WILL UNWOUND #142: “The Death of Library Schools” by Will ManleyJune 14, 2010
Talk about mojo. I was actually going to write about the issue of library schools and the librarian “shortage” and just as I sat down to compose my thoughts, this very intriguing comment to last Monday’s post about librarian anger came across my screen. The commenter is anonymous. I have decided to reprint it here because otherwise most of you will have missed it since it is the 159th comment on a week old post:
I am a newly minted librarian, having received my MLS last month. I decided to only apply for a job I really wanted, in a city that I truly wanted to live in. I searched every day over a 6-state area for jobs, and only found one entry-level position in 4 months. I applied for it, and got it. I feel very fortunate, since I could just as easily be sitting at home watching soaps with all of my fellow library school colleagues. In my graduating class, I am the only one who has found a professional position so far. THE ONLY ONE.
I also knew that I would be competing with the masses, so I made sure to prepare for that possibility by working twice as hard as my peers and taking advantage of every opportunity to gain experience, increase my skill set, market myself, and maintain a 4.0 GPA. Thankfully, it all paid off. But for those who don’t have library experience, or who possess an otherwise average resume… they might as well hang it up and find something else to do. I don’t know how they’re ever going to get hired.
I know many others who graduated a year or two earlier who are still searching. My library school recently increased enrollment by 50%, which I think is an absolute disgrace. There simply aren’t enough open positions to justify churning out all of these graduates. On the very front page of my library school’s website, you’ll see the headline “U.S. News has listed Librarian as one of the best careers”, and find a link to the 2007 article. It’s simply deceptive. Most members of my class are not going to find a professional library position anytime soon, which means that a lot of talent is not being utilized. So sad.
by Anon June 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm
It’s always wonderful when someone comes along and writes my post better than I ever could. This commenter has basically said it all: library school students have been sold a bill of goods. Does anyone else cringe at the irony of a school of information studies giving out misinformation?
But beyond that rather obvious and regrettable issue is a much larger issue. Why are library schools selling a bill of goods? They want to stay alive! That’s not a justification; it’s a reason. Library schools are fighting for survival, especially the traditional library schools that are trying unsuccessfully to compete with the laptop schools.
These are very dark days in the library world. Skilled and experienced librarians are being terminated, unqualified people are now staffing public service desks (where public service desks still exist), and reference services are being surrendered to Google.
If our profession is going to survive, we need strong library schools. If the library schools die, the profession will die. If the profession dies, libraries will die.
Maybe this is a natural progression of falling dominoes, and there is nothing we can do about it: a)thousands of librarians get laid off, b) there are no entry level positions, c) library school graduates cannot get jobs, d) students stop investing their money in library school degrees, e) library schools are eliminated one by one, f) no new librarians are certified, g) libraries are run by amateurs (take your pick…bibliophiles, technophiles, bookstore employees, refugees from education), h) libraries cease to exist.
That’s the nightmare domino theory.
One question: How do you stop the dominoes from falling?
REMEMBER…THIS BLOG IS A GROUP EFFORT. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP. LIBRARIES CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LIBRARIANS. LIBRARIANS CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LIBRARY SCHOOLS. LIBRARY SCHOOLS CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LIBRARY JOB OPENINGS.