I know Canada seems like paradise to a certain sort of librarian, like the ones I heard claiming they’d move there if George W. Bush were elected President again. Maybe they decided not to move there when they realized that Canada, besides being really cold, was no paradise for librarians. From what I’ve gleaned from Canadian librarians over the years, the job situation hasn’t been good for a long while, and it doesn’t seem to be looking up.
As a bit of anecdotal evidence for this, look at this site for a career fair. A kindly annoyed Canadian forwarded an email to me announcing it. The "about" page tells us:
"For the first time, students from Université de Montréal’s École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l’information (EBSI) and McGill University’s School of Information Studies (SIS) will be holding a joint Career Fair.
This will be an exciting opportunity for employers to meet enthusiastic and talented students from the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) programs. The 2010 EBSI-SIS Career Fair will be a major networking event during which future graduates and potential employers will have a chance to discuss employment possibilities."
Just that announcement seems a bit over the top, but that’s the way these things are, I suppose. I can believe there are "enthusiastic and talented students" no doubt desperate for work. But "exciting opportunity"? Exciting for whom? For the future graduates or the potential employers?
The email says the same thing, only there are a couple of sentences inserted between those two paragraphs:
"We welcome organizations from all information fields. Whether or not you currently have jobs available, we want to see you."
This changes things a bit, and is approaching absurdity. It could be a job fair with no jobs.
Oh, I know, they called it a "career fair," so they can get away with having "potential" employers discussing "potential employment opportunities." Still, that’s pushing the "potential" a bit too much. Usually, employers would be potential employers in that they might potentially employ a given graduate for their jobs. Now they’re potential employers because they might, someday, potentially have a job to offer a potential job candidate.
Somehow "potential" doesn’t seem the right word for this, though. This is almost stranger than those library systems that advertise for pools of librarians for jobs that don’t actually exist. This potentially could be a career fair with 250 students eager for work and absolutely no one who actually has a job available.
The employers and students are supposed to "discuss employment opportunities." Can that happen if there are no jobs? I guess it can, but what a depressing discussion. Maybe the "potential" employers with no "actual" jobs can still give career advice: Get out now!
It could be like Waiting for Godot, which appropriately enough was written in French and English by Beckett, probably to satisfy the French/English regulations of Canada. The library school students can be like Vladimir and Estragon, sitting around chatting with each other Waiting for Jobot, who is supposed to come in at any time to tell them about the jobs he can offer them.
They’ve all been told that Jobot exists, and they’re very excited to meet him. Jobot is a kindly person who has jobs aplenty and will solve their employment problems. The library school has invited Jobot, so of course he’s going to attend.
In fact, every library school talks about Jobot. Allegedly, Jobot is always kind to library school graduates, and his reassuring presence justifies tuition money and student loans.
I hope things turn out well for the aspiring librarians, and that Jobot really does appear. When waiting for Jobot, sometimes hope is all you have.