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Bleaker Prospects Still

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.

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Comments

  1. Original Anonymous Library Cynic says:

    Jim Rettig and a pick-up crew of “usual suspects” were on the Diane Rehme NPR program yesterday, talking about the value of libraries during hard times, how they help the public, and how they are after Federal funds again. It sounded like some pre-arranged calls coming in, with the exception of someone who commented that perhaps the private sector could do better on the bookstore front than giving $$ for libraries. There was also someone commenting about the homeless coming into libraries and falling asleep, and how some library had a policy to wake them up. I’d like to ask; has anyone heard of pink slips going out in their library/region and if so was it new or old staff? ALA’s attempt at maintaining the “Librarian Shortage” yarn for years must rank with Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi racket. I vote “No Confidence”.

  2. JUST PLAIN ANNOYED says:

    Look for the podcast under Diane Rehm Show on the NPR web site. AL, you might want to listen to this, also. —–
    The Role of Libraries in Economic Hard Times —-
    Libraries today have become multimedia centers, offering not only books but DVDs, e-books and Internet access. They can also be an especially important community resource during times of economic hardship. A look at the future of libraries in a slowing economy.
    Wed, 07 Jan 2009 13:43:51 -0500

  3. MillionsOProblems says:

    Big surprise. I’m a recent Library School grad and could have told you this. Go ahead you old crones. Sip your coffee, hold on to your jobs, and weather the storm because when I eventually land a job I’ll be more bitter than any librarian has ever been before.

    Your treasured profession is about to get all screwed up in here, because you held on longer than necessary. No really. Hope you’re ready for this.

    Viva la Revolucion!

  4. Library Cynic says:

    More whining from librarians. What a shock! Stop blogging about your sorrows and go find another job if you’re so miserable.

  5. branmuffin says:

    I agree Library Cynic. Librarians seem to complain more than any other group I’ve seen. Maybe there are so many crybabies because the profession is mostly women. Whatever the reason, it’s annoying.

  6. English Major says:

    You might want to fix this sentence:

    “If you are have an MLS…”

  7. Sondheim says:

    I sense another battle between the comfortably employed and unemployed; the Boomers vs. the X/Y-ers; those who can’t catch a break and those who lucked into comfortable situations…

  8. Pi$$ed Off says:

    It is the trend in academia, older professors and librarians and such are hanging around a lot longer than they used to because they are getting great benefits packages and raises upon raises. They aren’t leaving anytime soon so when they do finally die, the institutions that was keeping them on life support will die because they have no one to replace them. Sad.

  9. Greg Brady says:

    They aren’t leaving anytime soon so when they do finally die, the institutions that was keeping them on life support will die because they have no one to replace them.

    This doesn’t make any sense. There are thousands of people waiting for library jobs so there will be plenty of people waiting to replace them when they die.

  10. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    It took me a year to find the find the job I had now because I had no formal library experience. Its going to take another two years or so to leave it due to medical and academic reasons. But when I move on you are all welcome to my job. This demand for library jobs has been a lie for nearly 8 years.

    Even when boomers retire libraries will just cut these positions. The born digital generation will be there playing computer games but libraries will be nothing like what we love oh well.

  11. Notquiteldbutapparentlystillintheway says:

    Older librarians owe you NOTHING. Most are still quite good at what they do and they have no duty to move over for some young whiners. If you are as bitter as you say, you won’t last long when you finally do land a job.

  12. SpongeBob Librarypants says:

    I agree with Mr. Kat that librarianship is, for most people, an accidental career choice. I cannot recall ever having met someone who had a stated career goal in high school to be a librarian. Most people fall into the profession. Wanna-be writers, teachers tired of the classroom, and liberal arts majors with no desire for a career in private industry seem to make up a large percentage of the profession, and I include myself in two of those categories.

    I also agree with the posts about librarians being whiners and complainers. I’ve had my MLS for 15 years and I can still whine with the best of them. I whine about my job, either to myself or anyone who will listen, on a daily basis. I would love to go back to school and train for another career, but that takes money, time, and energy, three things I have in short supply right now.

    ALA is a joke. Whether it is their claims about a librarian shortage or their various documents about readers’ rights, right to access, etc, the organization is run by people who have no idea what actually goes on at a public service desk in a library.

  13. AlwaysWanted2B says:

    Sponge bob,

    Well if you meet me you will have met one. I decided I wanted to be a librarian when I was in High School. I confused the h#ll out of my college professors in my major when I would say, I really donâ

  14. SpongeBob Librarypants says:

    I would like to add one item to my previous post, and that is how much I enjoy this blog. I like it as much for the responses as for the original posts. Being able to read the responses gives me hope that there are some normal people out there in libraryland.

    So often in reading LJ or AL it makes librarians seem like we have no lives, that to be a librarian means to devote all your waking hours to books, literature, and supporting and fighting for the library. BS! I like to go home and watch the UFC on Spike, or play tennis, or hike a trail, or do anything NOT library and book related. It has been my experience that those we call paraprofessionals are often much more grounded in reality and actually have lives outside of the library, as opposed to those of us with the MLS.

