You might think with the MLS being the worst master’s degree for jobs and all that there wouldn’t be many books recommending librarianship as a career, but you’d be wrong. There are plenty.
I counted 10 different books published between 2002 and 2009 showing you how to start a career in librarianship. For those of you still interested, let’s take a little survey, shall we?
First, there’s Jump Start Your Career in Library and Information Science, from Scarecrow Press in 2002. That might be the first librarian career guide of the new millennium, or at least the first I found. Jump start that career! The future is yours!
If Scarecrow does something, the other publishers better jump on the bandwagon as well. And they did, so we got Straight from the Stacks: A Firsthand Guide to Careers in Library and Information Science, from ALA Editions in 2003. And that’s a firsthand guide, implying all others might be secondhand guides.
Scarecrow, I’m assuming, wasn’t going to take that lying down, so 2004 brought us their The Librarian’s Career Guidebook, by the same editor as Jump Start Your Career. Hey, if you’ve got a dead horse, beat it.
Once there’s an obvious market for this kind of thing, non-library publishers jump in as well, so in 2006 we got Career Opportunities In Library And Information Science from Checkmark Books. I’d never heard of them, but they publish other career guides. Since the press does all sorts of career guides and the author probably isn’t a librarian, we could possibly call this a thirdhand guide to the field.
This foray into the field was apparently too much for Scarecrow, who brought out New Librarian, New Job: Practical Advice for Managing the Transition in the same year. I guess it’s a little different from a pure career guide. It’s only a career guide for the new librarian. Wait, I guess they all probably are, so this counts. At least they got a new editor for this one. It’s nice to get different perspectives on these things.
By this time Libraries Unlimited must have been soiling themselves with thoughts of an untapped market, so 2006 brought us yet a fourth career guide: Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals. We all remember 2006 as a banner year, when all was bliss, when few of us had heard of credit default swaps. Ahh, those were the days.
Coming late the game, Libraries Unlimited was apparently trying to play catch-up, so in 2007 they released A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science, edited by the same person who edited the first two Scarecrow career guides. Something tells me we’re plowing a shallow field here, or maybe beating the same dead horse in the same shallow field. Just insert whatever homespun metaphor you want.
Then another non-library publisher decided to leap into the fray. After all, with this many career books there must be something going on. Libraries must be HOT! So McGraw Hill released Opportunities in Library and Information Science in 2008. They tried to make up for the most boring title of the bunch with an enthusiastic blurb:
Get informed and enjoy a successful, gratifying career!
Get started in a position that has a future and is financially rewarding. Opportunities in Library and Information Science Careers provides you with a complete overview of the job possibilities, salary figures, and experience required to enter the fields of library and information science.
Gratifying, got a future, financially rewarding? That sounds like my kind of job. Sign me up, baby!
This was a HOT field, so 2009 brought us two more books. First, there’s So You Want To Be a Librarian from Library Juice Press, and what I assume is a revised version of Career Opportunities in Library and Information Science from the busy beavers at Checkmark Books. There’s a different editor, though, so maybe it’s trying to compete with the same title from the same publishers. Some publishers are just weird.
Over an 8-year period ending in 2009, we saw 10 career guides, 3 from Scarecrow, 2 from Libraries Unlimited, 2 from Checkmark, 1 from McGraw Hill, and 1 from the Library Juice Press. But then they seemed to have dried up? What happened?
I think we know what happened. The economy started to bottom out. Library jobs were scarce. Libraries were laying off employees and cutting hours and very occasionally closing a branch. And 3 years later, the MLS is the worst master’s degree for jobs.
For years the ALA and library schools talked about a bright future where old fogey librarians were retiring and new library school graduates would find lots of great jobs. The future looked rosy if you looked at it through rose-colored glasses, and no one has rosier colored glasses than people who give career advice for profit.
Based on the existence of all these guides, I guess it wasn’t just the ALA and library schools who were deluded, but the publishers as well.
So now, if you’ve graduated from library school, have ignored the job wisdom of the AL for the past 5 years, read one or more of these books, and insist on blaming someone other than yourself, you have some more people to blame for your misfortune.