I hate to keep sounding like a Gloomy Gus, but I just can’t help thinking about this bad economic situation. (Actually, I don’t really hate it. It suits me somehow.) I try to get my mind off it, but then I read yet another reminder of the signs of the times. The most recent one came in the blog ACRLog: Still Waiting for Those Old Librarians to Retire. Someone there speculates the the economic downturn might make it harder for new librarians to find jobs. For longtime readers of the AL, the following might sound familiar:
"I have been saying that the anticipated shortage of librarians is unlikely, but a bad economy with delayed retirements would make it harder still to imagine generalized labor shortages in our profession. We are far more likely to see large applicant pools chasing a reduced number of openings."
It’s like I could have written that myself. Imagine having such a thing on a respectable librarian blog. After years of propaganda, the ALA finally abandoned their claims of librarian shortages a couple of years ago and began speaking about a "leadership" shortage, the problem being filling the top slots in libraries. At the time, the ALA President was still telling new library school graduates to keep their hopes up, while I was pointing out that new library school graduates were unlikely to start becoming library directors, unless the library is very tiny or the graduate has a lot of other experience I suppose. Thus, all those poor saps hoping to break into the exclusive world of librarianship with no fuss or bother and enjoy the perks and benefits that all of us genuine librarians enjoy were just out of luck.
Now, it looks like they’ll be out of luck even longer if these supposedly retiring librarians can’t afford to retire at all. The blog post ends:
"None of this speculation matters if academic librarians do not, in fact, delay their retirements. Until we have data to tell us what is actually happening, I would love for ACRLog readers to comment on trends they see in their own libraries or in their region. Have you heard of senior librarians planning to delay their retirements? Do libraries find themselves newly unable to fill vacancies, and has there has been a recent change in the quality and quantity of applicants for those positions they are able to post? Share your observations."
This post was a couple of days ago, but as of the writing there aren’t very many comments, thus few observations. But I’m happy to add my own, and you can, too. I won’t even be exclusive and stick to academic librarians. Academic librarians aren’t the only ones out there, just the most important ones. (Kidding! Kidding!) (Or am I?)
All the librarians I know are planning to work till death do them and their jobs part, even if they aren’t too broke to retire. Why on earth would anyone want to retire from these jobs? Easy work. Low stress. Good pay. No heavy lifting. Plenty of time for coffee breaks, long lunches, traveling the world to conferences. We’re not about to retire and give this up for a fixed income puttering about the house planting flowers and talking to our cats.
Thus, for all you newly minted librarians, your prospects are as bleak as ever. You were just born too late. It’s a shame, but that’s just the way it is, and you’ll have to learn to live with it. I know how you feel. I’d have probably been happier in libraries before all this rock and roll and twopointopian stuff ruined everything.
So from now on, the jobs might start to look like this. They’re looking for "on call" librarians in Michigan. If you have an MLS, you can go work part-time and "on call" on nights and weekends, provided you also meet the following requirements:
• Enthusiastic commitment to public service
• Positive, creative attitude and approach to problem solving
• Knowledge of literature, media and information resources
• Strong interpersonal and communication skills
• Knowledge of web content technology trends, including blogs, podcasts and database applications
• Ability to apply and use new technologies and other innovations
• Strong commitment to delivering top-notch proactive customer service
Wow! Somebody with all that enthusiasm and knowledge should really be able to get something better than temporary, part time job, but that’s the way things go.
It could be worse, of course. The job ads could start looking like this. The West-Valley Mission Community College District is once again advertising to see if you want to join their pool. If you join the pool, you might get lucky and get some genuine temporary part-time work! I have some sentimental attachment to this job ad. It was the subject of my second "Library Jobs That Suck" post back in May 2006. I even wrote a cover letter to apply for the job. I never made it into the pool.
It’s nice to know these shady characters are still looking for librarians, since I don’t think any of us will be retiring anytime soon.