Annoyed Librarian
Search ....
Subscribe to LJ
Inside Annoyed Librarian

Librarians: Evolving or Extinct?

Earlier this year, many insecure librarians were distraught to see that Forbes had declared the MLS the worst master’s degree for jobs. The President of the ALA was so panicked that she had to issue a reply saying, in essence, “nuh uh.” Or was it, “librarians don’t get into this work for the jobs and money.” Maybe it was a bit of both.

But now everyone can rest easy, because the august and prestigious website has asked the riveting question: 12 Jobs on the Brink: Will they Evolve or Go Extinct? The definite answer is that they will all go extinct eventually, like the humans who worked at them, just not on 12/21/12 like the idiots thought.

The question is answered in a slide presentation, which is an obvious sign of serious investigative journalism and not click-bait sensationalism. A kind reader sent me the link to the librarian slide, in which we find out that the job of librarian will…evolve.

Whew, that’s a load off my mind. When smart, serious people like whoever wrote that article decides something, it must be true!

And check out the picture, the shusher ubiquitous throughout libraries. From that alone we can tell that we’re a victim of Public Library Privilege, where “Librarian” means “Public Librarian.” That works out well when people talk about librarian stereotypes as well, because the stereotypes are never of academic or special librarians.

The title starts the review off stupidly and it goes downhill from there. “Librarian: Shelved or renewed?” Clever!

Then we get this:

Glamour girl Google and her friends Bing, Yahoo and Cha Cha dethroned the trusty silencer of the stacks, our public librarian.

Wait, does this mean that Glamour girl Google now silences us in the stacks? Can a trusty silencer of the stacks ever really be dethroned? Was she on a throne? Is that a metaphor for toilet? And when was the last time anyone used Cha Cha?

It gets better.

Now, the local library is online, shoes and shirts are no longer required and we can use our “outdoor voice” indoors if we are so inspired. Will the decibel diva’s future be shelved?

The “decibel diva”? What barren land devoid of critical thought have we stumbled into? And if someone thinks the local library is all online, they clearly don’t read much or don’t use libraries.

And then the verdict.

Verdict: Evolved. Although virtual media and the Internet search deleted the Dewey decimal system, people still enjoy reading books the old-fashioned way and appreciate research help. The new librarian is a digital archivist, savvy with searches, keywords and helpful websites.

“Deleted the Dewey Decimal System”? That’s a lot of alliteration for wrong writers anxious for attention. Last time I checked the Dewey Decimal System is still going strong, despite its numerous problems. Good grief.

I know you’re curious about what other jobs were on this list, and I clicked through the pointless slides so you don’t have to. What other jobs are “evolving” along with librarians? Professional typist, umps and refs, travel agents, the family farm, supermarket cashier, postal worker, and on-air DJ. What a motley crew.

This evolution isn’t good for everyone. Cashiers are evolving because “customers do more of the labor.” Customers don’t want to do more of the labor. They just realized that even a total neophyte of reasonable intelligence can operate those scanners faster than the typical cashier. That’s also why Google killed ready reference.

And what poor jobs are extinct? At least we can feel better than those people! Well, there’s videostore clerk, although there are a handful of videostores around. And “newspaper deliverer,” which is a phrase no one has ever used. It’s “paper boy”; everyone knows that. And they’re still delivering papers.

Does “paper boy” sound quaint and sexist? Another extinct job is iceman, so it’s not my fault. Iceman? Wasn’t that job extinct in the 1960s? And if we got “newspaper deliverer” shouldn’t we have gotten “iceperson”? We also get switchboard operator. Someone was really reaching.

This list was supposed to tell us something, but based on the description of “librarian” alone it was clear that the writer had nothing to offer us.

So maybe librarians will go extinct after all. Something tells me that just because speaks, it doesn’t mean we should listen.

On the other hand, we won’t go extinct immediately. So have a Merry Christmas, or a Jolly Kwanzaa, or a Happy Holiday or whatever it is you celebrate this time of year.

Peace on earth and to people of good will.



  1. According to the Occupational Handbook job growth is 7%…doesn’t leave much for new grads, eh?

  2. I vote for extinct…Merry Xmas, or whatever is socially, politically correct, and if you don’t celebrate Happy non celebration…

  3. I’ve never understood how the internet was even supposed to kill off cataloging. I mean, yes, you may find out about the books through some kind of oddball keyword search, but you still have to FIND THE SILLY THINGS ON THE SHELF. Which means they have to belong somewhere.

  4. I’m recruiting here . . .After a round of severe cuts and lay-offs, school librarians are going to be in demand again, partly because of the amount of reading, writing, and “information literacy” demanded by the new Common Core Standards.
    As a school librarian, I collaborate with my colleague, the Youth Services Librarian in the local public library, on teen programming, author visits, volunteer opportunities and more.
    In California, the job requires a teaching credential as well as a library degree, and includes teaching 20+ hours per week (research projects, internet search skills, database skills, whatever else comes up), and managing a staff, facility (including computer labs), budget, and collection. I am the teacher, reference librarian, cataloger, and more, but I have great paraprofessional support staff, too.
    Some of the pluses are regular hours, great volunteer support (PTA), lots of interaction with kids and teens, and good union support. Some of the downsides are having to manage textbooks as well as a library, declining budgets for building a collection (Common Core will change that, I think), and lots of “input” on selection from faculty members and administrators.
    If you’re a real “people person” and could conceivably add a teaching credential to your other list of degrees, many districts will hire a librarian w/out the credential and give them up to 3 years to get it. The pay is usually the same as teachers, or in some districts the same as counselors, and those pay scales are posted on every school district’s web sites, so no surprises there, and includes full health benefits and retirement.

  5. Development Arrested says:

    KidLib, that assumes that there will be shelves in the future…

  6. Library Spinster says:

    I’ve been hearing about the death of the book almost as long as I’ve been hearing about the death of the novel.

    Yes, there are new technologies. Some of our patrons even use them. But there are also those on the other side of the digital divide. The ones who are upset that it’s not possible to put a floppy disc into the leased public computer. The ones who need extra time to answer the umpteen questions in the online application to work at CVS. The ones who need hand holding following Yahoo’s directions for setting up an email account.

    The future gets here very very slowly. And still too fast for some of our patrons.

  7. Elizabeth R says:

    Wow, I feel so much better about my MLS degree now that I know librarians are in the same category as “professional typist” and “travel agent”. Not.

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE