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Bring on the PhDs!

I’ve written a lot about the librarian shortage, sorry, I mean the librarian job shortage over the years. Librarians have it bad, I know. Between the ALA and library school propaganda, far too many people have been recruited into the field, which has led to lower salaries and un – or underemployment for lots of librarians. But it could be worse. If there’s a group of people more clueless about job prospects than librarians and library school professors, it’s English PhDs and literature professors.

According to a column in the Chronicle of Higher Education, this past December saw the worst Modern Language Association (MLA) convention ever in terms of available jobs.

"It is official, confirmed by the Modern Language Association itself: This will be the worst year for academic job seekers in language and literature since the MLA started keeping records more than three decades ago. I hope you’re not on the market this year. You may be good, but so are lots of other people. And the most important factor — luck — is beyond your control."

It sounds dire, but jobs in English and the rest of the humanities have been so scarce for so long only the clueless would have gotten that far and been surprised by the situation. Of course, sitting in a library for a few years writing a dissertation on an uninteresting and esoteric topic isn’t exactly the way to keep up with the world.

It’s not like people haven’t been warned. The same writer – an English professor himself – has often written on the subject. Just recently he had a great column entitled Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go. The title pretty much says it all. Here are the circumstances you have to meet before reasonably choosing humanities graduate school:

  • You are independently wealthy, and you have no need to earn a living for yourself or provide for anyone else.
  • You come from that small class of well-connected people in academe who will be able to find a place for you somewhere.
  • You can rely on a partner to provide all of the income and benefits needed by your household.
  • You are earning a credential for a position that you already hold — such as a high-school teacher — and your employer is paying for it.

Those sound like good recommendations for a lot of library school students as well, though the situation is much better in librarianship. However, I’m bringing this up not to compare the situations, but to warn librarians.

An academic techie blogger at Inside Higher Education has a possible solution for all those unemployable PhDs: become an academic librarian or tech person!

"The tenure track job market is in the toilet. Have you considered pursuing an academic technology or library career instead?

Have you thought about applying to a Master’s of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program? How about a Master’s in Instructional Technology and Learning Services?

I’m sure you’ve thought about this option (have you?). Or maybe been given advice that learning technology and academic librarian jobs are wonderful routes to have an academic career."

This sounds like it would make a great infomercial.There weren’t many comments, but one commenter was all for the idea, thinking it would be better for everyone, even the students. "Who would you prefer helping you out with your Biology research paper? A Librarian who is a generalist? Or someone with an MS or PhD in the field of Biology that is a librarian?"

That’s a very good question, and it would be hard to say the generalist would be better than the PhD in Biology. Except there’s one problem with that logic. PhDs in Biology don’t become librarians, because they can get other jobs. It’s more likely the biology student would be getting help from someone with a PhD…in English. That way the person helping them wouldn’t know anything about researching job markets or making reasonable career decisions and wouldn’t know anything about biology. Pretty much a lose, lose scenario if you ask me.

There are plenty of librarian jobs that are best filled by people with PhDs, or master’s degrees in a subject at the very least. The problem is, English PhDs are a dime a dozen in librarianship, and they don’t bring the skills the libraries actually need. Too many English PhDs are academically provincial and technologically limited. Maybe library school would shape them up in the technology department, but not the rest.

Academic libraries need highly educated people in many fields, but those fields tend to require mastery of a lot of foreign languages and cultures. Libraries need specialists in Asian languages, not Asian-American postmodernist fiction.

They could also use people with technical skills. I don’t mean oneohonions who think Hulu is a technical skill, but serious techies who know things about programming languages and stuff like that. Again, not something that specialists in post-Marxist approaches to Cold War drama are likely to know much about.

I speak from experience. I’ve talked to many of these sad creatures over the years. The conversation starts something like this: "I have a PhD in English, and while I’d really prefer a teaching job I figured I could take a job as a librarian as a backup plan, at least until I can find a tenure-track teaching job. What do you think?" Being the soul of generosity when it comes to career planning, I tell them they should be sure to make their views very clear in the cover letter. And also to be sure to say that they love books.

I doubt libraries will be besieged by many of these PhDs, despite the exhortation by the IHE writer. These are people motivated by a love of their subject so strong they will forgo money, job security, and all the other trappings of bourgeois success to avoid selling their soul to the Man.

