Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Come to Library School! Just Don’t Expect a Job!

And still it comes. Apparently the job propaganda from the ALA will never cease. It seems to be on a mission to make sure there are too many librarians on the market and drive down salaries and working conditions for us all. Abetted by the library schools, of course, which can be cash cows for universities.

Some of you might have seen this article in American Libraries. It’s a puff piece about how distance education is the best education ever (!) written by (surprise, surprise) an administrator of online learning at a university with an online LIS program. The tone sounds like an infomercial. The number of people getting online degrees is "remarkable." We get a brief profile of a Drexel online LIS graduate who is "amazing." Everything is cheery and perky in the world of online library schools! Yay!

And how about this bit:

"Interest in the MLS degree will no doubt continue, as employment opportunities in the library and information science job sector are projected to experience positive growth in coming years, according to data reported by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (sector analyses for 2006 to 2016), United States Bureau of Labor Occupational Employment Statistics, and reports from the American Library Association."

Uh huh. "Positive growth." We’ve been hearing that for years as propaganda to entice people into library school, and it just hasn’t happened. The only change in the propaganda is the dates keep getting moved back. We were going to have waves of retirees and new jobs in the future, except that future never came and is unlikely to. Even before the recent recession, there weren’t enough library jobs to go around, and since then libraries have been closing, firing librarians, not filling openings, and everything else they can do to save money.

Does anyone really think that after the recession, librarian positions are going to be rising dramatically? Oh, yeah, we know it to be true because the government and the ALA told us so. Oh, and those librarians that have been graduating the past ten years? They need jobs now, not in the future.

But there’s more:

"Eduventures, a higher-education research and consulting firm, estimated in a January report prepared for Drexel University Online that more than 21,400 graduate students will be enrolled in a fully or blended online MLS program in 2009, and that nearly 7,300 MLS degrees will be awarded this year.Eduventures projects a 3% annual growth in MLS enrollment between now and 2011."

Hmm. An online university hires a consultant who tells them that online student enrollment will keep growing. Yeah, let’s trust that data, because we know consultants never just tell clients what they want to hear. Regardless, if the current numbers are true, then we’re looking at over 7,000 new librarians every year, potentially for decades. According to this article, that’s a good thing, no, a great thing! And it is a great thing, if you’re in the market of selling online MLS degrees.

But what about the rest of us?

Let’s take a quick break from the propaganda and step back toto the real world, in the form of the LJ Placements and Salaries 2009 report, which came out last week. Generally, the news is bad, especially if you’re looking for a job as a public librarian. Fewer jobs. Lower starting salaries. Lower salaries in general. It’s a bleak picture, and this is a study of conditions in 2008. It’s only going to be worse this year.

According to that study, how many new librarians got jobs last year? 1,817. That’s it. 1,817 jobs for new librarians last year. 7,300 new librarians this year. If the numbers hold, that’s about four times as many new librarians as jobs. And that ratio will only increase if enrollments grow and jobs shrink.

And forget full time employment. The percentage of full time positions shrank for 89.2% in 2007 to 69.8% in 2008. Someone in the comments to a recent post argued that part-time employment is great, because it gives librarians "flexibility." Let’s see how flexible they are on $20K a year and no health benefits. As long as we think of librarian as a job for housewives who just want a little pin money, then everything’s hunky-dory. If we think of librarianship as a serious profession, this is bad news.

Someone who peddles online MLS degrees would obviously be happy that more and more people are getting online degrees. That’s great for business, and Drexel is all about business. It’s a different question about whether it’s good for librarians, libraries, or librarianship. Too much supply lessens demands which lowers salaries. In some sectors it means lots of librarians are battling each other over crappy, low-paying jobs. Is this the kind of profession we want? Do we want the stereotype of librarians to go from bun-wearing shushers to people stupid enough to pay thousands of dollars for graduate school to get low-paying jobs?

Who’s going to suffer the most? I have a pretty good idea about that. The dull and incompetent. Some of us might cheer and say, sure, that’s not so bad. But while the large percentage of them in the profession always improved my job prospects, I don’t want dull and incompetent people to suffer. Library school was already a breeze, and distance education is just making it easier. Everyone who can fill out a loan application or fork over a few thousand dollars every year can get a library degree.

I took a look at the list of programs that offer an online-only option, and I find it very hard to believe all of them have high academic standards. If anyone can get in, the dull and incompetent can get in, and they get through because the programs are easier than ever, and then they won’t get jobs. Online library education might be great for a lot of people, but for others it’s going to function as a tax on stupidity. Library schools might as well just hold lotteries or install slot machines.

The top of that bottom is still functional enough to keep salaries low and conditions poor for a lot of people. Plenty of libraries are already out of the running for the best candidates because they pay so poorly. Bright people desperate to get jobs will be competing with dull people lucky to get jobs. The brightest will probably just give up and go work in some less fulfilling but more remunerative sector, while the dulls hang around and give the rest of us a bad name and lower the quality of library service. This is a lose-lose situation for everyone but the library schools.

If we were interested in the working conditions of librarians and the quality of library service, more and easier job training for librarians isn’t what we’d want. Instead of letting in anyone who wants a degree and can get the money together, library schools should be toughening their standards. Not more, but fewer and better students. Raise the GPA requirement. Raise the GRE requirement (or institute one). Make the students take more rigorous classes. Make everyone write a thesis. In other words, make it hard to get into and through library school. Make it a serious accomplishment.

This would improve the profession. It would improve the standards of librarianship. It would improve the service to library patrons. The only thing it wouldn’t improve is the bottom line of library schools.



Please note that new comments for all posts on this blog have been closed.


  1. I got a subject master’s right before going to library school and wow was I ever surprised at the low standards. The administration is attempting to overhaul the program and I hope they do because I find it pretty abysmal. For a “professional” program, it really doesn’t prepare you for much of what you have to do, from the practical to the theoretical. They keep trying to balance the two, and they’re doing a piss-poor job. Maybe programs elsewhere are better. I like to tell myself that.

    I just graduated, and the jobs I keep seeing are for: 1. directors. Move up people already there and make openings at the lower level! But it doesn’t necessarily give me a warm-fuzzy that so many directors are jumping ship (sure, I get a lot of them could be retiring.) and 2. positions requiring lot of post-degree experience. Or having a lot of requirements, and not always for that much. Not that I came to this profession to seek my fortune or anything, but I’d like to retire one day too like all those directors.

  2. I got a subject master’s right before going to library school and wow was I ever surprised at the low standards. The administration is attempting to overhaul the program and I hope they do because I find it pretty abysmal. For a “professional” program, it really doesn’t prepare you for much of what you have to do, from the practical to the theoretical. They keep trying to balance the two, and they’re doing a piss-poor job. Maybe programs elsewhere are better. I like to tell myself that.

    I just graduated, and the jobs I keep seeing are for: 1. directors. Move up people already there and make openings at the lower level! But it doesn’t necessarily give me a warm-fuzzy that so many directors are jumping ship (sure, I get a lot of them could be retiring.) and 2. positions requiring lot of post-degree experience. Or having a lot of requirements, and not always for that much. Not that I came to this profession to seek my fortune or anything, but I’d like to retire one day too like all those directors.

  3. Impervious says:

    Another great example of the library profession leaders breathing their own exhaust. Wish they’d read the newspapers to find out what’s really happening with libraries. It’s pretty discouraging.

    Every aspect of the American Libraries article is laughable, beyond the content fallacies AL highlighted. It begins with “Library professionals have long been at the forefront of information technology.” Who are they trying to kid? And it is loaded with quotations and statistics without a single footnote. Guess they don’t teach that stuff in library school…

  4. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Online degree programs flourish because they’re cash cows. UNT has students all over the place and it’s not like they’re supporting them much in terms of resources. Their students are using their local academic/public libraries as their labs – I get way too many e-mails from their students begging me to help them with projects. Those requests for a two-hour “observation” session are getting rather annoying, to say nothing of the requests for assistance with a practicum. Thanks, but I have my own students, faculty and work to do. At least the students at the in-residence program at UT Austin are able to use the library and librarian resources at that institution. Makes me wonder though – how many UNT library school students are living in Austin annoying the hell out of UT Austin’s librarians?

  5. Dr. Pepper says:

    Makes me glad I did not get an MLIS. What is concerning is that people not in the know are STILL seriously considering plopping down a considerable chunk of change to get an MLIS which is not going to help them in the least bit. I guess this is one of those lessons that you need to learn on your own…

  6. ChickenLittle says:

    Let’s not just pick on Drexel and UNT, I just took a quick look at San Jose State’s SLIS program webpage and am about ready to crap myself!! Here is a few words from the esteemed director: “While educated in the academic discipline of Library and Information Science and the professional competencies of Librarianship, these highly skilled men and women carry job titles as diverse as records manager, children’s librarian, software developer, reader’s advisor, Internet trainer, historical researcher, information analyst, teen specialist, teacher-librarian and freedom of information and protection of privacy officer. Career opportunities are limited only by one’s imagination, ambition and degree of mobility.” Excuse me…..Software Developer?? Are you crazy??!! I have friends who have spent years slugging it out to get Bachelor and Master’s degrees in computer science just to get to the ENTRY level of must development shops. We need to be more honest about what librarians can and can’t do. To do so otherwise will only lead to the debasement and possibly the end of our profession!

  7. I would like grad schools of all kinds to be forced to disclose information about how many of their graduates end up getting jobs that require the degree that the grads earned. Library schools are among the worst offenders, but law schools and Ph.D. programs in the humanities are in the mix too.

  8. tjwilliams says:

    I think it’s important to remember that it is the “American LIBRARY Association”, not the “American LIBRARIAN Association”. It is in the interest of both libraries and library schools to flood the market with MLIS’s, but it’s definitely not in the interest of librarians. Though, with that said, I think a lot of success depends on the quality of the MLIS program and the quality of the students. Most of the students I went to school with have jobs or are in other grad programs (we graduated in 2008). The only students I know who don’t have jobs or who left the field weren’t that good in the first place.

  9. I graduated in December of 2008 and still don’t have a professional job and there are basically no prospects of me finding one. I wish I had known how little an MLIS prepares you to actually get a job as a librarian.

  10. LOLibrarian says:

    Meanwhile, I am inundated with library students wanting to observe or intern. “Help me with my assignment! Are you guys going to be hiring soon?” (keeping in mind I JUST barely escaped the rounds of layoffs this year; in addition it took me 3 YEARS to find this job). We are under a hiring freeze, and at least 20 positions are being left open permanently to assure a place for us to go when the budget crashes again next year.

    The one student I have some hope for is interviewing for a job that is 1.5 hours away, ONE WAY.

    The ALA and these mass production library schools should be ashamed of themselves.

  11. Hmmm… I thought the courses that required me to visit local libraries in order to “observe” and “bug” local librarians were actually the most valuable. Not only did I get to participate in real world library projects such as writing a grant proposal and preparing a library budget, but I was able to observe various types of information professionals doing their job, something that was enormously helpful for deciding the type of work I’d like to do. I visited five different libraries during my time in school and not one of the librarians minded helping me with my projects, in fact they seemed interested in what I was doing and glad to help. As far as an MLIS not being useful – How can that be? Even though there is a serious job shortage for librarians, it is required for most of the professional library jobs I see advertised.

  12. there are no citations because they are lying about the Occupational Outlook Handbook: librarian job growth has been listed as slower than average for years

  13. From BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Employment of librarians is expected to grow by 4 percent between 2006 and 2016, slower than the average for all occupations.”

    Is this the “positive growth” Dr. Hartman refers to? Smells like a pretty blatant distortion of facts (if not an outright lie) to me. More responsbile (er, reprehensible) information from the “information professions” at library schools & ALA.

  14. I know the statistics on the growth of public libraries are true because I live in the California Bay Area where new libraries are being built all around me. The new libraries have more facilities to reach everyone in the community than ever before. They have business rooms, homework rooms, programs for children, book club nights, author nights, banks of computers, books stores, coffee shops, volunteers teaching English to those who need it, and everything else a public library should have. Two brand new libraries are being built within ten miles of my house, and a new one fifteen miles away opened two years ago. All of this is possible because of the dedication of an army of volunteers who raise the money through their enthusism for what we all know is the best and most democratic institution in the world. Less complaints and more positive activism can make libraries work, especially in a downturning economy. I’m helping create public libraries in a country without the benefits of public libraries. Imagine our country without them. Organize to make your library the vibrant community center it should be and there will be more library jobs and your own job will be more valuable.

  15. I worked as a programmer for years without a computer science degree. (I have a business degree.) I’m almost finished with my MLIS now, and I’ve been focusing on digital archives/preservation. I like the tech aspect, and I’m sure I can find a job. For those who aren’t interested in the programming side of things, I can definitely see the degree as a waste of time in the current environment. Heck, I know I don’t really need it either, but I’m staying home with my baby right now and I wanted something to occupy me. I figured it having the degree won’t actively hurt me at any rate. It is ridiculously easy but the archival classes are interesting, especially the ones focusing on digital matters. I think there should be many more programming/design classes offered for those with a knack that way. The classes they currently offer are way too basic for someone who already has programming experience, though.

  16. another f-ing librarian says:

    I’m with first-commenter Midge. Some years after finishing my subject master’s, I went to library school, and realized, “hey. This is like technical-vocational school, with an undergraduate degree as prerequisite!”

    One more note. Librarians are *notoriously* unable to understand the *very simple* concept of ‘transferable skills’. Ever heard of those? That’s that thing where, maybe you’ve never performed a specific task that a particular library needs, but you have *the precise experience and skillset necessary* to understand and perform that task. Your learning curve is ‘the details’. In the average librarian’s mind, this reads “whoop-whoop! not qualified!” In the world of smart people, it reads, “cool! Tiny learning curve! From here on out, they’ll just have to learn the stuff that anyone whose never worked *at this exact library* would need to learn anyway!”

    And — I’m not talking about ‘transferable skills’, as in, ‘went to college and used to search the OPAC’. I’m talking, ‘transferable skills from 6 years of working in a library as a professional librarian’ kind of thing. Or do librarians just fear people they think might be smarter than they are? Do tell, oh AL. What do you think?

    Hm. What should I be next? Biologist or paralegal? Biologist or paralegal…?

  17. I graduated from UWM’s online program last year, and I thought it was a hell of a lot more challenging that what my friends and co-workers were doing at Dominican. Also, I had two FT job offers before I graduated. Maybe that had more to do with me than anything else, but maybe it had something to do with the quality of the program? I actually learned things that apply to what I do in my public library. Is my experience that rare?

  18. ac- I agree. If the degree is useless, why can’t I even apply for a job above volunteer shelver unless I have one! I’m putting down money (and work, since my program is apparently the rare one and requires work, published papers, etc.) for a degree that I have to have to apply for any job in the area.
    And about librarians being “bugged” and students being “annoying” – isn’t that the point of librarians? To be helpful for those looking for information?

  19. Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian says:

    When I graduated from my Library Studies program I was lucky enough to get part time, limited term positions doing library work for the next 9 months. I’m glad of the experience, though a full time professional position was my goal. What torqued me off was when the chick at the library school put me down in her statistics as being employed within 6 months of graduation on the basis of having 2 half-time, temp positions. That is a crock of excrement in my opinion. Be careful of those stats the schools give you on employment after graduate school.

    Also, although was school was (is?) in the top ten, the research class was a joke. No offense to the prof, who was a good researcher, but after undergraduate classes in behavioral statistics and experimental psychology, that class was a waste of time. And I STILL know what Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient is! :)

  20. stifledlibrarian says:

    Thea M., approximately where are these “new” libraries being built? I’m a bay area native who has tried applying for libraries in the bay area only to be told that many are amid a hiring freeze. Plus, the economy in California right now is such that budgets are being slashed right and left–so where is the money for these new libraries coming from?
    I have a steady job at a public library, so I can’t complain too much, but it’s outside of CA in the complete boonies, in a town that I can’t stand. I took it because I was afraid after I graduated that I wouldn’t get anything else, which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t the best decision. But in the economic climate, with library schools churning out armies of students, new graduates are often left with little choice but to take the first thing that comes along. I recently gave up my ALA membership because it was too expensive to justify minimal opportunities to participate in the organization as a whole, due to my remote location. I’ve taken a few online opportunities, but they often don’t have the same impact (much like online library degree programs).

  21. Not a librarian anymore says:


    The degree is useless because it has limited marketability outside the profession and teaches you few adaptable skills. And also, as LJ even reported itself, increasingly the jobs that used to require it are being deprofessionalized or filled by people with other training. Libraries themselves are doing this because the MLS/MLIS programs are not turning out graduates who meet their needs.

    And while it is the job of the local librarians to help people, it is not necessarily their job to educate you as opposed the the Master’s level program you are paying thousands of dollars to attend.

  22. Lying Librarian says:

    I posted this in response to a comment in an earlier post, but (surprise!) it came up again…

    The ONLY people who should be getting a library degree nowadays are people who meet the following criteria:
    1. already have a job where the degree would be helpful
    2. that job is located in a city with a college that offers an MLIS program
    3. the job provides tuition reimbursement.

    Kids, if you don’t meet the three criteria above, DON’T DO IT.

    DO NOT take out $40,000 in student loans to get a library degree.

    DO NOT pay for out of state tuition to get a library degree, online or otherwise. Remember that with the online degree, you will be competing for jobs with people who went to institutions with freestanding buildings, who had opportunities to network with live humans in the field.

    DO NOT pursue a library degree if you haven’t already worked in a library, or if you aren’t working in one right now.

    DO NOT pay a pile of your own money to get this degree.

    That said, if you are already working somewhere that isn’t about to close due to budgetary reasons, enjoy the work, there is a decent school nearby, and your workplace will pay for it, then by all means, go for it.

    There must be about a dozen or so people nationwide who meet these criteria. That wouldn’t be enough folks to keep the library schools profitable, however.

  23. (.html)

    This is the website where most of the libraries in my local area post their job listings. Unless the job description is “volunteer” or “part-time” (and sometimes even then!), an MLIS is required for the position. So, even though I need this degree to even consider applying for this position, it’s worthless. I’m not sure that our descriptions of “worthless” or “useless” are the same.

