Really? You're still telling us this?
I was reading the Annoyed Librarian, and she linked to a new article in American Libraries which includes this line: “As the library profession “grays,” many academic libraries anticipate staff shortages as older employees retire within the next 10 years.”
ALA is still promoting the idea that we are approaching a librarian shortage and cannot possibly train enough people to continue on the grand tradition of librarianship. This information was suspect a couple years ago, and considering the state if libraries right now–academic, public and special– it’s a damn lie. This is the same propaganda they’ve been spouting for at least a decade. Fellow Closed Stacks writer Penny Dreadful heard the same thing when she was in library school ten years before me.
You know what, ALA? There are no jobs. Quit filling people with false hope. If this mass retirement you’re anticipating actually does come about AND those positions are filled (which probably only half will be), those positions should go to those of us who fell for your ruse the first time around, got an MLIS and are now languishing in the land of no job opportunities.
Among the most popular posts on this blog are: Why don’t a have a job yet?, It’s not just you and A little bit of research on job prospects. I graduated over a year ago and had three years public library experience, one year special library experience, an academic library internship, an archives internship and a whole host of other well-rounding skills under my belt.
I applied for every job within an hour’s commute of my house that I was remotely qualified for. Most of the advertised jobs were either part-time, or for directors. Four months after graduating, I landed a 19-hour-a-week position, I held onto my on-call position which nets me a cool 5+ hours a month and just (as in, I start this week) found a second part-time job. I’m making enough money to break even each month, but certainly not enough to pay down any of the loans I took out to pay for library school in the first place.
Of the people who graduated around the same time as me, I can think of three who got a full-time job right away. Another girl was out of school for a year and a half before finding full-time work, and that one job had over 200 applicants. Most of my friends, if they’ve found library jobs at all, are working part-time. The lucky ones have more than one part-time library job.
You could try to say it’s because I live in a state that’s top ten worst economy right now, but Closed Stacks has writers from all over the country. Paige Turner (California), recently sat for a qualifying exam for a paraprofessional job with 350 other hopefuls. My alma mater in Minnesota advertised a position for a 9-month appointment, and they got over 200 applicants– most from out of state.
The library staff in Fargo, North Dakota–the largest city in the only state with a budget surplus–only received a cost of living increase of 1%, and all city departments were asked to make a 1% budget cut with no new positions considered until the next fiscal year. Of course, library circulation is up 30%. The North Dakota state library cut its budget by 3% despite the $1 billion budget surplus. In the states with the most money and in those with the least–there are no library jobs.
Considering that my small program graduated about 50 people last May–there are not enough jobs for even those people. If the 57 ALA accredited programs in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico each graduate–let’s estimate 100 people per year, that’s over 5500 new librarians out there looking for work.
There are not, and will not be 5500 jobs available any time soon.
The city I work for is counting on slashing the budget in the next five years due to retirements. People are given nice retirement packages, and they are not being replaced. I am happy (and lucky) to have my 19-hour-a-week position, but I’m also pretty certain that it’s not going to turn into anything different any time soon.
This is what the Occupational Outlook Handbook has to say about the future of the profession:
Job prospects are expected to be favorable. On average, workers in this occupation tend to be older than workers in the rest of the economy. As a result, there may be more workers retiring from this occupation than other occupations. However, relatively large numbers of graduates from MLS programs may cause competition in some areas and for some jobs.
OOH is pulling these statistics from years past, but as far as the program I graduated from, the new trend is younger and younger. I realize that this may not be true across the board, but according to a friend of mine who teaches at my old school the student demographics have gone from about 50% older, second career students 50% young, fresh-out-of-undergrad students, to about 90% young. At Paige Turner’s school, she guesses it’s about 80% younger students, 20% over forty.
If ALA is counting on older students who get the degree and work for 15 years before surrendering their jobs to the newbies, that’s another thing they need to reevaluate.
I am offended that ALA is still pumping out these lies. If you’re a potential new librarian researching graduate schools and the American Library Association tells you that job prospects are favorable, why would you not believe them? Librarians give you facts, data. Certainly they wouldn’t lie to you because they have an interest in keeping enrollment up. Well, I guess they would.
Shame on you, ALA.
Filed under: By: The Librarienne, libraries, MLIS, News | 46 Comments
Tags: ALA, american library association, careers, library, library jobs, lies, MLIS