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Inside Annoyed Librarian

New Grads on the Market: Report from the Field

Times are hard for new library school graduates looking for their first job. Here they are, shiny MLS degrees in hand, eager to enter the library workforce and contribute something to society, and no one is offering them jobs.

What recent graduates might not know is that it’s always been hard to find jobs, especially jobs doing what you want to do in an area of the country you want to live. The profession goes through periods of bust and not quite so bust. In the 1960s, librarians were told there would be librarian shortages. In the 1970s there was a huge oversupply of librarians. Sound familiar?

To find out just what’s going on, I dispatched one of my minions to scour the country and report on the status of new graduates, human interest kinda stuff that everyone likes to read about.

Here’s the first report, a profile of a recent graduate and her struggles on the job market. I think we can all learn a lesson from it.

Report from the Field

Megan W. graduated in May, but still has been unable to find work as a librarian, despite having sent out over 15 applications.

“I have the degree and everything,” says Megan. “It was great, I was able to stay in Sheboygan and get my degree online. I didn’t even have to quit my job as a teacher’s aid.”

Online programs have become increasingly popular with students getting an MLS degree.  One LIS dean told us that getting an MLS online is “almost like the real thing,” but declined permission to name her program after she found out we were reporters and not prospective students.

What Megan lacks in library experience she seems to make up for in librarian-like skills.  “She’s great at reading to her cats.  I’ve seen it really calm them.” says her former roommate Jenny. “But I don’t think she wants to work with children, so maybe that doesn’t matter.”  Jenny adds, “She was also awesome at organizing our video collection.”

Megan confirms that she’s had enough of working with children in her job as a teacher’s aid, which she left in May on the hope of landing a library job quickly.  “I had enough snotty noses, but the books are fun!  I took a class in children’s lit so I could read the books.  My cats liked it.”

When asked about her job search Megan shared that she’d like to live within a a couple of hours of her current home but that she’s also willing to live “someplace interesting.”

What is most baffling about Megan’s inability to find work as a librarian is the great number of jobs available in the field.

According to her friend, Josh, “There are a lot of retirements in libraries, so there should be a lot of jobs available.  That’s one of the reasons Megan chose that degree.  She did her research, I mean, she’s a librarian and all.  She knows how to find out stuff.”

Megan is trying not to be bitter about her newly chosen career and says “I know that the right job is out there for me.  The ALA virtually promised it in the report that they wrote several years ago and the professors all said there were lots of jobs.  I just might need to extend my search by a few more miles, that kind of a thing.  Or maybe work at a community college.”



  1. theblackabbot says:

    Absolutely priceless story – bring a tear to my eye! I especially like the dean that says an online MLS is “almost like the real thing.” That sounds about right.

  2. The storm of cliches would be funny if I hadn’t heard so many of them in earnest from starry-eyed naive library schoolers back before graduation and reality beat them into submission.

  3. Eh. Things are what you make of them. A lot of people got hoodwinked by the exaggeration of the market – I remember that an Occupational Outlook Handbook in my high school guidance counselor’s office claimed that many librarians were slated to retire soon, and that was probably in 2002 or 2003. But some of the problem is a general educational philosophy that insists that a higher-level degree is a work magnet, and simultaneously trains kids not to apply concepts like supply and demand to themselves.

  4. I think the only one I’ve actually heard was the “librarians are retiring” from an academic librarian who was encouraging me in my choice of career as a freshman in undergrad. I didn’t really take it to heart though – but it was useful in convincing my mom I wasn’t going to starve (she wanted me to get a teaching degree to fall back on, or she did until she tried to get back into teaching…) I was lucky and landed a job right out of college but I have friends who are still searching.

  5. The problem I am seeing is that librarians (particularly new ones) have no clue how to sell themselves during the hiring process. Resumes that look like they were types in Notepad, contain far to little detail, contain far too much detail (>2 pages is not appropriate outside an academic environment), and resumes poorly tailored to the position are the standard. A good looking resume is a rarity. I suspect that many of those bemoaning the lack of jobs are unable to obtain jobs due as much to their lack of skill as the market in general.

    Here’s a hint for all library science grads: Do NOT take advice on resume building or interviewing from your department, instead go to another department like business…you will get better advice.

  6. Wow. Just…wow. Do we need to extend Poe’s law to library school graduates now?

  7. Midwest SciTech Librarian says:

    Wow! A whole 15 applications in 5 months? She must be getting carpal tunnel syndrome from all that typing! And I’m doubly surprised that the job market in the Sheboygan metro area isn’t bursting with job openings! Not to mention, it’s such a smart move to quit your current job before securing another. You go girl!

    Please tell me that this is an attempt at humor and not a real scenario — though I could very well believe it having witnessed some of the college students in my library. Since she is so good at organizing her videos, maybe she should apply to get a job stocking those Red Box vending machines…though on the down side, it would take away from her cats’ story time.

    • Pretty sure this is tongue-firmly-in-cheek. Of course the problem is that life is imitating satire a little too well on a daily basis at library schools around the country.

  8. Wow. Please tell me this isn’t real.

  9. That was quite amusing. What isn’t amusing is the 15 months I’ve been trying to find a librarian position in Austin. While it’s true that I just received my MLIS last December, I was already working as a librarian in California before relocating to Texas. The only thing I’ve been able to find is a library clerk position with less than 30 hours a month.

    • Really? You moved to Austin, with an I-School of some 130 new students recently, many of whom want to stay in Austin, love Austin, can’t think of living anywhere else, and you’re surprised there aren’t many openings here? Sigh. I am truly sorry.

    • Emme, Shelly is right. You will have to choose between staying in Austin or getting a job that requires your MLIS. I don’t work in the city or state I attended library school in–you want to be somewhere with less supply and more demand. Maybe you can find an hourly gig somewhere to supplement your 30 hour paraprofessional gig, otherwise I recommend you go to the next ALA or TLA (I assume there’s a TLA) conference and interview for everything that’s in a place you can imagine yourself living.

    • Houston Librarian says:

      You very rarely see any posting for Austin Library positions for just the reasons given above.

      Your best bet, and its not a very good one, is to start volunteering in Austin/San Antonio and hope that build some connections.

      Good luck!

    • To the people who replied to my comments: When we first considered moving to Austin there were library openings here. I applied for those positions before moving here and was granted a couple of interviews,but did not receive those jobs. I’m going to tough it out here in Austin, because the chances are better that I will receive a kidney transplant here in Texas than in California, where I formerly resided. I am pretty close to the top of the list here, but I would have to wait another 5-8 years to come to the top of the list in California. And I’m not expected to live that long.

      So…job or no. I’m in Austin to stay.

    • Formerprof says:

      Emme, why in the HELL would you want to work as a part-time clerk if you may only have 5 years to live? Is that all you want out of life? Dr. Formerprof (not a medical doctor, but a doctor of philosophy) knows you can do better.

    • @Formerprof: Oh, it isn’t my deepest desire to remain a library clerk, especially since I’m living on borrowed time. But the little library is the only place that has hired me (besides Sonic, which turned out to be too many standing hours and less money full-time than I make part-time as a library clerk). I had hopes when the library hired me as a clerk that they would eventually be able to budget for a PT or FT reference librarian position for me, but there has not been enough of a recovery for our small rural library to hire me on permanently.

    • Good luck with your health and career.

  10. While I know this is not an actual case, I believe it reflects what many current librarians believe about recent graduates. Please realize that most of us are not this silly, we have practical experience, we attend classes in person, and we don’t do this profession because it will be a job, but because we love it!
    -A soon to be graduate.

    • Also, I think they are short-selling online programs. As a Valdosta graduate I can say the person who pulls themselves through an online program has a great degree of self-motivation. You aren’t reading, researching, or writing any less than if you were attending a brick and mortar class. You just don’t have the face-to-face experience with your professors as a motivator to get the work done.

      That being said you need to canvas the industry broadly for a job. Set up multiple job board feeds. Pick the cities you can see yourself in, prepare to relocate. I am well employed now, but it took me over a year to reach this point.

    • I am going to finish my MLIS in May. I will have completed it all online. I find it rather offensive to be referred to as “silly” because I didn’t attend classes in person. I haven’t been able to go to class and simply absorb the information. There is much more reading and self-motivated learning in the online environment. It is easier when you can see your professor and classmates.

      I am currently a part-time library clerk, hoping to find something better in the near future. I am well aware that I will likely have to commute a long distance or simply move in order to get a decent job. Although with the way the economy is, most of the libraries I apply to are taking full-time positions and splitting them in half so they don’t have to pay their employees benefits.