  24. ChickenLittle says:

    StifledLibrarian….yes I also live near the Bay Area and was wondering which new libraries Thea M. was talking about??!! If anything we will be lucky to see some of these branches staying open with the budget cutbacks coming next year. Is someone from ALA posting in disguise??

  25. Bookladycs says:

    I have worked in libraries for over 12 years. I am just now getting my MLIS and it has been a labor of love. I probably won’t be hired as a “librarian” because they don’t want to pay me more than they are now. However, I am doing everything (yes, everything) that the librarians who work here do and more I might add. Since I started school 2 years ago there are 2 other people who have started programs. Competition is fierce and I don’t see any growth in the future. I am just thankful I have a job.

  26. Lying Librarian says: just ran an article about a class-action lawsuit against those shady “career colleges” you see advertised on tv. I HIGHLY suggesst reading it.

    A relevant quote:

    “The accusations set forth in the class action suit allege that Westwood College aggressively pursued the enrollment of all potential students without any consideration for the means used to recruit them. The suit alleges that the college marketed programs to academically unqualified students, urged them to take the maximum in loans and grants, gave them an inadequate education that was not regionally transferable and then sent them packing on to low paying jobs, or no jobs at all, where they would be shackled with thousands of dollars in student loans and private and federal debt.”

    Sound familiar? How long until the ALA is advertising MLIS degrees during Judge Judy? Can their own class-action suit be far behind?

  27. Not a librarian anymore says:

    The question is not “are there jobs in my area right now that I need a MLS for?” but honestly looking at library trends and asking if in 5-15 years if there will be a job for you in the future with that degree and your skills when libraries are deprofessionalizing positions, hiring other skill sets and facing a huge budget crisis. And honestly, based on the large number of people graduating with degrees and discussed unreliability of occupational outlooks for the profession along with other evidence, that there are some jobs now requiring the degree means nothing.

    Oh, and hate to break it to you but they want a MLS student or holder for a part-time or volunteer for credit position not because the work necessarily needs that degree but because they don’t have the money to pay someone or they don’t want to spend it when they can get a student grateful for experience.

  28. I wonder whether other fields are any smarter than librarianship in steering prospective students away because of a lack of openings. Are history or English departments cautioning students who want to become professors, etc.? Can anyone speak to this?

  29. That article kills me – particularly the part where they have “virtual tea” at Drexel by sending online students “tea sachets” in the mail. They’re wasting tuition money to mail students Lipton tea bags! I mean, I thought the “tea party” protesters were clueless (using “tea bagging” as a verb, unaware that it’s a sex term) but how oblivious do you have to be to not see how damned stupid it is to send everyone a tea bag in the mail? I wonder if they send wine and cheese in the mail for the virtual wine and cheese parties?

    The beginning – about being at the forefront of IT – is also patently ridiculous. News flash: IT people (mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers) are at the forefront of IT. In the history of electronic computing, libraries played no major role with which I am aware.

    It just so happens that I’m an MLIS student. (I figured out that it was a bad idea (thanks in large part to the Annoyed Librarian) but by that time, it was too late to change direction.) I can’t stand online classes or classes with ridiculous online requirements. I can’t learn that way – and it’s not because I don’t like computers (I love ’em).

    The anecdote about the cancer survivor really bugged me too. Don’t worry about getting well – worry about your stupid online classes. Yeah, sure, great idea.


  30. curious, from what I can tell, English departments have been NO better at steering people away, which is why English PhDs in particular have had a very hard time finding tenure-track or even full time jobs for decades. English departments are becoming wastelands of poorly paid adjuncts who often teach courses at several places just to make ends meet. English departments at big state universities need graduate students to teach lower level composition and literature classes. Much like this analysis of library schools, the departments have an incentive to bring in many more students than the job market can possibly ever accommodate.

  31. Techserving You says:

    I brought up this article in my comments to the Encouraging Lean Librarians blog entry… there are some good comments about it there. (I won’t bother re-posting here.) The article is ridiculous.

  32. Techserving You says:

    another f-ing librarian – I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think the reason that librarians don’t understand the concept of transferable skills is that 1.) they are often incredibly rigid and unimaginative and see things in black and white and 2.) they want to make all aspects of librarianship seem incredibly difficult and specialized… heaven forbid someone who has NEVER before done that EXACT task attempt to do it! One needs at least 5 years of experience performing that task over and over and over again before they will be qualified to do it. Anyway, on to another topic… it is a logical fallacy to say that the MLIS program must impart useful skills since you can’t even apply for a professional job without it.

  33. Techserving You says:

    Lying librarian – a great list of criteria to narrow down the people who should be applying to library school. I’d amend the list slightly since I think that I was also ‘qualified’ to go to library school, but there are probably only a few more people in the country who meet my criteria… I had worked for several years(5+) as a paraprofessional at a few very prestigious (Ivy League) universities. Of course, that does not mean that my work experience was better than experience at a lower-ranked university, but it ‘looks good’ to other librarians. I could have had the university pay for my MLIS program, but I would have had to go part-time while working full-time, which was not at all what I wanted. I also wanted to experience a new city, and get my MLIS at a good university where I could work and live among people in other academic departments and not just in the LIS department. I could also have a great university’s name on my diploma. I was still making a small enough amount of money that (even accounting for opportunity costs) the investment in my MLIS would actually be worth it after a relatively-short period of time. I did in fact very easily get a great (on paper) job upon graduation (two years ago) and then another great (at least on paper) job a year after that, when I decided my great-on-paper job wasn’t all it was cracked-up to be. So, I’d say add these criteria:

    – Have substantial library work experience, preferably in internationally-renowned institutions. Only those who are in this position can even justify staying the field… if you haven’t already stupidly invested years of your life, switch fields while it still makes sense to!

    – Don’t have so MUCH experience that you’re going to have to take a pay cut when you accept an entry-level position after graduation

    – Be fully mobile for both library school and an eventual professional job. This obviously gives you the most options, and it also allows you to get a fuller experience… if you’re paying anyway, you might as well experience a new city and meet a variety of friends outside your field

    – Get your MLIS at as prestigious a school as possible so that when you finally decide to switch careers, your MLIS still looks good on your resume

  34. the.effing.librarian says:

    about “transferable skills,” I love them. the last guy I hired was responsible for rounding up stray pit bulls. And the other guy worked in water treatment, fishing solids out of the muck with his hands. I ask potential employees to take a sniff of a black hard-boiled egg mashed into an old sneaker and then describe the smell. The first person to say “roses” gets the library job. Dewey? Computer skills? They learn that on the job. But that other stuff can’t be taught.

  35. re: “Are history or English departments cautioning students who want to become professors, etc.? Can anyone speak to this?”

    Morse is right. My subject masters is in English and my best friend from that program went on to get her Ph.D. They admitted a whopping 9 (or close to that number) of our classmates into the Ph.D. program. Fortunately not all 9 chose to stay. That department, at a pretty good but middle-level state institution (research one), seemed at least to me rather notorious for passing people through. Some professors did warn us we’d never get jobs (one in particular made it sound like we’d be eating out of cans or selling ourselves in the street…not encouraging for first-year masters students…) but at the same time, I remember that one professor bemoaning the fact that a bunch of us in one of his classes said we were not pursuing a Ph.D. (myself included). So I don’t know! Mixed messages. While for me the masters degree was a way to find out for myself that a professorship was not at all what I wanted, it doesn’t weed people out enough for some reason. I don’t think masters students get the tough love they need from faculty, who may not feel they want to be bothered with masters students. (That was my experience.)

    Similarly, students have a major misconception of the library field when they waltz into library school. We usually have to do introductions in classes, say why we’re here, our previous education, blahblahblah, and a pitiful amount of people have no idea why they’re there or they say they like to read books. And then I facepalm. Hard. A lot of those people also have a lot to do to catch up in the way of presentation and speaking skills, which also causes the facepalms, because they don’t think that librarians ever have to talk to anyone or make presentations or network.

  36. So what I conclude from the foregoing is …
    1) Due to an assortment of reasons (e.g., bad economy, job market, what those with hiring authority value as knowledge / experience worth investing in) it is no longer a reasonable expectation that one can work in a field that one loves, or even likes. Finding something that pays the bills is all that matters.
    2) What one truly loves to do is either to be reserved for one’s free time, or one pursues the degree with the understanding that it is to be kept in one’s back pocket in the event that there is ever a change in the economy, job market, etc.
    3) Since it appears that student counselors and instructors cannot be relied upon to have the students’ best interests in view, the professional development courses taught in colleges, universities ought to include material from the current Occupational Outlook Handbook so that students have an idea of what the career fields are most likely to be hiring and which are most likely to get them a livable income for their situation.

  37. You people are acting like librarianship is the only profession this sort of thing has happened to. The library world is just a microcosm of what is happening in the US – basically, decent middle-class jobs (like being a librarian) are on the decline, and low-paying service industry jobs (like being a part-time book shelver with no benefits) are on the rise.

    To compete in this country for the dwindling number of decent jobs, having more and more education is becoming necessary (MANY people are going back to school for master’s degrees in this economy, not just MLIS degrees) even to have a “job that sucks”, library or otherwise. Jobs that you used to be able to get with just a high school diploma now require a bachelor’s degree (like bank teller, retail manager, etc.). To get this degree or any other, requires an enormous amount of debt, effectively making the borrower a “debt peon” for life. Meanwhile, the top 1% of income controls the vast majority of the nation’s wealth. This is just the new face of modern American fuedalism.

    If you don’t like this outcome (oligarchy, kleptocracy), you shouldn’t have allowed Wall Street to completely take over both parties of government for the last several decades. This discussion is just more evidence of how the USA is turning into a third world country.

  38. ChickenLittle says:

    Jaded/Anon: yes you are both right….”doing what you love” is probably not going to be a reality in our “new economy”. If you love libraries I would recommend that you get yourself a good paying career otherwise….Accountancy, Nursing, Teaching and then work as a volunteer in a library if you can. The harsh realities are such that you probably won’t be able to work in a library as a career. It’s just that simple…regardless of what you are being told by the library schools!

  39. “If you don’t like this outcome (oligarchy, kleptocracy), you shouldn’t have allowed Wall Street to completely take over both parties of government for the last several decades.”

    I think I missed the conversation where Wall Street wanted to take over both political parties and the librarians said, “we’ll allow that.”

  40. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    ro – I didn’t say our tuition-paying students were annoying. When a library is established to serve a particular clientele and the institution is private and is under-staffed, regular (and I do mean regular!) requests for assistance from virtual library school students can be bothersome. Yes, I’ve met with a few and, for the most part, these people had no library experience, had no real idea what library work entailed, and thought that a love of books was all they needed to work in a library. (lol) Were any of them capable of research? Obviously not – had they bothered to do some basic reference work (i.e., research) they would have learned that librarianship isn’t particularly well-paying and jobs are scarce.

    I’m pretty sure these aren’t the people I want hired to work in my library. Not that the virtual grads aren’t applying in force for every slot that has come open – so you did a practicum? How do you think that compares with someone who has years of para experience and got their MLIS from an in-residence program? It doesn’t even begin to compare.

  41. Library_Goon says:

    I’m a paraprofessional in a public library and just received my Master’s degree a few months ago. Did my degree give me a pay raise? No. Do I need it to do my job? No. But I figure I’ll stick it out for a few more years, get some experience, and move on (hopefully when things improve). And I’m also looking into opening my own independent info business (people with an MLIS CAN do more than work in a library).

    What my degree does give me, however, is respect. No one in administration gives me a hard time or looks down on me (they’re very condescending) because I have the same degree as they do. Was it worth the price I paid for the degree? Probably not. But I do put up with less BS, and that’s worth something.

  42. ConfusedByItAll says:

    I’m a Distance Student. I didn’t realize the low standards until I took my first mid-term. I assumed the instructor wanted graduate-level answers, so I extrapolated how much effort I had put into my undergrad tests into my “graduate-level” test.

    Imagine my surprise at being penalized for going into too much detail . The answers the prof was looking for were what I considered high-school level, and I would have felt stupid putting those down, because I’m supposed to be a grad student.

    With the test score for this class, I imagine my GPA will not allow me to apply for very many scholarships, but at least I learned the lesson: play a simpleton, and I’ll do just fine.

    Maybe this is also related to the reason people with degrees can’t find jobs – a lot of them just aren’t that smart.

  43. Library_Goon says:

    Library school isn’t like grad school at all – or undergrad for that matter. My professors where I went to school (a small university in Maryland) challenged (and expected) me to do my best. Not so in grad school. The first semester was the ‘hardest,’ but after that, it was a breeze. The most difficult part of that experience (I was an online student too) was coming home from working all day and working on some mindless project. Glad that whole thing is over.

  44. Rebecca Miller, LJ says:

    To clarify, the LJ survey numbers are based only on those graduates who responded to the survey and do not represent all jobs for new grads in the field. So, the total jobs reported of 1,817 does not reflect all jobs of the approximate 6500 new librarians in the class of 2008, just the jobs of the 2,089 new grads responding to the survey. It’s still not pretty, as that 1,817 number includes the 220 jobs outside of libraries and all the part-time and temp jobs. Only 1,239 of the jobs were permanent professional positions.

    How many of all the 6500 2008 grads did find full time jobs? We’d love to know, but can only extrapolate from the results we did get, that 69.8% of the grads landed full-time jobs. More responses make for better numbers, so 2009 grads, make sure you get counted next go around!

  45. “How do you think that compares with someone who has years of para experience and got their MLIS from an in-residence program? It doesn’t even begin to compare.”

    What percentage of these 7000 new librarians had online degrees? What percentage had no library experience whatsoever before they entered their program? What percentage were of the “I like books!” variety? 30%? More? You may be competing for jobs with these people, but they shouldn’t really be “competition” for somebody with experience and a non-virtual degree. They are just making more work for the hiring committees who have to sift through (and discard) their resumes.

    If you remove those numbers from the total, maybe it’s not so bad for the “real” degree holders (who have library work experience already, and who went to a real school rather than getting their degree online). The “I like books” types just provide library schools with income, and their resumes and job applications provide a source of paper for recycling. Perhaps to one day become toilet paper? (And what other documents might these folks posess which would also lend themselves to a comparison to toilet paper?).

  46. RIGHT ON ANON! UP the Establishment! Friggin Hippies had it right all along. I knew someone would sooner or later get it. Turn on. Tune in. Drop out. Let’s all bone up on Oliver Twist cause we’re all gonna be street urchins soon. — signed “The Artful Dodger”

  47. “I think I missed the conversation where Wall Street wanted to take over both political parties and the librarians said, “we’ll allow that.””

    If the ALA had been passing resolutions condemning the repeal of Glass-Steagall, instead of passing resolutions condemning genocide in Rwanda, we never woulda gotten into this mess!

  48. Despairing MLIS Degree Holder says:

    I think it’s flat out immoral the number of graduates MLIS and MLS programs are churning out. Even if the economy had not tanked, there would still be too many graduates per job opening.

    I got my MLIS three years ago and have yet to land a paying library job of any type. I’ve had one non-library job after graduating, but have been unemployed for 1.5 years now. I regret the $35K in student loans I took out to get my degree and feel like I made a huge mistake.

    Btw, I didn’t go to some low-rent online program. I graduated from a residential program that liked proudly proclaiming it was THE most competitive LIS program (the University of Washington). Only 50 percent of applicants are accepted. The coursework was a lot of work–definitely, not a cakewalk–but I don’t think it adequately prepared us either. Too much theory and not enough practical knowledge.

    I’ve read (and replied to) countless library job postings, from librarian on down. I am appalled at the number of paraprofessional job descriptions I’ve read where I’m forced to ask myself, “And how is this NOT a librarian position?” They are not “librarian” positions simply because the employer does not want to pay librarian wages. Increasingly, the only “librarian” jobs are administrative management positions, which really don’t have all that much to do with being a librarian and everything to do with business and management.

    If I sound bitter, I am. I feel stupid and duped. Again, I think it’s tremendously immoral the number of graduates LIS programs are churning out.

    Thank you, Annoying Librarian, for saying what the LIS schools will not!

  49. Techserving You says:

    Yup, Despairing, the whole program isn’t the distance programs, although I think those greatly contribute to the problem. There are just TOO MANY degrees being handed out. I think MLIS programs should make substantial library work be a prerequisite for admission. I applaud any MLIS programs which are selective academically but I think it’s substantial related work experience that often makes the difference for grads looking for jobs. Of course we all probably know plenty of people who somehow landed great jobs with no experience outside of the MLIS program, but those people are rare, and they often had OTHER excellent work experience. Those people with no work experience whatsoever (straight out of undergrad – it actually happens) are in the worst position.

  50. Techserving You says:

    Whole PROBLEM, I meant to say. There are too many MLIS grads from even the residential programs. Most distance ed. students have even less of a chance of finding a job.

  51. Library_Goon says:

    “You may be competing for jobs with these people, but they shouldn’t really be “competition” for somebody with experience and a non-virtual degree.”

    Are you saying that people that opted for an online program aren’t as qualified as people that decided to go the on campus route? It’s the same degree! And I have both a Master’s AND experience – have worked in a variety of libraries (academic and public).

  52. Liberry hound says:

    “Are you saying that people that opted for an online program aren’t as qualified as people that decided to go the on campus route? It’s the same degree!”

    I think that is the impression that many people have, unfair though it may be. Welcome to the world. An online degree in any field is probably going to be considered inferior to a degree gained by traditional methods, just like an MBA from an online university is going to be considered inferior to an MBA from Columbia, even though they are the “same degree” (to use an extreme example).

    But even without that, as a couple of comments mentioned, getting a non-virtual degree allows for more opportunities to make contacts and network. This is a big aspect of graduate school, and getting a job, in any field. I actually looked into doing an online program, but it wasn’t going to be much cheaper than just going to the classes. So I went with on-campus, where at least you can get some face time with people who might be able to help you.

