Annoyed Librarian
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Library Job Bonanza!

Last week, a commenter posted a message delivered through a listserv that seems to solve the job shortage problem for librarians. Hooray for all you unemployed librarians out there!  Here’s the message:

The ALA office of Recruitment Statistics is increasingly aware of unadvertised positions that need to be filled as soon as possible. Denise M. Davies, former head of ALA’s Recruitment Statistics, has joined forces with the Sacramento Library to compile a list of unadvertised library jobs across the country and in your community. These are jobs that need to be filled so quickly that the libraries simply don’t have time to advertise and the ALA can’t post them fast enough.

Unemployed and underemployed librarians are asked to call 1(800) 209-4627 or 1(916) 264-2770 and ask for Deputy Director Denise Davies. New opportunities are opening up daily, so call frequently until you are successfully placed.

Phone calls only, please. No calls after the project ends on December 31st, 2020.

For more information, visit [here]

The same message is posted at various job sites, including this one, so, you know, it has to be genuine. Right?

This is great news. And it could be true, because there are actual facts in there. It seems that Denise M. Davis [not Davies, as noted in a comment below; I missed that one.] is indeed the former head of the ALA Office for Research and Statistics, and is currently the Deputy Director of the Sacramento Public Library. The phone numbers given in the message are the phone numbers for the Sacramento Public Library as well.

Though I guess there are a few inconsistencies, so there’s the slightest chance this might not be genuine. For one thing, the whole idea of jobs that need to be filled so quickly they can’t be advertised fast enough is absurd, but there might be desperate librarians willing to believe it.

Then there are the mistaken details. I guess those can’t be ignored. There is no ALA office of “Recruitment Statistics.” It’s “Research and Statistics.” The mistake is made twice, which really is quite sloppy.

The “Phone calls only, please” is strange, too, I suppose. Who does business only by phone these days? Nobody, not even at AT&T.

That the project ends in 2020 is more sloppiness. If this is a hoax, it should have been 2010, so as to concentrate the calls as much as possible to annoy Denise Davies.

And that, I suspect, is the point. It’s possible some people hold Davis responsible for many of the studies linking mass retirements to mass job openings ( i.e., the Myth of the Librarian Shortage) that has led to so many un- or underemployed librarians who are now prompted to call Davies. Now why would anyone do that?

She’s the author of the report the message links to. The report analyzes LIS graduation rates and projected retirement rates and predicts that there’s going to be a librarian shortage someday. More specifically, between 2015 and 2019, there will be so many retirements that there won’t be enough librarians to advance into administrative positions for years to come. “The issue isn’t having LIS graduates in the marketplace, the issue becomes having qualified librarians to promote into the positions vacated due to retirement.”

Think about that one for a moment. There’s no concern that there might be way too many LIS graduates for a couple of decades. In fact, her own statistics show that from 1990 to 2002 (the last year of analysis), there were significantly more LIS graduates than library retirees or added jobs. The “Graduation Retirement Gap” is the number you get if you take all LIS graduates and subtract the number of retirees–the excess. The number of excess LIS graduates (for want of a better term) hovers at the 2,000 mark until 1995, then moves up into the 3,000 range and rises steadily to end at 3,810 in 2002.

The figures for the number of MLS positions in academic and public libraries stop at 2000. But from 1990 to 2000 the number of positions increased by 12,365, while the number of LIS graduates that exceeded the number of retired librarians during the same period was 27,126. That total climbed to 34,360 by 2002. Thus, according to the ALA’s own statistics, the ones used to promote the Myth of the Librarian Shortage, during one decade alone there were 14,761 LIS graduates left over even after accounting for job gains and retirements. And I’d wager that the figures for the past decade would show a larger number. They can’t all have been absorbed into special and school libraries.

The ALA thought it was better to graduate perhaps 30,000 people from MLS programs over a 20-year period than the market could possibly absorb, because there was going to be an administrative shortage in 2015. It might be possible someone is playing a prank on Davies and trying to dupe unemployed librarians to call her asking for all those jobs that are opening too quickly to fill: thousands upon thousands of LIS graduates over 20 years with no hope of finding jobs.