  15. AlwaysWanted2B says:

    Sponge bob,

    Well if you meet me you will have met one. I decided I wanted to be a librarian when I was in High School. I confused the h#ll out of my college professors in my major when I would say, I really do not care, I just have to major in something so I can be a librarian.

    And when I could afford to retire, I am outta here.

  16. SpongeBob Librarypants says:

    AlwaysWanted2B: As they say, “the exception proves the rule.” Or is it “there is one in every crowd?” Regardless of the worn out cliche, my congratulations to you on your career focus and your ability to follow through on it. Now tell me what you were smoking in high school that made you want to be a librarian. My high school aspirations were to be the next Eddie Van Halen and and to break Wilt Chamberlain’s record with the ladies. I failed miserably at both, so I ended up in library school.

  17. Lib-Anon says:

    I read the ACRL blog post. Seems like the only librarian who can afford to retire in the Bush recession is Laura Bush.

  18. decent-looking straight guy says:

    If you want a comfortable, intellectually engaging and lucrative academic library job, try the following: 1.) Find an area of human knowledge that interests you and in which you have at least some experience and credentials. 2.) Develop a question in that field that a.) needs answering b.) matters and c.) relates in some fashion to information or libraries. 3.) Conduct serious research according to the best standards in your field to answer the question 4.) publish the results. If you submit an article and it gets turned down, keep rethinking it, revising it, etc. until a reputable journal accepts it. Oh, and for your complainers who want to squawk about the cliche of all library literature being worthless, remember that there *are* a few (yes, just a few) serious journals in the library field. Publish in them.

    Young complainers might find that doing the actual work to land an academic library job takes less effort than their complaining. In fact, so few people seem willing to do the real research that it’s a shoe-in for those who do. Try it. It’s actually fun and rewarding. You get to learn stuff!

    Be a real researcher and professional and you will get an academic library job.

    I’ll leave advice for public library jobs to those who know more about it than I do.

  19. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Decent-looking straight Guy or DLSG for short I agree with you, It does help to show you care about an academic field. Thats why I am going for another degree, and maybe a phd in it. I would never do a PHD in library science my soul hurts just thinking about it. As for public libraries be ready to be a supervisor, cheerleader, and trainer for the staff. If you can do that your in good shape. How about special libraries?

  20. Elisa says:

    I also heard “Diane Rehm Show” yesterday. Nothing really new… The two other panelists weren’t asked about their respective operating budgets.

    For the on-call librarian position: you’re better off being a local there. You may get lucky and do it for a number of weeks if someone’s out for a long time period. In the meantime you’d need to have another job as you’ll be called whenever the need arises.

  21. Chicken In The Rough says:

    I thought I had the perfect solution to the absolute absence of librarian jobs in my community. I planned to volunteer at a library until a job became available. To my great dismay, no libraries in my community even accept volunteers due to union restrictions.

    I’ve been searching for a job in a library for over 9 months now and am about to give up. I’ve taken a job completely unrelated to libraries because I had to pay my bills. It appears my years in library school (straight As by the way), my past experience, and my abilities are meaningless. I would not recommend this path to anyone. I suppose I’ve become a little bitter.

  22. also a good-looking and straight dude says:

    Small historical societies, under-funded museums, local history organizations and cultural organizations (visual and performing arts groups, etc.) often have libraries they don’t even know are libraries. They usually jump on the chance of some qualified person who wants to volunteer to come in and organize, catalog, arrange, describe, advise, etc. I know this from experience. These are the kinds of organizations that are (shockingly?) actually impressed by an MLS/MLIS and start sincerely drooling when some person holding it wants to volunteer. What you say about the libraries in your community having union restrictions is too bad – but are they public libraries? The small special libraries in the organizations I’m talking about are usually not obligated by anything union-related. Also, working for these kinds of places gets that vaunted experience in special collections that everyone claims is so impossible to get but necessary to break into the special collections field. As long as your talking about volunteering anyway, you might try something like this. Find some community organization within driving distance that does something that you are interested in, see if they have some pile of books, electronic resources, etc. that they use but that isn’t organized as well as the users need it to be, show up, offer to help and get to it. Sometimes after a while they’ll cough up a few pennies to help you out. I know, I know, it’s not the instant riches people are taught to expect but IF things really do suck as bad as everyone says, why not seize on ANY opportunity to improve them, no matter how small?

  23. publibchik says:

    Public libraries always use the “union restictions” excuse for not accepting volunteer workers. But the real reason is that the volunteers are usually twice as productive as the paid staff, so it makes the staff look bad. Maybe library school will give you a refund.

  24. Varzil says:

    There is another delay that at least public libraries are seeing to replace older librarians with younger ones. Hiring Freezes.