  53. “The library world is just a microcosm of what is happening in the US – basically, decent middle-class jobs (like being a librarian) are on the decline, and low-paying service industry jobs (like being a part-time book shelver with no benefits) are on the rise.”

    Ding ding ding. We have a winner.

    Although, the way things are going, soon you’ll have to have an MLS just to get one of those part-time book shelving positions.

    And a subject master’s for the section you have to shelf-read.

  54. Techserving You says:

    It’s trye that it is just a microcosm of what is happening in the US in most industries. BUT, I think it’s always been true that the MLIS – from any kind of program – is essentially useless when it comes to learning the skills you need for an actual job. And, as long as I have been in the field (13 years now) there have never been enough available jobs to meet the needs of the large number of new degree-holders.

    People are wringing their hands over jobs that were previously ‘librarian’ jobs being made paraprofessional jobs. I understand that that is extremely frustrating if you have just graduated with your MLIS and can’t find a professional job. But this can be looked at in two ways – first, that the libraries want to go the cheap route and reclassify professional jobs as paraprofessional so that they an pay the people less. But, it might also point out the fact that the role of ‘professional’ librarians can, in most cases, EASILY be done by someone without the professional degree. It’s not professional work. That’s the side of it that none of the applicants want to admit. Quite frankly, everything I learned about the field was learned in my paraprofessional jobs, and I only ‘used’ my MLIS to get my foot in the door for professional jobs. Experienced paraprofessionals know much more about ‘librarian’ work than do new MLIS grads without experience.

  55. Techserving You says:

    TRUE not trye. Typing fast, end of lunch. Wish we could edit our posts.

  56. Techserving You says:

    And I said this before, as did many others including Liberry hound, but I will say it again. It’s really not true that the distance ed degree and the in-person degree are ‘the same degree.’ It’s not even really true to say that the degree obtained from X school is ‘the same’ as the degree obtained from Y school. Some programs are considerably longer than others, some have more stupid assignments than others do, some attract smarter students than other do, etc.. All of the programs differ. But all distance ed programs, regardless of any brief periods of in-person meetings differ from traditional programs in that you are not continuously working and socializing with your classmates and professors and others at the university. There’s a lot to be said for that not just when it comes to finding a job (now or in the future when your classmates may be making hiring decisions) but also for feeling like a real part of the profession. And, there’s a lot to be said for feeling like you’re getting a ‘complete’ experience. Yes, I know that there are varying degrees of face-to-face time in the so-called distance ed. programs. But none of them offer the levels that in-residence programs do. And believe it or not, all librarian positions require a lot of interaction with other people, whether those other people are patrons or colleagues. Some distance ed. students try to say their degree programs are BETTER than traditional programs because they are utilizing new technology… you know, that wave of technology which will soon take over libraries. Well, I don’t see that happening. And besides, the technology they’re utilizing is not exactly unique to their programs. People can do the in-residence programs and still use social networking sites outside of school, and things like WebCT within the context of the traditional program. I know several people who are currently pursuing or have already graduated from distance ed. programs, in both LIS and education. They all admit that their programs were inferior to traditional programs, but had the advantage of allowing them to be in school while still working and raising families without moving. That’s all great… a big advantage… until those same people who can’t move for jobs try to find jobs in their current location – already greatly limiting their options – AND with an inferior degree.

  57. Facepalmer says:


    Y’all are commenting on a troll post.

  58. I wonder if “Facepalmer” is an editor from American Libraries who doesn’t like it when I expose their so-called articles as deceptive propaganda.

  59. Despairing MLIS Degree Holder says:

    I think focusing so much on online vs. residential programs is somewhat missing the point. No matter where the degrees come from, there are simply too many people with MLIS degrees. AND the schools misrepresent what opportunities are available to those of us with those degrees. The schools are self-serving and interested in maintaining their own jobs (and prestige).

  60. Frontlinelibrarian says:

    Are there too many MLS graduates? Yep.

    Is the overall quality of library school graduates too low? Yes!

    However, I’ve hired three sharp library school students in the last year and three newly hatched librarians in the last two years. Each of them is awesome and has made our library more effective and relevant. However, for each of those great hires, I’ve interviewed 10 other candidates and round-filed 50 more resumes. The 50 in the can could not muster a grammatically correct cover letter or resume. The 10 other interviewed candidates generally had no interpersonal skills. They could not look me in the eye or offer a firm handshake. One even threatened to burn down our library when he didn’t get the job.

    Library schools absolutely need to take the degree seriously and raise the bar for degree candidates. The library school program in our area now offers 98% of its classes online. Whether or not it affects the quality of the degree, it is absolutely intended to increase the number of students.

    I agree with others that this is not a problem unique to our profession, but an increasing trend in many professions.

    I still stay there are library jobs out there for the most talented graduates, but in this economy it might take a while to find that job.

  61. Library student says:

    As a student it is disappointing to read this smug blog and know there are more bitter, angry librarians out there judging library students so harshly. I’m sure you graduated from an in-residence Ivy League school with a 4.0 and therefore have every right to judge, AL, but, even so, please give me one small break. I am in an MLS program at Southern CT State U (I know, I may as well just stay in my trailer, right?) and the classes are exactly the same whether you take them online or not. I’m doing both, and actually the online are a bit harder (though I’m sure you could have done them in your sleep, AL, while going to law school simultaneously). And I live in CT so no employer will ever know how many online classes I took. In one of my current classes there is a professor from Harvard, as well as loads of other interesting, diverse, well educated people from all walks of life. I feel sorry for the people who have to work with all of the insufferable jackasses who spend their days bemoaning the fact that their profession is changing and they just can’t take it anymore. Get over yourselves!

  62. Library Student, I don’t think this discussion has to do with the changing nature of the profession — of course it’s changing. It was changing during the years my great aunt installed her library system with its first networked computers in the 1980s, and when Marc was first introduced. The point is that the schools are recruiting like crazy, flooding the market with graduates, and not being upfront with potential students regarding the job market. Why should they when it would affect their bottom line? This is being done in other fields, too, as some of the commentators have noted. Online courses such as MLS courses are cheaper to implement and schools can fill up the online classroom far more heavily than is possible with a bricks and mortar class. I took both types of classes, but did so after having moved to where the school was, working in the state for a year to obtain residency. Being there I could take part in opportunities not available to distance students.

    As I’m sure you know by now, it’s best to get as much experience as possible while you are in school and be willing to move anywhere the job takes you. I only graduated three years ago, and that’s how I found a good job in flyover country.

  63. Library student says:

    I appreciate your thoughtful response, but I have to disagree. Someone mentioned this blog to me recently, and I was interested to see what was happening in the ‘real world” as I am still in school. I’ve gone back and read these blogs and don’t think Al’s issues are simply with the ALA’s complicity in over-crowding the market, as you suggest. She (I think AL’s a she) also takes issue with the type of student allowed in an online MLS program to begin with (stupid and undeserving, and probably from somewhere stupid and southern). AL, along with some of her readers are personally offended by the dumbing down of their profession. That’s the change in the profession of which I speak. The fact that they’ll let “anyone” in. Secretly, AL is a self-loathing wanna-be intellectual. In real life she changes toner and gets yelled at by teenagers. I know, I know, she’s funny! Ummm, if you read that gem about “band books” you’d think otherwise. Anyway, I’m done with this blog, her negativity is tiresome and her self-righteousness is misplaced. Feel free to talk about how much better you all are than me!

  64. ^Wow. Just wow.

  65. Library Student, I was referring to this particular discussion, not to the blog as a whole. I actually haven’t been here in some time, but this topic and the 2009 report by ALA were interesting. Actually, AL works in Academia somewhere — it’s my personal belief that AL is a created character, rather than a real person. I also think it’s highly possible that there is more than one person who is AL.

    My experience in school was that it was the student put into it. There were students who did little work and coasted by for the same “A” as students who went the extra mile, going far beyond class requirements. You’re fortunate in that you live where you go to school so you can take advantage of every opportunity available, work and volunteer in the type of place where you’d like to work, and network like crazy. Smaller communities can offer more opportunities in rural states, which can be a great place to get your start at a higher level job than you could obtain otherwise. It’s worked for me. Best wishes to you.

  66. Whoops, Library Student — that 3n837 was me. Yuck, I hate this format!

  67. Hippieman says:

    Kudos to “Library Student”! Telling it like it is! Smug is the perfect word for this blog.

  68. Hippieman says:

    I blame the greedy corporatists for the demise of librarianship and other decent middle class professions. Out and in sourcing of jobs is killing this country. We need to invest in job creation HERE. We need to tax the corporate crooks and rich. In terms of librarianship, we need to agitate for union representation. This is only a start to fix the mess we’re in.

  69. Unemployed Liberrian says:

    Library Student, Be sure to check in with us after you graduate and start job hunting!

  70. RantMuch? says:

    While we’re at it, maybe we should blame all those parents irresponsibly having kids when there won’t be enough “good” jobs waiting for them.

    I’m so tired of hearing people blame others for tough times. It’s hard out there all over, not just for job seeking librarians! Yes, the schools are trying to stay in business, just like everybody else right now. Is that so odd?

    Last I heard, there were over 6 job seekers for each job opening in America right now, not just in librarianship. Suck it up and find a way to brand yourself and your particular mix of skills so that you’ll stand out as the one they should hire.

    It’s tough out there all over, people, and it’s not ALA’s fault and it’s not the graduate schools’ faults. You really think this is the only profession graduating more people than have jobs waiting for them at graduation? It just happens to be the one you picked. That’s just the way it is. Quit playing victim and step up your game.

  71. Unemployed Liberrian says:

    Please describe how one would “step up their game”

  72. Yes, but the schools are “stepping up their game” by continuing to outright lie to incoming students about the job market.

  73. library student says:

    Unemployed librarian.
    I did a lot of research before beginning my degree. I can only relate what the situation is in CT, because that’s where I live. There is a need for school media specialists in this state. The need is so great that there is even an alternative route for cross-certification available to certified teachers (as there is for math and science teachers). I do not already have my certification, so I need to do the MLS program, student teaching, take the necessary education classes, etc. There are also many job openings (according to,, etc.) My friend who graduated last year got offered a position at the spring job fair at SCSU and never even had to apply anywhere else! I would never embark on such a costly and time consuming endeaver without doing significant research ahead of time. But, my larger point has nothing to do with my specific situation, it has to do with the snarky, superior attitude of this blog in general. Plus, AL wants to have it both ways: either library school is a “breeze” and you don’t learn anything meaningful until you start working, or library school is sacred and all these hillbillies with an internet connection are ruining it for everyone.
    I said I was done with this blog, but it’s like an accident I can’t turn away from! Seriously, how do you all read this nonsense?

  74. Techserving You says:

    I don’t think that most of the people on here are playing the victim. I get the impression that most of us are working librarians. I am a working librarian – I’m not sitting here wringing my hands and blaming the ALA for my inability to get a job. But, the fact of the matter is that there is a problem in THIS profession. This is not just a result of the current economic climate. For years and years now, there have been far more MLIS grads than the job market could accommodate. Of course that’s even worse now, given the current economy. But, a significant part of the problem IS the fact that degree mills are churning out far too many graduates.

    I would really like to see what Library student and other similar posters think in a few years. I think that even if you manage to get a job, a few years of working in the field will help you see why so many of us think the things that we do. I went to library school (graduated 2.5 years ago) with a girl who was the most ‘rah-rah librarianship’ person you could imagine. She had zero library work experience, while I already had about 9 years of experience at that time. She thought I was too negative and would never listen to anything anyone said regarding the profession that was remotely negative. Fast forward a couple years… she DID manage to get a job soon after graduation. Short of having library work experience, she did everything right – this was an in-residence program, and she got heavily-involved in student gov’t and other things. She moved to a place where the market wasn’t saturated. She interviewed well. But now, two years down the line, she is completely disillusioned. No, she’s not disillusioned by the ‘changing of the profession.’ She’s disillusioned by the REALITY of the profession. She had no idea what it was all about. I think librarianship might be the most dysfunctional profession out there. So THAT is why we are all so negative about so many aspects of the field, and about schools luring in students who have no idea what they’re getting themselves into, job-market-wise, or profession-wise.

    Why don’t I leave, then? Well I managed to get a job which pays decently, I get 5 weeks of vacation, basically umlimited sick time, 3 months fully-paid maternity leave, etc.. I have a gorgeous office. I’ll leave the field sooner rather than later, because I don’t feel fulfilled by the job. But why should I leave right now?

  75. Unemployed Liberrian says:

    Library Student, Like I said, check back in with us after you have earned your MLIS, your teaching certificate, taken those extra education classes, done student (volunteer?) teaching — anything else? — and start your job hunt.

    Does your program help you with job placement?

  76. Hippieman says:

    We’re all headed to serfdom if we continue to accept stagnant/low wages and high unemployment/underemployment. This is what the greedy corporatists want–desperate wage slaves! It’s time to fight back, folks. The corporate plutocracy and the corrupt politicians are to blame, not us. We’ve all gone to school, worked hard for what crumbs we have. They are slowly starving us out.

  77. Library student says:

    Well, they say they do, but I’m still pretty far away from that point, so I can’t answer for certain. Also, I guess I think of myself more as entering the field of education (which also has its share of bitterly underpaid, overeducated workers) than librarianship. I’m not saying you don’t have a right to gripe, I’m sure you do. But am I the only one who thinks that AL is a classist harpy? Read her blogs. Yes, I understand sarcasm, but c’mon on! She honestly believes that there are dumb hicks in library school who don’t deserve to be there. The world is changing, AL. If you were a machinist in Ohio or an auto worker in Detroit you would have to change and adapt. Such is life. There are a lot of other fields affected by the advent of the internet. Take travel agents, for instance. But would anyone go back to the days when you had to go to an agency office and see some overpaid clerk to buy a friggin’ airline ticket?

  78. Unemployment Liberrian says:

    Library Student: I have a homework assignment for you. Next week, drop by your program’s placement office and ask them to provide you with any job advertisements for School Media Specialists that they currently have and any from the last month or so. Ask them if they have any contacts. Truth is, it is not too soon to be looking…

  79. library student says:

    Thank you, unemployed. I probably should go check it out, and I will accept your advice in a positive spirit of one colleague helping another.
    But, I have to ask, what possible motive could the State of Ct department of education have in perpetuating the myth of a shortage of media specialists, if it is indeed a myth? I understand the ALA, but why would the state participate?

  80. Unemployed Liberrian says:

    Library Student, No, not probably, you should definitely do this. You should find out now how much, if any, support you will have from your program for your job hunt *now*.

    If you get any job descriptions, compare your resume and training plan with the qualifications to see if you’ll be qualified by the time you graduate.

    I can’t include a link, but I am sure you can find this article easily…My guess is that this is happening all over the country:

    Seattle Times, Sept 21, 2009. by Linda Shaw
    Schools, students see impact of cash crunch

  81. library student says:

    You make an interesting point. Exactly how is AL working to better the system? Does she hold a position in the ALA where she can influence policy? Publish (non-anoymous) papers regarding the current state of librarianship? Run for office? I’d be interested to know. Because I think AL is frustrated by her own lack of success. Couldn’t make it in law school, perhaps. Intimidated by the length of time meeded for a PhD, maybe. Peace Corps? Too sweaty. So she tells herself she is bettering mankind by deigning to share books with the common man. As long as it’s not a library school textbook, that is.

  82. library student says:

    oops…that’s supposed to be “anonymous” and “needed.” wish this forum had spellcheck…

  83. Hippieman says:

    Library Student– This is kinda off-topic….Librarianship is on the cutting edge in terms of technology. In fact, the patrons I work with are astounded by our online catalog, ebooks/eaudio, etc. We need to advertise the good stuff we have. We are still relevant, especially now what with this economic depression. That’s why I don’t get the relentless negativity on this blog. People like the services we offer and we are not going away! The problem I see is that front line librarians and library workers are not respected–much like most of the American workforce. We are working harder for less pay, and that’s not our fault. So my advice to you, Library Student, is not to listen to people like AL. Get your MLS, online or not.

  84. library student says:

    I agree that there is much more going on at the local library than I realized. Although, even in my classes I encounter the negativity and closed-mindedness present in this blog. Last week we had a discussion about Kindles and I was literally the only person who thought they were an interesting idea. Some of the reactions were ridiculously over the top! So, I embrace the new, and agree that most public libraries at least, would benefit from a marketing makeover. And I really am going to stop reading this blog now, because it’s just too negative for me. I can’t blame her though, it is called “Annoyed Librarian” not “Progressive Librarian” or “Modern Librarian” or even “Thoughtful Librarian.” So, good luck fighting the man, Hippieman and I’ll continue happily in Library school.

  85. Social Librarian says:

    I think I’m tending toward Hippieman’s assessment. The political trend for 30 years has been to empower multinational corporations and reduce the power of everyone else.

    However, I’ve never understood the criticism of a blog for not doing something besides being a blog. Criticism, identification of problems. and instigating discussions is part of change. Why should the AL or anyone else be expected to do everything? What’s the AL doing? She’s writing a blog that generates discussions at ALA and elsewhere in the profession. What are YOU doing?

    Library student asked: “what possible motive could the State of Ct department of education have in perpetuating the myth of a shortage of media specialists”? That’s easy enough to answer. To keep costs down. More media specialists on the market means public schools can pay less for them.


  86. “I said I was done with this blog, but it’s like an accident I can’t turn away from!”

    You might finally be starting to understand this blog. What other forum raises these issues, provokes a response, and gives you space to argue about them?

    And I just want to say, this post and the comments make me nostalgic for the old AL.

  87. social librarian…school media specialists in most staes (and I’m assuming CT) are in the teacher’s union b/c they’re educators. they make the same as any other teacher with a masters and can’t be paid less.

  88. Social Librarian says:

    There goes that argument!

  89. Not A Librarian Anymore says:

    “But, I have to ask, what possible motive could the State of Ct department of education have in perpetuating the myth of a shortage of media specialists, if it is indeed a myth? I understand the ALA, but why would the state participate?”

