15 thoughts on “show us the numbers re: new librarian jobs”
Yep, I agree completely with you (and Meredith, and Annoyed Librarian) that this line is tired, wrong, and ridiculous. I’d just like to offer one slight correction: This information was suspect a couple of decades ago, let alone a couple of years. That detail aside, you are absolutely correct to point out the fallacy of this notion.
Not to be all anecdote = data, but my office of 16 professional librarians includes 8 between 24-35, so yeah, don’t see it.
Sounds like the line we were fed in the 80s about the impending shortage of college professors – and look how that one turned out.
I believe that within ALA there is not a lot of talk about the graying of the profession, at least as it relates to a rush to get new librarians. When I read this I equated it more to maybe something that was said by someone at BYU. BYU, and other places, may want to be able to have internships as a way to have a pool of possible future people to hire. That is not the same as there being a shortage of positions available for everyone with an MLS in libraries.
Obviously, we do need a constant stream of new people coming into the profession but I think we all recognize the economic situation this country is in. This has caused many people not to retire as early as they might have and for libraries to have to reduce staffing. And we all know about libraries closing.
I find it interesting that a line like this, which probably is incorrect, is then applied to ALL of ALA thinking this. These kinds of generalizations are seldom good and, in this case, just plain false.
I graduated from an established LIS univ. program back in Dec. 2008 at the same time the job market began to implode. I have applied for LIS jobs inside and outside of my home state and have had zero success. As a result, I am looking for any perm full time job at this point and part of me wonders why I bothered getting my MSLIS in the first place. I now wonder about the “librarian shortage” mantra especially since ebooks and new digital technologies (e.g. iPad)are gradually replacing libraries.
In 2009, ALA issued a report, “Planning for 2015: The Recent History and Future Supply of Librarians.” It was prepared by two demographers who worked with Census data. Here’s the link to the report: http://www.ala.org/ala/research/librarystaffstats/recruitment/Librarians_supply_demog_analys.pdf
More anecdote != data, but we just had a woman retire from my library. She’s in her 60’s and had been at the library 38 years (without a library degree), and her replacement is 42 and has a degree. Of the other seven full-time professional staff, one other woman is over 60 and looking to retire in the next few years (our assistant director/head of IT), but the rest range in age 28-52.
According to the ALA hype, these ages would place us behind the curve, but from what I see at meetings and conference, our ages seem fairly typical.
It doesn’t seem like something the ALA should be pushing. It cheapens the profession to have tons of applicants for each position.
Thanks very much for the link Cathleen.
Don’t mean to be contradictory, but it is just not correct that “ALA is still promoting the idea that we are approaching a librarian shortage and cannot possibly train enough people to continue on the grand tradition of librarianship.” I know that was a concern in the early 1990’s, just prior to my arrival, but subsequent studies – conducted in part by ALA – have shown that the impact of the “greying” will be felt over a much longer period of time than some predicted in the early 90’s. Add to this the recession, which is forcing many libraries to reduce staffing and forcing many librarians to delay retirement.
It took me 8 months to land a librarian job in 2006. That was a stunt job as the manager was making a point that cataloging in house these days is unnecessary: she outsourced it all and made me redundant in 2 years. Since then I’ve applied for every viable position within 45 miles (about 15 jobs). I’ve had 3 interviews. I’m a really good cataloger with 6 years of experience in academic libraries. The situation for me today feels remarkably like it did in 1986 when I graduated college with a degree in printing / graphic design and an emphasis in typesetting. That’s when Adobe Pagemaker hit the streets, and you know, we don’t really have typesetters anymore.
BTW, the only thing ALA can do for us now is to advocate how great librarians can be at organizing data/materials outside of the library. Because there really are not very many libraries to get into now.
Having graduated two years ago with an MLS, I’m about to apply for the most basic of full-time library positions, which doesn’t need it. If I get turned down for even something like this (I’m not qualified enough for every other librarian position I’ve ever applied for, because ironically no one wants to train anybody anymore), I’m submitting applications to Target, bookstores, supermarkets, etc. the next day. If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve never gone for the damn degree, and could’ve saved myself 16K+ in the process.
There certainly are not many school library jobs available. As librarians retire, positions are cut. In Ohio, each school district, no matter what the size, only needs to have ONE certified librarian. It’s only going to get worse.
Dierdre, the article references BYU’s program, but it’s in American Libraries, “the magazine of the American Library Association.” There was a session at Annual this year regarding the coming shortage . . . this theme is definitely alive and well within ALA.
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