    We have been in the process of hiring an Associate Director and were scheduled to begin interviewing next week. The Director went to the monthly meeting with the Mayor this week where he announced that he was implementing a hiring freeze until revenue collections improve.

    No Associate Director, no lower ups moving up the ladder to Department Head and no fresh eager faces moving into the vacated entry librarian positions.

  25. datamuse says:

    Every time I try to comment on ACRLog, my comment vanishes into the aether. Though since the substance of my comment this time was that I’d hate to be a new librarian looking for a job right about now, maybe that was just too grim.

  26. RealityChick says:

    Chicken, the mediocre among us could make straight A’s in any library school program…while sleeping. Big freakin’ whoop.

  27. Dr. Pepper says:

    LOL.
    Older librarians don’t owe you anything. They will retire when they feel like retiring. Stop discriminating by age all you fellow youngins!
    Honestly, People should (A) not go for an MLIS and (B) even if they have one, find another job that can take advantage of your talents.
    I have three master’s degrees (Computer Science, Business and Education), plus five years “paraprofessional” experience in libraries as both a tecchie manager and a trainer. I applied to countless jobs that I had the skills for but no MLIS. When I was told that I needed an MLIS even though I have experience and three masters degrees I laughed out loud. To humor them I looked into MLIS degrees and the curriculum was a joke.
    MLIS holders do your self a favor – retool – reeducate – find other jobs.

  28. MISTER Pibb says:

    I guess we are going to have 95 year old library directors running things like it is 1972.<

  29. Diet Coke says:

    Mister Pibb: You, like others on this list assume that anyone over 30 doesn’t understand new tech. or new ways of doing things. That isn’t so. Anyway, her in flyover state I’ve been director 3 years and 4 directors of fair size cities have retired in the last 6 months. Very few people applied for these good jobs. If you insist on living on the 2 left coasts you deserve what you get.

  30. Diet coke says:

    And, yes it should be here not her before the anal retentives on this list point it out.

  31. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    I have a job as an entry-level public librarian only because I worked as a low-paid part time intern for a summer, then worked as a full time leadership resident at that same library for one semester. If it had not been for those two opportunities, I would have never gotten this job that I have. I did apply to many other public libraries, and did get some calls back, but I would have had to move far away if I had been offered any of those jobs. Times are tough right now for those looking for jobs. This is not only the case for the library field, though; it is the case for most fields, from what I’ve been hearing.

  32. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    p.s. And, in response to Diet coke’s posts, I am also in what would be considered a “fly over” state. The jobs are not plentiful here, either, and the jobs that are offered often have pathetic pay.

  33. circlibmanager says:

    No offense to anyone who reads this, but why are we complaining. If you can’t get a job in libraries, move somewhere where you can. There are many job advertisements out there that want MLS applicants. Moving out on your own entails going after what you want…do it.
    As for the comments that librarians lead low stress, easy work environments must work in the back room away from the public. For all the newbie librarian hopefuls out there, there is more to being a librarian than sitting at the desk twiddling your thumbs. I deal with people who bring in donations of useless books (which are very heavy), teens who think they can drink the water from our fish tank (several times) and graffiti mongers who think our book drop is their personal canvas. There are more things to this librarianship than meets the eye. Get off your high horse and deal with your patrons.

  34. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    Yes, I agree; being a librarian is much more than just sitting at the desk, and when you are a public librarian, is not low stress. The public is stressful to deal with, no matter in what context you have to deal with them.

  35. anonymous says:

    If you want anecdotal evidence of the effect of the recession (in Canada it’s a recession, not a crisis), my branch manager was supposed to retire in March. She just announced that she will NOT be retiring for at least 6 more months. When she retires will depend largely on her husband’s job and whether it becomes more stable, as well as on her children’s jobs. She feels that as long as the economy is bad, she can’t retire. She is making a very direct connection between retirement and the economy, on a personal level, for what it’s worth. And there were at least 2 librarians in the system who were hoping to apply for her job, which would have opened up a librarian job externally.
    People don’t HAVE to retire, and older generations don’t owe us young’uns anything. But make no mistake – their not retiring absolutely has a trickle-down effect, and it’s completely reasonable for new librarians to feel frustrated by it.

  36. Depression says:

    The systems broke. Think about bread lines. Most libraries will not be funded soon. No one is willing to make the hard decisions, so they’ll be made for us. Get prepared. God bless.

  37. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    “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.”
    Obviously, AL, you are speaking for yourself….I have 12 more year until I reach a 94%+ retirement check. I have already earned full medical benefits for me & spouse. I’d retire tomorrow, but due to my age, I’d only get a mere 45% +/- of my current salary. Yesterday administration called and asked us if anyone was planning on retiring in March, I asked (in all innocence)…were they willing to buy me out with my addition 10-12 years retirement credit? I was laughed at. So here I remain, until?

  38. Bernard Madoff says:

    Social Security is a ponzi scheme.