But you unemployed librarians should at least be warned. It’s just possible you’ll be joined in the job hunt by people even more clueless than librarians, but who also have more credentials and have satisfied one of the basic criteria librarians should meet: they’ve already failed at everything else in life.

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annoyedlibrarian@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. Lucky Librarian says:

    Funny post. Funny because it’s true. In my experience people with PhD’s, especially in the Humanities, feel as though they deserve a job in Academia. To the extent you mentioned, lying to themselves about job prospects. Usually they sound like born-again Christians, saying something like, “I adhere to the greater good, I will find a job where the world wants me.” Usually what that means is that they want summers off and have no idea what else to do with their life than go to school for 15 years.

  2. Mad Man says:

    Just remember, jobs in the humanities and in libraries is woman’s work. It was never intended to support a man with a family.

    Jobs in libraries set up for the little woman who’s kids have grown and have left the nest. She is bored and needs something to do. Libraries and jobs in the humanities are perfect. Especially when you look at pay.

    This class of jobs should never be looked at by a man who is the primary bread winner. They don’t pay and there is zero chance of advancement.

    So, if you are not a housefrau making some extra money at your local library, you don’t have any legitimate reason for complaining.

    Thanks.

  3. Bruce Campbell says:

    English major here. One of my profs in undergrad told me NOT to go into grad studies in the humanities. He said the market had changed and it was not a wise move. This was back in 2002. I appreciate his honesty and with other English profs were more forthcoming.

    PhD in English seems like a ridiculous career choice? Reading ancient verse and expounding on the meanings? Do that in your freetime.

  4. Ocam says:

    What is worse, a humanities professor, with tenure, haunting the library looking for obscure texts that nobody ever reads to write a paper that no one will ever read

    or

    The schulb librarian who has to take the request, find the book, get yelled at because the professor gave them the wrong cite, photocopy the work, bring it to the esteemed professor’s office, and then go and re-shelve the ancient tome.

    All while making $10.95 an hour because they only have a Master’s degree?

  5. John says:

    What I really don’t understand is why there are PhD programs in library science — and why anyone would be foolhardy enough to pursue one.

  6. Dear John says:

    PhD programs exist in library science so that a few anointed souls can go on, get a good job and promote a dying industry.

    We all remember John Cooper Johnson, the buggy whip magnate, don’t we? He got rich promoting his industry and getting many apprentices until the whole thing dried up and was snapped away.

    The message to all budding librarians, is don’t get in this field. For your own sake. Head for the hills.

  7. school librarian says:

    I’m currently considering getting my PhD in Library Science. I’m a school librarian, so the extra education will increase my annual pay. Also, it gives me the option someday to teach MLS classes at my local university. So, while I am not sure what help a PhD would be to a public librarian, there are benefits to school librarians.

  8. Dropout says:

    A PhD for a school librarian?

    Talk about using a sledge hammer to put in a thumb tack.

    What a waste of taxpayer money.

  9. commuter says:

    The English majors should check out the local 2-year career colleges. They seem to be everywhere now, and no matter what the program a student pursues, there is always an English requirement to meet. Whether it’s a bachelor degree or an associate, comp, intro to lit, and speech are required. There is no tenure, you don’t go much beyond the basics, and I don’t think there is much prestige, but you can find these in many communities, and, based on my experience, they advertise for openings a lot more often than the universities.

  10. Joe the Plumber says:

    “The English majors should check out the local 2-year career colleges.”

    plus youse gets to learn peoples like me gooder english

    it makes going to a fansy pants college fer years n years wirth it

    huh

  11. RadicalPatron says:

    Weighing in with a patron perspective – the public libraries I use and support as a volunteer provide low-end services that could easily be automated or serviced by low-skill employees.

    A strategy for library professionals with a higher level of skills and education might be to lobby for change that moves libraries up the information value chain. It would be a win-win for the profession and the public. I’ve given shout outs to a few librarians doing this already here: http://www.radicalpatron.com/librarians-information-value-chain/

  12. Thomas P says:

    How adorable. Two of the most common critiques.

    “Library school isn’t academic, it’s a trade school.”

    “Librarians don’t need to be highly educated.”

    You do realize that’s what they would call a “self-fulfilling prophecy”? If you don’t educate librarians, they will never be worth more than grunt-level workers.