  11. The real key to getting a library job: be willing to move to the middle of nowhere. The libraries in my area are constantly hiring. Sure it sucks to move from somewhere cosmopolitan and exciting to a complete backwater, but stick it out for a couple of years and hopefully you’ll be able to find a job somewhere slightly better. Repeat that cycle a few times and you might even end up back in civilization again someday.

  12. Or move the inner city. We’ve been understaffed at my library the entire time I’ve worked there. We just don’t pay you enough to live in a safe neighborhood!

  13. The One and Only Anon says:

    Baxter – WHERE are you located?
    Jen – exactly. Lots of jobs in places where you’d better have good health insurance or a personal bodyguard.

  14. I snorted after “despite having sent out over 15 applications”. Good stuff, thanks for the laugh

    Just my experience: middle of nowhere jobs are hard to come by too. Plus unless you are local/same state most hiring managers won’t really look at your resume either. all my schoolmates were totally willing to move “out there” but the competition is still stiff.

    -an under-employed recent graduate

  15. Okay I know this write up is absurd and makes fun of something that is NOT funny. I have posted many times. My daughter graduated from a real library school. She has had library internships, and worked for a college archivist while an undergraduate. She has put out a tremendous amount of applications. Had a librarian help her with her resume. Had an expert help her with her resume. Taken 15 extra credits toward archives. Is now working on a certificate for web design. Is willing, and has applied to anywhere, anyplace. I do not find this amusing. This is bullying and elitism. There are bright motivated people who cannot find work. I think you all need to be ashamed and annoyed and think you are annoying. She is currently working as a paraprofessional. It is not funny. And you should all look in the mirror and ask yourselves what kind of people you are and what are you…your attitudes mirror your souls and your souls are empty.

    • Okay then! I do agree the piece is a bit snarky, but Megan at least has a sense of humor about her somewhat underwhelming efforts. Emme and Joyce need to look around a bit and realize that times is hard. Austin is full of new locally produced MIS grads who can’t bear to leave, and the major library employer locally is filling one position for every three or four that become vacant due to budgetary difficulties. The same is true everywhere, just read the newspaper. People WITH jobs are laying awake at night wondering if they are next. Archives are fun and rewarding places to work, but not exactly a growth sector of the economy. All types of libraries depend on the largesse, affluence and foresight of their parent institutions or societies for their existence. Right now, that’s not looking so hot as a survival strategy. Getting a MLS or MIS is just the acquisition of a toolbox – even a virtual one. Time to get creative and find another way to succeed.

    • Don’t discount the importance of reading to cats. You might end up making an artificially intelligent one that answers your patron’s questions.

    • The fact that she is working in anything resembling a library is a feat in itself. I have 17 years of experience, dual masters degrees, literature published, and have a position that was de-professionalized.

    • I’m sorry that your daughter was lied to about the job market. It’s been very hard to find a professional library job for many years, which is why most of us working in the field advise prospective students to not go for the degree. It’s been worse since 2008 for new graduates, with many of those who find jobs working in part time positions which don’t require the degree. The schools lie because they want to survive, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook is not too helpful either. It is still possible if your daughter wants to move to places most librarians wouldn’t want to live, which isn’t generally isn’t possible for an archivist.

      I graduated in 2006 from one of the top schools. Most of the people I went to school with were not intersted in becoming librarians. They were working full time and wanted a Master’s Degree to advance in their non library positions. Others were working in libraries or schools often full time. Those who worked in assistantships while at school mostly went into the corporate world, and few into academia. Only one works in a public library and is now a department head in a flyover state.

      It’s really tough for new grads in many fields. Law is worse with grads coming out of school with $100,000 or more in debt and no possibility of finding a job.

    • Depressed library student says:

      Joyce, the truth is that no one owes your daughter a job. From your description she sounds motivated and qualified, but the market is so glutted with librarians right now that she is indeed lucky to be working in a library at all. Furthermore, the post is indicative of the moronic and anti-social behaviour that a lot of library school students (and librarians!) exhibit. This kind of behaviour and attitude has no place in a professional work environment. It ain’t elitism if it’s true. Also, your comment loses all credibility with the “your souls are empty” bit. Calm down, helicopter parent.