    Frankly, I think it’s just laziness. Social Librarian’s reason makes sense overall for the inflated claims of the job market, but honestly I think that it is that professors, administrators, management, etc. can’t let go of the idea that there are enough jobs and keep passing the factoid around like the flu. Critical thinking and personal observation suggests otherwise. However, the library job market is not well studied or documented, and even the LJ placement article has flakey methodology. It’s a confusing mess because there are so many variables.

  90. I have worked with students and grads from many schools, mostly UT and UNT. One grad from UNT was very intelligent and motivated but another UNT grad I worked with was not. I am not trying to be funny, I think she had something wrong with her mentally. She couldn’t even perform simple tasks. It really makes me wonder how she could get a master’s degree.

    Then I realized, the online schools accept anyone and pass them. As long as they get tuition dollars, they don’t care. I think it is a sad situation because it devalues the general degree for the really bright students. One circulation worker who was working on his MLS was complaining that half of the people in his classes were undergrads in different degree programs that they just dumped in LS classes.

    I find it odd that some schools have branched out in several states. What reputable, quality programs can anyone name that has degree mills operating in several states? Even though many graduates are intelligent and qualified, it is a disservice to their students to overextend themselves and get a bad reputation.

    One last point to make is that I also keep reading lists of all of the non-librarian jobs MLS holders can get such as Knowledge Managers. An MLS does not teach or prepare anyone to perform such jobs. MLS holders are not trained to perform jobs that require business and computer science degrees. Just because a few people with other experiences and training have been able to do this does not mean all MLS holders can.

  91. Lying Librarian says:

    Library Student, I don’t get your hostility to the AL or others here who have negative things to say. Shame on the AL for writing this blog? This is practically the only place where anything negative about the state of the library profession or the ALA is addressed.

    You are acting like a kid who has been told that there is no Santa Claus. Instead of getting mad at the bearer of the news, perhaps you should adjust your mindset to take this new, Santa-free world into account.

    I’m sure that other poster above, the one with 30 grand in student loans who has been unemployed for over a year, wishes that they’d had a little more realistic view of the utility of a library degree before they sank their money into it. Instead of dismissing the information here as “too negative” and ignoring it, maybe you should consider how you will deal with thousands in student loan debt and a lengthy stretch of unemployment. This isn’t negativity, this is reality.

    You might also want to read “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America” by Barbara Ehrenreich.

    In the immortal words of Beavis: “Welcome to the world, may I help you?”

  92. There are serious problems in the library science profession/education and this blog addresses them. Some people don’t like reality.

    My boss who is fortunate to have a good position (and who is also out of touch with things really just needs to retire) recently made this statement about the complaints of the unemployed recent grads from about 2006 to the present:

    “Everyone is complaining about jobs and it is their own fault, they need to pay their dues and volunteer for a few years, work paraprofessional jobs for at least 5 years, network more, take 2 or three part-time jobs”.

    I know smart, presentable people who hold the MLS, have reasonable experience, and have put out resumes for an entire without a single interview for even a paraprofessional job. They aren’t doing anything wrong, there are simply too few jobs and thousands of new grads every semester.

    I also think it is absurd to expect qualified degree holders to take unpaid positions to “pay their dues”! The academics can pump out papers citing things about librarians and technology and the great emerging field, and blah blah blah, but it does not change the sad state of affairs!

  93. old librarian says:

    I think that AL is quite right in her assessment of the current state of librarianship, however, I think LS’s point about AL taking aim at the students themselves is justified as well. And those never ending references to Dixie and hillbillies and southerners are offensive to some and just not funny to most. I don’t know if she’s “classist” but she is elitist.

  94. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    Frontlinelibrarian – the shredder does come in handy for most of the resumes and I’ve had to read over the last several years. Why in the world would we hire someone who cannot even be bothered to have a perfect cover letter and resume? That’s not to say you can’t hire a complete idiot who had beautiful paperwork and a great interview – we’ve done that unfortunately. If you’re not getting interviews, take a look at what you’re sending out to potential employers. If I see dreck on paper, I’m not going to waste time with the person who sent it to us.

  95. And as for the comments about the South, Dixie, hillbillies, etc.? I live in Texas (which is part of the South – read your Civil War history) and there’s almost always something happening in this part of the U.S. to make a body cringe.

  96. gadickson says:

    All college level work in all fields is being dumbed down as college is increasingly viewed as an entitlement for everyone. All colleges need to up their standards and demands.

  97. Techserving You says:

    LibeLady – all good points. I do want to point out that my MLIS program had a specialization in Knowledge Management (which I now wish I had done – I had all this library experience and figured I should stick with something in which I already had practical experience.) From what I hear it is the most difficult specialization in my program (the other two specializations being archives and librarianship.) I don’t know of a single KM grad who didn’t get an excellent job (mostly corporate) afterwards. Of course, the KM specialty attracted a certain sort of student with a certain background (work-wise or school-wise) to begin with. This fact does not diminish the truthfulness of your general assertion, though. I did just want to point out that some MLIS/MLS degrees do specifically train people to be knowledge managers, and not just librarians.

  98. gadickson says:

    Library schools should be recruiting people who are close to retiring from a professional job and are looking for a second career. (like me) Granted, that won’t help you younger people – but it would help the profession’s image.

  99. Techserving You says:

    I disagree that that would help the profession’s image. If library schools could get enough such students, and then after these students graduated, they managed to get jobs, the number of ‘smart’ librarians would increase. Of course, no patrons could tell the lawyer-turned-librarian from the high school-educated person at the circulation desk. Realistically, though… even if library schools started recruiting such students, those students would be hard-pressed to get jobs. Nevermind the insane “you must have the specific experience that we want and I don’t care if you went through medical school” midset of hiring librarians… anyone close to retiring is too old to be a serious contender in the applicant pool. And it certainly wouldn’t do much for the ‘greying of the profession.’ I don’t think that adding even MORE older people to the profession would help.

  100. I think one of the more interesting (no idea on useful) things to subscribe to while in library school are the newlib and nexgen listservs. They’re made up primarily of recent graduates who have not yet found jobs. And the earlier you subscribe, the more opportunity to learn from their mistakes and avoid their situations.

  101. employed with benefits says:

    “She honestly believes that there are dumb hicks in library school who don’t deserve to be there.”

    There are and there have been for many years. I’m not saying this to be mean or elitist but the reality is there are a lot of stupid/intellectually shallow people in library school.

    I worked reference as a library school student and there were days I wanted to bang my head on the ref desk after dealing with library students. There were days I cursed my instructors for putting idiot boy in my group. (BTW: managing “Annoying Group Work” is one of those dreaded f2f library skills that you will actually need in your job.)

    I also agree with Hippieman — advanced capitalism only benefits the rich and we are all destined to become peons…de-professionalism across the board is a major goal for lowering wages and benefits.

    And lastly as mentioned early, the worst grad programs for bilking students are Humanities phd programs. They know there are very few jobs, except for adjuncts, but the corporatization of higher ed demands a steady stream of cheap labor, otherwise known as grad students to sustain itself.

    Librarianship has in the past has not been very competitive. It used to be much easier to get a job. De-professionalization and the failing economy has increased competition. And I doubt it will change after the worst of this depression is over.

  102. How can people STILL buy this “wave of retirements” b.s. after what happened last fall? So many people who maybe were thinking about retirement in the near future got their 401ks wiped out completely. They won’t be retiring anytime soon. Also, public and university pension funds (which the vast majority of librarians rely on for retirement) are about to go belly-up all over the country. Check out this website for some sobering reading:

    A lot of these librarians nearing retirement age are going to be carried out of their jobs on a gurney, when they collapse at age 87 when still on the job.

    And they are the last generation of well-paid librarians who had decent benefits. If they couldn’t afford to retire, where do you think that leaves the rest of us? Rather than retiring at 65, I hope you are prepared for an extra 20 years or more of toil after that.

  103. To: Techserving You

    Yes, I do believe that there are a few programs training students/teaching classes with a focus in certain areas such as KM, I know Kent State has one; however, the majority of programs do not teach the necessary skills to perform these types of jobs. Yet they cite long lists technical jobs in their, “what you can do with a library science degree” literature. Sure there might be a course offering in basic web design, but can you assume a role as web designer, no! If you have a BA in IT or CS, then probably, but most Library Science students do not have these skills. During my first seminar they made us sit through an 8 hour lecture where students asked questions such as, “How do I upload an attachment, and what is PowerPoint?”

    I would love to take a position as a KM or Information Security Specialist, but I would have to re-train and actually learn the technology skills to do these things which general library science degrees simply do not do.

  104. Not A Librarian Anymore says:

    Kent State’s KM program isn’t even in the library science program–it’s a completely other program called IAKM (Information Architecture and Knowledge Management). You can get a dual degree with a MLIS or another degree and some of the MLIS classes and IAKM classes share content credit, but the entrance qualifications and classwork expectations are very, very different.

  105. OHHHHH! Thanks. I was looking and see Drexel has a focus called, “Competitive Intelligence & Knowledge Management”. Has anyone taken this route? Every time I browse Monster, competitive intelligence jobs require years of experience and preferred business and computer science degrees, and some advanced scientific degrees. I was told Simmons was creating a certificate program like this, but it doesn’t seem to exist!

  106. Not A Librarian Anymore says:

    The person I know who has done this sucessfully went to U. of Texas and specialized in business research/special librarianship. She’s really canny in her professional development, got lucky in her positions and has always been a bit of a job hopper, but she’s also way smart and very devoted to the work.

  107. IFoundOne says:

    After earning my MLIS this spring (hybrid in-person/online), I did find a job. So it can happen. But I have three comments:
    1) There are plenty of people in library school who shouldn’t be there. My “competitive” program accepted something ridiculous like 94% of applicants, and I had classmates – in person – who could barely write a coherent sentence. My online classmates, as a whole, were bright, engaged, and hardworking. But there should have been far fewer in our cohort, given the prospects out there.
    2) Leaving issues of competence aside, there were WAY too many students in our program for inappropriate reasons (e.g., “I have a BA in History, and I hate my current job. I’ve always liked reading, so I figured I’d go to library school.”) If MLIS programs did a better job at weeding out people who don’t REALLY want to be librarians, the glut of MLIS’es would be a much smaller issue.
    3) The thing about comments like, “. . . they shouldn’t really be ‘competition’ for somebody with experience and a non-virtual degree” is that it’s hard to tell whether an MLIS from any given school is an online degree or an in-residence one. The experience ends up being key, and it’s far too easy to get the MLIS without any experience whatsoever (and end up working retail to pay off your library school loans, as some of my classmates are doing.)

  108. Lyle Blake Smythers says:

    Can someone explain what they mean by “Knowledge Management” and how it differs from library and information science? Is it just a matter of more complex technology? Involve more hands-on work with programs and programming?

  109. Sonny Hill says:

    “I graduated in December of 2008 and still don’t have a professional job and there are basically no prospects of me finding one. I wish I had known how little an MLIS prepares you to actually get a job as a librarian.”

    About time you learned this important life lesson, then. Degrees don’t get jobs, even if they are prerequisites for certain employment. Getting a job is completely on you: the MLIS just gets you past the first cut in the application process.

    For those looking for a “professional” library job after graduation, here is the best advice I can offer: make sure your resume includes “library” somewhere in it, even if only as a “library’s janitorial sub-assistant”. There are a ton of MLIS grads going up for any available job, and a good percentage of them have spent some time in a library doing something for money.

    If you’ve never worked in any sort of a library ever, please people, keep your day job and spend some time working evenings/weekends shelving books before you start working on that degree. Then the rest of us don’t have to listen to you cry when your MLIS doesn’t go find a job for you.

  110. Most of the comments here hit the nail on the head; yet, if they were all to be true all of the time, I shouldn’t have a job. I entered my MLIS grad program straight out of undergrad–but, I worked in my university library for all four of those years in various positions. Also, I applied to MLIS programs because I actually liked the work, not as some sort of economic safety net (which it definitely is NOT). I went to a traditional program, which helped me make a ton of connections, in addition to making inroads for internships and the like. It took me about four months to find my current full time librarian position, and it is the combination of all of these experiences that got me the job; not just having an MLIS. In fact, the library director informed me that the best characteristic about me was my ability to talk comfortably with groups of students and faculty, large and small, with relative ease…that definitely does not get taught in online programs (okay, so it doesn’t get specifically taught in traditional programs, but at least I got some practice in it).

    All of this horn-tooting to say:

    1. If you are going into the library profession for financial stability, turn and run.

    2. If you’re going into the library professions “just because” or for some other ridiculous reason, save us and yourself the trouble and stop now.

    3. If have had experience in the library, and love (or at least like) the work, and you feel confident in your ability to rise above other applicants, then go for it (keeping in mind #1 above).

    I have a ton of loans to pay off, and I’m not really making that much money, but I enjoy what I do for 8 hours of the day (but not the 3 hours per day of driving I do, ha!)and my bills are getting paid.

  111. “If you’ve never worked in any sort of a library ever, please people, keep your day job and spend some time working evenings/weekends shelving books before you start working on that degree. Then the rest of us don’t have to listen to you cry when your MLIS doesn’t go find a job for you.”

    Amen. Can this be engraved on a plaque or perhaps on the gates surrounding every library school? “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate…unless you have actual work experience.”

  112. No Future says:

    I agree. I graduated in May and had just one interview–for a parapro position. It seems like these libraries are hiring people that are over qualified and I will be damned if I am going to go through all that just to get some $40,000 a year job (if you are lucky).

    This also proves that 99% of the librarian school gards out there (myslef included) are just dumb liberal arts majors who cannot get real work. In fact, I shit and piss all over my education credentials. I should have just become a mindless grunt on an assembly line. The laugh is on us.

  113. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    No Future – unless you land a corporate gig, you’re never going to earn much money as a librarian and believe me, $40,000 ain’t half bad.

    And if you really really really want to get work as a librarian, it does help to have one of two things: lots of para experience or (perhaps better) a contact who can get you hired. I knew lots with the former, none with the latter. The most disillusioned folks I ever met in this business were the “I love books” people who had never worked in a library. Boy … were they ever surprised when they landed a job!

    I wanted an academic library position, settled for a public library job I hated, jumped to a corporate environment and spent too many years doing work I didn’t enjoy for a big salary. I was happy to leave it behind for a job that paid less than half what I was earning.

    There’s not a lot of stress in academia, the work is interesting, my colleagues are far more interesting than those in my public and corporate library work, I get lots of vacation, and I have a lovely office that has a door (which doesn’t have to remain open). I like it so much I may well stay beyond 65 since there’s no mandatory retirement. Sorry – I’m not going to retire just so some new MLIS can get a job.

  114. Online student at MILS program says:

    Annoyed Librarian …

    Do you feel better now? I doubt it.

  115. LIS Student says:

    It amazes me in my current program how unbelievably stupid so many people are! I agree with Midge, in that coming from the hard sciences I expected it to be easier, but still on-par with Masters work. Not only are the classes a joke (honestly, 99% of them are a waste of my time and money), but the faculty could care less about you (except for the adjuncts who really do want to teach you something), and the student population is pathetic. I have met and worked with other students who cannot even find a journal article online when the full citation is given!! To the point where one such individual asked for my printed off copy of the article we were to read, and instead of going to find it himself proceeded to ask the professor to photocopy it for him!! I was appalled and shocked and truly disturbed that this individual a) graduated from college, and b) was accepted into my program!!

    There are over 2,000 students in my program in a state that is seeing some of the worst economic downturn in the country. There are NO jobs. The library I currently work at has cut their hours in half and as a ref assistant I haven’t worked a day all month. I thought it was just my university that sees the MLIS program as a money mill, and while it comforts me to know it wasn’t just my bad choice in schools, it’s disturbing that this is a nation-wide phenomenon… your money, get your library degree!!

    Thanks for this. It gave me a laugh and made me realize I’m not alone in my thinking!

  116. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    LIS Student – your story about the inability to find a journal article tickled me. A fairly new MLIS (from UNT, I must add) called me and asked if our library owned a particular book. She was blissfully unaware of WorldCat and the fact that online catalogs are rarely placed behind a firewall … This is a “librarian” who described the UNT program as “rigorous.” Really???

  117. Facepalmer says:


    I used to be an editor, but not of American Libraries. I’m a recent LIS graduate and full-time librarian.

    You give yourself credit for exposing the American Libraries article as deceptive propaganda. However, librarians easily recognize articles like this as marketing copy (or propaganda, if you must) rather than true journalism. If librarians are the intended audience for this article, then there is no deception. The only thing you’ve accomplished here is the construction of a straw man… a highly flammable one at that, judging by some of the comments.

  118. No Future says:


    Actually, I have almost two years of parapro expereince. In fact, I had close to three years total expereince when I graduated from library school. I have applied for many positions–including parapro. I was actually disappointed when I did not get the parapro job that I was interviewed for. I actually would not mind getting a parapro job and then either get promoted from within or stay for a few years and find a professional position. I will admit and agree that degrees do not guarantee jobs (I am not as disillusioned as most of my peers are), but it would be nice if the program I entered would have been a little more upfront and honest about job markets. I was suspicious during library school because of the ads I saw, but I was hoping they would get better and they did not. The reason library schools accept just about everybody is because they are trying to keep their accerdidation with ALA rather than helping the people that pay obnoxious amounts of money to get another degree that may not pay off–and I mean getting a job–not making booko (sic) bucks.

  119. Dr. Pepper says:

    NotMarian – you’ve made my day :-) That was a funny story!

    I guess rigorous is in the eye of the beholder. Some people see running a marathon as rigorous, while others consider getting their mail from the mailbox rigorous… :-)

  120. No Future says:


    It is propaganda from the ALA (and library schools). The only reason you dismiss what Annoyed Librarian says is because it worked you–and you are a small minority. Wake up and face reality.

  121. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    “Cash Cow” is correct. SJSU raised it’s tuition 70% in 2007 and another 30% 2009. Classes effectively went from $647 to $1042 to $1340. Of course the Dean who was an “old school” librarian was replaced with one who is a Business Major, not a Librarian! It’s ALL About $$$$$.

