Last week, I came across a post on Andy Woodworth’s blog, Agnostic, Maybe, regarding unemployment in library science. From what I gather, the reader who e-mailed him was upset about Andy’s decision to discuss library videos over the current state of employment in the field. Andy’s response indicated he would rather discuss library videos because the employment issue was boring. While some of his readers took issue with his somewhat flippant response, I’m inclined to agree with him.
The current state of employment in the LIS field is boring. I would know, because I’ve been looking for a job for a year and a half. It has become old.
Regardless, this is something that needs to be discussed. Those in library school right now, or those seriously considering library school, need to have a clear idea of what it’s really like out there. Of course, we all think we’re going to be the ones who end up on top, but at least they’ll have a fair warning. And the rest of us, who are un- or under-employed, need to know we’re not alone.
In the post, And said:
What is stopping unemployed librarians (either new graduates or current ones) from finding new applications for their education and experience or becoming entrepreneurs?
This is something I’ve thought about and explored a lot, and it’s not as easy as it sounds. Many “new applications” (and certainly becoming an entrepreneur) involve a serious investment of time and money (which hasn’t stopped me from seriously contemplating a few myself, but they definitely aren’t going to net me a paycheck tomorrow). Also, I still firmly believe that the majority of the business world doesn’t have a clue what an MLS means (and we can probably only blame ourselves for that), which means that even if we see how our education and experience fit a job description, the hiring manager won’t get it (and we won’t get an interview). Perhaps ALA owes everyone some advocacy efforts directed at the private sector (I suggest full-page ads in major trade publications featuring a ‘hip’ librarian).
The comments on Andy’s post are very much worth reading– it’s probably the most candor I’ve seen/heard in a discuss about library employment ever. While I didn’t go to library school to get a job in a building called a library, as one commenter stated (I went because I find information fascinating), I feel like library school has mostly only prepared me to work in a building called a library. So while I’ll continue to search desperately for a position in the Austin metro area with the word ‘librarian’ in the title for which I am qualified, I’ll also try my hardest to convince non-profits and private companies that they need my unique skill set, while simultaneously trying to become an info-preneur.
For those who are employed but working in non-library jobs, or working in library jobs that don’t require an MLS (*waves*) and those who are just plain unemployed, know that it’s not just you. This is something that totally escaped me during the first year of my job hunt, so I think it is worth mentioning. You can’t conduct an effective job search when you’re feeling low and defeated. Acknowledge that the problem is bigger than you and buck up.
For those in library school or considering it, consider this a fair warning: it’s ugly out there. Proceed with caution.