    (Not that library school is a fount of theoretical knowledge, of course…)

  13. Gman says:

    If you have a Phd in biology, or whatever, why would you want to work as a librarian? Oh, is it because you cant find a job in your preferred field and decided this would be a good fall-back job? Well, welcome to the world of libraries! If you happen to be one of the 20, 30, or more, highly qualified folk applying for the one library opening, and get it, you’re a winner! We all know that librarian shortage the ALA talks about (are they still?) will develop sooner or later and that Phd will certainly stand out as you compete with library techs for that one library opening. As a librarian myself, who’s a veteran of the employment wars, my best advice to you is consider very carefully your other career choices. You may luck into something, I was fortunate in that respect, but it took years and perseverance and, sorry to say, your chances aren’t good.

  14. another f-ing librarian says:

    the toughest thing about librarianship, and keeping the ‘profession’ alive, is that everyone — librarians, and the people they serve — all think they’re so smart. so no one likes asking any questions. librarians don’t like to ask each other, and the students & scholars don’t like to ask the librarians except as an absolute last resort. no one wants to suck it up and admit ignorance. about anything. someone might overhear them. librarians are undervalued, because we’re a bunch of teachers’ pets crying, “ooh! ooh! ask me!!” — and we don’t stop in the off-hours. so information *is* free. at least, it is if you ask us.

  15. another m-th-r-ng f-ck-ng librarian says:

    Librarians need to be involved more in how information is asked for passively; i.e. web design, data base design, etc.

    The people who do it now have no clue but just like to make things look purty.

  16. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    another f-ing librarian – I have no idea where you work but we have lots and lots of students asking for help, research tips, life advice, etc. Could be your attitude. We have a couple bumps who sit at the reference desk and scowl. They don’t have people ask them questions. Those of us who are friendly, have lives, like the students – lots of questions and lots of very interesting work. Librarianship, library work, whatever you want to call it – it is a helping profession, not a “oh … I adore books!” profession.

  17. Sarah says:

    Library schools have to have a certain percentage of “doctored”, FT faculty for accreditation status. So many schools are using adjuncts nowadays and need to hire “regular” faculty. Not saying that’s enough of a reason to get a Ph.D., but the need (slight?) is there.

  18. One or Two says:

    Yeah.

    I smile.

    I make eye contact.

    “The men’s room is down the hall and on the left. Oh, I am sorry ma’am, the ladies room is out back.”

    Everyone else uses Google.

    Unfortunately, if you zoom in close enough on our library, you can find directions to the bathroom. I guess my job is going to go away now.

  19. surrender to miscellany says:

    It’s not just the Humanities that are telling people not to pursue Master’s/PhD degrees–even the blogs devoted to the legal field are advising people not to go to law school–and lots of law libraries require both an MLS and and JD (for reasons I’ve never understood). When JDs can’t find jobs and, even if they do, find one that will pay enough to pay back their student loans,why would someone bother with an MLS, PhD?

  20. djork says:

    I have an MA in English (emphasis in literature). I’m utterly useless to society :|

  21. Give up says:

    surrender, if you don’t know why many places require an MLS and JD to work in a law library, you never have worked in a law library.

    Many times questions come in requiring the interpretation of law. Unless you are a licensed lawyer, you cannot give out interpretations, you can only supply the law. Give out interpretations without a JD and you are practicing law without a license.

    Now, if librarians could get similar laws passes, you know giving out information or cataloging or putting on a DDR competition for teens, without a valid MLS you could be fined or jailed.

    Then the profession would be better.

  22. Torino says:

    Wow, lots of hatred towards librarians in this post. Lots of facile arguments, too – librarians don’t “know anything” about the job market; librarians, like jobless PhDs must have “failed at everything else in life.”

    So, let’s forget librarianship, literary criticism, historical research, studying the classics or sociology, etc. Indeed, we should purge society of useless artists and poets, too (anyone who would resist “bourgeois trappings”). There are plenty of jobs in factories, slaughterhouses, warehouses, operating backhoes…those strawberries ain’t gonna pick themselves! Or are you saying everyone should go into the sciences? We are measuring success “in life” by simply having a job, right? As an above poster said, these are not disciplines to which one should devote one’s life, but hobbies to be done in one’s spare time.

    And enough with the “Hulu is a skill” joke, we got it the first six times – get some new material.

  23. Hate Ash and Bury says:

    Man, everything should be free.

    If you want strawberries, just go get some man.

    You need a car, there are plenty on the street for the taking.

    Need information? It is all free on the internets.

    Man, people are so uptight these days.

    Chill out, drop in, and join the commune, man.

    And remember that surfing is a skill.

  24. ChickenLittle says:

    djork:

    “I have an MA in English (emphasis in literature). I’m utterly useless to society”

    Your not actually, there has never been a greater need in our society for effective and concise writing! You could probably contract yourself out to help businesses effectively write Reports, Business Cases, Process documentation, you name it! Have you seen the crappy writing coming out of even Fortune 500 companies? If you take your focus of academia and be willing to move outside the box, there would be a world of opportunity beyond teaching!

  25. wondering says:

    Perhaps part of the problem is that too many people assume one must go to college in order to get a job. Whatever happened to the trades where one was apprenticed, took over one’s father’s business, etc. Have all these gone away? Is the job market top heavy with degree holders? Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC people seem to earn well. Perhaps there is more demand for that kind of skill? Could a lit lover wire houses by day and savor the finer things in life at night?

  26. square.wave says:

    The running joke when I was a computer science undergrad went like this:

    Science majors ask “Why?”
    Engineering majors ask “How?”
    Liberal arts majors ask “Do you want fries with that?”

    But, to their credit, their side of campus always had the more elaborate frisbee and hacky-sack tourneys.

  27. like wow man says:

    “But, to their credit, their side of campus always had the more elaborate frisbee and hacky-sack tourneys.”

    Not to mention full bongs, empty kegs, and wasted lives and dreams.

  28. surrender to miscellany says:

    Give up–I have in fact worked in two law libraries-a law firm library and an academic law library. The academic law library is within the Top 10 of all US law schools.

    Until the mid-1980′s, there was *never* a requirement that a law librarian needed both the JD and the MLS. The vast majority of reference work handled by law librarians has been assisting law students, faculty, and, in law firms, lawyers, in how to use legal resources, which has always been a complex literature to master. Before Lexis/Westlaw, it was extremely difficult to navigate all of the various legal reference tools-from West print publications, to state and federal law codes, to “shepardizing” cases, to understanding how one uses the “Blue Book of Citations” to correctly cite case law in a legal brief. This-the fundamentals of legal research-has *always* been the bread and butter of law librarianship. With technological advances, you don’t need to teach someone how to shepardize anymore-the tools do it for you!

    Of course, there is regular reference work that goes along with law librianship work as well. Lawyers may need information on how a product works for a product liability lawsuit, for example. But this does not require a JD. Law librarians do NOT interpret legal decisions; they help patrons find them. If they tried to interpret a decision and had a JD, they could be brought before their state bar for ethics violations because they are NOT officially representing themselves as a *lawyer* when they are working as a *law librarian.*

    It would be like asking a regular old MLS to make an interpretation about the Holocaust to a high school student doing a research paper. Our jobs as librarians are to assist patrons in *finding* information and helping them find it in creditble resources, *not interpreting* the information.

    I must say, I find your proposal about sending anyone dispensing “cataloging” without an MLS to jail interesting. Are you saying that the makers of LibraryThing, Amazon, and even Google should be in jail for organizing information without an MLS? Really???

    And if someone who is not an MLS is asked to find out some information about a subject pertinent to his job or his hobbies and finds the info without using someone with an MLS, he should go to jail? Really???

  29. Give it up says:

    So in all your many years of working in law libraries, you never ever had a patron say, “What does that mean?”

    If you answer it, you are giving legal advice.

    And as for a profession, yes librarians gave away the farm when they didn’t codify what they did. Had they, the internets would be a much more organized place.

    But, we are a bunch of passive bun wearing second income hausfraus who do what we are told.

    Oops better get back to work, the boss is checking out what I am typing.

  30. I Like Books says:

    The grass may be greener on the other side of the academic discipline, but a PhD in math or science doesn’t guarantee you a job, either. The common knowledge that we have a shortage of scientists and engineers has always been a fiction. It’s particularly bad in medicine, where the PhD student can be post-doccing, moving from state to state for one low-paying temp job after another, for ten years while hoping to finally get that permanent position.

    Academia pretty much produces more PhDs in every field than the job market demands. It’s worse in some fields than others, but, except for the occasional short-lived new hot thing, it’s universal.

  31. General Motors says:

    Amerika doesn’t have a shortage of scientists, engineers, librarians, PhDs, MLS’s, teachers, technicians, plumbers, politicians, etc.

    What Amerika has a shortage of is GOOD, QUALIFIED scientists, engineers, librarians. . .

    What we don’t have a shortage of is institutions of “higher” learning that have to crank out so many widget degrees a year or they will face the wrath of the alumni. And you wouldn’t want their wrath, they are unemployed and have a lot of time on their hands to take over the campus.

    Have a nice day.

  32. anon says:

    I work at a library and recently did the orientation for a new volunteer – with a humanities Phd. She asked about library school, thinking about adding another degree to her debt pile. I thought about sending her to this blog, but then I thought “Ah, let her figure it out for herself!”

    That said, there WOULD be a job market for humanities Phd’s if they actually hired Phd’s to teach in universities. Instead, they milk grad students for all they are worth, then cast them aside once they graduate and can no longer provide free labor…

  33. Heather says:

    AL, I have to question your assertion that “it would be hard to say the generalist would be better than the PhD in Biology” for helping a student out with a paper. For the writing and critical appraisal parts, maybe. But in my experience, these PhDs somehow got where they are with little or no understanding of the library resources that support their discipline, when to use which ones, or the principles of searching. I’ve met nursing faculty who have no idea how to use Boolean operators; they search CINAHL until they find a good recent paper by blind luck, and then they to with the papers cited by THAT paper; not the best way to keep current in health care! I also dealt with a Biology prof who thought it would be a good “library assignment” for his first-year students to look up the question, “What is mad cow disease, and what causes it?” in Biological Abstracts and find at least three articles that answer the question. He gave me the blank look when I pointed out that this is a very general question best answered by a reference book, and that what the students find in Biological Abstracts will be weird case reports of unusual manifestations of mad cow disease that were caused by something weird in those specific cases. Indeed, this is what happened, and the students were highly frustrated. As a generalist librarian, I could have developed a much better assignment.

  34. me too says:

    To Like Wow, et al.

    Full bongs and empty kegs do not necessarily make for wasted lives. Ever tried to converse with an engineer? Give me the humanities over science any day. I don’t give a sh.t if it translates to a job or money.
    Poor frickin slobs have never used their minds to dream dreams. They dream numbers. No thanks.

    Keep those bongs full and kegs empty. and Laugh for Gods sake. This is all a cosmic joke anyhow.

  35. Techserving You says:

    Some people who get PhDs in LIS… just a FEW people… actually do real research into things like human-computer interaction, etc.. Most do stupid BS “research” but whatever. For some reason some people actually want to TEACH in a library school, and they need the PhD for that.

    A masters-degreed librarian making $10.95/hour? Not in the scenario that was mentioned, which is clearly an academic library. Please, I didn’t make that little 10 years ago in my first year as a paraprofessional. You’re not going to be rich, but any decent college or university will at least have the decency to start you at $20-$25 an hour.

  36. Anthony says:

    To Me Too:

    Amen. I am so sick of people and their constant greed and superficiality. Yes people need to support themselves but is money the be all end all?

    All I hear now is “its the end of this or the end of that.” People love to complain and wallow in their own self-pity and stupidity. Instead they could be changing how people view the world but instead they tell me I am nothing because I have an arts degree. Screw you. I can study whatever I want and if that means living a meager lifestyle so be it. Chanel clothing, BMWs and martinis are NOT the ONLY ticket to happiness.

    We live in a culture that loves to kill dreams and tell people they are worth nothing if they don’t make a certain income a year or if they don’t own a fancy house. Who the hell cares. You were born with nothing and you WILL leave with nothing.

    Art and literature are important. At least they are to me. The rest of you can live your lives destroying anything that makes this pitiful existence worth living but I refuse to play your stupid game.

    If you want to be a librarian be a freaking librarian. If you want to be an artist then tell people to shut the hell up and paint to your hearts content.

    When did we become such a stupid and vapid culture? People don’t seem to mind letting their hearts die if it means they can make a quick buck.

  37. U2 says:

    Life is a cosmic joke?

    Cool.

    Now go drive your Rav 4 fast and crash into a bus load of kids.

    You all can have one big ole laugh on that one.

  38. TheIlliterateLibrarian says:

    we do like to complain quite a bit about our lot in life. How we were lied to and mislead, or how no one takes libraries and librarians seriously… Whose fault is that? We’re in charge of our profession, and our professional image. We try to project our worth in terms of dollars per transaction, and showing what we have to offer (most of which can be found elsewhere)… what is our real, true value to the community, in the modern world? How do we advocate this to politicians, taxpayers and patrons? How do we LIVE this, and actually provide the services we claim we’re capable of?

    there’s also this perception that getting a degree in a field entitles one to work in that field. That’s your foot in the door. What other things are you doing, professionally, to keep yourself active and viable? If you aren’t writing for publications, aren’t presenting at conferences and aren’t adding to the scholarship and knowledge/understanding of the professional community…are you really a professional?

    I’m new to librarianship, but I have gotten myself into a decent job in just a few years. Some of the issues with finding a job in librarianship are external, but what are we doing, internally, to combat that? I get the sense that many librarians get their MLIS and that is their accomplishment. Ok, I’ve done that, where’s the job? They don’t continue growing professionally in major and substantial ways. Which is fine, I guess. If your first job is the right job for you and you don’t have any concerns with moving up or moving on.

    Professionals start at the bottom of the ladder and work their way up. Professionals sometimes have to move for the sake of career advancement and sometimes have to take risks in order to see a reward. I think as far as career aspirations go, most librarians are fairly conservative and don’t have a hunger for more, or for moving up. I think, no matter what profession you find yourself in, if you don’t have the hunger to do more, and the passion to get it done, you’re going to stagnate.

    No, lawyers don’t always have to move to find work, they can find work in their town. But think of how many more law firms there are in any given town, than libraries. We’re possibly more niche than lawyers, there’s a much smaller playing field, and because of the distance between us, and the next nearest public library, there is a huge isolation factor. It makes us introverted and withdrawn. We don’t advocate for ourselves, but we also don’t band together to find ways to really shine.

    There’s always going to be something to complain about in the field… but really…what’re we going to do to fix it?

  39. Chris Mannix says:

    “A masters-degreed librarian making $10.95/hour? Not in the scenario that was mentioned, which is clearly an academic library…any decent college or university will at least have the decency to start you at $20-$25 an hour.”

    $15.50/hr, 20 hrs/wk, no benefits, and a 66 mile round trip commute. I guess I didn’t work at a “decent” university. And since most of the colleges in the area paid about the same for part-timers with an MLS, none of them were. If you’re making $20-25/hr, you are lucky indeed.

  40. Rockford says:

    I agree Mr. Mannix.

    Unless you know someone, you are not going to get anywhere near $20 an hour.

    It all goes with advertisements that say pay is based on experience. If you have experienced time with your uncle the library director, you will hit the high end.

    If you are Joe Schmuck off the street, they will pay you the least amount they can legally get away with.

  41. TwoQatz says:

    TheIlliterateLibrarian – the best librarians I’ve worked with aren’t the ones presenting at conferences, writing for library pubs, etc. To be honest … in 30 years of work, those that did the conference stuff and writing weren’t particularly good librarians. They were so busy getting their name out there they neglected the library shop. I’ve never had problems finding work and I’ve never bothered with those things. Just my two cents.

  42. Rev Ike says:

    Amen TwoQatz.

    I look forward to conference time. Then, the deadwood is out of the library gone off to rub elbows with celebs like AL.

    Once they are gone, we can get work done without them coming around with half-baked lame ideas.

    Sadly, they return from these conferences full of themselves, full of martinis, full of importance, and full of more even lamer quarter-baked ideas that they don’t understand and think that they can be implemented in a system that they really don’t understand.

    Basically, they come back full of shit.

    And we are here with lysol and paper ready for them.

  43. TheIlliterateLibrarian says:

    TwoQatz… I’ve certainly met those folks. All flash and bang, no substance. I think it’s *possible* to have some dazzle and some substance too :) At least, I try to. Lets put it that way :) I really only talk about projects that I’ve had actual success with (instead of the fake success where it looks really good, but the end result has no meaning and is only important to like three people and my boss), so at least I’m presenting about something that has *worked* and may work for others. I guess what I’m advocating is really contributing to the community and profession in a substantial way that benefits the profession. Instead of just bemoaning our fate. It’s true, no one takes us seriously. But I sense it’s because we don’t take ourselves seriously.

    @Rev Ike… I agree… conferences, to a degree, are ra-ra sessions. I really hate going to the “yes we can!” presentations, or theory “this will be so great in the future!” sessions. I want stuff that’s worked, and I want the nuts and bolts of both the circumstance that your solution solved, and how it solved it. I haven’t been a librarian long by most standards, but I’m acutely aware of the PR and BS that goes on at those things. I find I learn more sitting in the lobby talking to people anyway.

    I think I’m not entirely jaded, just jaded enough to realize there’s a place where potential and reality meet and that people go on and on about the potential of projects, but are just doing it because “that would be awesome!” instead of there being a real need to fill. I’m seeking style over substance from both the “for lifers” who’re just marking time until retirement, and the “wouldn’t it be awesome if”-ers who see the library as a playground like some media lab in their university. There *has* to be some place in between, right? Where people actually contribute to the profession in a meaningful way, right??? RIGHT!? *crosses fingers*

  44. The Librarian who read a book -- once says:

    Sadly, conferences are becoming the place where the elite meet to eat. They talk elite things, solve elite problems, and probably still drive Ford Elites.

    Meanwhile, smaller and small budgeted libraries cannot afford to send anyone to the conferences so their needs and concerns are rarely addressed, and if they are it is with a pat on the head and piece of candy in the hand so they will disappear and won’t bother the grown ups anymore.

    Well, kids grow up around small time libraries and that is where they get their basic ideas formed. If what they see are a couple of terminals hooked up to the internet and a wii there for gaming night, guess what?

    By the time they hit college, they won’t need the high and haughty librarians. They will avoid the ivory towers with a vengeance and find what they need elsewhere.

    Luckily for you, you will be sitting on your boat in Florida looking forward to the Blue Plate Dinner special.

  45. Dave says:

    Failing at everything in life is one of the basic criteria for being a librarian?

    Now that you have insulted everyone in the field, perhaps you can enlighten us about what it is that YOU have achieved that separates you from the rest of us who have “failed at everything in life.”

    As far as I can tell, your signal achievement is that you are really good at bitching about your job.

  46. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this. Everyone (or at least almost everyone) should have known that a Master’s degree in the Humanities is just as worthless as a Bachelor degree in this field of study. The only difference? You spent more money.

  47. LIS dgerees are a joke says:

    To Dave:

    I happen to agree. While it may take some training to be a librarian, it does not take an over amount of intelligence to be one. That is why this field is full of people that are Liberal Arts majors that cannot find real jobs. In fact, a Bachelors in the Liberal Arts is nothing more than a glorified high school diploma. If these haughty people were so brilliant, why are they not engineers or doctors?

  48. Techserving You says:

    Chris Mannix – $15.50 is a bit different from the $10.95 an hour someone else suggested. It’s still pitiful, but not $10.95. If you’re a masters-degreed librarian making $10.95 an hour, it’s entirely your fault and you need to do something about it. My starting salary was about $25/hour. This is pretty normal for an academic library in my region of the country. Like I said, I was making considerably more than $10.95 per hour 10 years ago as a paraprofessional.

  49. Dave says:

    To LIS Degrees are a Joke

    You make some fair points. At the same time, who is more haughty and disrepesctful than someone who brands all librarians as people who have “failed at everything in life?”

    Again, unless AL is willing to lump herself into that category of people who have failed at everything in life, she needs to keep in mind that whining endlessly about one’s job does not count as an actual achievement.

    And if you have a PhD in English, congratulations. You might not have a very marketable resume, but earning a PhD is nonethless a much bigger achievement than creating a blog so you can call people names and bitch about your job.

  50. Luxembourg at Neerwinden says:

    AL and her LJ employers keep “her” identity secret (and I actually suspect AL is authored by a misogynist guy), but AL has dropped clues along the way that she’s a philosophy ABD who never finished her dissertation. Is that correct? If so, I wonder whether there is some bitterness involved. If this is not the case, well, then OK. And AL evidently succeeds at getting people to read her blog, whatever her background and qualifications. So if she wants to bitch about stuff, let her. I read the blog while taking breaks from working on substantive work, and it’s fine for that.

  51. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    LIS degrees are a joke – I take exception to your generalization. The best librarians I’ve worked with have been very very smart. Some of the worst were dumb as rocks, some had intellect but no “smarts.” I’ve never met a good librarian who was dumb.