  122. @ Facepalmer:

    The audience for the piece that prompted this post wasn’t current librarians, but potential students who need convincing to shell out their $$$ to pay for a degree of dubious worth.

    This is probably the only place online where that article is debunked. Articles like this one, and ones promoting the false story of the “greying of the profession” have been coming out for years, largely unchallenged.

    Articles like this are why we have 7000 new MLS graduates every year applying to a handful of jobs. Even though you obviously don’t like the negative tone of the posts, I fail to see how the AL providing a forum to debunk these stories is anything other than a positive.

  123. Sympathetic and Annoyed says:

    I understand the annoyance and pain of so many looking for professional librarian positions and not being able to secure them, or even para positions. I worked as a para for years, doing the work of a librarian but not paid or respected for it. When I decided to leave to pursue a higher paying job so that I could get an MLIS, a title and more pay, I was replaced with a librarian. Although I am very happily employed outside of a library I still find value in my degree. My experience has also taught me that the MLIS has become less of a targeted graduate degree and more of a method for self-sustainably and continued sense of relevance for librarians. The world has changed and MLIS degree programs have not changed enough. Most good paras can easily do equally as good a job as the librarians they work for but because they don’t have a piece of paper they are looked down on and paid less. I think most librarians know this and continue to hold onto the MLIS as a gatekeeper, regardless of the true value. If we want librarians to fulfill the requirements we teach in graduate programs, then make it an undergrad program and add on the more rigorous knowledge and data management that is now needed as a graduate program
    I am glad I got my degree, although I focused on databases and systems rather than the traditional librarian courses. This is where this degree needs to start focusing, not on story time. Although story time and the like are very important, they are no longer the place where skills are most needed for sustained importance of libraries in our society.

    I have to say that I do feel sorry for all of the classmates who had no real library experience and no concept of what actually happens in a library, then they graduate and expect something that is just not out there. It really is too bad and the “elders” of our profession should be more responsible.

  124. wandering librarian says:

    My advice to any new grad is to do what newbie PHds have been doing for years: Be willing to move to the god forsaken parts of the country for a few years, get some experience and move back to civilization. You’ll be way ahead of your peers who didn’t find work in a library or settled for non MLS library positions. I would wager a big chunk of change that any decent MLS grad could find a job tomorrow if they were willing to move.

  125. Curious, at my undergrad (tier one liberal arts), my history, English, and classics profs were all very upfront about the dismal state of the job market.

  126. I’ll echo some other comments:

    1) folks: you have to be mobile. you need to be willing to move to exile for a few years, and then move back to where you really want to be. experience is key. very few people are going to find that first plum in their hometown or groovy metro location. move. I know you don’t want to hear that, and many people are not in the position to move. or you have to be willing to commute.
    many librarians who you look at and think, “he has a great job” — if you found out about his back-story, you may be surprised to find out how many libraries/locations he had to work/live at/in to get that great job you see.

    2) you need to get on the ground experience at your grad. program. or if you working on an online degree, get any local experience: in any library setting. you need field experience before you can expect to land a job.

    3) Don’t go into this field for the money.

    4) Having been on many search committees (academic, ARL, setting), many cover letters are weak. You need to speak to why you want the job.

    5) You have to dig libraries.

    Good luck.

  127. Knock it off says:

    To Wandering Librarian:

    “I would wager a big chunk of change that any decent MLS grad could find a job tomorrow if they were willing to move.”

    Not so fast! I have applied to every state except for Alaska and Hawaii. NO ONE called me. This is just one more line of lies from library schools and the ALA to sucker people into going into library school and the “promises” of finding library work. Auto mechanics are laughing at us because they went to community college, spent less money, got certified, and earn far more money than any librarian will.

  128. ConfusedByItAll says:

    Thanks for the tips. I do work in a library (staff support). I love my job, which is why I’m going for an MLIS, and hopefully I’ll be able to focus on databases and knowledge management (or something similar), because I am more interested in the Information Management aspect of this profession.

    I know how to write, so that seems to be an ‘above and beyond’ plus, although I would have hoped that all grad students would have at least average writing ability.

    I’m happy to move anywhere to get a job, and will most likely go do volunteer work in Third World countries upon graduation, helping set up basic library services where they are in short supply.

    I am not earning this degree to rake in big bucks, but because I want to help people. If I were money-focused, I would have continued onto a science-oriented graduate program, expanding (or narrowing, I guess) my undergrad B.S. degree.

    I’d be satisfied with $40,000. It’s not like librarians ‘produce’ anything to earn more than that: we’re service-oriented, and we know going in the difference in pay differential between service-oriented work and the corporate world.

  129. I agree with you that there are no jobs as I have been looking and looking. But just to state that the dull and incompetent will be left behind is to blame those who believed the Ala like those who believed Madoff. Now I find out. And I am not dull and incompetent. Just having less money. Trying desperately to stay afloat. If I am dull and incompetent than there are many thousands like me. Let me say I am an annoyed dull and incompetent. Thank you very much. Being HAD once I won’t be HAD again. Furthermore, I have also applied to every state in the Union and even US territories – no calls but from a few places where I live. Lost out to people with more degrees and experience. How old should I be before I get my first professional job? Oh yeah I work as a para …

  130. A few final thoughts (see comments above):

    1) Get involved. Although you might have thought that was for the “super geeks/brown nosers” core of your library school class who were all working on their resumes already (ALA student groups, etc.). Get involved in national, state, and local organizations. serve on committees. write in the newsletters. become a member of nmrt of ALA. do anything to show that you are engaged in the profession.

    2) stop blamming ala. the economy is a mess right now. people are hurting – all around (lawyers, high tech folks, and other highly compensated professionals are out of work). your bad attitude will get you nothing. and it will show in interviews that you are bitter. when you say you have applied all over the country — you need to write in that letter why you want that particular job. just stating your background will get your package thrown in the trash. you need a well crafted letter that speaks to each particular job.

    Again, good luck! Things will get better.

  131. Not a librarian anymore-
    I’m aware that most, if not all, of those part-time or volunteer positions that require an MLIS are there because libraries are facing staff layoffs and budget crises. However, if I wish to consider applying for these, or other positions within the library, now (AND in the future), a credential on my resume that I have an MLIS is needed.

    Now, that being said, am I disgusted with the ALA for having their heads in the sand? Yes. Am I annoyed with the on-line degree programs that churn out grads like a diploma mill? Yes. Unfortunately, if I wish to compete for a library job, I need that degree. Now, am I supplementing it with the library job I currently have, with publishing papers, and generally making myself as marketable as I can? Yes. But at this point, if I want a career in libraries, I need a masters. I’m also aware that I need the experience and skills to shine above the others that may have gotten their degree from less-than-desirable places (Drexler, cough, cough). As Jill said, I can’t see that having the degree is going to actively hurt me, where not having it is going to limit my job choices in the future. I’m very lucky and fortunate to have a library job. And I’m clinging to it, because I know there are many not as fortunate.

  132. Not A Librarian Anymore says:

    “I’m aware that most, if not all, of those part-time or volunteer positions that require an MLIS are there because libraries are facing staff layoffs and budget crises. However, if I wish to consider applying for these, or other positions within the library, now (AND in the future), a credential on my resume that I have an MLIS is needed.”

    So you’re aware that you’re being exploited but are fine with that? Because that’s what it comes down to–a job market that has shrunk so much that it can’t support the number of graduates being generated, and that those graduates have a hard time transitioning to other fields because the MLS study program isn’t rigorous.

    And have you read LJ’s article “MLS:Hire Ground?”

    Ro, it’s not that we want to stand in the way of you being the best librarian you can, it’s just that we all are or know librarians who did great projects or published, or had experience or were willing to move who can’t find jobs. And it’s not because they were picky or unrealistic–it’s just the jobs aren’t there. And because there’s this imbalance, it creates a class of workers who are screwed because they are willing to do anything to make their librarian dreams work out when there’s little hope that they will be able to find a job.

  133. Many of you have discussed the quality of various programs, online vs. in-residence, etc. In a way, it’s a bit of a non-issue (except for the fact that it’s easier to meet people and network at an in-residence place – that is important and totally valid.) because, as Sonny Hill said above, the school/degree doesn’t get you the job – you do. None of the library programs out there really prepare you for working in a library. Graduates from all over the country say the same thing: “I learned more during the first two weeks of my first library job than I ever did in library school.” It’s not just library school either – a lot of humanities-based graduate programs are like this. They just give you the basic requirement.

    My wife’s boss put it really well – the MLS is like having your union card. You need it for most jobs, but once you have it no one really cares where you got it from – your experiences and skills are far more important. I’m a librarian with a full time job and I can count the times on one hand I’ve been asked where I got my degree in “professional” conversations. The point is that experience & skills are the keys. It’s not going to matter if you came out of the best program in the country (what is that these days anyway? Illinois? Michigan?) if all you’ve done is a practicum. I didn’t go to a particularly prestigious school, but one thing they did well was hammer into us the need for practical experience.

  134. I am getting my MLS through an online program. AL, you just made me feel worthless, thanks.

  135. @ Not a Librarian Anymore:

    “a job market that has shrunk so much that it can’t support the number of graduates being generated”

    This pretty much describes every job market in the country, in every industry, right now. Sure, libraries have their own special annoyances, but it is really a bigger societal issue.

    I also think that the complaints about clueless students getting diplomas and the low quality of education in general apply to lots of fields across the board.

    The MLS has been devalued, because degrees in general have been devalued. A BA today means that you had parents who could afford to send you off to college to learn the stuff you should have already learned in high school (or you took out massive loans in order to do it).

    Increasingly, a master’s degree means the same thing.

  136. Bump!

    I just want this post to get enough comments to show up on the list of “most commented” articles. Maybe a few more prospective students will see it that way.

    Only four more to go!

  137. Peak-Ready New Grad says:

    Being willing to relocate isn’t as simple as it sounds. I would relocate with an offer in hand, but I can’t afford to shell out thousands of dollars on a multi-state interview tour chasing open positions that are likely to be unofficially held for internal candidates anyway. Ten years ago even public libraies would pay travel costs for interviewees–not so much anymore.

    I’ve noticed that many librarians have been in their jobs 15-20 years and are completely clueless about the current market. These are the relentlessly positive people who tell new grads that a new job is just around the corner, and who are *still* encouraging people to go to library school. One of my acquaintances recently dropped out of nursing school to get an MLS, with the encouragement of a recently retired library administrator. I wish she would read this site sometime, because she’s in denial about the market and thinks my advice is baselessly negative. I’ve been doing clerical work at a public library for the past 5 years and have watched the vacancies dry up. They’re not just frozen, they’ve actually been permanently eliminated to cut costs, and the union estimates our hiring freeze will last for at least the next 5 years, with layoffs likely. I’m on the list for promotion to librarian in this system (as well as in several other local systems) but I’m not holding my breath.

    I agree that this is all just part of a larger trend. I was anticipating economic/environmental collapse years ago and in a way I’m surprised it took as long as it did. If you want to really face reality, go read about peak oil (Heinberg, Holmgren, Astyk, and are the best).

  138. Unemployed Liberrian says:

    “One of my acquaintances recently dropped out of nursing school to get an MLS, with the encouragement of a recently retired library administrator.”

    *Wow* And here I am wishing I had gone to nursing school instead.

    “If you want to really face reality, go read about peak oil (Heinberg, Holmgren, Astyk, and are the best).”

    I would add “The Automatic Earth” to the list as well.

  139. You know what I think? I think job postings have been purposely written and fitted in order to keep recent grads from library school to prevent them from getting jobs. Shame on the library schools and the ALA for this obnoxious propaganda.

  140. uwash_mlis says:

    I must admit it was a relief to know others share my frustration with regards to the current job market—misery loves company. I too have submitted a couple dozen hand-tailored job applications for seemingly great positions, and rarely hear so much as a “the position has been filled” in return.

    However, I don’t think this article and subsequent comments are entirely fair.

    1. The job market is tough all around, for nearly all sectors and industries. In this economy, you have to work for a position; they are not just going to hand you a job at MLIS graduation.

    2. Don’t even think about pursing an MLIS if you don’t already have experience in the field and know where/how you are going to use the degree. Those who have been successful in post-MLIS job searches had a job in the information science field before getting the degree and many were able to stay with their employer. Same goes for any higher ed degree—you should already have connections and experience in your field before investing in a $30-100K degree. A bachelor’s is for when you are learning about your options, a master’s is when you know exactly what you want to do and how you are going to do it.

    3. Be creative. Sure, it would be great to work in a library—but that’s not where our profession is growing right now. There are quite a few “information management,” “competitive intelligence,” “business consultant,” “analyst,” “business conflicts,” and “market research” positions in all sorts of organizations that are a good match for the MLIS. Such positions garner valuable sales, marketing, negotiation, and project management skills for the resume—skills libraries need in order to survive.

    I say we get out there and Bogart positions from business, analyst, marketing, and economics professionals—we are qualified for many positions in these categories, but it is simply that organizations don’t know about the MLIS and what it can do for them. Show them! I’m out there doing my best to sell it, but I need you all to help!

  141. multibrarian says:

    (I am only talking about public libraries in the U.S. here)

    As others have said, the job situation in the public library world is a microcosm of the job market in general, at least in the U.S. There are too many qualified applicants competing for a shrinking job base, and universities are doing nothing to prepare their students for it.

    If at all possible, volunteer to work in a library while you are in grad school. Work in as many departments as you can, using as many different skillsets as possible. That will do more for you in your job hunt than anything else.

    Another important way for a library grad student to prepare for the job market is to enter it with exceptional ability in one or more of the following areas:

    1) Technological proficiency. You don’t have to be a programmer, developer, or system administrator (though that really helps), but you should at least be able to work on websites, install software, evaluate software, transfer files between devices, convert between file formats, and help others with Microsoft Office questions (at least). In other words, you need to be a “power user” with Windows systems (Linux and Mac systems are not as common in public libraries). Make sure that you have extremely good online research skills, as well – far, far, far better than the basic ones they taught you in grad school.

    2) A foreign language that is relevant to the region in which you work. Spanish is by far the most useful one, in most areas. ASL is another good one.

    3) Extremely good interview skills. A good interview can make up for a lot of limitations in your resume. A bad one can ruin your chances, no matter how skilled you may be.

    When I interview applicants, other traits I look for are:

    – excellent customer service skills
    – excellent communication skills
    – excellent writing skills
    – a positive, can-do attitude, with lots of smiling
    – a high degree of adaptability

    Unlike some of the others who have posted on here, I do not mind graduate students sitting with me or my staff for “observation periods.” I had to do that when I was in grad school, so I have no problem helping out current students. That’s just part of being a professional.

  142. I digress says:

    Hippieman said:
    >Librarianship is on the
    >cutting edge in terms of

    No, it’s not. It is woefully behind, to be honest, and shows no signs of catching up. There are many 12 year olds out there who can run rings around your average librarian when it comes to technology.

    My previous career was in IT. When I decided to become a librarian, I was floored by how incredibly behind the times libraries are, technologically. The continued existence of MARC records alone is proof of that.

    We are no longer in the forefront of information management, categorization, or search. We lost any bragging points we have in those areas more than a decade ago, and fall further behind every year.

    We do excel in certain traditional areas, but that is simply not enough these days. The profession has refused to adapt and change at a realistic rate. Again, look at MARC records – they reflect a late 1960s view of data storage. We have known for decades that they are no longer adequate, yet we are still dragging our feet and refusing to move to something that is more useful and adaptable. In the meantime, the world moves on without us.

    I do get very tired of hearing librarians – new and old – complaining about having to learn tech skills on their own time. Professionals in all sorts of fields do self-directed study to keep up with things, without whining about needing formal training. If you don’t want to continue to learn and adapt to technology, then you shouldn’t enter librarianship.

  143. impressed says:

    I am in an MLS program at Southern CT State U (I know, I may as well just stay in my trailer, right?) and the classes are exactly the same whether you take them online or not. I’m doing both,…

    So you have, what, $80K in student loans?

  144. uwash_mlis says:

    I should also note that while at the U of Washington MLIS program I took two UW law school courses and one MBA course and found them comparable to MLIS courses in terms in intellectual and academic rigor, and time commitment. But, even in the UW MLIS program: the MLIS is what you make of it. You can do the minimum, or you can focus on what you want to learn in order to be successful in your career.

  145. muppetz in space says:

    To be fair, the problem isn’t JUST the expectations of the MLIS students, the faculty itself has a responsibility to counsel students regarding the current and expected developments in the field. When faculty give students false expectations and hopes (i.e. “There’s going to be a wave of retirements in the next five years, oh but wait, there’s a recession going on and folks are working longer and certain jobs won’t be filled due to budget cuts…”) and probably most frustration in my program, faculty devoting time instructing on old concepts that are already obsolete (“Hey kids, have you ever heard of Friendster?”) it creates a crop of professionals who wasted their hard earned money to become less competitive and ultimately less competient in the field. And then there are the faculty members who have absolutely no buisness teaching (the kind of person who appoints their cat as a teaching assistant). While I do listen and learn from my professors and academic advisor, I also try to read up on current LIS news and issues, talk to people I know who actually work in a library, and getting experience in a library setting before I actually graduate. For students who have yet to finish their programs, I highly recommend getting an internship or practicum if you do not or have never worked at a library. This is probably the best advice I ever received in library school.

  146. Irritated says:

    I hate reading about the ridiculous need for librarians in coming years. I am very fortunate to have the job I do in a public library that is making cuts due to a massive downturn in state funding. Not to mention the fact that we have an administration that is only too happy to replace us with non-degreed part time library assistants, that they themselves see as being more than capable to do our jobs (so much so that their name tags bear the job title of “Librarian”). It is a slap in the face considering that our own administrators have an M.L.S. degree themselves. They also will not be replacing our supervisors, so that those of us a the bottom of the seniority list have no hope of achieving any level of authority in the future. We shall all retire at the same level that we were hired at. And as for this “baby boomer” massive retiring landslide, this will simply never happen. Let’s face it, ours is not a physically or mentally demanding position. Why would you ever leave? In our library system, the only way the dinosaurs ever leave is feet first. We have people with close to 40 years in and no plans to retire. What a joke. I paid ridiculous amounts of money for a useless degree. I only wish someone had talked me out of it. I am desparately looking to find a job in at least a community or technical college before our next wave of layoffs. If you are in a public library and have under 15 years of seniority, you should be looking for other employment too! Run while you can…..

