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Library Schools in Philly Cranking Out Future Unemployed Librarians!

Will the puff pieces about how the world needs more librarians never cease? This one from Philadelphia has got to be one of the silliest in a while, because it’s not even very puffy. It claims that library school enrollment in the Philadelphia region is increasing. That might be true, but its definition of a library school is suspect, at least by ALA standards.

It has some of the ingredients of the standard ALA-inspired propaganda effort. Why has the enrollment increased? According to the article, it’s "at least partly the result of a report in Library Journal magazine, which suggested in May 2000 that two in five library directors were planning to retire by 2009." That Library Journal magazine is always up to something! There have to be some steps in between, though, because I don’t how a librarian manque can is going to read a nine year old magazine article and say, "Hey, 40% of library directors will be retiring by 2009. I should go be a library director! That sounds a like a lot of fun! Hmm, it looks like one goes to library school, and then gets a job as a library director. How hard can it be? After all, I love to read." If that’s the thought pattern, we don’t need those folks in the profession. Fortunately, if that’s what they’re thinking they’ll never get jobs anyway. Even if they weren’t thinking that, they might not get jobs. Besides, LJ just "suggested" it. What sort of fool bases a career on that?

Next comes more of the sordid story of the librarian shortage myth. "In June 2005, the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington responded by announcing $21 million in additional grants dedicated to recruiting and educating a new generation of librarians." Yes, it certainly did. You might remember that several hundred thousand dollars of that went to the University of Missouri to pay for the graduate education of several LIS PhD students, as if any of them will ever be librarians. But what the heck, it’s only our tax dollars wasted. They’ve been wasted on much worse things, I guess. At least nobody died.

Consider the library schools that have increasing enrollments: Drexel, Rutgers, and…wait for it…Kutztown University! Huh? Apparently they have both a "traditional undergraduate program" and an "online graduate program" in library science. That’s news to me, not that I live in Kutztown. They might have a graduate program, but it isn’t ALA-accredited. Where do the librarians with degrees from non-ALA-accredited programs get jobs? Does anyone hire them? Let’s not even think about that undergraduate program. What "librarian" niches is that supposed to fill?

As a propagandistic puff piece, it seems a bit confused. The title is upbeat: "Booked: The happy state of courses for librarians." That sounds good, right? A happy state? But what about the bad news?

"You might think librarians are going the way of card catalogs. After all, 11 of Philadelphia’s Free Library branches nearly closed late last year, and the number of public school librarians has dropped by half in the last 15 years. Yet local colleges tell a different story." What!? It’s as if someone tried the standard propaganda and failed. Librarian shortage. IMLS grant. Library school enrollment finally increasing because of these deceptions. Then the author wised up and realized that libraries are in trouble and they don’t really need librarians, without even knowing there were already too many librarians even before the recession. Philadelphia libraries might close. The Pennsylvania State Library will probably be firing half its staff. Even the school librarians around there are being fired.

"Despite Philadelphia’s being the birthplace of the modern public library, these future librarians likely will have to go elsewhere to work." Good thing those Philadelphia library school enrollments are up, though, because the graduates of these programs will be in demand all over the country. "That means regional librarian students are being tapped to work elsewhere. [Drexel library school dean] Fenske recalls being contacted by a suburban municipality outside of Los Angeles. It wanted to send a recruiter to Drexel to find a suitable information specialist." That seems very economical for California, because it’s not like they have a library school in Los Angeles or anything. I hope those Drexel students weren’t hoping to become California school librarians, though, because those poor folks are getting fired.

The current and probably future recession just makes the years of lies about the non-existent librarian shortage even more annoying. This article is an example of of the confusions inherent when ideology meets reality. For years, the ALA and library schools have been actively recruiting students with the claim that there will be a librarian shortage or that librarians will be retiring. For years, graduation rates outstripped employment rates for new graduates. We can ignore those old graduates, though, because they’ve already been fleeced for their year or two of library school. What about the ones coming through now?

The logic of the ALA shifted for a while, and the problem was a lack of library directors. I pointed out long ago that those library school students graduating weren’t going to be getting all those empty directorships, and the small number of directorships compared to the large number of middle managers and lower level staff meant that few openings would occur, and that was assuming the directors even retired. What are the chances of that retirement by 2009 now? I know of some librarians already in their 60s and making no plans for retirement because they can’t afford to. Were I a library director, I wouldn’t retire. I’d work until I dropped and tell that newbie library school studentpanting for my job to bugger off.

Yet again, we’re left with increasing library school enrollments and shrinking job prospects. This isn’t good for anyone. It just drives down already low salaries and makes us all more vulnerable to the lurking mobs of unemployed librarians who want our jobs.

This was going somewhere, but I lost track of the argument. It’s because I’m so annoyed over the whole thing I can’t think straight.

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Comments

  1. Ann says:

    They should just shut down all the library schools so your job won’t be threatened.

  2. Ron Paul says:

    Yes, I heard the same ol’ song and dance of pending retirements and general doom in libraries while I was in school in the mid-late 90s. I can count on one hand the number of retirement parties I’ve been to for MLS folk, none of which included a director.

  3. Kim says:

    Good points. I’m also annoyed, but I haven’t had as much time to get as annoyed because I’m one of the employed librarian newbies, a few years working professionally and several years pre professional. Yeah, it’s a song and dance so the schools can make money, and it’s hard to believe this is still going on and on and on. Of course now if new librarians don’t find jobs, they can blame it on the economy. A few years ago, it seemed new people were made to feel it was their fault alone if they didn’t get jobs. BTW I like your blog — glad you ended up here, AL

  4. Kim says:

    Part of my post was cut off by this lousy format, which when I began posting on the Student Affairs section a year or so ago, would just double post everything I wrote. Regarding the previous post, I became so annoyed that I went looking for a place to warn students and potential students that if they were planning on going to or continuing with library school, to at least take some precautions, like being willing to move anywhere, and by working in a library before they graduated. The newspaper article AL refers to made me wonder where the reporter had left his ability to reason.

  5. FXD says:

    The article may have been sweetness and light and tralala, but some people get the degree because they really just want to work in libraries or archives in some form or another. And you do need the degree, regardless of its intrinsic worth. It’s not because they think they’re going to become a Library Director as soon as the ink dries on the ole MLIS. Of course, it will still be challenging for those people to get jobs, but not all of them are idiots for going for it despite dire outlooks and discouragement from the librarians already out there. Besides, the programming/tech track people (and I bet there are quite a few in school going that route) will have more choices.

  6. Kim says:

    dire outlooks and discouragement — No, that is not how I see this, nor do I think people are idiots for pursuing the degree. But I do think that a number of schools are misrepresenting the profession to students who are subsequently taking on a significant amount of debt to go into a field where they think it won’t be hard to find employment upon graduation.

  7. HappilyEmployed says:

    AL, you are under the incorrect assumption that library students want to be librarians. I believe that library schools are filling up because any job offering a decent salary requires a masters degree. It doesn’t matter whether the degree is in the actual field the student wants to work in, or basket weaving, so long as it is a masters. The MLIS is a no-brainer as long as you can write and put up with the mundane and trivial assignments. Sign me up!
    In order to get into my library school, you had to have prior experience in a library which I took to mean I needed to have worked in a library – which I had not. In my application, I stretched a file clerk position description into “library experience” and lo and behold I was accepted. Now I know they just wanted my money but I was thrilled at the time (silly me). So I persevered through the courses and two years later graduated an ALA accredited library school with a masters degree as promised. Then I went out and got a great job that required a masters degree that has nothing to do with the library. The employer didn’t care and neither did I. Listen up folks, “It doesn’t matter what your degree is in just so long as you have one.” Really.
    Don’t get me wrong, I really had decided to become a librarian and became very passionate about the field during my schooling. But I couldn’t find a job and I applied everywhere. So? Here I am in a job that is as far from being a librarian as I can get. And I smile all the way to the bank.

  8. CUA says:

    If you are not a librarian with tenure and faculty status working in a MAJOR university, you aren’t $hit.

    Sorry.

    Don’t even think about being on any groups or committees.

  9. A Reader says:

    In response to: “Where do the librarians with degrees from non-ALA-accredited programs get jobs? Does anyone hire them?” I can speak only for myself of course, but I’ve had a wonderful career despite my non-ALA masters. I’ve been in the field for 26 years, I do work I love with people I usually respect and admire. I had a great education and as the first in my family to go to graduate school it was an accomplishment to achieve any advanced degree. There have been career opportunities that were unavailable to me because of my degree but it never really bothered me for long. I have never had much difficulty finding a good job and I think that most people I have encountered in this profession have judged me based on the quality of my contributions more than any flaws they see in my education.

  10. Erika says:

    As someone who bought the line about the many available jobs, I continue to be frustrated by the spreading of this rumor. I was fortunate enough to find employment after getting my degree, but I was replacing a librarian who was well into her 70s! Most of the people I work with could qualify for social security, but they aren’t budging an inch. And why should they? They’re still good at their jobs, they have good hours, benefits and friends. Much like professors (librarian and otherwise), there is very little reward for retiring. Maybe libraries should take their lead from schools and start paying their older librarians to retire, so they can bring in younger and cheaper help.

  11. EWB says:

    Why should the boomers retire?

    They have it good and are going to milk the system dry so that when they die, Amerika dies with them.

    After all, they are the greatest generation.

  12. Kim says:

    The article AL linked to made me mad because I’m pretty sure that there are unfortunate students listening to what the pundits at their schools are saying. I agree with Happily Employed who said that there a number of people who go into the field to get a Master’s degree. Quite a number of people like that went to my school, and many of them were already employed in various corporations. Some were employed in schools as media specialists who were being paid to finish the degree, and some were employed in various professions within libraries. For them and for those who go after the degree with their blinders off, who manage to acquire experience while still in school, and who can and will move anywhere in the country while paying all their own moving expenses, it’s a pretty good gig. I really enjoy my job.

  13. BricksMortar says:

    Hey EWB – I’m a late boomer. Why should I retire? I mean really – can you give me a good reason? My retirement savings have been gutted and I don’t relish the idea of being impoverished in my old age. Lots of us will be working rather than drawing Social Security. Plus work gives a person reason to live, especially if they enjoy the work. I love my job. With age can come vast experience – our students benefit from boomers who are going to work here until we drop.

    I really don’t give a damn about the youngsters who can’t find a job in the library field. It’s ALWAYS been hard to find a starting position and if you’re not willing to move to somewhere else, you might never get a decent job. Try asking some of the people working in UT Austin’s library system. Got the MLIS and HAD to stay in Austin. That’s the way it is with too many people getting the degree – they want to stay in their college towns or, if they’re getting it online, they want to stay in their hometown. I wanted to stay in Texas and I had two “fabulous” opportunities – Houston or San Antonio. I held my nose and guess what? Found out that non-Austin was OK.

  14. Dr. Pepper says:

    I guess the thing that irks me is that people who get an ALA-MLIS can get other jobs, whereas people who are qualified to be librarians can be a librarian with non-ALA degrees because of the monopoly involved.

    For what it’s worth, I give young hopefuls a reality check. We’ve got a lot of undergraduate students who’ve worked for us at our library while getting the BA. When librarians entice them to go into an MLIS I do my best to prevent them from wasting their money because I know they won’t be getting a librarian job anytime soon.

  15. MFK says:

    BricksMortar should retire because you are old and have old ideas.

    The “library” you know and love is a dinosaur and needs to go extinct. The sooner the better.

    Have a nice day.

  16. BricksMortar says:

    MFK – what the heck do you know? Old and have old ideas? When did we meet? 50 isn’t old and you have no idea how I work, what I think, etc.

    Get a grip, kid, we all get older and I haven’t seen much in the way of great ideas from my younger colleagues. Whining, yes. Mostly about how “we” are stunting their growth. Please! If I’m old and have no ideas, how come I have students, faculty and staff beating on my door for help?

  17. Tim says:

    Wow, lots of fear and resentment on both sides.

  18. FXC says:

    Don’t trust anyone over 30.

    Especially when you want to talk about the future.

  19. someone says:

    A Reader said “I have never had much difficulty finding a good job and I think that most people I have encountered in this profession have judged me based on the quality of my contributions more than any flaws they see in my education”

    You sound like far too an emotionally secure, professionally competent, happy, and articulate person to be an AL commenter. I should ask what the h*ll you are doing here but I will instead simply thank you.

  20. DWB says:

    It is a good thing this is in Philly.

    We know just how much they value their libraries there!

  21. Dr. Pepper says:

    I really don’t get the animosity between the newbs in the procession and the old-timers. If someone has a job, it’s not their job to quit/retire in order for the newbs to get a job. As an aside, I think the people who get an MLIS because they just need a masters, any masters, are people that will be no good no matter the job they have :-) Those folk don’t worry me. They should worry those accomplished ones with an MLIS

  22. VNS says:

    When I started in the profession, there was turnover at the top. Now all you see at the top are a bunch of old, lazy bosses eating turnovers.

    Retire already.

  23. Questioner says:

    If you have a doctoral degree in the humanities and an M.L.S./M.L.I.S. you have a good chance of getting a challenging, lucrative academic library job. Most people with the library science Master’s are afraid of Ph.D.’s, jealous of them, or just don’t want one for more legitimate reasons (as in they just, well, don’t want to get one, don’t have the money, it doesn’t interest them, etc.) On the other hand, most people with humanities Ph.D.’s think they are such hot s**t and smarter than everyone else that they would never deign to sit through another Master’s program and haughtily proclaim that their doctorate ought to be enough to get them an academic library job they think is their cushy ticket to tenure. (Real academic librarians will never buy that, and so those doctorate-holding buffoons never get academic library jobs, except in a few areas and institutions). If, however, a humanities Ph.D. actually finds a substantive M.L.S/M.L.I.S. program (which isn’t easy but is possible), tailors it to complement what’s needed out there and completes it, he or she can usually find a nice job with some persistence.

    OK, snarkers, have at it and make yourselves happy spitting all the invective I’m sure this post will generate. (I already know Mr. Kat disagrees with me, but I don’t care, so he can have it too….I won’t be reading *his* response but I’m sure others will, and if that makes him and them happy, more power to them…)

    OK, I’ve said my piece and stand by it…have at it snarkers…

  24. Kim says:

    Questioner, here is my invective — I agree with you. Knowing another language or two doesn’t hurt either.

  25. Philly-area librarian says:

    I happen to be an academic librarian (with a humanities PhD and an MLS, thank you very much, but lacking the snobbery Questioner thinks we all have), but a very good friend of mine is a Philly public school librarian.

    I’d like to point out this quote from the article: ”

  26. Philly-area librarian says:

    oh for God’s sake, the blasted LJ form cut me off, my post continues:
    I happen to be an academic librarian (with a humanities PhD and an MLS, thank you very much, but lacking the snobbery Questioner thinks we all have), but a very good friend of mine is a Philly public school librarian.

    But in schools they help complement the curriculum, and good librarians develop a collection that connects with readers.” Judging from what my friend has told me of the school system there, it’s an absolute joke to think a librarian, good or otherwise, would have even the most minimal budget to create a “collection that connects with readers.” She has, if I remember correctly, $200 a year for all materials. To supplement this, she runs those little book fairs we all remember, from which she receives a small amount of the proceeds. And it’s not as if she’s got a bunch of wealthy kids to buy these book fair books: we’re talking about poor inner-city school kids here. Every time I start to complain about shrinking budgets at my college library, I think about how I’d absolutely despair to be in her position.

  27. me too says:

    In response to EWB — YES WE ARE. I’ll retire when I’m damn good and ready. Ageism is obviously alive and well in the ranks of our younger librarians. Good to see librarians are as hypocritical as everybody else.

  28. TwoQatz says:

    Some interesting comments here. Libraries have been a “dying” or “dinosaur” institution for years now. I don’t think they’re going anywhere. The work has changed dramatically over the course of my 30-year career but it continues to be challenging and rewarding. University library positions have always been highly sought after and, once secured, people don’t leave. It’s a field that looks for more “mature” candidates – yes, a second master’s may be required, a foreign language may also be required. The competition is fierce. It’s always been that way.

    Yes, I work in an academic library but I spent most of my career in a corporate environment. (That’s where the real money is.) Good luck finding any position in the current economic climate – it’s a bad time to be looking for a job. I think library schools have oversold the degree and one must be willing to relocate and lower one’s expectations. Read the newspapers – people are working well beyond the 65 year mark. In virtually every profession. Retirement at 55 is a thing of the past – apart from the fact people need the health insurance, what the heck are you going to do for the next 30 years???

  29. Wondering says:

    Just a quick question, ignoring the mail substance of this blog post, but this just occurred to me… I know virtually ALL librarian positions “require” the ALA-accredited MLIS/MLS, but how many employers actually check and see if the program from which an applicant graduated is accredited? I certainly wouldn’t know which program was accredited. Or I should say I wouldn’t know for sure which one WASN’T. Do they actually check against the ALA list?

  30. Wondering says:

    By the way AL, I LOVE your blog. I’ve been in the “field” for 13 years (starting as a college student) and got my MLIS in 2007. After graduation, I did manage to have not one but TWO “great on paper” jobs at prestigious institutions (left the first one not long after starting) but these offers were, I believe almost entirely based on my previous work experience at two Ivy League universities. In any case, I feel like you manage to put into words all of the dissatisfactions and contempt that I feel.

  31. Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries.org says:

    “Kutztown University!” I have been to Kutztown University. It is very nice. And I love to buy Kutztown Birch Beer. Pick up some online: http://www.kutztownbottlingworks.com/storehtmls/storebirch.html

  32. Questioner says:

    Philly-area librarian, I didn’t say *all* people in the library field with humanities Ph.D.’s were snobs, just most of them. You make your points openly enough and genially enough that you substantiate your own non-snobbery (for which we thank you) but come one…surely you have found that there are a bunch of snitty b*st*rds out there in humanities-Ph.D.-land. (And, yeah, I too have a Ph.D. in a humanities field and got an M.L.I.S. also, which in turn helped land me an interesting job that pays the bills).

    OK, not everyone who gets a doctorate thinks they’re now too good to get an MLS but can you really say you haven’t seen those types?

  33. Library Observer says:

    “Fenske recalls being contacted by a suburban municipality outside of Los Angeles. It wanted to send a recruiter to Drexel to find a suitable information specialist.” Whoa! You mean with all the layoffs they CAN’T find one?! Or is this one of those wonderful places that has a revolving door and a local reputation that’s caught up with it? Why go all the way to te East Coast? In general I find the same old balleyhoo. It’s ironic considering the news about Bernie Madoff pleading guilty to fleecing people yesterday. How is this really different?
    You have people going into significant student debt that are going to end up feeling fleeced, when all is said and done. Yeah, they were talking about a “shortage” 30 years ago. Some of the “Library Director” slots are for places that play “dump the librarian” every few years, or less. See AL’s “Gulag” piece for more on a case in point. As for the “reporters” who write puff pieces like this, their day is coming too. Maybe they’d like to go to Library School and work up a big debt load….I have to :-)

  34. Library Observer says:

    “Fenske recalls being contacted by a suburban municipality outside of Los Angeles. It wanted to send a recruiter to Drexel to find a suitable information specialist.” Whoa! You mean with all the layoffs they CAN’T find one?! Or is this one of those wonderful places that has a revolving door and a local reputation that’s caught up with it? Why go all the way to te East Coast? In general I find the same old balleyhoo. It’s ironic considering the news about Bernie Madoff pleading guilty to fleecing people yesterday. How is this really different?
    You have people going into significant student debt that are going to end up feeling fleeced, when all is said and done. Yeah, they were talking about a “shortage” 30 years ago. Some of the “Library Director” slots are for places that play “dump the librarian” every few years, or less. See AL’s “Gulag” piece for more on a case in point. As for the “reporters” who write puff pieces like this, their day is coming too. Maybe they’d like to go to Library School and work up a big debt load….I have to :-)

  35. Original Anonymous Librarian says:

    I had to laugh after reading the comments section after the article[see first link] by people who could read through the guff and tell it like it was. I wonder if this
    “reporter” won’t be flipping burgers himself next time the pink slips go out.
    How is the INQUIRER doing, financially?
    Or maybe he could get a job in Kutztown bottling birch beer….?

  36. Just Plain Annoyed says:

    The article is about as looney as substituting “School of Journalism” in place of that for a library program, and drop names for newspapers that “need reporters” or “Editors”, or have a “shortage” of one or both. Little wonder that field has fallen into disrepute with some. Must have been a slow news day for them to have run something like this, or maybe someone cancelled an ad and it was a mad dash to find something to fill a hole in a page.
    With California Librarians being laid-off, just what kind of fools do they take people for? What we’ve got is another round of job cuts, and if the money ever returns chances are they’ll downgrade the slots to part-time jobs that s@ck, where a person with an MLS would be considered “overqualified”, unless perhaps they had some unaccredited degree from a distance learning program over the internet, maybe one that also offers associate degrees in “Bounty Hunting” or as “Bail Bondsman” or as an auto repo agent. Now those are REAL growth areas, the way things are headed!

  37. Chicken In The Rough says:

    I especially admire (sarcasm) those libraries who have replaced many traditional Librarians with Library “Technicians.” It is nearly impossible to get a job in Canada as a newbie MLSer. The jobs are all being filled by undergrads and holders of Library Technician certificates who work for a fraction of the pay. It seems our degrees, and indeed our profession, have been cheapened in the eyes of those who do the hiring.

    Their thinking: Why hire a Librarian when a Technician will do? My thinking: Why go to a doctor or a lawyer when paramedics and paralegals can do the same thing for a fraction of the cost?

  38. TLR says:

    Old people are so much fun to bate.

    I can just hear some of the old farts who post here screaming at the kids in their neighborhood to get off their lawn and to stop playing ball so loudly.

  39. MiddleAgedFart says:

    TLR – it’s bait.

    And it pays to be careful about the people you BAIT. Those are the folks hiring, firing, controlling the budget. In all likelihood they earned their positions and spent time in the trenches planning their rise to power. There’s nothing quite like a newbie telling us how wrong we are, how backward and then scream bloody murder when they get bitten by the politics that are found in all parts of LibraryLand – public, academic and special.

  40. Philly-area librarian says:

    Questioner, good point. I’m a relatively new librarian in a specialized field so I’ve yet to meet too many of those types. In fact, I think I’ve met only one, and I “met” him online. He was so stuffy he couldn’t even get a library job (fortunately).

    Without giving too much about myself away, I’ll just add that I’m a recent PhD and that my boss asked me if I wanted to give an open talk on campus about my diss. I politely declined, precisely because I didn’t want people to think I was “slumming it” as a librarian. Oh, and there’s that nasty inferiority complex a lot of librarians have – no need to feed into that by playing the “librarians are scholars too” card. Especially since I don’t think librarians are scholars! Now I’m completely off-topic, but oh well.

    BTW, I went to Drexel, and had only two somewhat challenging classes – now I know why. They’re purposely trying to “please their customers” by dumbing it down. They ought to advertise with the saying “Drexel iSchool – the $30,000 Union Card.”

  41. Another questioner says:

    I have two questions, one philosophical, one a little more practical.

    1) If the boomers don’t retire, then how are positions supposed to open up for young’uns? Please note that I am not saying that boomers SHOULD or HAVE to retire, nor am I saying that it is impossible for young folks to snag a job either. But I think, across all industries, the lack of retirements is creating a problem. Both in terms of salaries that just go up and up every year (thus overwhelming budgets) and in terms of jobs not opening up for the next generation of fresh employees. Surely there must be a compromise/solution somewhere?

    2) Going back to the academic librarian/PhD issue…I’d love to be an academic librarian. I’d have no problem getting a PhD in the Humanities; in fact, I’d love to study folklore at that level. But I don’t have the money for another degree. And I’m not keen on putting myself in that kind of debt knowing how fickle and competitive the job market is. Not that I’d have a problem engaging in an extended job search either, in theory, but being single, I think about things like “what would I do for health insurance in that situation?” So…the question is, how does one go about surmounting this catch-22 of needing and wanting the degree, and the job, but not having the means?

  42. ASX says:

    The funnest elders to masterfully bate are the 1s who get hanged up on grammer-n-stuff.

    They get all uppity and forget what they are ranting about.

  43. TwoQatz says:

    Another Questioner – Salaries keep going up? In libraries? I wish! I don’t think the $35-45,000 salary that seems to be the norm is high. It certainly isn’t enough to stockpile enough $$$ to retire at 55, pay for health insurance until 65, etc. I cannot recall a librarian who retired early – most had to work until Social Security and Medicare kicked in. The sad truth is: Too many people are getting a degree that is, essentially, worthless. The library job market has been tight my entire career. I thought the MLIS easy to obtain and maybe that’s why so many people get one. Then compete mightily for the few jobs. I got pink-slipped several years ago and gave serious thought to a new career. My relatives in the healthcare professions have NEVER been unemployed, underemployed or, for that matter, let go. But I wasn’t cut out for nursing. Work with sick people? Ewww …

  44. Mindy says:

    Thanks AL, this was an interesting article. I am surprised they even mentioned dinky ol’ Kutztown. I have my bachelors in library science from there. The library science program is very education oriented – KU is a big teacher school – they churn them out faster than Chip can pour your martini’s (or so I would think, having not seen him in action). The library science department is lumped into the education department as a tiny offshoot program. Really, the whole curriculum is geared towards being a school librarian. The masters program is a fractionally more challenging version of the program, so I am not at all surprised they are not ALA accredited, although I know they are trying to do so (they have been for years). So, to answer your question, everyone I knew in the grad program (back in 2003 there were probably 60 people in it) was there to be a school librarian. What I learned at KU was that I did not want to be a teacher and ended up in a corporate library with my masters from an ALA accredited school. I can honestly say I learned very little from there. Did I mention that my degree doesn’t even say “library science” or anything similar? I technically have a “Bachelors in Education”. I hide it in my attic.

  45. Dr. Pepper says:

    Questioner, did you get your MLIS first and then your PhD or the other way around? I don’t know why anyone would get an MLIS post PhD. You say that rigorous programs exist, and I take you at your word for it, but when most people on here diss their MLIS programs, it’s clear to me that as a category (a broad generalization), the MLIS education is sub-par, BA-level education. Why PAY for that when you already have the tools and skills needed to learn what they teach your in the MLIS on your own? OK maybe that last one is a rhetorical question since in the western world, in the past 50 years or so, we seem to have steadily devalued self-study and know how and at the same time increased how much we value pieces of paper.

  46. YQW says:

    I know a few folks who got their MLIS after their PhD. The main reason was so that they might have a chance at a job.

    You think boomer librarians hang around, boomer perfessors are going to die of old age sitting in their office.

  47. TwoQatz says:

    What constitutes “rigorous” is open to debate. I thought my MLIS easy but I worked my way through a BA while working in the graduate library’s technical services area. I worked there full-time for a while contemplating law school. I signed on for training classes, staff sharing opportunities, worked the information desk, etc. I decided I liked the work and applied to the library school there. I had all that experience and found many classes very easy. Most people with lots of library experience did. Cataloging I and II were a piece of cake for me. But not to the people who had never worked in a cataloging department. AACR2, ISBD, LCSH, DDCS, LC – they agonized in those classes. The only stretch for me in library school was statistical research methods – didn’t make sense then, doesn’t now. I can’t recall a classmate who didn’t suffer in that classroom.

  48. PHM says:

    “The only stretch for me in library school was statistical research methods – didn’t make sense then, doesn’t now. I can’t recall a classmate who didn’t suffer in that classroom.”

  49. Dr. Pepper says:

    TwoQatz you bring up an interesting point. I know people who’ve known about subject X, Y, Z because of work and they already knew everything that they were teaching in class. I also know that those people were not allowed to waive those classes and take others in lieu of the ‘basics’ because everyone had to do it. That’s pretty dumb.

    I’ve also known people who did not know about subject X, Y, Z from work, but they were able to pick things up pretty quickly. In that sense once they picked things up, the classes were not rigorous because they belabored the points already made and they were not moving on to higher difficulty, higher theory.

    For me, as someone with work in the field, 2 Masters, and a rigorous BA, going to library school is a joke, because they won’t allow me to substitute classes. I think that there are others out there with just 1 MA and work experience in the same predicament as I am.

  50. PHM says:

    “The only stretch for me in library school was statistical research methods – didn’t make sense then, doesn’t now. I can’t recall a classmate who didn’t suffer in that classroom.”

    That was before the invention of ‘lectronic calculators, I bet. Lots of old timey liberians had problems with ‘ritmatic.

    Sorry for the double post, I was typing too fast. That is a problem with us whippersnappers.

  51. Mr. Kat says:

    Questioner, you are right; I believe that library school as it is currently set up is the greatest shenanigary Ponzi scheme within education bar few or none. There is a time and place for the education necessary to be a Good librarian but that is not at the MLS level.

    My discourse with you really helped me re-examine where my coursework measured up against coursework in my BS. The only place the two match up are in the required first two year general education courses and the first level introductory courses.

    There ARE quality classes in some programs out there, but it is hard to emphasize such quality when the majority of the courses are guiding at introducing the library student to the wonderful word of HTML so they can learn in 6 hours how to handcode a webpage or in 12 hours how to use a blog and why it is useful. I had ten minutes in my undergraduate on how to use a blog in one class in my undergradueate degree – the next 18 weeks were spent USING blogs! Real professions don’t waste time debaating and splintering and slogging out if using a certain technology is good to use – they go out and use it and get on with their life! But that rant is off topic…

    So while I agree that there is some useful educaiton in the Library science field worthy of obtaining, I further disagree with Dr. Pepper about the level at which that knowledge is attainable. Since the classes measure up only to those classes in the first two years of most bacceloreatte programs, the current MLS programs in existance everywhere are appropriately, at best, A.A. degree programs or Minors.

    If the MLIS was a serious degree, it would take between two and three years of serious study to get it – not because it is busy work, but because it takes three years to do the deep level study necessary to produce knowledge at this level. Yes, this would mean VERY few people would be getting this degree; but then, getting a Masters should be a differentiating mark.

    But if you spent three years in the LIS field, everybody would ask “why don’t you have the PhD?”

    On the boomer problem: I think the biggest problem in action right now are all the people who are pulling a retirement [military, police, old people] but are still working because they want even more. Sooner or later the younger generation is simply going to say “I’m sorry, I ain’t working here – your retirement program is BUST!” because SS only lasts so long as the young people keep paying in!! ;)

  52. Privateer6 says:

    You think boomer librarians hang around, boomer perfessors are going to die of old age sitting in their office. Don’t joke that actually happened when I was getting my MA in history. Prof died inhis office and noby noticed until the end of the day.

  53. TwoQatz says:

    The core (18 hours) couldn’t be placed out of at my school. For people with experience it could be real tedious. On the plus side it helped with GPA. I’ve always held that the MLIS was a union card – I paid my dues and, in theory, I was “qualified” for a librarian position. It’s like that for other professions, too. Teaching comes to mind – get that teacher certification and By Gosh and By Golly!! You’re a teacher!

    On a more serious note: if you are looking for a job in the field, be prepared for some frustration. Please please please provide cover letters and resumes that are free completely of errors – spelling, grammatical, punctuation, etc. Those things do matter. If you don’t care enough to provide a perfect letter and resume, you’re not going to be a conscientious employee is how the thinking goes. I’ve served on job search committees for faculty and staff positions and error-filled applications are tossed without a second look. This is common practice. If you’re not getting interviews, examine your paperwork closely.