    • Hi Joyce – your frustration about pursing librarianship after the arc of the profession began to descend is clear. My concern for you and your daughter is that in pursuing a certificate in web design there’s a high chance you’ll be disappointed again. I’ve worked in the tech field for 30 years and have seen many trends and technologies come and go. Anything termed “web design” and offered at a certificate level is already passe. Web development today involves sophisticated platforms and rich systems/business process integration — and while there are jobs within this ecosystem, introductory training in markup languages, scripting and graphics probably won’t be enough to position someone for a job with stability and growth potential. Another thing to be aware of is that the job market is so horrible that loads of experienced, unemployed tech folks are taking lower level jobs and they’ll also be competing with your daughter.

      Hope this info helps, Jean

    • Jean is spot-on. I had classes in web design, and it is one small piece of my job. I could never land a job in that field because I’d be competing against people far more proficient. One of the things that has helped me is acquiring a second language to add to other skills. It’s hard work and takes years, but there is something wonderful about being able to speak and understand another language.

    • Most of the other young people I know have had to take two or three part-time paraprofessional jobs at various libraries (or one library and somewhere else) before breaking in somewhere professionally.

    • Joyce:

      I very much feel for your daughter if you are the one she thinks is fighting her battles for her. Last post you called librarians “self centered arrogant individuals.” Today we are people with empty souls. My guess is that your daughter is one of those typical self-absorbed, narcissistic 20-somethings who grew up having mommy pamper and pet her so much she expects life to be delivered to her on a silver platter.

      In the worst economy since the Great Depression my parents would not have let me whine for long, and certainly would not be out there telling caring, dedicated professionals they are elitist monsters because the librarians have not hired their precious baby. My mom would have told me to get off my fanny and figure out a way to get what I want no matter how hard I had to work at it. Of course, both my parents owned their own small businesses, as do I, and whining just isn’t something that works well in the business (real) world.

      I can’t imagine how you think you’re helping your daughter. We now know to watch out for a 2008-2010 grad with undergrad archives experience, working PT as a paraprofessional as of Nov. 2011 with a mommy dearest named (possibly) “Joyce.” I see that person and I am running not walking away from that application because I do not want mommy calling me when daughter darling has a problem with me making her do actual (meaning not fun, not glamorous, possibly boring, has to be done) work. Most people do not agree with AL on everything, some on nothing. But lots of people read this column as it presents a different viewpoint from the general rah-rah cheerleading and, even if it’s only subconsciously, their opinion of your daughter is bound to be affected by reading this.

      I mentor new grads all the time and give my precious time at conferences to do more of it. And many, many librarians have mentored and continue to mentor me in my career. I do hope you are sending your poison pen letters to librarians to the librarian who “help[ed] her with her resume,” so he or she knows exactly what you really think of them.

      You should be grateful to AL and this column – (s)he is one of the few sounding the alarm about the MLS diploma mills and what they are doing to the quality of our profession and MLS grads. If your daughter is as superior as you portray, satire like this may weed out some of the bad programs and bad applicants making room for the better ones to shine. But in a time where Harvard Law graduates can have a very tough time finding a job your complaints about the cruelty of librarians towards your precious offspring are annoying, thoughtless and superficial.

    • Formerprof says:

      Your daughter needs to spend less time in school and more time networking. Jobs come from who you know, not what you know, especially in fields as easy and simple as librarianship.

      I would also recommend she widen her job search beyond libraries. Libraries, if they survive at all, will be marginalized in society.

      And another thing, why are you making your daughter’s case? She should be on this board making her own statements.

    • Your daughter needs to go to the professional conferences with a stack of resumes and apply for every job she’s qualified for and be willing to move when she is offered one. It’s possible we’re dead souls, it’s also possible that you are taking this so hard because it is too close truths you don’t want to admit.

    • It’s an upsetting time. It’s difficult to be a parent and see your kid struggling despite their best efforts. If it’s worth anything, I mopped floors, worked a convenience store, multiple retail gigs, dodged a couple exploitation scams, I was a page for minimum wage and I did a lot of good work for nothing while I waited for my ship to come in. Eventually it did. I got a full-time job in cataloging and research and even ended up doing a bit of administration. I couldn’t have asked for a better career starter. Things can turn around fast. The only true defeat is when you give up and sit on your heels. (And I’ve done that too!)

      Good luck to your daughter.