  147. optimistic says:

    I am a Regional Library Director with a current opening for a Librarian to manage one of my sites. I have had very few applicants. There are openings…you just have to be in the right city. California is not the place to be if you are looking for a job. You have to be willing to relocate (on your own dime). When I graduated from SJSU I had no career options in California. I moved and had two job offers. It does help to have some specialized skills…Take a few classes and learn web design, sit in on lots of webinars offered by vendors and get trained on their latest products all helps if you are a recent graduate.

  148. optimistic says:

    One more comment from me in response to “Let’s face it, ours is not a physically or mentally demanding position” by “Irritated.” I totally disagree with this statement. I wake up at 4:45 in the morning and get home at 8:00 at night. I have 10 million things to do everyday at work, go to tons of meetings, deal with thousands of demanding students, deal with accreditation, website maintenance, collection development, circulation, and manage a staff of 12. I work my rear end off..and that is why I have a position that pays very well and is highly respected at my college. My passion shows through…I was hired as a Director right out of library school. My passion comes out everyday when I am teaching students to conduct research, evaluate information and communicate effectively. I have students that call me “mom” It is out there…you just have to find it if you really love what you do.

  149. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    Great advice, optimistic, particularly regarding web design. Libraries seem to specialize in crappy web page design and it is one of my biggest obstacles when teaching students.

    I think library work can be real demanding particularly for some of the people who wanted to “work with books.” People are so much more difficult than inanimate objects. I see it as work filled with lots of challenges and occasional intellectual stimulation.

  150. when i was hired for my entry-level job in 1999, the library had 10 qualified applicants. when i hired my replacement in 2007, we had 47 qualified applicants.

  151. hickreader says:

    I was one of the “silly” library school students that wanted to be a librarian to help people. To instill the love of reading and knowledge to the community. I felt my library school program was easy as well and could have used more on hand and less theory. I enjoy reading this blog for various reasons. I do not however enjoy the name calling of students that who went to school for what they thought was a good purpose originally. That does not make a person stupid just naive. I was naive but I still would love to offer what I could in a library setting. That being said, I will probably not get a job in the profession due to budget constraints and lies that a hick reader bought into. PS. I graduated in 2007 and still no job.

  152. TookTooLowWage says:

    I saw a forum for library jobs awhile back and can’t locate the resource now (yes I am a new grad librarian!) I positioned myself by doing great coursework above and beyond geared to my interests academic, digital librarian followed with internship in that area that led to a job offer in the midst of the economic meltdown and I took the part-time temp work, grant funded but the hourly wage I fear is too low. My work is highly productve, I know I am an asset and lucky to not need this income to eat because if I needed the money to live I wouldn’t have been able to take the job. That is very sad for a graduate degree. Now they have found continued funding to keep the temp position going–about a year into now without benefits, at what point and how do I manage to get more money per hour– not just More Hours at such a low wage. Did I make a mistake taking such a low wage– with so many unemployed LIS grads I don’t think so but they seem to think If I want more money–work more hours when in reality I would be make only 30% of those starting librarians who got hired just before the economy crashed, not to mention health insurance & benefits. help

  153. I am a school librarian in New York state and this year I will make $69,000 after thirteen years on the job and the standard of living is not high in this part of the state (Buffalo, NY)-many other parts of the country are more expensive. However, I really do not like my job. I am a middle school librarian who deals with some major bs on the job. Discipline is a huge factor in school libraries- at the secondary level students often come down to the library to fool around. Just today, two eighth grade students were found making out on the library couch in the reading area. When the writer wrote that library jobs are not mentally or physically demanding I could scream. In school libraries rarely is there an office for you or if you have one you are never in it. You are constantly surrounded by kids all day long and some days you spend a lot of time babysitting and disciplining. The job is so intense and the only relief I ever feel are those two months off in the summer. I had always wanted to become an academic librarian but due to not being able to relocate I was forced to take a school library job which I hate. At 43 years old now, I don’t know how much more I can take working in the schools with kids and I would like to try to get a college library job even if I have to move. But I would take a huge salary cut, lose my retirement and lose tenure and yet I hate my job enough to do it. Even if you are making a higher salary that other professions make, it might not be worth it if you don’t like it. I think I would be a much happier person working a lower salary library job but a job I enjoy. By the way, both reputations of the school librarians before me was that they were “bitches”. You have to be this to a certain extent to survive being a middle school or high school librarian.

  154. @ TookTooLowWage:

    Unless English isn’t your native language, or you typed that on your iphone, I think the way you express yourself in writing may have something to do with your difficulties finding a job.

    I know it is just a blog commment, but c’mon – its all incoherent run-on sentences. Gave me a headache just reading it. I really hope you express yourself more coherently on your resume.

  155. TookTooLowWage,

    I would agree with the above comment that you need some work on writing and communication; I hope you can write better than the jumble above. If you’re gaining experience where you are, maybe it’s time to think about moving to a place like Wyoming, North Dakota, or Nebraska where the unemployment rate is low. I’d start making some connections and see where they lead. Connections often lead to more connections.

  156. Despairing MLIS Degree Holder says:

    Just checking back on the comments to this blogpost. I’m very thankful for both the post and the many comments that followed. it provided validation to my own thoughts, but that I had previously seen unacknowledged by the greater librarian world. Since this blogpost was first posted, it’s been yet another month of unemployment for me. Thank goodness for all of the Unemployment Insurance extensions, otherwise I’d have absolutely no income. Yes, the times are bad, but there would still be too many librarians for the number of job opportunities, and too many reclassifications of professional to paraprofessional positions. I’m still wondering where I go from here.

    Is anyone else still following this blogpost and comments?

  157. imasucker says:

    I’m following along. I’m graduating this month with an MLIS from a “real” in-state university, and have taken a mix of both in person and online classes. I have to admit that I truly believe the degree is terribly worthless, completely laughable to anybody outside of the “profession”, and almost embarrassing personally to be associated with. I feel the people within the “profession” who take the degree seriously are either delusional or trying to wish it into respectability to therefore validate their own weak degrees (or maybe a mixture of both). I completely fell for the propaganda and feel like a complete fool for doing so.

    I have an undergraduate degree in the social sciences and that thing was infinitely more rigorous than my MLIS degree. I had maybe two classes that could be categorized as challenging (and the word “challenging” is being lenient). Also, I struggle to understand how my classmates managed to graduate high school, let alone get into a Master’s program. I was proud of myself for getting accepted into graduate school, but after working with my “classmates”, those feelings faded quickly as I realized the others in the program are genuine morons. Watching several said morons being inducted into Beta Phi Mu has been quite hilarious.

    I hate that I have to justify my degree choice to people I meet. Also, the job “opportunities” are pathetic at best. $12 an hour for a temporary, 10 hour a week job in the middle of nowhere? No thanks. $30k for a full-time community college position? Maybe, but then you’re competing with librarians with 10+ years experience. Pretty sad when such positions receive dozens and dozens of applications from people with so much experience. Looking at it objectively as a young graduate entering the “workforce”, it’s quite pathetic (and telling) that a profession has such experienced people drooling over ~$30-40k jobs.

    Of the 10-15 “classmates” that I know well-enough to discuss such things with and who have graduated over the past year or so, only ONE has a full-time library job. This person had to move several hundred miles away and is working for ~$34k, to go along with $50k in student debt.

    A couple others are working temporary part-time library jobs for ~$12 an hour and waiting tables. The rest are now looking for administrative/secretarial jobs (which actually pay better anyway), moving back in with their parents, or not working at all.

    Personally, I have applied to about a dozen positions. Several told me I wasn’t qualified (not qualified for an entry-level low-paying librarian position? go figure). Several never acknowledged me in any way. I’ve interviewed for one position. It’s a part time (less than 15 hrs a week) job, and I fear I may actually get it. Thankfully, I’m still “only” in my mid-20s, but with student loan payments due in the spring, I need a livable “adult” income quickly, and that just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen with this degree/profession. I truly am a sucker (along with 7,299 others, I suppose).

  158. imasucker, if you just graduated, you probably started your degree in ’06 or ’07. So, you started school and the tail end of one of the biggest financial bubbles in US history, and graduated after it popped. Your degree may be as worthless as you say, but you are also a victim of bad timing. Have you seen the maps of the number of people who are unemployed or on food stamps? It’s not like there are tons of available jobs out there for those who picked “better” or “smarter” degrees.

    Also, even if you ultimately take a job totally unrelated to your degree, don’t worry so much about being ashamed of it. 1.) It is still a master’s degree, and 2.) most people outside the library world will have no idea what was involved in getting it.

  159. :) Beta Phi Mu … saw what was admitted at my school and haven’t trusted someone who claims membership since. Some of the stupidest people I ever met and many haven’t been able to stick it in LiberryLand. By which I mean they got a job, lost said job because their employer quickly realized how inadequate they were.

  160. There was a Library school glut long, long before the current economic crisis. Even back in the early ’90’s, I remember hearing ALA types babble about the “looming shortage of librarians” and that it a great time to “get in on the ground floor”. Needless to say, that “shortage” never happened. Low salaries have been a hallmark of the library profession for decades, and with the supply of new grads always exceeding the demand, there has been no reason for it to change. For years, I’ve also seen a trend for libraries to hire paras instead of professionals.
    I was a paraprofessional librarian in a very large system (they did not require a Master’s degree until about 2000), and the administration cajoled and badgered us to get the MLS. This did increase my marketability, and I knew I wanted out of the area eventually. But when I finally began applying for out-of-state jobs in 2007, I found that I would have had better chances at landing a job as a paraprofessional. For example, many universities pay paras more than many public libraries pay professional libarians! I also found that academic libraries look down on public librarians, no matter what your experience. Experience can be a drawback, as I found that many places would apparently rather hire someone right out of library school at a “starting” salary than pay someone a salary commiserate with experience. The incredibly low salaries some systems offer would only be workable for a second wage earner in the family or someone still living at home.
    For me, a longtime library employee, the degree was ultimately worth it, I believe. But I would not recommend that anyone go into the profession new, especially now. My former system is now actually replacing MLS positions with paraprofessionals, and I suspect that others may be doing the same.
    I also think that the trend towards libraries emphasizing dog-and-pony shows (“edutainment”) and an atmosphere based on coffee houses and internet cafes is not doing much to give Librarians marketable skills, unless we want to work at Starbucks or a Daycare center.

  161. MLIS degress are a joke says:


    I agree with you. This profession is a joke, and shame on the ALA and library schools pushing propganda and churning graduares like car on an assembly line. We should have just gotten certificates for actaul jobs that require real skills at community colleges. We would have saved lot of money, time, and would be making more money in two years than a librarian will in five. The laugh is on us.

  162. MLIS degrees are a joke says:


    Do not listen to Paltry. He or she is just making excuses. This is nothing but a cop out do not fall for it.

  163. MLIS degrees are a joke says:


    Shame on you for trying to insult many people’s intelligence by saying it is the economy. You must work for a library school, and you just want to try to bring in gullible liberal arts grads who have no skills trying to give them false dreams and hopes of real jobs when you know they are not out there. Even if the economy was doing well, we still would not find jobs and then you would come up with more excuses like: “Be patient.” “It takes time.” “You just lack experience”, etc. Spare us, please. Thank you.

  164. Just because you cannot find a job does not mean there are not many interesting and well-paying jobs for information studies graduates. Please be careful about making such generalizations. Many hundreds of people who graduate with the degree get good jobs shortly afterward.

    Just because your graduate school experience was poor does not mean that everyone learned nothing, or that all programs are inane/irrelevant. I am in my 2nd year of studies and have learned so much, not only in terms of abstract education (theory) but also in terms of direct training. However, I also read 2-3x the amount assigned, and spend hundreds of hours studying and writing.

    I’m not sure what to make of the people decrying how easy breezy library school was. Perhaps the program was not as rigorous as you would have liked, but there is always more to learn if you find it. Part of education is going beyond what is assigned.

  165. I’d like to address your comment, Torino, within my context of being a fairly recent graduate. I graduated in 2006, spending much time going above what was assigned, and establishing working relationships with with professors and mentors. Grades didn’t matter because the grading was too easy. A student could get a high “A” and go above what was assigned or a low “A” for little work. I knew people that breezed through and didn’t find jobs. Most of the people I went to school with, however, did find full time jobs either before graduation or within six to seven months. The majority found jobs within four months. Getting as much experience as possible is what is most important. Those people I went to school with, who had significant librarian experience before graduation, All found jobs. If, Torino, you are adding work experience beyond internships to what you describe here, I believe you’ll beat the odds and find a job.

    That being said, the economy was better when I graduated, and many of my classmates were already working in corporations or libraries as web designers, database managers or other fields related to libraries. It’s very difficult for recent graduates in almost any non medical field to find a job now. Further, the overall economy has a terrible impact upon libraries because libraries rely upon state funding and local property taxes. With the online schools recruiting and recruiting, the librarian market is flooded with people who can’t find a job because there is no librarian shortage. The librarian shortage myth that’s become a cash cow for online library schools in order to attract as many students as possible to a degree that doesn’t cost the schools much to administer. There was no shortage when the economy was good, and certainly no shortage now.

    As a few library directors have commented on this blog at various times, however, they still look for promising recent graduates with experience. Most of these jobs don’t tend to be where recent graduates want to live. That was true a few years ago, too.

  166. Post postmodern Librarian says:

    As someone who graduated in the middle of the tech bubble recession I can say things are far worse in a recession then in good times. Combined with the 7000+ new graduate plus 1000s of laid off librarians with experience means you really have a glut of applicants. Throw in hiring freezes and job cuts you get low supply. This is a disaster for the librarian market. Add in the growing belief that you do not need a librarian to work in a library. Either in administration where you can hire Business majors or on the floor trained paraprofessionals to do facebook and WII playing and you got no market. These all create downward pressure on salaries and job satisfaction. This is the whole picture of the AL argument for years. Unless we reduce enrollment, strength government support and find our core values again the field might go even before the brick and motor buildings go. These are the reason why unions/professional organizations exist to keep control of the issue not to be political. ALA just dosnt seem to get it or as some people point out dont believe its their mission.

  167. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Getting a job was difficult 30 years ago even with lots of para experience. And that para experience was a heck of a lot more valuable than theory – theory doesn’t help much when it gets down to the nuts and bolts of library work, Torino.

    I’ve never understood why people take on massive debt to get an MLIS. It is a union card and, by and large, gets you a “professional” position with a so-so salary. If you’re fortunate, you might spend some of your best earning years in a high-paying corporate job. I did and was able to leave it eventually for a lower-paying academic librarian position. It’s a pittance I’m happy to work for.

  168. imasucker says:


    Actually, I started just last year, so the school has no excuse for not warning us (so to speak). And actually, I enrolled in the school under a very cutting-edge, high-demand, high-growth concentration/field, but halfway through realized I was being incredibly mislead and the “concentration” I was actually learning was not the cutting-edge, high-demand, high-growth field that it is advertised as being (think of enrolling in medical school only to halfway through realize you are merely learning to be a nurse’s aid, or something).

    Yes, it is still a Master’s degree. You say that people outside of the profession don’t realize what was involved in getting it – but (and I’m speaking from experience here from before I knew anything about “library school”), I think rather than being impressed by having “a” Master’s degree, the layman (so to speak), if anything, would think “you have a Master’s degree in WHAT?”

    I know my first thought about “library school” was a sort of chuckle and “there’s such a thing?”, rather than having respect for it being “a” Master’s degree. Although, I suppose if I don’t end up working in a library, I’ll focus on the “information science” part of it since it appears that having “library” attached to it is actually a hindrance outside of the library world.


    I can honestly, truly say that I have learned virtually nothing in getting my MLIS degree. It has mostly consisted of BS rhetoric seemingly aimed at “proving” to us why the library is still “valuable”, mixed in with comically outdated propaganda about how “bad” the internet is. One of my in-person classes was with a well-respected, nationally recognized professor/author, and my incredulity sitting through that class was off the charts. It was primarily useless out-of-touch babble, and all the other students in the class spent the whole time busily writing down the jibberish and acting like I was the fool for not “soaking up” the “wealth” of knowledge from this person. I’m not sure if these people were too unintelligent to realize how useless the babble was, or if they were more concerned with sucking up (aka “networking” as many here call it). To add to that, any and all of my actual research/librarian type skills I learned on my own (primarily previous to my time in the program at that) just due to my own curiosity and undergraduate papers/assignments rather than anything I learned in the program. I will say that I learned some things from a couple of the cataloging classes that I’ve taken, but certainly not enough that I could step in and be a “real” cataloger somewhere. Absolutely nothing I’ve learned in the program has helped me in any capacity for what I actually do on the job (state university library).

    Even though I have over a year of professional level experience, in many eyes, it counts for virtually nothing because it’s before I actually received my degree. I will say that I’m unwilling to leave the metropolitan area in which I live, but forgive me for not wanting to move to the middle of nowhere to work for pennies.

    I realize it’s my own “fault” for getting into the MLIS program, but the schools and professional organizations really could be more forthcoming and honest. I mean, isolated cases aside, it is just incredibly naive for anybody graduating with a MLIS degree to be able to “count” on getting a full-time job (or even a livable wage with multiple low-paying part time jobs) out of school (or even months, maybe years after the fact). It’s just not going to happen. Yes, sure, the library job market is a microcosm of the job market as a whole, but unlike other professions that will “bounce back” when the economy improves, the library profession (in terms of number of jobs available, pay, etc.) won’t. I’m just irritated the propaganda continues to spew things to the contrary. I mean, sure, maybe X number of librarians will retire in X number of years – but it means NOTHING if those positions die out along with the librarians.