  54. TruthLibrarian says:

    The mask is off! Watch the Obama Deception and pass it on:

    Go to Google Video and paste in number:
    7886780711843120756

  55. Another Questioner says:

    TwoQatz- I apologize, I should have phrased myself more clearly. When I mentioned salaries going up, I was referring to merit increases. A boomer with twenty years of merit increases to their salary will, inevitably, be making more for their position than a newbie in the same position would. If you have enough boomers on staff, those differences in salary will add up to a significant amount. I most certainly agree, though, that the average salaries are nearly enough for cost of living. Not by a long shot.

  56. RJP says:

    The time has come for all librarians who are working for some kind of governmental agency from federal, state, local, school, university, etc who are at the top end of the pay scale to retire so that we can bring in new hires who can be paid much less and don’t have to be given the same benefits.

    It is the patriotic thing to do.

  57. Cleo says:

    I’ve been a librarian for 15 years and I lost my full time job last year due to budget cuts. After 10 long months of searching I finally found a part time job and I’m glad to have it. I have seen a lot of directors retire and then wait the required time and get hired SOMEWHERE else as director. I live in a fairly large metro area and I have seen this happen at least 3 times. So yeah, such a shortage of librarians.

  58. Philly-area librarian says:

    Dr. Pepper, you didn’t ask this to me specifically but I’ll answer anyway. I stopped in the middle of the PhD and got the MLS and then went back to finish the PhD after I got my library job. Not perhaps the most sensible plan, but I had decided I didn’t want to teach, so it was a matter of “what the heck am I going to do then” taking over. And while I certainly could do my job without the MLS, the sad fact is, as you said, our culture is very focused on the piece of paper, whether its meaningless or not, so I just submitted and paid for my union card.

  59. WOT says:

    Actually, the shortage is of GOOD librarians.

    Especially in cities that are closing branches left and right.

  60. Simply Annoyed says:

    “Actually, the shortage is of GOOD librarians.

    Especially in cities that are closing branches left and right.”

    What are GOOD LIBRARIANS going to do there, flip burgers with the branches closed, and the positions probably being “zeroed-out”, to come back as a lower level part-time slot? The decision to closing the library branches is made by politicos up the food chain. Libraries have been low on the chain, priority-wise. If these positions do come back they’ll doubtless be for warm bodies that can work like serfs, part-time, on lower hourly wages.

  61. Dr. Pepper says:

    Thank you for your response philly-area librarian :-). I am looking into PhD programs for the purposes of teaching. The thing I don’t like about post-PhD life is the publish or perish.

  62. WOU says:

    Those who can, do.

    Those who can’t, teach.

    Those who have no clue, get a PhD and publish.

  63. Mr. Kat says:

    Those who can’t teach Administrate. Those who can’t Administrate work in HR

  64. Dr. Pepper says:

    So…the circle of the MLIS comes full circle due to HR people? LOL. By the way, Those who can also teach, and students are much better off because of it.

  65. Buster says:

    Not all library programs are the same. About one third of my fellow MS in LS students already had their PhDs when they started library school. The MS in LS in my program required 42 hours of coursework and an internship. Almost all of the students in this program supplemented their coursework with a part-time work component in a local library.

    On other matters:

    Kutztown is a school library media program and is approved on the state level for that degree.

  66. Kim says:

    My school required more hours too, and I had no problem with the degree itself. My contention is that the schools bear some responsibility to make a stab at honesty to potential students regarding the job market for new librarians. But as I said in the Student Affairs section a few months ago, a number of these schools will not be truthful because it is not in their financial interest. According the Philly article, the quote came from an MLS instructor who either didn’t know what was going on in the real world (which is bad) or was outright lying (which is worse).

  67. Mr. Kat says:

    Or number three, they have swallowed the company line, hook line and sinker. the worse part is they actually believe it. but this is the nature of Politics in the MLS field.

    Dr. Pepper, I have a Friend who works down in County; as he says, they can’t fire anybody down there, so to speak, so when they get people they can’t deal with, they send them to HR. His department HR person is on the feebler end of the spectrum departmentwise, and even she says “Oh god, those people up in HR”…

  68. Dr. Pepper says:

    When I was doing my Masters in Business, one of my interests was HR. I have to admit that what happens in real life HR isn’t what’s supposed to be happening…

  69. Blahdadeeblah says:

    Many advanced degreed fields are getting like this. The physical sciences are full of would be PHD’s begging for a job. Humanities has got to be even worse.