    • BFrank, I’m not sure how you got the idea that I wasn’t looking around a bit and seeing how hard things are. I think that the 35 or so rejections I have gotten for library (and similar)positions over the past 18 months would be indicative of how difficult the job market is right now. I am not a starry-eyed kid– I am a tenacious job-hunter and constant networker. As long as I can stay alive on dialysis (not an easy task, by any means) I will keep applying, interviewing and networking until I find a more permanent job. Forgive me if I seem a bit impatient, but I would like to be more gainfully employed soon because the 9K a month medical bills are rather beyond my library clerk salary.

  16. Joyce, since graduating in May 2009, I have been underemployed. First I found a 19-hour a week position that allowed me to just break even; then I found another 19-hour a week position that allowed me to do slightly better than breaking even, but that guarantees that I only have two days off a month.

    Humor is necessary in these situations, in order to stay sane.

    I know that I will find full-time work, because I’m not a dumbass, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t go to school with a lot of dumbasses, and I will continue to make fun of anyone who isn’t willing to do what is necessary to get that first job i.e. do something different than what you “focused” on in library school and/or move.

    I’m sure your daughter is one of the good ones, but not every library student is. I was shocked by the idiocy and lack of basic grammatical skills I encountered far too frequently in library school, and unless those people change dramatically, I don’t think they deserve a library job just based on the fact that some program eagerly took their tuition dollars and then gave them a piece of paper.

    • Andria, that’s my story. I actually had a full time job out of grad school, but I was working for a bully and eventually opted to part time. It took a lot of hustling, I’m now in a pretty good position juggling a 20 permanent gig with a couple of high paying but hourly ones. The key for me, and I’m sure you, was being willing to take the opportunities that were there as they came and keep scrambling for the new ones as they came along. You can’t always hit a home run, but if you get on base you can move your way around the path until you come home.

    • I wish there were a “like” button for these comments.

    • Andria & teetop, that’s exactly how I did it. Moved to another state to take a part time gig in YS (which was by no means my first choice department), supplementing that by working at a bookstore; then quit the bookstore to take another part time job at a second, run down library in the same system 40 mins away; got offered full time at the first library and did that for a while; then moved 3000 miles across the country to take an AS job at a top notch Public Library. You have to parlay; that’s how it works; that’s the world we live in. Hundreds of people apply for every job that gets posted, and many of those people have a lot more experience that Joyce’s daughter. She may have a great resume, but there are dozens of great resumes stacked on HR desks all across the country. Skill sets are equal in many cases, so libraries are looking for personalities, folks that will be interesting to have in the building. If Joyce’s daughter’s personality is anything like her mother’s, she doesn’t have a prayer. To call us bullies and elitists because we’re honest about the situation (even if it’s in a jocular manner) is ridiculous and shows a complete lack of understanding for the fact that most of us were in the same position as her daughter once.

  17. Before entering the library field, I spent 15 years as a professional classical musician. I won’t go into details, but music is a far tougher field than librarianship. I never pulled any punches with my students – they knew what they were getting into and what would be required if they wanted to succeed. It was always sad to see youngsters who were unwilling to put in the hours of very hard work needed to perform at a professional level, yet still felt entitled to a position with a major orchestra. Many of them had to take a few auditions and fail before they figured it out. I’m not saying that your daughter is like this, but I’d tell her the same thing I used to tell my students – no one cares if there’s one less horn player in the world and there’s no reason they should. If you don’t want to pay the price required to succeed, do something else.

    • RefLib2011 says:

      I’d like to see a blog dedicated to the number of applicants applying to various librarian-related positions. I applied for a volunteer position at one of my local public library branches and still haven’t heard back.

  18. As one who is involved with hiring for our library system, I want to make sure folks understand the sheer volume of applications that are coming in. Like 193 people applying for a part-time shelver position — many of them with bachelor’s degrees or more in a variety of fields — because the job market just isn’t good. Period. That ad only ran for a week. As for applications for professional positions, some of them are so poorly written that it’s hard to understand how the applicants got into grad school. Pssst! I always notice a cover letter or e-mail inquiry that includes a statement re: being passionate about libraries. I’ll interview those applicants every time. Skill sets can be learned, attitudes cannot.

  19. Formerprof makes a very important statement — Joyce’s daughter needs to concentrate on networking, not more schooling. And no matter how well-intentioned, Mom cannot do that for her.