  39. Tom Bosley says:

    I liked that show where Richie and Potsie were going to…oh wait, I thought you said Fonzi scheme. Never mind.

  40. ANNOYED COMPLAINER. says:

    “No offense to anyone who reads this, but why are we complaining. If you can’t get a job in libraries, move somewhere where you can. There are many job advertisements out there that want MLS applicants. Moving out on your own entails going after what you want…do it.” This is a real cr@p-shoot. The only thing I would say is, if you want to work at ANYTHING in a certain city or area, do it, but realize you may not find the coveted library job. In years past I wasted hundreds of $$ interviewing for advertised jobs where; A, they never saw a resume they didn’t like, or, B, had serious internal problems [ie;S^cked]. It got to the point where I no longer had the funds to blow taking what today would be a $300 a shot library tour. Be advised that a library job in a certain state may be limited to grads of the State Univ. L.S. program. That’s unofficial, but the way it is in some places. I once volunteered to work in a public library sytem but was told, “we already have a graduate of the Univ. of — working as a volunteer here”, hint-hint. I got tired of feeling like one had to be a masochist to work in the field, or find even a half decent job. I moved to an area where I had other friends or relatives, as my home state was notorious for its few jobs and political patronage needed for those. I had my trust abused once too often. If you can’t find a job, complain to the administration of your alma mater, and spread the word to classmates to do likewise. The field needs to look SERIOUSLY at how it is handling library employment. If there are geographic areas where there is a serious need, fine, but having ALL applicants for a job encouraged to come at their own expense only will turn people bitter, if they feel they’ve thrown good money after bad. Also, be sure you know what you want and what you are doing when you hire. A friend with 23 years experience thought he was getting something he could do well in a certain major public library in the SE. The hiring/interview process left the immediate supervisor out of the loop, and six months later he was out looking for a job after moving at least 2,000 miles at his expense. He never said so, but I could tell was disgusted. He went into early retirement but his personal finances must have been strained. Almost two months ago he died of a stroke at age 61. He didn’t have health coverage that might have caught this.

  41. Sprite says:

    “People don’t HAVE to retire, and older generations don’t owe us young’uns anything. But make no mistake – their not retiring absolutely has a trickle-down effect, and it’s completely reasonable for new librarians to feel frustrated by it.”

    Amen. I don’t think it’s whining to be frustrated at not being able to join the workforce and be a productive, contributing member of society, despite doing everything ‘right’ (i.e. internships, part-time work, etc.). It’s a tricky situation, and the older generation of librarians is just as ignorant to dismiss frustration as whining as the young generation who thinks that the older ones should just ‘get out of the way and retire’. It’s just not that simple.

  42. Chicken In The Rough says:

    RealityChick, move beyond yourself for moment and realize this is not about you.

    Perhaps library schools should raise their standards a bit and accept fewer students until an equalibrium is reached. It seems that there are way too many well-qualified, impressive candidates for every job that comes along. Librarianship is a richly rewarding occupation in so many ways, however, the pay sucks. It is demeaning to compete so ferociously for $28,000 per year.

  43. Dr. Pepper says:

    If an A is something a mediocre student can get in an MLIS program, then schools need to rework their curriculum. I’ve seen many curricula in many library schools (as part of my research to find a library school), but most of the curriculum is really an undergrad curriculum masquerading as a graduate curriculum!

    I’ve looked at European programs in MLIS (and their equivalents of a BLIS) and the difference is night and day. The BLIS is the ‘professional’ degree where you lean all the basics of cataloguing, reference, and so on, and the MLIS is the scientific degree for researchers, people who improve libraries, who work on things like Z39.50 and so on…

  44. ANNOYED COMPLAINER says:

    You are right about much being at the Undergrad level. I minored in L.S. for my BA, 18 Semester Hrs., Then went for the MLS, I got most of the basic course work done as an undergrad. Later finished and had 52 semester hours total, You know what, I still had trouble, even with three years experience after dropping out to care for elderly parents. This field has got lots of problems it seems to perpetually ignore. It’s going to come back at the field sure as we’re having a recession.

  45. SpongeBob Librarypants says:

    The BLIS needs to make a comeback and be considered the required degree for employment as a professional librarian. Everything I learned for my MLIS degree could have been easily covered in a year of undergrad work. As Dr. Pepper mentioned, the MLIS should be considered an advanced degree for librarians wanting to either do research or those wanting to move up the ladder into upper level management positions.

    As far as grading in LIS schools, I recall one class I had that was being taught by an adjunct faculty member who was working on her LIS PhD at another school. Apparently she had never been enlightened as to the grading scale at our school. When she handed back our first assignment eyes bugged out and heads spun around as about 20 students went into convulsions over their grades, which were far lower than they thought they deserved. One student even told her ”

  46. SpongeBob Librarypants says:

    Sorry, ran out of room on that last post.

