For many years American librarians have had to endure propaganda about the upcoming (always upcoming!) librarian shortage from the ALA and its accredited library schools. I thought perhaps this was an exclusively north American phenomenon, but no.
Check out this news story from India: Few takers for library science. It’s a tale of despair and hope that should be familiar to anyone watching the ALA librarian shortage shenanigans over the years.
It seems LIS education in India is a century old. However, “Initially seen as a decent career option, LIS education has lost its shine over time as it is not a lucrative career option.”
“As is it not a lucrative career option.” That’s probably all most people would need to read. Librarianship looked good as a career at one point, only it doesn’t pay much and so people avoid it. Sounds plausible.
But not everyone is convinced. One librarian thinks it’s going to turn around. He did a study of the whole librarian situation and presented his findings at a conference.
“According to him, despite the higher potential of growth in LIS education, students are not interested in taking up the course.”
My goodness, despite all that potential for growth, students are still not interested? That would make them savvier than a lot of American students, then.
“There needs to be aggressive marketing of the course to cultivate good reading habits in children. Libraries are required at the primary level too.”
But how does aggressive marketing of the course in LIS cultivate good reading habits in children? Churning out more LIS graduates doesn’t mean that there will be primary schools to hire them. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what’s happening to school librarians in north America.
I could be wrong, though. After all, a librarian did a study “based on the 2011 census report that states that in coming years in India at least 20,226 jobs will be available for LIS professionals.”
Why will there be so many jobs available? “The paper states that the replacement market is a big job market for the LIS sector. Around 15% of job opportunities come from retirements.”
Oooohhh, replacements and retirements. That’s the theory, anyway, and we all know how it works out in practice.
Including in India. You can read this story about an Indian engineering college that has been “bereft of a librarian for the last two decades.”
I found the article on the future Indian librarian shortage unintentionally amusing. The point of view of the author of the article and the author of the conference paper the article discusses are so at odds.
For example, according to the article, “LIS professionals at university level are not paid on the scale of assistant professor and this may deter students from taking up this course.” That seems plausible.
However, according to the conference paper, “The scenario needs to be changed in the era of google where books are available with just a click. The Department of Library Science at the central and state government levels should step in to make it a popular career option.”
If all Google books really are available with just one click, I don’t see why we need librarians.
One has to wonder if the reporter is just having some fun with this one. We know from the article that librarians don’t get paid much and students don’t want to study library science.
The first reason they should, the growth potential, obviously isn’t enough to recruit students.
So what next? The government should make it a popular career option, presumably by shelling out a lot more money for libraries, and over the entire country.
That seems unlikely given the economic situation. You know the economy can’t be good when you have headlines trying to cheer people up by predicting that it’s Not all gloom and doom for India’s economy. So it’s not all gloom and doom? Well, that’s reassuring.
Maybe the government could just step up LIS education recruiting efforts instead. There wouldn’t need to be actual jobs at the end.
Just repeat a few phrases enough times and people will believe them. “High potential for growth.” “Replacements and retirements.” “Upcoming librarian shortage.”
Or maybe I’m just being cynical, which I shouldn’t be this time of year. It’s a time for laughter and joy and chestnuts roasting on open fires and Jack Frost nipping at my toes.
So Merry Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas, and to everyone else, Merry Public Holiday that Has Nothing to Do with Religion.