  169. Ever heard of research imasucker? I knew while getting the degree that a professional job was going to mean relocating and never earning a lot of money.

    That lack of investigation just kills me – I had an LIS student in for “observation” and she thought jobs were there for the plucking. Silly girl getting a degree online without checking the dismal reality of the job situation.

  170. Ever heard of research imasucker? I knew while getting the degree that a professional job was going to mean relocating and never earning a lot of money.

    That lack of investigation just kills me – I had an LIS student in for “observation” and she thought jobs were there for the plucking. Silly girl getting a degree online without checking the dismal reality of the job situation.

  171. Ever heard of research imasucker? I knew while getting the degree that a professional job was going to mean relocating and never earning a lot of money.

    That lack of investigation just kills me – I had an LIS student in for “observation” and she thought jobs were there for the plucking. Silly girl getting a degree online without checking the dismal reality of the job situation.

  172. imasucker says:


    No, I have never heard of research. What’s that?

    I was always doing mock job hunts just for the heck of it to see what was out there during my time in school. I would frequently come across postings/ads for jobs that seemed to pay decently in my area. However, your statement is a little presumptive in that it assumes that what you find while you’re IN school will be similar to what you find when you’re ACTUALLY looking for work upon graduating. So, yes, I did “research” but what good did that do me since I couldn’t apply to any of those at the time?

    Your premise is that I should have “known” I’d have to relocate in order to find library work. However, my desire to be a librarian doesn’t override my natural desire to not be an idiot. If I can stay in my major metropolitan area and make the same (or better) money (doing something different) as I would being a librarian in an undesirable location, why would I choose the latter? I’m sorry, but my passion for librarianship is not THAT great.

  173. imasucker and MLIS degrees are a joke:

    Yes, I was a fool to suggest that the current state of the economy might have anything to do with the job market for MLS holders. I was even more foolish to suggest that there might be anything positive about having such a degree. I will atone. Scratch my last post, how about this instead:

    No good can come from having a library school degree. There are no jobs, and there never will be. Ever ever ever. In fact, Winston is busy retroactively erasing libraries from the historical record. You would have been better off investing your tuition money in lottery tickets, beanie babies, or condo projects in Phoenix. When employers see this degree on your resume, they will – after they stifle their laughter, and finish passing it around for the rest of the office to laugh at – promptly burn it in a ritual ceremony while chanting “stooo-pid, stooo-pid” over and over again. This will happen even when you apply for seasonal retail gigs at shopping malls or for jobs as Waffle House waiters/waitresses.

    In fact, if you stood in line with the day laborers at Home Depot, even though you won’t have your resume on hand, you won’t get picked up for any under-the-table, below-minimum-wage jobs. In fact, the other day laborers will point and say “Muy estupido! or “Un idiota muy grande!” while laughing uncontrollably.

    Apartment complexes will turn down your application if they even THINK you might possess a library degree. You will be reduced to living under an overpass with others of your kind, venturing into the sun only to hold a battered cardboard sign reading “Misled into pursuing a degree which has proven to be economically unviable,” which will bring in more change than any of your peers who are currently dealing with shelter-insecurity issues.

    Also: you will die alone.

    Is that better?

  174. imasucker says:


    Your sarcasm and wit are quite appreciated and actually made me “LOL” (seriously). Although, it doesn’t change the fact that there are four times as many new librarians as jobs (and this disparity will, if anything, grow). Library schools are going to continue to increase their enrollment and dupe thousands and thousands of new students with their garbage statistics and propaganda.

    You never know, I may even end up somehow getting a full time professional librarian job, and I will likely quite enjoy myself. I certainly hope so. However, I won’t be trying to convince myself or anybody else the degree was hard to attain or prestigious (considering the many morons who get the same degree every year).

    Just because I personally have the degree doesn’t make it not worthless, and I’m not so vain to try to convince myself or others that attaining the degree was challenging or that the degree is impressive in some way.

    It’s like when you’re at work, and you’re not doing anything, but you know your co-worker is also not doing anything, and vice versa. Yet neither of you will admit to the other that you aren’t doing anything, and you both try to look busy for whatever reason (this is the behavior between and amongst many MLS/MLIS degree holders with respect to the degree’s viability and respectability). I just happen to be the person who doesn’t try to pretend to look busy. If I’m not busy, I’m not busy, I won’t pretend otherwise.

    And I certainly won’t follow the company line in duping new “recruits” by using my own employment as a testament to the degree’s viability (i.e., even if I do get a job, I’ll still warn off newcomers).

    Nonetheless, I readily admit it is my own fault for being duped, so you certainly need not defend the profession or the library schools. Please don’t confuse my cynicism for the degree itself with disrespect for the profession.

    Also: skilled day laborers make at least as much as many part-time librarian positions, anyway

  175. MLIS degrees are a joke says:


    Thank you for being more realistic. I appreciate it.

  176. Paltry, that really made me laugh. You sound like a person who would be fun to work with. Anyway, thanks for the humor, and for stepping back to give some perspective. I graduated in 2006 and currently work in a mid level supervisory position. Everyone I went to school with in the classes graduating from 2005 – 2007 found decent paying full time jobs if they met the following criteria: could move, were willing to start in a fly-over state, gained library experience before graduation, and obtained additional specialized skills. This was before the economy crashed, but even in better times, there was no shortage.

    Although I had a better experience than some of the students who have commented here and am glad I pursued the degree, there is no way I’d do so now. I believe schools intentionally mislead potential students because those students are needed in order to ensure survival. I don’t blame students for being mislead — lots of people get mislead about plenty. Take the Madoff scandal.

  177. Lying Librarian says:

    “I just happen to be the person who doesn’t try to pretend to look busy. If I’m not busy, I’m not busy, I won’t pretend otherwise.”

    No wonder you can’t find a job! You don’t understand the basic dynamics of working in any organization. Who would want to hire, or work with, such a person?

    I suggest you read “Conduct Expected for the 21st Century” by William Lareau if you expect to have any sort of career, in ANY industry.

  178. Lying Librarian:

    I am quite confident that each of my previous supervisors (in a variety of fields) would love to have me back if they could, consider(ed) me by far to be one of their best employees, and would have nothing but good things to say about me to you or anybody else for that matter. My co-workers have all liked me because I am a hard worker, amiable, dependable, reliable, intelligent, and carry my own weight at the workplace.

    I must have missed the life-lesson that basic dynamics of working in an organization include childishly pretending to look busy when you’re not, even though your co-workers can easily recognize your tactics.

    Do you really think that everybody in the office (including the supervisor) doesn’t realize when people are pretending to look busy? The fact that I’m honest enough to admit this phenomenon doesn’t make me an undesirable employee or co-worker.

    Likewise, the fact that I’m honest enough to criticize my own degree choice doesn’t make me an undesirable job candidate and doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to work in the field. If anything, it boggles my mind why more of you can’t be as honest and objective.

    I have no reason to be scared that if I’m “caught” not doing anything that I’ll be fired or disciplined, because all of my duties/responsibilities get completed and then some. I guarantee you my supervisor and co-workers know that if I’m not doing anything, there essentially must not be much to do (within my capacity). I presume next you’ll give me some cliche lesson in basic dynamics about “there’s always something to do” or something rather.

    So yes, you’ve figured it out. I don’t have a job because I’m honest enough to admit that when I’m not busy, I’m not busy, rather than pretending to look busy. And to think this whole time I was under the impression that I haven’t found a job yet because the degree I’ve just attained lacks viability and because I otherwise fell for various forms of library school and library association propaganda. Silly me

  179. Lying Librarian says:

    I appear to have touched a nerve.

    First of all, if you look back at my previous comments in this very thread, you’ll see that I don’t have any illusions about the MLS.

    Secondly, I referenced a book in my post, one that I highly suggest you read. It is a rather sarcastic, but nonetheless serious, look at group dynamics and working in organizations. It is geared to the business world, but applies equally well to libraries.

    Your posts reveal you to be intelligent, but you also sound a bit naive, idealistic, and immature. “I must have missed the life-lesson that basic dynamics of working in an organization include childishly pretending to look busy when you’re not, even though your co-workers can easily recognize your tactics.” Yes, you did miss it. There is nothing “childish” about it. You can’t assume that everyone will know that you are caught up with your work, and aren’t just loafing around. There may be some back-stabbers around who will be looking for dirt on you, or your boss’s boss might cruise by and see you doing nothing. Then you just made your boss look bad – great career move! Your co-workers also might not be as smart/efficient as you are, and take longer with their tasks, so you sitting around with nothing to do will make them look bad. Unhappy co-workers don’t help your career, either. You might also be assigned more work (with no additional compensation, of course) if you are regularly seen to be idle. Who wants that? These are just a few of many reasons, and ones that most people who have worked in the real world understand.

    You say “the fact that I’m honest enough to criticize my own degree choice doesn’t make me an undesirable job candidate and doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to work in the field. If anything, it boggles my mind why more of you can’t be as honest and objective.”

    Any hiring committee is going to be made up of some MLS degree holders. I’m sure they will LOVE to hear you regale them with stories of how worthless the degree is, or how easy it was to get. Did you ever consider that for some of these people, getting a master’s degree (even an MLS) has been their only notable accomplishment in life? Or that for many of them, they actually thought it WAS challenging and difficult? (And if you don’t think that people like this will be your supervisors, you really are naive!)

    Yeah, make sure to emphasize what a waste it was, and do make sure your contempt comes through in your job search. A lot of people (not just in the library world, but in the WORLD in general) equate their jobs, the organizations they work in, and the degrees they hold, with their sense of self worth. You think that you are brave and speaking the truth by calling attention to how worthless your degree is, but you are really just sabotaging your own career.

    Now please, keep in mind that this is coming from somebody who shares your disillusionment with the degree. But this is tough love: Grow up.

  180. Looking at the world through rose-colored glasses—clearly many are mislead-an education is no guarantee of a job. Many highly educated people are not compensated or even work in their fields of study. If a potential student makes a commitment to attend school, then it is the student’s responsibility to understand the consequences. There is risk involved and there are no guarantees in life. As for the article—you cannot believe everything you read. As for the tone of disdain for online MLIS programs, I completed FSU’s online program which was demanding. At the time, I worked full-time and had over 10 years work experience. The program was more demanding than the local MLIS on-campus program. Job and career satisfaction has to do with confidence, adaptability and not an attitude of entitlement. The profession has changed and there is only room for talent, technical skills, adaptability and creativity, not sour grapes.

  181. MLIS degrees are a joke says:


    I agree that any degree or any amount of schooling is not a guarantee that someone will land a job. However, as I have stated in an earlier post, I do blame all of these library schools who basically accept just about anyone who applies. Sure, they boast that the number of students are growing, but that is because it is job security for them. I have been to at least three job search seminars, and the same eople who hold these meetings not only disagree with each other about how to land a job, they also seem to change their minds with each one, no matter the circumstances. Basically, they are telling people what they want to hear, and it fluctuates from student to student. I also love when they tell us that now that we have the MLIS, we need to get extra schooling to make us more competitive. What are we supposed to do? Take every graduate class that a university offers? How many more organizations do I have to join? How many more articles do I have to write? Where does it end? If library schools would be more selective, they would not be churning graduates out of these programs like cars on an assembly line saturating the market in a field that is already tough enough to get into. If they were really considerate and want their students to really have a good future, they need to whittle down their enrollment numbers and only select the best students. No, it will still not guarantee jobs, but it will definately help.

  182. anothersucka says:

    You are absolutely, 100 percent correct- annoyed librarian. I think if we had not been lied to and stupid enough to believe it, half of us wouldn’t have gotten that silly, worthless degree. I do the same work for the same pay now that I did when I didn’t have the degree!

  183. Sretan Bibliotekar says:

    I graduated last spring after working in an academic library setting for over five years and repeatedly hearing how wonderful it is to have an MLIS so that you can transition into a real cushy and safe library position. And so I enrolled at the program offered on campus, graduated, and Poof! The Budget froze, dumping librarians left and right! Oops, nobody saw that one coming… Oh wait, they DID see it coming, they just assumed that since there was work to be done, the money would materialize to support the positions that do said work. Instead, the work is left unfinished and I am still looking for employment while living under debt and the “gee, you just got a Master’s degree, you’re way overqualified for this job” stigma when applying for any basic local job that’ll pay my bills! It’s almost criminal how misled I’ve been over the last 2 years about the job market and general usefulness of a Masters that involves little more than reading for hours then regurgitating the info back into classes filled with half-asleep students who don’t bother doing the work because the standards are sloppy and pathetic. I ended up taking an upper-level law class just so I’d have something challenging to do! And yet… if I had a nice solid library job as a result of my MLIS, I bet I’d find it hard to discourage someone from getting their MLIS because I’d be a clear example of the process working.

  184. MLIS dgerees are a joke says:

    Sretan Bibliotekar:

    I know what you mean. They did see it coming. I at least found a parapro position about six weeks ago. I took it because I needed employment, and it is at least within the library field. I will still look for professional work in the meanitme. Even if I had a professional library job, I would caution people about who are thinking about getting the MLIS by telling them they are earning it at their own risk.

  185. EternalMyrtle says:

    The MLIS degree is a scam. People graduate from community college programs with more training, better job prospects and greater income potential–and all this for a much lesser investment in time and money. It is sad that students go through the time and expense graduate school to have so little. It is also sad that so many legitimate institutions still offer this degree when the prospects for graduates are so grim. There are many bright liberal arts graduates that go into this thinking that it will be a ticket towards a profession that values their abilities. How mislead they are. They spiral into even more debt for a pointless degree (and this one doesn’t even provide the intellectual growth of, say, an English or History degree).

    The MLIS is supposed to be a professional degree, yet it provides very little practical training. On top of that, there is a complete lack of real subject matter to make this anything worth theorizing about. It would almost be better if major libraries offered apprentice programs and the MLIS became a thing of the past. The degree is the biggest farce of academia.

    I got my MSIS on full scholarship. If I had been paying for it, I never would have finished the program. I was lucky to find a full-time job after graduating because I looked into alternatives to traditional library jobs (where I couldn’t even get a foot in the door).

  186. One more thing…

    A lot of people argue that a graduate education is “what you make of it” and isn’t necessarily about getting a job. I agree wholeheartedly that legitimately academic programs are like this and for good reason. However, there is very little intellectual content in this degree and thus it is impossible to “make” much of it. Also, it is marketed as a professional degree. Professional degrees are different from purely academic degrees.

    Even if you are lucky enough to find a job in this field, you will likely become bored with the profession very quickly if you have half a brain. It offers very little to sustain a lifelong interest.

  187. EternalMyrtle:

    I think this should type of training should be a Bachelor’s at the highest.

  188. I am an archivist. Not quite the same thing as a librarian, but to get a job we have to get largely the same degree, only with a few archives classes thrown in. Luckily the archives classes were a bit more challenging, but the classes with librarians were sad. And there are a lot of archivists from the “I just like books” camp, as well.

    The sad thing is that there is really a need for trained professionals in archives who have technical expertise in a/v stuff. There is so much audio/visual material that is disappearing – massive amounts of recordings on deteriorating formats that need to be digitized and preserved. And the amount of non-paper material is only going to keep growing. It’s enough to keep an army of library school grads busy for years. However, those graduates are completely unprepared to do this kind of work. You won’t learn any of the skills you would need to work with this stuff in library school, and that is just disgusting. You would learn more taking a community-college class in audio engineering or video production than you would learn in most library schools. Yet, to get a job in most archives, you have to have the library degree, despite the fact that you would have to learn all your practical skills elsewhere.

    Why don’t librarians value technical skills? Why isn’t anything technical even taught in library school? It’s all a bunch of b.s. classes in “theory” that have no practical application. Is it because all the ancient tenured library-school professors have no technical skills themselves, and don’t want to have to learn any before retirement? Or is it because students admitted to library school are too dumb to learn Soundforge or Final Cut Pro? Why is it acceptable for librarians to have no technical skills, and why is it possible to avoid learning any while pursuing a so-called “professional” degree?

  189. WishIHaden''tDoneIt! says:

    After realizing that I am not going to find a librarian job anytime too soon, I’ve made the hard decision to start searching for something in my previous career. (I feel lucky to have one). I graduated in Jan. ’09, and if I continue to try to find something in this field, before long I will be out in the street. I feel like such a fool for getting my MLS degree. It certainly wasn’t worth the time lost and the money spent. My diploma is shoved in my closet (probably will never see the light of day). I also feel like I was brainwashed by the system: My schools advisors, the professors, ALA, Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2007) and so forth.

  190. @Annyomous – I am an archivist:

    I’m also baffled when I meet fellow classmates who have no clue how to use basic computer software. Especially since I’m in an online program (there are no MLIS accredited programs in Alaska).

    I know how to video and sound edit but I mostly used Ulead and Audacity, Soundforge is good but Audacity is quicker if you just plan on cutting off the last minute or two of a song and make it fade down like the song is actually ending naturally.

    My main skills are with Dreamweaver, InDesign, and Photoshop and Portfolio. I’m hoping to take a class that can give more tools in figuring out the best ways to archive image files.

    I’m hoping to learn more about database management and archiving mostly because anything where you manage data will be a constant challenge to keep up with new technologies while mastering the current ones. So I thought it would be more intellectually stimulating.

    I’ve been running my own website since 1997, I write most of my code in Notepad, and I’ve made music videos for fun. But I think I actually liked learning how to use all the programs (Ulead, Vegas, Adobe, and AVS scripts, Virtualdubmod, and etc…). Figuring out how it worked more than I did making the videos. I never knew how much you’d have to learn about codecs, aspects ratios, and bitrates until after I started teaching myself.

    I’ve also been trying to teach myself how to program Ruby.

    I’m thinking I can’t be the only MLIS student that enjoys web/graphic design and archiving. But I’m thinking I got into the program more for the Information management aspect than the working in a public setting aspect.