    One student told the instructor “We’ve never seen grades like these.” That instructor left class that day with tears in her eyes. The grading scale in most LIS programs is a joke.

  47. Realist says:

    It’s the dawning of the Age of Obama and all problems will be solved, all injustices and frustrations healed. If you think someone is doing better than you — report them so they can be dealt with. If you want a job, one with the government will be created for you — regardless of any need for it.

    All will be better very, very soon. The older librarians will be safe in their jobs and the new librarians will move into the jobs vacated by the pesky doubters (GenXers) that are being re-educated for their own good. No need to worry or compete — all will be much better soon, very soon.

  48. Realist says:

    It’s the dawning of the Age of Obama and all problems will be solved, all injustices and frustrations healed. If you think someone is doing better than you — report them so they can be dealt with. If you want a job, one with the government will be created for you — regardless of any need for it.

    All will be better very, very soon. The older librarians will be safe in their jobs and the new librarians will move into the jobs vacated by the pesky doubters (GenXers) that are being re-educated for their own good. No need to worry or compete — all will be much better soon, very soon.

  49. SpongeBob Librarypants says:

    Well, it certainly couldn’t get any worse than it has in the past eight years.

  50. Old vs. young says:

    Re: the old vs. young conflict

    Jim Rettig said in his inaugural address that he wanted to find a place for both the old and the young in our profession.

    The old folks are still there. Us young folks are still knocking on the door.

    You’re not doing a very good job, Jim.

  51. Dr. Pepper says:

    Has the ALA done anything right in the last 5-10 years? The only thing that they’ve done is to make the profession more exclusive to MLIS holders, getting more people in poor academic environments (maybe even diploma mills), and when they graduate they have debt and no jobs (or poorly paid jobs).

    Librarianship should not be about old v. young, or MLIS v. Non-MLIS. It should be about helping the public and providing taxpayer value.

  52. Marcia Brady says:

    It should be about meeting boys like Doug Hollister.

  53. Realist says:

    Mr Kat –

    Are you in charge of the blog?

    I’m just looking forward to full employment like all the other librarians — it will be glorious!

  54. Realist says:

    Mr Kat –

    Are you in charge of the blog?

    I’m just looking forward to full employment like all the other librarians — it will be glorious!

  55. someone says:

    I agree with all the stuff about making the MLS/MLIS graduate programs more challenging. The more humanities-ish graduate classes need to have more extensive and more substantive reading assignments and *writing* assignments. There needs to be a thesis requirement in more MLS/MLIS programs and many of them need their comprehensive exams reinvigorated. MLS and MLIS programs should not be afraid to grade tougher and let some students go if after attempts at remediation they can’t make the grade. Graduate programs can be rigorous without being “mean”. I’ve taught graduate (Master’s level) classes in history and learned how to be tough on the students, and demand quality work without being (I hope) an a$$hole. (I know that, given how “nice” librarians are and how most are softies who get all discombobulated if they think someone else is upset, it would be important to know that they don’t have to give up being “nice” in order to be academically rigorous.)

    Make the MLIS more substantive. It’ll go a long way to address many of the problems in this profession.

    OK, it’s Friday afternoon and I’m going to have a beer. Hopefully ESTC is working again. It wasn’t before.

  56. getreal says:

    Why should library school be more challenging? The job is so easy there is no reason to have a rigorous academic requirement. People only go to library school to the get the diploma anyway so why does it matter?

  57. AlwaysWanted2B says:

    There are two thing is remember from my library program that they told us about salaries. One – if you are hoping to make money, don’t be a librarian, and Two- part of the reason the salaries are low is there are people who will work for the low salary. We are hurting ourselves.

  58. Vegans For Meat says:

    I remember taking other courses during library school just to make it seem like I was doing something substantial. I took a undergraduate course in public policy that was way more challenging than any “graduate” course I took for my degree. Sad, but then again, I do have a job and am making just enough to eat and have shelter. It ain’t all that bad, right?

  59. Anonymous says:

    It gets even worse–when they do retire, in a lot of places, administrators are gleefully rubbing their hands and saying, “Downsize by attrition!!!!” So it doesn’t matter whether they retire or don’t retire–the jobs will be gone.

  60. Dr. Pepper says:

    So if its so easy, there should be no reason why non MLIS people can’t get librarian jobs (especially those academic ones that do pay well enough)

  61. dork says:

    What about the MLIS program in reputable schools such as UCLA and U of C in Illinois? Are they easy and, dare I say, a joke too? I’m entertaining the idea of going to library school at UCLA….

  62. dork says:

    Interesting perspective, Jim. This makes me wonder why then do librarians (and I’m generalizing here) make a big fuss about who can be called a librarian–there was a big hoo-haa over that many montghs ago here and throughout the interweb. I think for a profession to get its panties, so to speak, all tied up over a simple title is a bit petty, don’t you think?