  20. I applied for a position as an academic librarian in rural Maryland. I was lucky enough to be one of 30 applicants chosen for a phone interview. Unfortunately I did not get the position (Although I am fortunate enough to be gainfully employed now). When, the search committee e-mailed me following the interview they informed me that the original applicant pool included 318 people!! 318 people applied for a position at a university in the middle of nowhere! I started applying for positions in February (I graduated in May) and would literally apply for at least 10 positions per week. I finally moved 2,100 miles away from my home state for a position that I am enjoying thoroughly.

    @Joyce If you daughter wants a position she has to be flexible enough to relocate, diligent enough to keep applying through all the rejection letters, and determined enough to hone her resume and interview skills.

  21. RefLib2011 says:

    There are simply not enough jobs – period! And yes, in this economy, if you are working as a paraprofessional with an MLIS consider yourself lucky. Also dispel the relocation myth – those out-of-state, backwater libraries are on to us as well.

    I wanted to believe that my second masters and years in education would allow me to rise to the top, but I am still applying and waiting. It’s an employer’s market and they like what they see, but they are ‘just not that into me.’

    I say, find your niche and become an expert at whatever you do best – publish, give presentations, attain name recognition; it allows you to stand out in a crowd. That is my next game plan.

    I’ll let you all know how it works out.

  22. The outgoing one says:

    I was just at a state library conference, and it occurred to me that if you are an arrogant male, it apparently works to market yourself as some kind of expert, then tell the librarians about how outdated they and their libraries are. It’s a growth industry, and the more arrogant you are, the better!

    • Yeah for sexism being alive and well in the professional librarian ranks.

    • I’m a humble guy who doesn’t claim expertise in anything, and I’ve had several successes in the public library job market. The other males in my office exude nothing but humility, as well. We all have pretty healthy senses of humor, but it doesn’t even come close to bordering on arrogance. With due respect, I’m not sure how to take The outgoing one’s comment.

  23. Outgoing one, good points. Especially if the library is a public library.

    • RefLib2011 says:

      I don’t believe that the number of positions one applies to directly influences your odds of getting any job. It really does depend upon what the prospective employer is seeking in an applicant. If Megan is competing in a saturated market with librarians that have more experience or whatever their expertise, then it’s going to be a tough road ahead. I say stay in your paraprofessional position and offer to do anything and everything you can to increase your paid experience. Publish, produce something innovative – make employers stand up and take notice of you.

  24. Boozehound says:

    “Megan W. graduated in May, but still has been unable to find work as a librarian, despite having sent out over 15 applications.”

    Well, that’s your problem right there. I graduated in 2002 and I still sent out 50+ applications before landing my job. Most of my classmates had the same problem.

  25. The traits of the successful candidates I have hired are: desire/enthusiasm/experience teaching and willingness to serve info seekers in any environment. I see the last line of the post is, “or maybe work at a community college.” Actually as a director of the library at one – it is one of the most challenging environments.

  26. I can’t speak for another but my take on Outgoing One’s tongue-in-cheek comment had more to do with arrogant people who have never worked in a library proclaiming to know all about them and claiming that those who actually work in libraries are so behind, slow witted or whatever. I’ve been at conferences where I’ve seen this happen, particularly as it relates to public libraries and librarians. The ones I’ve heard just happened to be male, but that doesn’t mean that anyone, regardless of gender, can’t be just as irritating.

  27. To all those who say, well just move 2,100 miles…
    I admit, I want to scream every time I hear this advice. For me personally, my husband just decided to continue on to get his PhD in Computer Science. So I either abandon him and move across country or never find a job in the profession I have chosen not due to being lied to (my advisors and teachers have always been very candid about the market) but because it is what I feel called to do. When these seem like ones only options it is hard not to despair. What do you suggest for those who just cannot move?

    • No offense, but if you willingly went into the library field knowing full well you wouldn’t be able to move, I’m sorry, but that’s on you. That was not a very well thought out career move – especially considering you were properly advised. Everyone I know from library school that is currently employed at a library had to move, and we all knew it going in. You want advice about what it takes to land a job, and then when people give it to you honestly, you don’t want to hear it. What if I said: “It’s my calling to join the Peace Corps, but I don’t want to move out of Chicago”? Laughable. Time for a reality check.

    • Anna Mort Call says:

      I suggest trying to make do with what’s there. Since you’ll be near an institute of higher education and therefore near professors, there may be academics willing to employ a librarian to care for their private book collections or help them with their research. Craigslist may be a good start. I see amazing catchphrases. “A Librarian When You Need One!” “So useful, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without your personal librarian!”

