Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Waiting for Jobot

I know Canada seems like paradise to a certain sort of librarian, like the ones I heard claiming they’d move there if George W. Bush were elected President again. Maybe they decided not to move there when they realized that Canada, besides being really cold, was no paradise for librarians. From what I’ve gleaned from Canadian librarians over the years, the job situation hasn’t been good for a long while, and it doesn’t seem to be looking up.

As a bit of anecdotal evidence for this, look at this site for a career fair. A kindly annoyed Canadian forwarded an email to me announcing it. The "about" page tells us:

"For the first time, students from Université de Montréal’s École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l’information (EBSI) and McGill University’s School of Information Studies (SIS) will be holding a joint Career Fair.

This will be an exciting opportunity for employers to meet enthusiastic and talented students from the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) programs. The 2010 EBSI-SIS Career Fair will be a major networking event during which future graduates and potential employers will have a chance to discuss employment possibilities."

Just that announcement seems a bit over the top, but that’s the way these things are, I suppose. I can believe there are "enthusiastic and talented students" no doubt desperate for work. But "exciting opportunity"? Exciting for whom? For the future graduates or the potential employers?

The email says the same thing, only there are a couple of sentences inserted between those two paragraphs:

 "We welcome organizations from all information fields. Whether or not you currently have jobs available, we want to see you."

This changes things a bit, and is approaching absurdity. It could be a job fair with no jobs.

Oh, I know, they called it a "career fair," so they can get away with having "potential" employers discussing "potential employment opportunities." Still, that’s pushing the "potential" a bit too much. Usually, employers would be potential employers in that they might potentially employ a given graduate for their jobs. Now they’re potential employers because they might, someday, potentially have a job to offer a potential job candidate.

Somehow "potential" doesn’t seem the right word for this, though. This is almost stranger than those library systems that advertise for pools of librarians for jobs that don’t actually exist. This potentially could be a career fair with 250 students eager for work and absolutely no one who actually has a job available.

The employers and students are supposed to "discuss employment opportunities." Can that happen if there are no jobs? I guess it can, but what a depressing discussion. Maybe the "potential" employers with no "actual" jobs can still give career advice: Get out now!

It could be like Waiting for Godot, which appropriately enough was written in French and English by Beckett, probably to satisfy the French/English regulations of Canada. The library school students can be like Vladimir and Estragon, sitting around chatting with each other Waiting for Jobot, who is supposed to come in at any time to tell them about the jobs he can offer them.

They’ve all been told that Jobot exists, and they’re very excited to meet him. Jobot is a kindly person who has jobs aplenty and will solve their employment problems. The library school has invited Jobot, so of course he’s going to attend.

In fact, every library school talks about Jobot. Allegedly, Jobot is always kind to library school graduates, and his reassuring presence justifies tuition money and student loans.

I hope things turn out well for the aspiring librarians, and that Jobot really does appear. When waiting for Jobot, sometimes hope is all you have.



  1. Beau Rose says:

    As a near-graduate attending the career fair in question, I am glad for the opportunity to discuss the field with potential employers, under any circumstances. Am I attending with the expectation of walking out with a dayplanner full of interview appointments? No. But for many of my classmates, who entered their MLIS program with no previous library experience (a real shock to me, and possibly a better subject for you to gripe about in your column), this is a golden opportunity to have a conversation with employers from across the field on neutral ground, rather than delaying that conversation to the high-pressure environment of a job interview.

    As for the reality of a long, difficult job search, I hardly think there’s any value in dwelling on the scarcity of jobs for librarians. There’s a recession on that’s creating a challenging job market for almost everyone, and folks who have had the luxury over the last few years to go back to school and increase their knowledge and earning power with an MLIS (sometimes a second or third Master’s) really ought not crow too loud about how difficult it is to find a job.

    Besides, isn’t it far better to be Vladimir and Estragon, waiting in vain but in (occasionally) good humor, than to be what it seems you’d really like to use as LIS-comparison points in Waiting for Godot – Pozzo and Lucky? It seems you would cast our employers as Pozzo, the belligerent slavedriver, and we as lowly, put-upon slaves, lucky to have the chance to toady at the feet of employers who have registered for a career fair merely for the opportunity to laugh in our faces.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Bruce Campbell says:

    Good luck BR. I’d love for AL to blog about what kind of jobs that librarians are able to find in the private sector.

    This drum about funding cuts/etc has been beaten to dust. Let’s talk about what else librarians can do. Surely if they have some techie skills they can transfer into a different field.

    So, AL. My liege. Why not write about the infamous non-traditional library jobs?

  3. Captain Canuck says:

    Canada is home to hockey, curling, back bacon and failed socialized medicine.