  63. Anonymous says:

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a good school. So is Florida State University. Don’t know why anyone would want to go now, especially after reading about the job market. You’ll get more out of it if you can move to the state and take advantage of what the schools offer,and not do the whole thing online.

  64. YoungGun says:

    Older librarians owe you NOTHING. Most are still quite good at what they do and they have no duty to move over for some young whiners. If you are as bitter as you say, you won’t last long when you finally do land a job.

    Won’t be bitter when you are forced out because you can’t see the font on your computer screen. :)

  65. Anon says:

    Teachers in Ontario who retire are allowed to return and suppply teach on a regular basis, double-dipping by getting their (generous) pension and paid teaching days. This also limits the number of vacancies for new teachers. And you thought being a librarian sucked.

  66. Library Skeptic says:

    “Jim Rettig commented:

    It doesn’t matter where you go to school, it’s still “library science.” It’s easy everywhere. The MLS requirement is a weeding tool to keep every college grad with no career from trying to become a librarian. If there were no MLS requirement, just imagine how many applications would be recieved for each job opening.”

    If this really is Jim Retting, not another impostor, you are living/working in a proverebial “Fool’s Paradise”. For many years the Tennessee State Library & Archives would accept any old Masters degree for jobs that in other states would have required an MLS. What was “Required” was a good political patron to go to bat for you, along with a degree from a State Univ.. Back in the 1980′s the folks in the office of the Secretary of State, many of whom went to Federal Prison after “Operation Rocky Top” [see Wiki article], chose who got hired. There are probably other examples out there.

  67. Library Skeptic says:

    “Jim Rettig commented:

    It doesn’t matter where you go to school, it’s still “library science.” It’s easy everywhere. The MLS requirement is a weeding tool to keep every college grad with no career from trying to become a librarian. If there were no MLS requirement, just imagine how many applications would be recieved for each job opening.”

    If this really is Jim Retting, not another impostor, you are living/working in a proverebial “Fool’s Paradise”. For many years the Tennessee State Library & Archives would accept any old Masters degree for jobs that in other states would have required an MLS. What was “Required” was a good political patron to go to bat for you, along with a degree from a State Univ.. Back in the 1980′s the folks in the office of the Secretary of State, many of whom went to Federal Prison after “Operation Rocky Top” [see Wiki article], chose who got hired. There are probably other examples out there.

  68. Mr. Kat says:

    Mr. Kat, I ask that you please send me an email immediately at libmrkat at gmail dot com so we can discuss matters of great importance. It is imperative that You and I work something out.

    AL, this topic keeps coming up but it seems we keep recovering ground already uncovered. If we don’t start rethinking things differently, I think we might go insane seeing the same results come out of each and every discussion! We blame the seniors for not retiring, the juniors for not researching the field first, and every one in the middle for over-competing for a worthless job. Each time we end up cutting down this field all over again just like before but we have still done nothing to address the root issue. So I think we should start targeting the cause of our ailments and perhaps the Annoyed Librarians of this world will return to being the Ambivalent Librarians, happily enjoying this profession.

    Let us remember that libraries are in the category of public spending known as Luxuries and Entitlements. Libraries are built out of a collective surplus, and when that surplus no longer exists, libraries and everything in the publicly funded entertainment sector suffers. Libraries, parks and the fine arts are all nonessential to basic human life, after all, and since libraries are entertainment, they are not needs or even securities. You may argue that libraries are education or information, but in both cases education and information are widely available throughout society in every sector, even if the more aristocratic members turn up their nose at the more rudimentary manners people may use obtain them.

    For years we have been experiencing budget cuts. In the early days, prominent groups identified a shortage of workers in the library as a shortage of librarians. That was not the case, there were people even then who would do the jobs, but new restrictions in hours and wages made the job impossible to hold or unappealing versus a nice easy retirement. In these early years of cuts, we did not see the true shortage because young cheap people could still get good library jobs. But even these positions were nowhere near as good as those held by those most recently departed. In any case, we have arrived at the point where we can see the hiring freezes and we understand the real root of our problems: there is no budget to hire librarians much less pay them either the wage or the raises all of us think we are entitled to get!

    Meanwhile, Americans have become the people of fear, turning to bubbles to shelter us from everything evil in this world. They told us that we had to unionize lest the corporate mongrels make us suffer a pittance for a salary and to protect us from those who would happily work for that pittance. Both still happened. They wrapped our HSD job up in an AA-LIS profession straightjacket, sent it to the Ivory white BA-LIS tower and then shackled it in the MA-MLIS Dungeon. The nature of library work never changed, of course, and those who see through the academic aristocracy B[ali]S continue to hire anyone who walks in off the street and for less each time.

    But our problem is not libraries or even the economy. Our problem is accepting the problem that exists and then doing something to fix it. In this case the root problem in our society is that we do not have a surplus. We spent it. And our future surplus is gone too, for we spent that as well. Now how on earth can we have libraries if we do not have a surplus? Libraries are a luxury entertainment good very similar to the city park or city zoo, run off surplus, so if we want to end these bleak times, we must recreate the great surplus that led to the Carnegie Library Funds!