  191. sistrunkqueen says:

    Ok reading these comments has reinforced my wise decision to get a degree in digital library and information services degree. I will take my first online class in January 2010. It is an online Masters from University of Boras in Sweden. If anyone is interested the url is I am looking forward to learning a technical skill to further my education not only in a library, but any other venue that needs my skills.
    If you are intested apply now because the dealine for Fall ’10 isJan 15. Yes it is in Sweden , but online too. Students must travel to Sweden once a year for three years. Also it is FREE!!!
    Digital libraries are the future and for what I am reading alot of librarians desperately need the skills. Stay competitive and relevant

  192. Nothing that particularly interests me by AL in this week’s post. Big deal — schedule time for help with a librarian. A brand new concept for libraries that are not within the academic sphere! Of course, librarians working outside of academia don’t do this. Guess that’s why my appointments with people asking for help are backed up most of the time.

    Regarding this post, however: Imasucker,I can’t understand why there is no way to create something useful to do. The problem for most of us is that there is too little time or no time to do everything we see needs to be or should need to be done. Even when I worked in academia, I found that I could create plenty to do.

  193. digital digital digital.

    There are too many librarians out there. In order to get a job now, you need to differentiate yourself with computer skills, in particular the ones employed by libraries:

    web design: HTML, CSS, Dreamweaver, Photoshop

    web management: know how to get website hosting, domain name registration, ftp, email systems

    Content Management Systems (ie. Drupal) – learn how to manage one, train others in how to add & edit content.

    Sharepoint – don’t need to know how to install, just be aware of what it is. if you have solid tech skills you can pick it up fast

    ILS – play with some demos, mess around with a free version of Koha. get some experience, even if volunteering, at an academic or public library.

    Database – if you know Microsoft Access, great. learn How to design a database, how relational databases work. even better if you know SQL.

    networking – know how to set up a wireless network, security protocols, troubleshooting

    digitization – scanning, archive quality images, text recognition.

    digital libraries – download Greenstone and learn it! It’s free!

    I’m not talking about being a systems librarian. These are baseline skills for most libraries. Even if libraries aren’t always on the cutting edge, they are technological spaces, you can’t have ‘someone in IT’ run everything for you.

    I concur with the archivist. There’s work out there! there are tons of libraries and institutions that need to get their stuff digitized and searchable. they also need librarians to train staff and students to use the digital spaces.

    With the current employment meltdown in NY, headhunters were desperate for archivists who could prepare the documents of closing law firms.

    at library school, skip the theory classes. Totally useless. you learn more working 10 hours/week at a local public than in all of those classes. Take TECHNICAL CLASSES – learn software and programming skills. Those are the skills that will help you in the future!

    I was stupidly skipping around between jobs for the past few years. found myself unemployed (quit a job, thought I could get a new one quickly, didn’t work out…). Just landed a new great one. Unfortunately, I’m in the boonies. But you have to go where the money is.

    Good luck everyone!

  194. Travelling_Librarian says:

    I’d already worked as a paraprofessional in libraries for 8 years and then took a break, bartended and travelled the world for 3 years before going back for my MLISc. As with almost any job field out there it’s who you know — networking is key — as well as hands on experience in the field, whether it be as a professional or a paraprofessional that helps you land a job.

    There was a hiring freeze when I graduated with my MLISc so I went back to temping again (something I’ve done off and on throughout the years — it gives you a great broad background as well as exposes you to a variety of subject areas, all of which have come in handy later down the line. I also was applying all over the place.

    About 2 months later, I was contacted for a temporary YA Librarian slot about 30 minutes away that would start in 2 months. I was asked to submit a resume and a few hours later I was called and told I had the position (based on who I knew and the internship I had done with the local public library system.) During this same time I also interviewed for a part-time position at one of the community colleges as well as a children’s librarian full-time position with the same public library system).

    While waiting for decisions on all of these jobs I also interviewed and accepted a position 4000 miles away from where I went to school in a specialized academic library. Shortly after accepting, I was offered the PT CC position which I declined as it was too expensive to live on the island with just a PT position. The week before I was scheduled to move I was offered the FT Children’s Librarian slot. Again I declined as I’m just not cut out for Children’s programming — can I do it — Yes; do I like to — No. I haven’t regretted my decision as it’s allowed me to continue my travels, I’ve now worked in Italy as well as Turkey, in addition to Alabama and now Florida.

    I’ve now worked as either a professional or paraprofessional in combined public/school libraries, large public libraries, large academic libraries, small special libraries. Now I manage a specialized technical library which I was selected for largely based on my year on a science & technology reference desk at my University and my 4 months temping at an Engineering firm, in addition to my skillset of managing libraries.

    What they didn’t teach me in library school:
    1) How to deal with children jumping out of bathroom windows?
    2) What to do when you lose all phone communications for 3 months and are down to your last pair in which case you will also lose your internet connection?
    3) How to fix any sort of office equipment using paperclips and duct tape?
    4) How to keep your library open when you’ve lost 50% of your staff and management won’t let you cut hours or pay overtime?
    5) How to successfully juggle 18 open windows on your computer screen, answer the phone, AND talk to the customer in front of you — managing to satisfy all in 5 minutes or less?

    Truthfully, for the most part I felt that my MLISc was getting a piece of paper that says I can do what I was already doing at 19 when I was essentially running a library as a paraprofesional. Did I learn useful things — yes, but at the same time the most valuable portions to me were the hands on items that give real life experience as well as the networking.

    I’ve been hired for 3 out of 5 of my professional jobs based on who I knew, or rather who knew me and of my work.

    Good Luck everyone!

  195. Sonny Hill says:

    “As with almost any job field out there it’s who you know — networking is key — as well as hands on experience in the field, whether it be as a professional or a paraprofessional that helps you land a job.”

    All that, and patience too! I worked for 6 years or so as a support staffer, leisurely working on my MLIS while getting to know all aspects of our department’s work and its place in our larger organization. All the while I never turned down any new responsibility, sought and accepted advice from my professional co-workers, networked throughout our library system, and even “dressed for the job I wanted, not the one I had”. Then when I graduated, in a down economy and a saturated job market, my boss literally created a professional position for me within weeks of MLIS graduation, because I had made myself essential as an employee and to the future transition of our department and library. And all those things I did to earn this job, I continue to do, because there are more rungs higher on the ladder…

    Hey, I understand being a 21st-century internet cynic and all the pessimism and ennui that entails, so I get where a lot of the negativity comes from. But when you do stop posting comments on librarian blogs, there’s a real life and real job to worry about — and working hard and having a good attitude and doing all those things that have gotten folks hired at good jobs for decades, that’s still what it takes to get a job. And there are always jobs out there, despite what you hear on blog comment threads.

  196. NYT article that seems quite apropos:

    The New Poor
    In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt

    The article is talking about online and for-profit universities, but it also quite applicable to the world of the MLS degree. Also, the 500+ comments quite often strike a similar tone to the comments for this post.

  197. One comment on that NYT article mentioned in the previous post struck me. One of the commmenters mentioned how the people who were attending culinary school weren’t necessarily interested in being chefs, they were just looking for some sort of career that offered living wages and a little respect. They didn’t really have any passion for the field. I think this can be said for many of the people who enter library school.

    They are just looking for some kind of way to pay the bills, and working in a library seems, on the surface, to be a decent choice. Unfortunately, they have a distorted view of the profession (thanks in part to the ALA) and have no idea what is really involved in being a librarian. These “I like books” types, if they find jobs, will quickly become disillusioned.

    Like those entering culinary school in the article, you would be better served taking an entry-level job in the field before you commit to an expensive degree program only to find that you don’t like it or that it is a complete waste of your time.

  198. I’m a young library student. I work part time at a small town public library and I enjoy it, though I will not be there forever.

    However, reading this is making me scared. Last year as I was deciding what the next step in my life was, I seriously considered becoming a massage therapist. The school I was looking into was affordable, and only 6 months of classes. But, I had wanted to get my master’s in library for a while before I finished undergrad, so I enrolled at Clarion Univ. in PA quickly and now am in my first semester. I’m seriously considered massage therapy again! I do like my classes so far. But I don’t want to put so much money and energy into this if what you all are saying is true. I think maybe I’d have better prospects as a massage therapist working in a clinic or center somewhere, or starting my own business? I’m not looking for a lucrative career, but then again, I do not want to put a lot of money into something that will not even be worth it.

    Overall, this is a terrible time to be my age. I graduated college late in 2008–the worst year to graduate! My fiance and I have been trying to just get something that will earn us enough income to move out of our parents’ houses and get married. He is going into a more profitable IT career, so I’m not so worried about him. I don’t want to put financial strain on him if he’s working full time and I’m working part time for pennies and getting an expensive degree…any advice?

  199. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Andre first this is one of the darker library blogs out there so take heart. I think the best advice I heard if you can do it without student loans then its not bad. Next you need to be flexible in your job hunt. I think thats the hardest part with a fiancé. Now you could get the message thing, work that for a bit, then go for your MLIS when you and him have worked things out. or even do both. 6 months goes by fast.

  200. Terrible time to be your age?

    Look at the people who came of age in the Depression and WWII. What are they considered today? The greatest generation.

    Don’t sell yourself short and don’t listen to the man. Do the right thing and you will be the greater generation.

    Either that or a burger flipper at BK.

    Good Luck!

  201. LIS degrees are a joke says:


    I think you should go for message therapist. I confess that I do not know the market for message therapists, but I would strongly caution you to continue library school. Either that or just try to get a job as a parapro in a library (preferably in an academic library). Save yourself the time and money. Go into something that will actually pay off. I say this not to discourage you, but to help you.

    Good luck in whatever you do.

  202. I live in California, am currently employed as a part-time librarian in an academic institution (partly out of choice as I finished another degree) My advice to anyone seeking library employment is DO NOT COME to California. Public libraries are bleeding staff now and LAPL expects to layoff something like 100-200 librarians (est). No better in academic employment. There will not be enough traditional library jobs for at least the next 20 years, and there are not enough right now.
    As far as employment in general, I agree with some comments that programs in information mgt or other programs providing some info mgt skills with business/tech knowledge are the way to go. A word of caution, there are tons of librarians out there now trying to ‘adapt’ their skills to these jobs but the problem is, as some have pointed out, many programs do not offer these courses (no real faculty to teach them), but try to sound like they do. So make sure and CHECK the course offerings before you apply — if no courses in Info Architecture/Mgt then DO NOT believe you’ll be able to ‘adapt’ your general reference, children’s library experience or book cataloging skills to these requirements, someone else will have those bona fide tech skills and coursework and get the job.

  203. I worked in libraries for 10 years before starting my MLS program. The school I chose has a very bad reputation for reasons I cannot understand. The good thing is that I got the degree for $12K. The entrance requirements were high because the tuition was low and the place was only taking 20% of its applicants.
    I only took two courses that were intellectually stimulating. The rest of the courses were either easy or full of mind numbing busy work.
    $12K and six year later, I’m still in the same job. At least I have a FT job with benefits. What did I get for my $12K? Lunch breaks! Priceless!

  204. dunwich says:

    looking for some advice. I am looking to attend library school in the fall. I have been accepted at PITT and am waiting to hear back from RUTGERS and DREXEL. I currently reside in philadelphia and have a flexible part-full time job that could work with my schedule should I choose to stay here. As far as related experience goes, I worked in an academic library during my undergrad, helped run a community art center for 5 years, and have been volunteering at the public library here for the last year and a half. My goal is to be a young adult librarian. The job climate seems awful right now so I am a little nervous about uprooting myself and moving to Pittsburgh. I have also applied to several “library assistant” jobs that do not require an MLS. I am thinking about doing the FAST TRACK program that PITT offers online or going to DREXEL or RUTGERS part time if I am accepted to either one of those. Any advice? is uprooting yourself for Library school a wise choice?

  205. If anyone else responds to this, they’ll probably tell you to run for the hills before making that move. The decision to move worked for me, however. I moved because I wanted an in person experience where I could work in the libraries there, and was able to find that. But at the time there were more jobs, particularly in the state I was moving to, even though it was still highly competitive. After graduation, I looked outside of the traditional places and found a job that way. Still, ended up moving to where the job was. I wouldn’t do it today, especially if I had to fork the bucks for the degree. I didn’t. My degree was paid for through an unusual GA program. If you really want to go into YA, why not go somewhere that has a well developed YA program? Pittsburgh BTW is one of the worst places right now to get a job. Librarians have been laid off right and left there. You might find the climate alone pretty depressing. Florida State and I think the school in Seattle have good YA programs, which can be done online if you want to stay where you are.

  206. Volunteering often hurts the economy. Temporary unpaid labor can disrupt local economies by taking work from the paid labor market. Consider that if the work really needs to be done, and no volunteer is available, libraries will have to pay someone to do that work. Or, as is too often the case in this economy, the work goes undone. But if you want to support librarianship, donate materials to libraries. If you want to support our economy in this recession, please don’t donate your time.

  207. Moves should be made to have basic library courses that are currently offered at the Masters level moved to an undergraduate degree with the Masters being purely library management. I learned more on the job in regards to budgeting, managing people etc, than I did with my 36 hour degree. I have 3 employees that are currently pursuing their MLS…when they graduate, I won’t necessarily have a “degreed position” open, nor will I have the budget to increase their salary accordingly. They are “pricing and degreeing” themselves out of job…and they are great employees…

  208. Wow, I’m blown away by all these comments. I agree with a lot of what people are saying and appreciate that everyone is so candid.

    To stifledlibrarian (comment #20): the word ‘churning’ just got to me because that is the exact word that a snide HR director used when discussing my educational background in a recent phone interview. He was looking over my resume and said something like “Ahh, another UCLA graduate. UCLA is sure churning out library students these days”, or something along those lines. I was quite stunned by this statement and only until I stumbled upon this blog did I realize that he was just stating the reality. It still doesn’t excuse the fact that it was a rude, not to mention unprofessional thing to say, but it did make me realize what it is I’m up against in looking for a job. So thank you for making that point.

    To Despairing MLIS Degree Holder (comment #48): I understand the frustration and anger that you are going through. Although my situation is a little different in that I earned my MLIS degree many years ago and worked for several years in libraries, I have not been able to find a librarian job since I was laid off in 2008. The campus where I worked closed down because of the economy and I haven’t been able to find another job, either professional or paraprofessional. The positions that are listed (at least in my area) are either too high or too low, meaning that they are either administrative management as you said, or else paraprofessional positions that pay little more than minimum wage. So either I don’t have enough experience or else I have too much. It’s kind of like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, except that the positions that I am most suited for (somewhere in the middle) are few and far between.

    To LIBELady (comment #103): Your comment:

    “Sure there might be a course offering in basic web design, but can you assume a role as web designer, no! If you have a BA in IT or CS, then probably, but most Library Science students do not have these skills.”

    is interesting because I am finding that a lot of positions require a second degree in addition to the MLS. It is almost as if the MLS is a secondary degree, kind of like an after thought if you will. Now I know that is just my bitterness at not being able to find a job showing through, but since the economy went down the toilet, employers are now demanding even more, including a subject specific degree. Maybe this has always been true, I don’t know since I never had a problem finding a job until two years ago. But this is something that a lot of people don’t understand, at least people outside of the library community.

    To No Future (comment #112): Your comment about libraries hiring those who are overqualified is an interesting one. I don’t know if that is true or not but in my experience I think the opposite may be true. I have been forced to apply for paraprofessional positions since I cannot find a professional one. Most of the time I never receive a reply or else I’m told that the position has been filled. I’m never told the reason why but I’m guessing it’s because the hiring committee thinks I’m overqualified. They probably think that someone who has an MLIS from UCLA and has 10 years of library experience is nuts and/or desperate if they are willing to accept a position that pays $10/hr. But what’s a person supposed to do when they can’t find a job in the profession they trained for and have no source of income?

    To Amalthia and especially Matt: (comment #190 & #193): Thank you for mentioning what computer programs you are using in your job. I am now taking classes in web design in order to make myself more marketable. When I started looking for a librarian position way back in 2008 I noticed that several employers were looking for those with web development skills, Dreamweaver in particular. I’m guessing employers increasingly want librarians who are computer savvy overall as companies continue to downsize. I don’t know whether or not these classes will lead to another librarian position but at least they are opening up new career paths.

    To adf (comment #206): I appreciate your comment about not volunteering. I made the mistake of volunteering my librarian skills at a local public library because I was hoping to gain experience working in a public library since a lot of the jobs that were available at that time were in public libraries. I have worked in a museum research library and a university library but had no public library experience. I volunteered for only a few weeks but quit after getting extremely strange vibes from the staff. It wasn’t until after I stopped (and read your comment a year later) that I realized what a bad idea it was. No wonder the roomful of staff (a surprising number for a small branch library) stared at me as if I had horns. They were probably feeling threatened and I can’t say I blame them. But it would have been better if the librarians had discouraged me from the beginning.

    I also naively offered to volunteer at a university library but received no response whatsoever. Now I know volunteering isn’t the way to go but I couldn’t think of any other way to gain experience since no one would hire me. So it’s a kind of damned if I do, damned if I don’t kind of thing.

    To the person who suggested that getting the MLS degree is a good idea if you are already working in a library: I agree. When I went to library school back in 1998, there were several students who were already working in a library. Since I had never worked in a library, I often felt at a disadvantage because they already knew the terminology and everything else. Of course it wasn’t rocket science but I worked my butt off to get that degree and I am glad I did it at the time, especially since I landed a good job one month after graduation!

    I know I’ve strayed off the topic about library schools and whether or not they are honest about job prospects, but many of you made comments that I can strongly relate to. It’s great to know that I am not the only one who is feeling frustrated and disillusioned. For those of you who are feeling this way, check out the Los Angeles Times article by Don Lee (6-12-2010 front page) “Is a College Degree Still Worth It?” It addresses the bleak economic situation for recent grads in various disciplines. To those of you who feel that the MLS is now about as useful as toilet paper, I think you will like the part about the guy who put his degree in a bottle and threw it into the ocean.

    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. Good luck to everyone (myself included) seeking a job.

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