Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jobs and Experience and Stuff

I want to address what I consider an open secret about library jobs, what some commenters have referred to as the "Catch-22" of entry level jobs. Libraries want people with library experience, even for entry level jobs. Library schools don't necessarily give people any library experience. The people who graduate from library school with no library experience may have a hard time finding a job. And the people who go straight from college to library school, then graduate with no work experience of any kind, are practically doomed to the worst low-paying library jobs around, if they're lucky enough to find one.

With many academic fields, no one expects a master's degree to prepare them for anything. Anyone getting a master's degree in history or literature or sociology isn't expecting to base a career on that. They expect to spend some time furthering their education. Often these people started their degrees thinking they would go on for a PhD and become a professor, only they never finished for whatever reason. They've often been educated, but not trained. Libraries like people who are both.

But with an MLS, people expect that if they get the degree, then it will mean something. That's what the ALA propaganda tells them. They'll be qualified for at least some of those jobs that require an "ALA-accredited MLS." But if all they have is an MLS and no library or work experience, then they're not qualified. And we librarians all know they're not. The library professors probably know they're not. In the midst of all their recruitment drives for the profession, the folks at the ALA probably know it, too. Library schools need students, because they need tuition dollars. It's not in the interest of the ALA or of library schools to try to gauge how many actual library school graduates the country needs every year. There is no rational plan to staff libraries. There's the rational plan to bring in tuition dollars. And for those who become librarians, to get them to join the ALA and send in their dues.

I'm used to this, because I didn't come into library school as a naive youngster. I was familiar with lots of humanities graduate programs at lots of universities around the country that continued to enroll way too many students every year because they needed the graduate students to teach the introductory classes on campus. The graduate students were naive enough to go to graduate school thinking their acceptance meant they were making the first step to a professorship. Their department neglected to tell them it let in 25 students for every one that got a job, because it needed the bodies to teach, and it didn't have the moral courage to close up shop when it was obvious its graduates weren't getting jobs.

Library schools are no different, except the master's level students don't teach. In practice this means they don't even get that experience, plus they often have to pay tuition. At least if you're in another graduate program and have to teach, you get paid a bit and you can always rationalize it by saying you're planning to become a teacher. This is training for the future professorship. Turns out it's also future training for a lot of academic librarians, too; they just don't know it at the time.

It's true that other experience besides library experience can also count. I know librarians who have gotten their jobs because of their teaching experience, or their legal experience, or their management experience. They had done other things, and librarianship was a second career. I've also known people who've gotten jobs because they had a PhD and thus an assumed knowledge of an academic field useful for their library job.

But if you don't have any library or other significant work experience, or significant education in addition to the MLS, and you graduate from library school, then you probably will have a difficult time getting a job. Nobody wants you. Nobody can afford to take a chance on you if they can find someone with experience. You'll start at the very bottom of the library food chain, at the libraries that are so bad or so poor that people with any experience leave the first chance they get. That job will be your internship. Make the most of it.

So the open secret is that if you go to library school with no experience, you need to get some somehow. It's not a secret now, because I've told you.

But who's going to tell those people considering library school that if their prospective school doesn't offer extensive practicums or internships or graduate assistantships working in libraries, then they should choose another school. If their school only offers them classes, but doesn't ensure they leave with practical experience, then they should choose another library school. It sure won't be the ALA. And it won't be the library school promotional literature. They'll be the last to tell you an MLS alone is almost worthless.

Obviously, I'm telling them now, but I'm a voice crying in the wilderness. By the time the frustrated people get to the AL, they're usually already in school or already librarians, and then they already know the worst.

79 comments:

Brent said...

I got a full-time librarian job over a month before I graduated (as I just turned 25). I mean, I worked in a library for a couple years before stumbling into graduate school.

It's hard to believe MLIS students that didn't have any library experience before going there. But I suppose it is true.

I guess I got my job because of my winning personality? Or that I am a 25 year old, cute male single librarian (the rarest of the breed). And as AL said, we are an underrepresented class of people and maybe that is why I got hired?

But, by the time I got my masters, I have had 4 years in an academic setting. Plus I am smart.

I do believe ALA is full of shit on this issue.

Tangently, people young like me don't get respect as librarians. I am still perceived as a student worker. I wonder if sometimes they have high demands of librarians they hire because of issues like age.

AL said...

I've always looked a lot younger than I am (and I'm still not that old), but I found the same thing when I started. I guess in a profession dominated by 55 year olds, anyone who looks under 30 is still just a baby.

I'm sure I've gotten my jobs because of my education. I'm sure it's had nothing to do with my dazzling personality and overall cuteness.

And as I've noted, I think libraries should be hiring more cute straight guys. I think it would improve my overall work experience.

Vera said...

As someone currently working my 'internship', I wish I'd read this two years ago. I went to a library school that was very well ranked and had a wonderful internship...if you did your degree in a year and a half. As a full time student, I was able to get my degree done in a year and to punish speedsters like me who took away a full semester of tuition, you could only get an internship after a certain amount of credits. I did not have the right amount after my first semester and they don't offer internships in the summer. I blame myself partially for being uninformed, but I'm definitely paying for it now.

GIL said...

You know, I was just thinking about this topic the other day. I'm pondering the question if library students should be required to have work experience before going to library school. Another possibility are extended practicums, like you mentioned. Practicums are gold, I tell you.

Eric said...

I'm assuming you're talking about academic settings in regard to wanting experience moreso than a public library. I don't know for sure since I'm in an academic library but I'd definitely have to agree that experience counts for a whole lot.

I'm one of those annoying whippersnappers who went right to library school out of undergrad and even though I had ~7 years of experience in libraries throughout high school and college, found it hard to get a "real" job.