    Here is my solution to our shortage in library funding and indeed the real solution to our current economic crisis:

    First, fix the national trade deficit problem. Our nation cannot invest in luxuries when we are running a tab of red ink. We further cannot acquire security [insurance] or even sustenance food and shelter] if we are bankrupt. And before we have luxuries, we must secure our necessities!

    Second, fix the spending deficit at home; you and I cannot work for a paltry wage if we are running up expenses beyond our means. Indeed, we will have to spend our future time-surplus working longer and harder hours to make up for our past indiscretions. At this moment, tomorrow’s surplus savings must first be spent paying for today’s surplus spending if we ever want to see a surplus that can be spent again!

    Third, fix the national ideology concerning “entitlements.” In short, nobody owes us a living, not now and not ever. Our existence is the only thing to which we actually have and even that may be taken from us in a heartbeat. Accept the risk and stop thinking we can “insure” everything against “loss,” even those losses that are not our personal fault.

    Fourth, our nation must return to a simpler lifestyle focused on people and relationships as opposed to our current focus on consumerism and profit. Insist on quality products that last through a lifetime. We save none of the money we spend on foreign products; once the resource leaves our national borders, it will remain outside our borders until someone else puts it back in. If it is inside our national borders, it circulates indefinitely within our population until we use it up! Think about it!!!

    We may not become millionaires living this way, but we will be able to live without fear of what we might have to face in the future if we first secure our situation in the present! And that itself will be freedom that allows for surpluses to once again accumulate, and in that moment, we will be able to once again enjoy the luxury of employing librarians at a livable wage or ourselves working again as a librarian earning the equivalent of three meals a day, a roof over our heads each month, a means of transportation when we need it and a night out each week!!

  69. taoiseach says:

    For those think librarianship is a sinecure of some sort think again. As a public library director I can tell you it is anything but. More to the point, at what level does a newly minted MLS expect to enter the field? It took several years of work at lower and mid-range positions-none of which extravagently compensated-to qualify for a senior administrative position. I suppose a related question is why would you expect someone who took the time to cultivate the skills and experience to achieve seniority to step aside now?

  70. carptrash says:

    Mr. Kat said: Mr. Kat, I ask that you please send me an email immediately at libmrkat at gmail dot com so we can discuss matters of great importance. It is imperative that You and I work something out.

    Mr. Kat is talking to himself again. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek

  71. Detached Amusement says:

    “…we have arrived at the point where we can see the hiring freezes and we understand the real root of our problems: there is no budget to hire librarians much less pay them either the wage or the raises all of us think we are entitled to get!” Now how about that. This fellow has a better grasp of the situation than the folks on East Huron, who seem to think you can solve the problem by getting a huge bailout for what loosely passes today for “Library Education”.

  72. Simply Annoyed says:

    “For those [who? that ?] think librarianship is a sinecure of some sort think again. As a public library director I can tell you it is anything but. More to the point, at what level does a newly minted MLS expect to enter the field?” I think they’d like an entry level position where they can earn at least a living wage for the area that doesn’t require one to have 2-5 prior work experience in a library. It might also help if the library was at least serious about the kind of person they wanted, insead of expecting everyone who turned in a resume
    to shell out for what can be an expensive tour of the library. People coming out of Library School are not normally wealthy. That one library that rips you off could keeop you from looking further, and hopefully finding a job. Face it, this business has a long way to go in the personnel dept. when the 18th interview strikes both interviewer and interviewee as some sort of unspoken Greek tragedy. Unfortunately, in this fair land, there are some places where, indeed, librarianship IS in fact a sinecure. I’m grinning as I think of cases I know of. Of course that may be in a different region.

  73. Simply Annoyed says:

    “For those [who? that ?] think librarianship is a sinecure of some sort think again. As a public library director I can tell you it is anything but. More to the point, at what level does a newly minted MLS expect to enter the field?” I think they’d like an entry level position where they can earn at least a living wage for the area that doesn’t require one to have 2-5 prior work experience in a library. It might also help if the library was at least serious about the kind of person they wanted, insead of expecting everyone who turned in a resume
    to shell out for what can be an expensive tour of the library. People coming out of Library School are not normally wealthy. That one library that rips you off could keeop you from looking further, and hopefully finding a job. Face it, this business has a long way to go in the personnel dept. when the 18th interview strikes both interviewer and interviewee as some sort of unspoken Greek tragedy. Unfortunately, in this fair land, there are some places where, indeed, librarianship IS in fact a sinecure. I’m grinning as I think of cases I know of. Of course that may be in a different region.

  74. anonymous observer says:

    Reed needs to upgrade its blog software. This stuff they have is way behind the curve to be allowing multiple messages.

