Last week, a commenter posted a message delivered through a listserv that seems to solve the job shortage problem for librarians. Hooray for all you unemployed librarians out there! Here’s the message:
The ALA office of Recruitment Statistics is increasingly aware of unadvertised positions that need to be filled as soon as possible. Denise M. Davies, former head of ALA’s Recruitment Statistics, has joined forces with the Sacramento Library to compile a list of unadvertised library jobs across the country and in your community. These are jobs that need to be filled so quickly that the libraries simply don’t have time to advertise and the ALA can’t post them fast enough.
Unemployed and underemployed librarians are asked to call 1(800) 209-4627 or 1(916) 264-2770 and ask for Deputy Director Denise Davies. New opportunities are opening up daily, so call frequently until you are successfully placed.
Phone calls only, please. No calls after the project ends on December 31st, 2020.
For more information, visit [here]
The same message is posted at various job sites, including this one, so, you know, it has to be genuine. Right?
This is great news. And it could be true, because there are actual facts in there. It seems that Denise M. Davis [not Davies, as noted in a comment below; I missed that one.] is indeed the former head of the ALA Office for Research and Statistics, and is currently the Deputy Director of the Sacramento Public Library. The phone numbers given in the message are the phone numbers for the Sacramento Public Library as well.
Though I guess there are a few inconsistencies, so there’s the slightest chance this might not be genuine. For one thing, the whole idea of jobs that need to be filled so quickly they can’t be advertised fast enough is absurd, but there might be desperate librarians willing to believe it.
Then there are the mistaken details. I guess those can’t be ignored. There is no ALA office of “Recruitment Statistics.” It’s “Research and Statistics.” The mistake is made twice, which really is quite sloppy.
The “Phone calls only, please” is strange, too, I suppose. Who does business only by phone these days? Nobody, not even at AT&T.
That the project ends in 2020 is more sloppiness. If this is a hoax, it should have been 2010, so as to concentrate the calls as much as possible to annoy Denise Davies.
And that, I suspect, is the point. It’s possible some people hold Davis responsible for many of the studies linking mass retirements to mass job openings ( i.e., the Myth of the Librarian Shortage) that has led to so many un- or underemployed librarians who are now prompted to call Davies. Now why would anyone do that?
She’s the author of the report the message links to. The report analyzes LIS graduation rates and projected retirement rates and predicts that there’s going to be a librarian shortage someday. More specifically, between 2015 and 2019, there will be so many retirements that there won’t be enough librarians to advance into administrative positions for years to come. “The issue isn’t having LIS graduates in the marketplace, the issue becomes having qualified librarians to promote into the positions vacated due to retirement.”
Think about that one for a moment. There’s no concern that there might be way too many LIS graduates for a couple of decades. In fact, her own statistics show that from 1990 to 2002 (the last year of analysis), there were significantly more LIS graduates than library retirees or added jobs. The “Graduation Retirement Gap” is the number you get if you take all LIS graduates and subtract the number of retirees–the excess. The number of excess LIS graduates (for want of a better term) hovers at the 2,000 mark until 1995, then moves up into the 3,000 range and rises steadily to end at 3,810 in 2002.
The figures for the number of MLS positions in academic and public libraries stop at 2000. But from 1990 to 2000 the number of positions increased by 12,365, while the number of LIS graduates that exceeded the number of retired librarians during the same period was 27,126. That total climbed to 34,360 by 2002. Thus, according to the ALA’s own statistics, the ones used to promote the Myth of the Librarian Shortage, during one decade alone there were 14,761 LIS graduates left over even after accounting for job gains and retirements. And I’d wager that the figures for the past decade would show a larger number. They can’t all have been absorbed into special and school libraries.
The ALA thought it was better to graduate perhaps 30,000 people from MLS programs over a 20-year period than the market could possibly absorb, because there was going to be an administrative shortage in 2015. It might be possible someone is playing a prank on Davies and trying to dupe unemployed librarians to call her asking for all those jobs that are opening too quickly to fill: thousands upon thousands of LIS graduates over 20 years with no hope of finding jobs.
These LIS graduates who never found jobs can’t possibly be around in 2015. Recruitment efforts based on this reasoning for the past decade have been misguided, as no possible level of graduation above the retirements and created jobs in any given year could possibly have solved a potential but not necessarily likely shortage of administrators in the next decade. It just created wasted time and wasted lives.
So, I think it’s a hoax to annoy Davis. On the other hand, it could be the real deal. You make the call.