Someone commenting on this post claimed that ads for some jobs in Australian libraries are looking specifically for “digital natives,” leading to some discussion of age discrimination.
I’m bringing it up because it seems related in a way to the add discussed in the previous post wanting only new or very recent MLS graduates.
I haven’t seen any of these Australian job ads asking for “digital natives.” I tried to track some down, but searching for library jobs in Australia apparently isn’t on my list of competencies, and the ROI for learning how wasn’t high enough.
If anyone has evidence of such jobs, let me know. Until then, I’m proceeding as if there are such jobs.
We have just seen an example of a job that doesn’t require an MLS, but any candidates who do possess such a degree must have acquired it since 2010. These are different sorts of discriminatory requirements to examine.
First of all, any requirement for “digital natives” is clearly age discrimination. “Digital native” might be a dubious category, but as it’s usually used the phrase won’t include anyone older than about 30.
By the way, I did try to track down a good definition, but the source that’s often so good on popular subjects is terrible on Digital Native. Not only is it poorly referenced and incoherent, the writing fails even to achieve the competent blandness so typical in Wikipedia.
Example: “Digital Natives term is synonymous with the term Digital Inclusion. Being digitally included means that you are innately able in using a smartphone or computer tablets.”
Did a digital native write that? If so, they might be “innately able in using a smartphone,” which sounds like they’re handed an iPhone as they exit the birth canal and immediately start checking their stocks and playing Angry Birds. However, they’re definitely not innately able in using the English language.
The Wikipedia writer(s) agree. “Nobody is ‘born digital’; as with any cultural technology, such as reading and writing, it is matter of access to education and experience.” I suppose it is matter of access to education and experience.
It’s relevant, though, because any job ad using the phrase is definitely stating a preference for people in their 20s, regardless of whether people who are “digital immigrants” might do a better job.
In job ads, “digital native” could become the next “enthusiastic,” only much less ambiguous about the age discrimination.
Requiring an MLS earned since 2010 isn’t necessarily about age discrimination. Although I understand library school students are younger on average than they were many years ago, there are still plenty of older or second-career people who graduate from library school into their 50s, and possibly older.
Thus, it would be possible to have someone who’s 50 years old but with a recent MLS, but “recent MLS” can easily be interpreted as a code word for “young,” since the emphasis is on newness and freshness.
They can’t just come out and say that want younger people, but that’s one implication.
Let’s think about who gets screwed in all this.
The first category is older librarians. Any job emphasizing freshness over experience is going to discriminate against older librarians, regardless of their qualifications or even the freshness of their library degree. They won’t even make it to an interview.
But the group who probably loses out more are those librarians who couldn’t get a job quickly after library school. If this became a trend, and hopefully it won’t, getting a library job would be even more of a crap shoot than it already is.
The lessons from these kinds of ads are clear. First, don’t get old. Second, get a job quickly after library school or else. Neither are very comforting.