  75. soandso says:

    “Won’t be bitter when you are forced out because you can’t see the font on your computer screen. :)” Considering that the font can be enlarged quite a bit you may have a long wait. And btw, young people can also experience vision problems which aren’t all that funny.

  76. Jan Brady says:

    But they can be funny. Like the time I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I broke the family portrait. Remember that one?

  77. Jan Brady says:

    And I don’t consider myself bitter, but why is it always Marcia Marcia Marcia!!!!

  78. soandso says:

    ‘And I don’t consider myself bitter, but why is it always Marcia Marcia Marcia!!!!’
    Maybe because she’s funnier than you?

  79. Alfalfa Loves Darla says:

    Jan was so misunderstood. She’s the true comedian in the Brady family, particularly bringing in a strong sense of irony to her role, something Marcia could never have accomplished.

  80. Annoyed at the Brady Bunch says:

    Didn’t some of the kid actors on the Brady Bunch series later have problems after the series was cancelled? Imagine your library job getting cancelled and put yourself in the same shoes.

  81. Gen X says:

    I guess we’d better expect the Miley Cyrus/Hanna Montana generation to be the final winners of the job hunt. Meanwhile, it’s back to work at Burger Thing. :-(

  82. Criswell Predicts.... says:

    ….That before leaving office as ALA Prez Jim Retting will get hit in the face with a creame pie by an irate LS grad or former librarian.

  83. Jan Brady says:

    Thank you all for your kind words of support. I’m not really jealous of Marcia – I just wish I could be known as Jan Brady and not Marcia Brady’s little sister. Oh well, at least I’m not Cindy.

  84. Simply Annoyed says:

    Ah, but who writes the script for said episode? Personally, I’d rather change channels and see what else is on. QVC anyone…?

  85. Marcia Brady says:

    OK, I’ve remained silent long enough. You all think Jan is perfect but let me tell you that is one psycho b*tch. One time she put mushrooms in my orange juice and I kept seeing this little imaginary dwarf named Oliver. It was weird sh*t.

  86. Danny Partridge says:

    I once made out with Marcia behind the bleachers – but it was really my sister Laurie that I was hot for.

  87. Ginger Grant says:

    Wasn’t Laurie Partridge on LA Law in the 80s?

  88. Search comm says:

    Even though lots of people (including me) were misinformed by ALA & MLIS programs about the shortage of librarians, some people really need to look at how they present themselves when applying for jobs.

    For example, when a job ad asks for a cover letter and resume, it does not mean leave out one or both. If a degree in English is part of your background, make sure you can actually use proper grammar and spell correctly on your job application. Citing a love of books will not get you far. Submitting a resume or cover letter that is hard to read due to selected font or overall format (no spaces between paragraphs) does not help the search committee’s eyes. Oh yeah, a cover letter with more than three sentences might help.

  89. Gilligan says:

    On my resume, how do I account for my time on the island? Technically, I was still employed by the S.S. Minnow during this time but I can’t really demonstrate any use of new technologies, other than a lot of really cool stuff with coconut shells. Any guidance would be appreciated.

  90. mjbookworm says:

    I’m one of the few who has always know that they’ve wanted to be a librarian. In middle school and high school, I always volunteered at the local library. While getting my undergrad, I worked in the college library. I worked part-time in a public library while working on my MLS. I was smart and lucky. Many of my classmates were 10-15 years older than me and just getting their MLS because they thought working in a library would be stress free and there were plenty of library jobs around. I never said anything, but whenever I heard them say that, I laughed a little on the inside.

    I received my MLS five years ago and have successfully landed two professional positions. If you have no experience and a degree, don’t expect your search to be easy. Also, be open to the idea that you may have to relocate. For both of my jobs, I have moved to new cities. But it was worth it to get a position that fits me.

  91. DirectorWho says:

    Hey, I got ripped off when I was let go. I had left a very secure job after three years to take on a director’s position. Then five months into my new job (still under probation) the County Commission decided that they didn’t need a director anymore (actually, I got them through the crisis of having to meet the State Grant deadline! – then they let me go!)

    So here I am trying to find another job. I’m not whining, I’m LOOKING. I thought I had a job in another county, until I looked for a place to live. I guess that county hadn’t heard that the housing bubble burst, because the rents were still around $900 a month, and ‘affordable’ housing at $200,000! So much for ”

  92. DirectorWho says:

    *ahem* to continue:
    So much for “You can find a job if you are willing to move”. More like “If you can AFFORD to move. I can’t. That job paid 38,100, which would be good pay where I live now, but not for there (a Spring break destination and resort area — you’d know it if I said the name), and no moving allowance.

    I’m volunteering at a local museum until something comes through. It’s fun! Anyway, don’t give up, keep looking.

  93. cutiepie says:

    The reason I get irked by many librarians who won’t retire is since they have age and experience, they don’t have the pressure to change or retool like the rest of us. They are vested or tenured, and can keep doing the same old thing that would get the rest of us reprimanded or accused of not being adaptable to a changing profession.