    Their libraries are failures when compared to American bastions of You-Tubing, DDRing, Googling, masters of the 2.0 world.

    Oh, Canada, please just go politely away.

  4. nerdylibrarian says:

    So, is this what that generation above me was talking about when all through my youth they told me that my generation had a sense of entitlement and believed that they would walk right out of school and into their dream job?

    While in library school, I talked to employed librarians who said that it takes, on average, 6 months to find a job in the field, particularly if you’re going to limit yourself geographically, or limit yourself to library jobs you might actually want to do.

    It took me 5 months. I worked a non library job to make some money while I looked.

    Job hunting in the library field takes time, hard work, knowing people, and a good dose of luck.

    I’m not sure what magical field out there doesn’t require those things these days, but not one employing anyone I know.

    Sure, we’d all love to go to a job fair and walk away with a job, but it does not seem to work that way anymore… if it ever did. Instead we just appreciate the opportunity to meet people and get some tips.

  5. If there are no actual careers to be had, it isn’t a “Career Fair,” it’s a “Networking Event.”

  6. Frankly, I can’t imagine why anyone would be naive/stupid enough to waste time getting a library degree in today’s economic climate.

  7. Mister LISter says:

    The only thing you can really do with a LIS degree now is get a job at McDonald’s.

    Y’all want fries wit dat?

  8. saflemingorama says:

    yes, Cap’n Canuck, failed socialized medicine. just ask sarah palin about socialized medicine when she’s sneaking into Canada to take advantage of it.
    And on the jobs, yes, LIS programs across N Am suffer from a collective P.T. Barnumesque hucksterism. The good positions are few and far between. Twenty-five years ago a young grad could move into a small town chief librarian position with a couple years under her belt. But now, every two-bit town hires a head-hunter to beat the bushes for CEO’s and CIO’s with ’10 year’s progressive management experience in the public or private sphere.’
    With the economic ‘meltdown’ and the culture of fear and cutbacks that it has spawned, library jobs will get harder and harder to find as employees put off retirement, organizations leave vacated positions unfilled, and a surfeit of underemployed graduates continue to be churned out by corporate universities.

  9. Dudley Dooright says:

    Oh, Nell.

    I am afraid that the American’s are never going to understand us, eh.

    We have the best country in the world and we have to share a border with the stupidest, rudest, basest, jerk librarians in all the world, eh.

    I wish that all Americans, especially American librarians, would just die, eh.

  10. librarianinpearls says:

    I’m one of the students involved in organizing the conference in question, and in fact I would say most of the employers who will be attending do actually have jobs on offer.

    Over all, I’ve been surprised how many librarian jobs are out there. Sure, they may not be the Norman Rockwellesque ideal of librarianship, but they are out there, and there are certainly more opportunities than in similar fields like teaching!

  11. Mr. Dithers says:

    The only jobs available in the library world are for shelvers and bathroom attendants.

    The higher level jobs are being held by a bunch of aging hippies who will never retire and when these “hipsters” do finally die at their desk, there jobs will be eliminated completely.

    Talk about your dead-end professions.

    The only thing that would be useful at the conference is how to get your foot in the door at Google or Librarything or Amazon or some place that has really seen the future.

    Now get back to work!

  12. Eric Massa eats Glenn Beck says:

    a) Older librarians have jobs (meaning anyone over 30)
    b) I’m young and newly graduated from library school
    c) I want a job, now
    d) Therefore, older librarians should retire and let me have a job.

    You see the logic in this, right? It’s indisputably searing in its veracity. Incontestable in its import.

    I, being over 30, shall resign my position immediately due to the overwhelming veracity, nay, tenacity, of the logic used by young-uns looking to break into the library biz. I suggest we all do this in order to maintain the fragile ego of our youth and, more importantly, to save the Library.

    It’s all yours kids.

  13. Mr. Dithers says:

    I am not talking about those over 30.

    Or those over 40.

    Or those over 50.

    I am talking about the geezers 65+ that are in the top range of salary and will never retire. They will be found dead at their desk with one hand on the typewriter and the other clutching a bunch of 3X5 cards.

    Time to head for the home moms and pops. Not just for the up and coming librarians sakes but for the sake of libraries in general.

  14. Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian says:

    This one has been posted twice — “Grateful Dead Archive Project Manager
    University of California, Santa Cruz
    Full-time, $5,000 – $9,000/monthly” – granted, the cost of living may be pricey in Santa Cruz, but hey … it’s the Dead!