These LIS graduates who never found jobs can’t possibly be around in 2015. Recruitment efforts based on this reasoning for the past decade have been misguided, as no possible level of graduation above the retirements and created jobs in any given year could possibly have solved a potential but not necessarily likely shortage of administrators in the next decade. It just created wasted time and wasted lives.

So, I think it’s a hoax to annoy Davis. On the other hand, it could be the real deal. You make the call.



  1. A warning to anybody who might want to Google Denise Davies to see if there’s been any reaction from her or ALA: the first page of hits appears to be for a porn star! The Internet is really not this woman’s friend.

  2. Davis, not Davies? says:

    The article link to the retirement data lists Denise “Davis” as an author, as opposed to “Davies” in the ad…I smell a hoax (or someone who doesn’t know how to spell).

  3. Cathleen Bourdon says:

    Dear Annoyed Librarian,
    You were right to figure out that this is a hoax. Although it’s a rather clever prank, I’m concerned that the Sacramento Public Library will be bothered by a lot of calls over this. I’m hoping that most folks will see it for the hoax that it is.
    Cathleen Bourdon, American Library Association

  4. I saw this come up on a listserv that I subscribe and the list owner had to post saying that spam wouldn’t be tolerated.
    I hope the Sacramento Public Library makes an announcement, warning this is a prank.

  5. Yeah, it’s probably a prank or a hoax, but I don’t really care. After all, it’s regular folks – not ALA elites – who have been subject to a really cruel and expensive series of pranks for years now. Y’know, the prank where people go to graduate school, under the false impression that there will be jobs available after they graduate, and then they have their hopes and dreams destroyed because there aren’t enough jobs to go around? Super-funny prank, huh?

    A librarian shortage “just around the corner!” Hilarious! Hysterical!

    It was also pretty great to have an ALA representative come by to clear up the Davis hoax for us. Ms. Bourdon is the Associate Executive Director for Communications and Media Relations at American Libraries magazine! Does that make AL important now?

    Annoyed Librarian for ALA president!

    I wonder if Ms. Bourdon might come back to clear up the hoaxes for which the ALA is responsible?

  6. Bruce Campbell says:

    Weird story.

    Good post, AL.

    Sad statistics, everyone. But as long as we are not like that unemployed guy in the UK we should all be OK.

  7. Take it from someone who is going back to get a real masters degree (MBA). An MLIS is a waste of time, effort and money. As has been painfully pointed out in this blog many times, the jobs aren’t there nor will they ever be.

    The AL is doing library students a public service.

  8. This is the BEST hoax/prank that librarians can come up with???

    Sheesh… ::lowers head in shame::

    Who actually cares if some “official” spokesperson from ALA clears this up, if you’re even gullible enough to believe this message in the first place, I have an MLIS-in-progress I’d like to sell you.

  9. needs a 'nym says:

    I don’t really count this as a hoax or prank, since it’s so transparent (or at least should be transparent, with our vaunted information literacy skills). I look at it more as a bit of viral satire condemning the ALA’s lies and Ms. Davies’ role in perpetuating them. It’s not too bad for what it is, I think.

  10. I just called that number for sh*ts and giggles and the Sacramento Public Library personnel member on the phone says it was a hoax and that the Library is not hiring at all….hehehehe

  11. Spekkio, I’m with you on the bitterness, but not so much on hitting people at the Sacramento library with a ton of calls over this. They may well have actual library work to do.

    I’d definitely appreciate an apology from the ALA for the librarian shortage hoax as well, but it’s not gonna happen.

  12. I’m tickled pink AL made a whole blog post about this [and as one of the commentators in the previous post, although I’m not sure I was the first to mention it so I won’t take that glory] I can’t believe this is out on job sites, lol. I do feel for the library staff who may get these calls, but it’s a great commentary on the supposed job ‘shortage’

  13. —Whoops, I meant the coming job ‘surplus’ in that last message [it is late and I’m tired]

  14. Annie Linney says:

    Ha! Have you seen this?

    Davies was hired by Sacramento PL for LONG-RANGE PLANNING!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

    (After causing such a catastrophe by falsely predicting the librarian shortage, would you want her planning anything for your library? Nuff said.)

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