In my first class in Library School in January of 2004 a visiting director of a local college library ended her talk about academic librarianship by practically chanting "you will get jobs, you will get jobs."
I went to a career seminar sponsored by the grad school where another academic librarian had us repeat after her, over and over again, "the sky is without limit in my library career."
A professor assured me "men get hired."
Others talked about rich prospects thanks to a wave of librarian retirements just around the corner.
I graduated in August of 2005. In May of 2006 I abandoned my quest after over a hundred applications and 15 interviews. I just could not close the sale, despite 20+ years of IT experience and lots of library volunteer experience. For jobs offering pay ranging from lousy to pathetic, I was competing with 25 to 30 other applicants public and many more academic, most of them who had been working in the field for years. I was to learn later--from the ALA's own magazine--that you should have five years working experience in a library before you even start your MLS degree. And that doesn't guarantee you will find anything. I've also talked to lots of experienced librarians who struggled for years to find full time positions. The Chicago Public Library has been hiring entry-level (L1) librarians with five to ten years experience, when they hire at all, which isn't often.
Meanwhile I've seen since that this notion of lots of opportunities after the retirement binge starts is a myth. Those retired librarians are never going to be replaced, or else they will be replaced with other retired or unemployed librarians with years of experience. Not just Social Security, but pension funds all over the country are underfunded. Taxes will have to go up to pay for municipal retirees to go play golf in Florida. Will they go up again to hire their replacements? Don't count on it!
Where else in academia do professional programs play these silly games about the job market? Students of art, music, drama, dance know the score. Students going to law school know that we have twice as many lawyers as we really need in this country. Co-eds who want to become veterinarians know that it is much harder to get into vet school than into med school. Why do library schools and the talking heads at the ALA live in a world of fantasy?
Oh well. I'm happy in my new job, back in my old career field, and making nearly three times as much as I would have made working for a suburban public library, if they had offered me anything, though they didn't. It was great fun getting an MLIS degree, I learned a lot, the profs were terrific, and it didn't really cost me that much. But I wouldn't direct anyone else to consider librarianship as a career field without a lot of frank talk about the prospects both to enter the field and for advancement.