  15. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    Mr. Dithers, there is no mandatory retirement age. Get over yourself. Given my druthers, I’d retire at 62. Given economic reality and the lack of national health care in the U.S.? I’m working to 65 at the very least. And if I’m still liking it as much then as I do now, at 50, I’m going to keep working.

  16. Dances with Dogs says:

    Whew! What a relief. In the Dithers-centric world I am not a geezer since I’m only 59. I’m certainly glad the Dithering One will sanction my job for a few more years.

    When I came out of library school, armed with an MLS (no mention of information in my credential), I attended a futile job interview with a representative from a an -out- of -state school district. He told me no jobs were available. Since I had nothing to lose, I asked him why he was sent to do interviews. He just shrugged his shoulders. Then I learned what a job fair was–an opportunity for people to hold on to their unnecessary jobs. This was in 1973 when the economy was lousy too. I hope that the economy improves soon so that graduating library school students have a chance for a good job. However, although this has been said by many people here, including AL, library schools need to stop selling prospective students on the idea that the future is bright, in an effort for library school faculty and administration to save their own jobs.

  17. The Doughnut Librarian says:

    Just because interviews are being given, does not mean squat.

    Many a time, there is an in-house person being groomed for a job and the whole job advertisement and interview process is a formality required by the institution.

    And be wary of jobs in Canadia. You have to speak French and know what tete-beche means or they Shanghai you and put you to work in the Mines of Molsonia.

  18. I’d go to Canada just to curl. There’s more to life than librarianship.

  19. Happy Patron says:

    I hope that we keep all the great librarians here in the US of A!

    We have curling and every other kind of hair salon you can think of here!

    God wants you to stay here and be happy!

    God Bless you all!

  20. Canadian Librarian says:

    Library schools need to assume some responsibility for the diminishing ‘career’ opportunities for those individuals from whom they take great amounts of money in tuition fees. Where are the library schools to advocate for librarian positions as they get deskilled and replaced with alternate (cheaper) classes of library workers? Are library schools exempt from ALL accountability? If so, they shouldn’t be!

  21. The Bottom Librarian says:

    The only thing that library schools care about is the bottom line.

    If that means cranking people through the mill, so be it.

    Job placement numbers do not affect the bottom line because there is always a crop of liberal studies BSers wandering around looking for a way to get an “advanced” degree.

    Until we become true socialists, in the Obama vein, we will never overcome this defect.

  22. Dances With Dogs says:

    I would rather hurl in the U.S. than curl in Canada.

  23. Miss Liberty Librarian says:

    Amen DWD.

    Canada is a vast, white (in more ways than one) wasteland.

    The only good thing to come out of Canada is.

    oh, give me a minute.
    Canadian Club and Canadian Bacon.

  24. Eric Massa bedevils Glenn Beck says:

    a) A number of political analysts, journalists, and adherants to a specific political party state that that the President of the United States, who happens to represent a different party is a emphatically a socialist.

    b) I align myself with a political party that agrees with this statement concerning the political ideology of the President of the US.

    c) Therefore, the President of the United States is a socialist.

  25. linrariantobe says:

    What happens at career fairs is that the answer to all the questions is “in our website” as I experienced last year.

    My dialog with a “potential” employer last year went:

    Me: Hi, I’m **** and I’m really interested in your organization (hey! this is what the script said!)
    And I was wondering what advice would you give me if I wanted to apply to a position.
    Potential Employer: “Check our website. Read the postings available. Make sure you meet all the requirements.”

    ME: Yes, I’ve seen your website, and I know by heart most of the postings that have shown up but to which I can’t apply because I don’t yet have my diploma. But I was wondering about how to prepare a cover letter, what strikes you.. etc.etc..

    PE: we suggest you check our website.

  26. Hiring Manager says:


    You know, if you do submit a letter and resume, we keep it on file for a year, just in case an opening comes along.

    Of course, we store it it handy bite sized pieces in a big green bin in back of the building. Followed by an archival save in layers of clean fill and other library memorabilia.

    Good luck on breaking the system. You better have an uncle in it.

  27. Dances with Dogs says:

    In all fairness, Neil Young is Canadian as are most members of The Band, and so is Gordon Lightfoot, if you really want to stretch the point.

  28. Waltzes with Kats says:

    William Shatner is also Canadian.

    I think he nullifies all other possible artists that you can think of.

  29. Eric Massa pwned Glenn Beck says:

    a) All Canadians are William Shatner

    b) William Shatner is twisted

    c) Therefore, William Shatner is the Möbius strip of all Canadians.

  30. Waltzes with Kats says:

    Möbius strip of all Canadians

    My favorite TOS episode.

  31. Glenn Beck is Joseph Smith says:

    a) Bibliothèque de Montréal is the public library for Montréal.

    b) I like the Bibliothèque de Montréal.

    c) Therefore, Obama is a socialist.

  32. Waltzes with Kats says:

    Obama the Socialist.

    My favorite villain from TOS,

  33. you’re right. Canada is a terrible place full of socialists. there are no jobs here of any kind so please, Americans, stay in your fine country and don’t look up here for any reason anymore than you ever have. oh and please, let all your American friends know too.

  34. I blame Canada.

    Oh, the profanity.

  35. Glenn Beck's Wives for America says:

    a) Canada is located geographically above the United States on the same continent.

    b) Obama at one time lived not too far from Canada.

    c) Therefore, Obama is a socialist.

  36. Glenn Beck’s Wives for America is WRONG!!!

    By using this logic, Sarah Palin would be a hockey mom not a hokey politician.

    So there.

  37. Crerar kicked a$$ says:

    Canadians and Americans fought together in Normandy.

    That outweighs anything bad each can say about the other.

    I miss the WWII generation.

    Oh, yeah, and they supported and respected libraries and the high school education of their day often left them more literate than many people today with university degrees.

  38. Miss Liberty, you forgot Moosehead Beer. A great Canadian product.

  39. And Michael J. Fox. But Neil Young and the Band beats our line up of musicians hands down. Canada wins.

    I especially loved NY’s song “a man needs a maid.

    In Canada, you don’t have to play to the politically correct crowd.

    I need a lover who won’t drive me crazy. Someone to *&^* me and then go away.

    That wasn’t Neil Young, but the sentiment is the same.

  40. Glenn Beck is Omni-Myopic says:

    @Kenny: “By using this logic, Sarah Palin would be a hockey mom not a hokey politician.”

    a) All Presidents of the US must be American by birth

    b) Sarah Palin was born in America, albeit, a distant and alien part of America

    c) Canada is geographically close to Sarah Palin’s birthplace.

    d) Therefore, Obama is a socialist.

  41. Crankster says:

    Stop it already.

    Canada is not a country as much as it is a suburb of the US of A.

    And President Obama is not a socialist, he is a fascist empire builder just like his predecessor.

    You hosers.

  42. Glenn Beck should return to drug addicti says:

    You can say all you want about Canada, but this I know for sure:

    a) Canada is a country located on the North American continent.

    b) Canada has a place in North Ontario where all of Neil Young’s changes occurred.

    c) Corey Hart wore his sunglasses at night there while cutting Bryan Adams like a knife.

    d) Montréal is a really cool city with a great library: Bibliothèque de Montréal.

    e) Sarah Palin’s family showed its socialist colors by exploiting Canada’s Healthcare system at the expense of the awesome healthcare system in the United States.

    f) Canadians are more than bacon, they are Anvil.

  43. When Anvil covers an Anne Murry song, then they will truly be Canadian.

    They are still USA, Jr.

  44. Men Without Hats is Canadian; so there.

    I get the impression that Canadian librarians are busy being librarians and not wannabe media Youtube library convention stars, like the dolts on Library 101. I think we American Librarians should emulate them and stop being so cyclothymic about everything!


  45. Unhappy Cat says:

    “I get the impression that Canadian librarians are busy being librarians. . .”

    Canucks are wrapped up in the 1950’s.

    They heard about the Internets once but figure the ice highway will suit them just fine.

  46. So, medicine in Canada is bad is it? Well, how many Canadians go to India for operations because they can’t afford the same procedure in the US? Or, how many Canadians don’t get treatment because they have a pre-existing condition condition? Or, how many Canadians go without medication because they can’t afford it. Let’s face it, the medical situation in the US is a disaster and getting worse all the time.

    Now about library jobs. Few and far between, yes. It took me several years to find the job I have now and this was during the expansive nineties. I look at the lit I get from the school of information studies from which I graduated and see a lot of smiling faces. One has to wonder what they’re in for.

  47. Most Canucks die before they can get treatment anywhere for anything.

    A sad but true fact.

    The ice floes in the Great White North are littered with hundreds of thousands of people that the system abandoned to fend for themselves amongst the polar bears and frostbite.

  48. Corporate Devil says:

    Alas the ad hominem attacks prevail. The real question is what sorts of places will these students end up working? How can the training and experience one has help with careers that do not follow the traditional path. For me and for several others I know in Chicago solo corporate gigs have been the answer. The role is always in danger of being appropriated by IT professionals. I know I am not alone in thinking of turning to the dark side (IT), but I’ll still be a librarian at heart. Monetary issues and job stability are the big motivating factors for me. Do I regret getting an MLS? Not one bit.

  49. Bah. Yes, if you sit around like Vladimir and Estragon, then of course you’re going to be forever waiting.

    Here’s the thing, though. It’s a competitive industry. If you’ve got your heart set on a career in librarianship, then you’ve got to do the hard yards, like in any other profession. Go and volunteer for a non-government organisation, and work on their collections. Create a book review blog, and get used to being able to describe and recommend books. Be prepared to relocate for those first couple of elusive professional positions. Go and form networks in professional associations, and stay in touch with them.

    This might seem obvious to most professionals, but not so much to the average fresh-out-of-college graduate. An MLS is merely a basic hurdle. It’s the rest of the work that makes you a professional.

  50. Books, Andrew?


    How quaint.

    Good luck with an information professional position this century. You will be competing against some very high level clerks from Borders.

  51. I’m looking forward to the day when all humans become outmoded and irrelevant.

  52. You are going to have to fight me, god, the day after all humans have become outmoded and irrelevant.

    Put it on your calendar, you are going down that day, my friend.

  53. We’re taking this out back, s’all I have to say.

  54. Once the humans are outmoded and irrelevant, I will meet you out behind the shed.

    You best be prepared, because it is just you and me.

    You can leave your holier than thou attitude at the door.

  55. Why is God’s post being repeatedly erased. Is this God doing this?

  56. God''s Jester says:

    I think God offended someone at Library Journal. If this is the case: please forgive me and I will do whatever penance your little pea pickin heart desires.

  57. My minions work at the LJ.

    AL is my top dog there.

    Watch what you say, god.

  58. Holy Baal!

    Foiled once again!

    I’m gonna start another universe, this one is all messed up.

  59. LibraryGirl says:

    My fiance cut his hand doing house reno, his health card had expired…he still got treatment and did not have to pay. I think everyone knows that would never happen in the US.

    I don’t know of any libraries that are willing to hire someone without them either having a library degree or years of library experience…at least in Canada.

  60. “My fiance cut his hand doing house reno, his health card had expired…he still got treatment and did not have to pay. . .”

    You mean in addition to FREE HEALTH CARE there are NO TAXES in Canadia!!!!


  61. merricat says:


    You know she mentioned nothing about taxes. According to your logic, we here in the US don’t have taxes because we pay for our healthcare. At least in Canada they pay taxes AND get “free” healthcare.

    Btw, nothing is free whether in a socialized medicine policy or market based one. We all have to pay in the end. The question is efficiency, not monetary.

  62. Presently, if I don’t want health insurance, I can opt out.

    Under proposed legislation, I will be forced to spend money on something I don’t want.

    Seig Heil!

  63. “Under proposed legislation, I will be forced to spend money on something I don’t want.”

    I agree with you. However, this is a far cry from Nazism. Ever hear of Reductio ad Hitlerum?

    The issue is a little more nuanced than what many are making it out to be. I realize that it’s hard for the public to think in nuanced ways, but the if the effort is put forth to do so, the payback is well worth it.

  64. Gosh, as a member of the public, I wish I could think as well as you do.

    Maybe if I got my MLS

  65. merricat says:

    Just keep it up and I’m sure you’ll get there someday.

    I’m always available for consultation and a little encouragement. I know it’s not easy being a “member” of the public, whatever that means. Do they require dues?

  66. The only thing to do to be a member of the public is to keep your head out of your ass.

    Someday, if you try hard enough, you too can drop your MLS, take control of your ass, and become a member.

  67. merricat says:

    I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member.

    Look, I’m just messing with you. If you take me seriously, then it’s obvious that my typing skills are just not getting through to you.

  68. Hilarious says:

    “Under proposed legislation, I will be forced to spend money on something I don’t want.”

    Ha! as if you want everything that your taxes pay for.

  69. Embarrrrrassssed says:

    Personally, I am ashamed to tell anyone I have an MLS. People always give me a look, like you idiot. Well I was one, but not anymore. I might even take it off of my resume. I have met very few librarians with good personalities or skills that suit the real world. How could I have been so stupid to align myslef with this?

    An MLS is not a degree in infroamtion technology, but I wish I had done that instead. It is for people who cannot get a degree in IT, but want to pretend. Or for people who like books a lot and then pretend to know technology when they cannot get a real job.

    BTW, I have lived in socialist countries, other political structures, and the U.S. Personally I think that most people outside of socialism don’t fully understand it, and that socialists don’t understand other eco-political systems either. Everyone only compares to what they are raised to believe.

    All systems have good and bad qualities, if only we could mix the good qualities together (and educate the commoners of every nation about how the systems actually work).

    So everyone get over yourselves. None of us know what we are talking about. We chose to do an MLS. We must have screws loose.

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