Times are hard for new library school graduates looking for their first job. Here they are, shiny MLS degrees in hand, eager to enter the library workforce and contribute something to society, and no one is offering them jobs.
What recent graduates might not know is that it’s always been hard to find jobs, especially jobs doing what you want to do in an area of the country you want to live. The profession goes through periods of bust and not quite so bust. In the 1960s, librarians were told there would be librarian shortages. In the 1970s there was a huge oversupply of librarians. Sound familiar?
To find out just what’s going on, I dispatched one of my minions to scour the country and report on the status of new graduates, human interest kinda stuff that everyone likes to read about.
Here’s the first report, a profile of a recent graduate and her struggles on the job market. I think we can all learn a lesson from it.
Report from the Field
Megan W. graduated in May, but still has been unable to find work as a librarian, despite having sent out over 15 applications.
“I have the degree and everything,” says Megan. “It was great, I was able to stay in Sheboygan and get my degree online. I didn’t even have to quit my job as a teacher’s aid.”
Online programs have become increasingly popular with students getting an MLS degree. One LIS dean told us that getting an MLS online is “almost like the real thing,” but declined permission to name her program after she found out we were reporters and not prospective students.
What Megan lacks in library experience she seems to make up for in librarian-like skills. “She’s great at reading to her cats. I’ve seen it really calm them.” says her former roommate Jenny. “But I don’t think she wants to work with children, so maybe that doesn’t matter.” Jenny adds, “She was also awesome at organizing our video collection.”
Megan confirms that she’s had enough of working with children in her job as a teacher’s aid, which she left in May on the hope of landing a library job quickly. “I had enough snotty noses, but the books are fun! I took a class in children’s lit so I could read the books. My cats liked it.”
When asked about her job search Megan shared that she’d like to live within a a couple of hours of her current home but that she’s also willing to live “someplace interesting.”
What is most baffling about Megan’s inability to find work as a librarian is the great number of jobs available in the field.
According to her friend, Josh, “There are a lot of retirements in libraries, so there should be a lot of jobs available. That’s one of the reasons Megan chose that degree. She did her research, I mean, she’s a librarian and all. She knows how to find out stuff.”
Megan is trying not to be bitter about her newly chosen career and says “I know that the right job is out there for me. The ALA virtually promised it in the report that they wrote several years ago and the professors all said there were lots of jobs. I just might need to extend my search by a few more miles, that kind of a thing. Or maybe work at a community college.”