      Good luck.

    • “What do you suggest for those who just cannot move?” Think outside the “L.” I’m not trying to be snarky. If you must work and there are no job openings for positions that start with “L” or in buildings with “L” on them, then apply for positions at buildings with other letters, such as university, college, school, association, museum and yes, corporation.

      Like all things in life, you must decide what is more important to you: a job with a specific job title or a job that uses your skills.

    • Nerdy Librarian says:

      I couldn’t move when I was doing my job hunt. My husband and I were both looking at the same time. He got lucky first so I was looking in that area. I had to get creative and wound up with a low paying job in a small special library. This job turned out to be a terrific opportunity that led to great places.

      I also suggest that you look past job titles if you’re looking outside standard public library jobs. People hiring for special libraries or libraries within other organizations aren’t going to use standardized job titles.

      A special library job may be advertised as a library technician job (and pay accordingly) but the description may reveal a job where your MLIS will come in handy – or at least be something you can use. A couple of years in that sort of job can give you the experience you need to branch out elsewhere.

      Once you’re in a job like that too, it’s also worth pointing out to your boss that “Librarian” might be a more descriptive title for the job you are doing.

  28. RefLib2011 says:

    Kate, here are my thoughts… what separates you from the pack of librarians that are already out there looking for a job? In my locale, there were over 100 applicants that applied for a part-time, temporary paraprofessional position. I am on a library volunteer wait-list. How do you set yourself apart from the competition? What is your focus area? Set up those informational interviews with librarians in your proposed field – get some face time with them. Network with your local library association. Do you have skills that they might be able to use?

    It’s hard for me to market myself, so I’ve fallen back on my second masters in English to work as an online adjunct. My goal is to become a distance education/learning librarian, so I plan to use that experience to help me meet my objectives.

    Just some thoughts.

  29. Kate, do you need to earn a living, or will your husband’s salary carry you? If you’re interested in public libraries, they are often eager for volunteers who can do complex projects. You could volunteer, work to obtain a temp position, or even consider a job in another field. I know people who have worked as records and database managers, on non profits, or organizations. I’d get to know my new community, find out who the players are and get to know them — keep the focus on them, that is see what it is they need. Also, look into getting a part time or full time job doing something else for a time, and see about how to at least volunteer in your new communty. It will take time, but you will find that doors will open though perhaps not in ways you expect.

    Anyway, I hope this helps and best wishes.


  30. Best way I showcased myself was to start off as a paraprofessional. Yea sure it may just be a circulation clerk or a shelver, but those positions take skills and practice and the best librarians (IMHO) come from these sorts of positions.

    I worked two part-time gigs as a page and a clerk in two separate libraries, with no car, and while attending grad school for several years. I excelled at both jobs and after a few years something opened up and they were happy to have me.

  31. Respectfully, you’re all a bunch of idiots. As are most recent graduates. As are most current job-seekers. If you have not found a job, then you are doing something wrong. Your resume sucks. You interview poorly. You’re applying for jobs you’re not qualified for. Most likely, your resume sucks, and your cover letter probably sucks right along with it.

    I’ve never been unemployed for longer than 4 weeks, including at the height of the bad economy. This was with only a bachelor’s degree. The jobs I got were all salaried, full-time, professional positions with benefits. If you’re not getting a job, it’s because you’re a moron. Period. Get smarter. Stop complaining.

  32. Regular Guy with MLS says:

    I’m not silly, like your invented character. I’m not a “moron,” and my resume doesn’t “suck,” as Dustin so professionally expresses it. I understand the reality of the job hunt, and the realities of the jobs themselves. I have library experience. I graduated in a year when there were zero library job openings in my state for an entire year. Zero. By the following year, when openings began to trickle in again, one at a time, I was competing for a job with grads from both the year before and the year after. I began looking before graduating. The openings were, as one would expect from retirements, not entry level. I’ve heard too often those with professional positions blaming those without for a) not having worked hard enough on their resume; b) not being willing to move; c) interviewing poorly; or d) just plain not being as intelligent, talented, or savvy as those with jobs. Just read Dustin’s very unprofessional entry. Now, why does someone who calls people “morons” and who uses the verb, “sucks” have a professional position, when many very qualified and far more professional candidates do not?

  33. I feel your pain. My daughter has been looking for many years and is now going for her certificate in web design. She is not a moron. Her resume has been gone over several times by professionals. Yet she too cannot get a job. And the response from people on this blog about my daughter getting a certificate in computers was basically that she could just pick that up – well duh she has. She works part time in a library on the computer help desk but still has no professional job. I don’t understand how half of these people, let alone annoyed , who puts down recent grads and does not mentor them, has a professional position.

  34. Once again all you do is make fun of people who have attempted to better themselves. Yes they should know that an on line degree will likely lead to heart ache. However, this is the same kind of propaganda that led most of the American population to over spend on housing believing that housing will always go up. Education is nothing but a big business and there is little regard as to what happens to people after they finish a “degree”. Instead of making fun why aren’t all of you “professionals” spreading the word. You all make me sick, librarians as mentors, more like nothing but bullies, especially the annoyed librarian – the biggest ego, bully, and useless professional of all.

  35. George Kaplan says:

    I’ve noticed a lot of comments from people who’ve taken part-time positions in hopes of catching something full time later on. I’ve done something similar – I took a full-time but temporary position, and am now looking for something permanent.

    Lots of people are asserting that it’s important to be willing to work part time, but according to AL, aren’t part time and temporary positions “library jobs that suck?”

    I don’t agree with much of what Joyce is saying, but I will say this: AL is asinine. The lack of empathy – the derision – expressed toward new library colleagues is childish. The real problem isn’t that library schools are “puppy mills” or that new librarians are suckers for believing all this talk about impending retirements. The problem is librarianship is AL’s toy, and nobody else is allowed to play with it.

    • Formerprof says:

      You are exactly wrong. The real problem is that library schools ARE “puppy mills” and that new librarians ARE suckers for believing all this talk about impending retirements.

      Part time and temporary positions DO SUCK. You know this is true. That’s why you’re looking for “something permanent.”

  36. Former Syracuse Student says:

    As a graduate of an online MLS program through Syracuse’s iSchool I can say that I did not feel as though I had an experience that would be comparable to that of a traditional seated classroom environment. The lack of interaction with professors is downright frustrating. I had a professor for my IST 618 (Survey of Telecommunications and Information Policy) who, a few weeks into the semester, simply went AWOL. There was no way to reach her (she did not respond to emails) and calling her office phone was useless because she – obviously – wasn’t on campus. All this wouldn’t have been so bad (all you have to do is get someone to release the module materials each week, which a GA could do) but she decided to give everyone in the class a grade below 50% on the first (major) assignment in the course, and then give absolutely no explanation as to why the grades were so low. This is the type of thing you run into with online coursework, which would NEVER happen in a “real” classroom.

  37. Look sometimes we all have to step outside our comfort zone with what we want to do and end up doing. I graduated in Fall 10 with a BBA in HRM and I can only tell you how automation and downsized staffs are the mainstay now more so then before the Crash. Automation has affected me like it has effected the library staff also, so sometimes its a step away from what you “think” you want to do and toward something you know.

    I had worked designing websites prior to college and decided to start my own very small firm, out of my spare room at first but I stuck with it and over time it is now a small office with two employees helping out other small businesses to get themselves on the net in the best way possible.

    Don’t think that every step outside your intended profession is fatal, it could be a good thing in the long run.

  38. I came across this post after I read a letter to the editor criticizing it as inappropriate. The letter was from a mother of a recent MLS graduate who was having difficulty locating a job in the field.

    As a professional in the library field, I feel that it is part of my duty to mentor new librarians, support students in MLS programs in their endeavors, and generally be a team player regarding my cohorts in the field, be they folks who have been in the field for a while or folks new to the field.

    The Library Journal, both in paper and in website form, is a resource that we use on a regular basis for the progression of our profession and the careers of those in our profession. To belittle a librarian or prospective librarian in the manner that you have through this post is unprofessional and warrants significant review and evaluation. It is a hard market out there, and job searching, like anything else, requires a skill set that can only be learned through the process of trial and error.

    You do yourself and your profession a dis-service by overtly disrespecting your peers, especially in such a public manner. These individuals you are currently using as an emotional punching bag for no other reason than a cheap chuckle, will, in the time span of a few years, be sitting on committees with you, attending conferences with you, and providing peer evaluations for you. One of them may even become your boss someday.

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