I'm also in the same situation as Brent above in that I don't feel I get as much respect as I deserve. I even had the President of where I work, after I asked a question in a meeting, ask if I was a student - it made me feel special.

Jaclyn said...

I agree with everything you wrote. I did a practicum during my time in graduate school, so I did have some experience when I received my degree. But having had my MLS for 3 years, I'm still stuck in part-time library jobs.

The area where I live is notoriously bad for library jobs. Due to a county budget fiasco, many public libraries closed, putting more librarians out of work, and thus making the job market even more competitive. During my job hunt, people kept giving me the same advice: "Leave the area and look for work somewhere else."

Unfortunately, I can't do that right now, because my husband can't leave his current job (long story). But a year or two ago I was at some alumni event at my graduate school. I overheard the Dean telling someone about how the college was increasing its recruitment efforts for the MLS program and how great that was. I thought to myself, "Great? Do you know how tight the job market is in this area?"

But of course, like you said, the colleges don't care. As long as they get your tuition, they are happy to recruit more students, no matter how dismal the job market is.

And as someone else once pointed out to me, ALA is the American Library Association. Not the American Librarians Association. The ALA doesn't care about the interests of its individual members, because if they did, they wouldn't keep trumpeting this so-called job shortage that's supposed to materialize.

Anonymous said...

"But if all they have is an MLS and no library or work experience, then they're not qualified. And we librarians all know they're not."

How so? I had to spend 10 minutes showing someone--with decades of experience--at my library how to plug something in...for the third or fourth time. And if they are not, why not do something about it while people are in school? I couldn't get the big, main library on my campus to even take advantage of an offer of free labor.

"winning personality...cute..smart..." I don't think the typically high opinion of librarians have of themseleves does much to help evaluate new talent. I mean, if you are so great everyone else must be crap, right?

It is not hard to mentor and train people and get them up to speed quickly, but you do have to find someone smart and get off your duff and help them out. The idea that people **must** have experience is just ego-boosting for those with jobs. Law, business, medicine, diplomacy, and the military are all areas where you can find work with no experience and just an education.

Anonymous said...

There is another issue here that I ran into. It doesn't matter what experience you have working in a library - if you don't have the MLS it doesn't count. I had many years of experience in archives, libraries, databases, and cataloging, but I was told by one professor that that experience didn't count because I didn't have a degree in library science and it would not count toward a job. In all fairness, it may be because the jobs were in the military and the library profession (ALA, SRRT) don't like the military, but there it is.

AL said...

I wonder if it's the same for public library jobs as well. I just don't know, but I'm curious. I do see a lot of job applications rejected because the people seem to young or too inexperienced. Nobody puts it like that, of course. They don't say, "hey, this person is probably only 25. They might have a lot of energy and make me feel inadequate for being bitter and burned out. Let's hire this other person instead." But that's what they're thinking.

And I've addressed the mission of the ALA here. It definitely doesn't have anything to do with librarians. For that matter, I've addressed mobility to get a job here and here. I don't see how I would ever have gotten a job I wanted without being mobile.

AL said...

To respond to the latest anons, I don't think libraries mentor people very well. I should also qualify what I said about experience. I'm not saying I personally think the persons are unqualified. I'm trying to describe accurately the situation I see in libraries, and I could be wrong. Perhaps I should have said the "perception" of qualification. To some extent, perception is reality. If your search committee doesn't think you're qualified, then you're not for all practical purposes. And if lots of librarians try to hold the fort against the devaluation of the MLS by saying you're not qualified for something, then for the purpose of getting a job, you're not. It doesn't matter what you can do. What matters is the perceptions of those doing the hiring. And it seems to me the perception is that lots of perfectly fine people aren't qualified because they don't meet rather narrow criteria of experience.

deargreenplace said...

ergo....

qualifications + experience = better employment prospects

If only more students realised this, instead of waiting to be spoon-fed the juicy posts all because they've gone to university for a while.

The library school that I went to takes 60 candidates a year. A quick check on CILIP's (UK equivalent of ALA) website shows the grand total of 2 librarian jobs advertised in the entire country (Scotland). So you either move, or you make yourself a better employment prospect.

And no, they don't tell you this on the course. After graduating, I temped in a bank for 6 months before taking a para-professional assistant's post with a pitiful salary. I've been here three years now, during which time my job title and responsibilities have changed as I've learned more. I feel like I've earned a professional post.

Even at that, I am now working on becoming a chartered librarian now, because again it should improve my future job prospects and indicate to employers that I have taken CPD seriously instead of simply coasting along. I won't be regraded when I charter, but then my colleague (who is my mother's age) has a PhD and is on the same salary as me.

I hate to sound harsh, but no-one else can run your career for you. LIS is a precarious industry, and in the UK, jobs are less and less secure. Survival of the fittest, guys.

Anonymous said...

There is only one solution, a brave, attractive and smart woman must stand atop the checkout counter and silently wield a sign that says "UNION!/GREMIO DE TRABADORES." Librarian strike! That will fix these county board monarchist overlords and their declining tax bases, increasing costs and needs to balance budgets!

This is our quest, to follow this star--no matter how hopeless, no matter how far!

"And thus, in the struggles against ignorance and bourgeois influence, for rallying the workers under the banner of social democracy, against individual capitalists and the state, for better working conditions and workers' legislation, against all organs of the bourgeoisie, for clearing the road of the workers' movement — the workers' socialist organizations will attract an ever greater part of the working class, will become an ever stronger factor, will go from victory to victory, and will come ever closer to the great proletarian goal — the emancipation of mankind from the present economic, political and spiritual oppression."

Dimitriov, G., Novo Vremé No. 5 (1906)

--Taupey

Anonymous said...

The barrel of the gun I'm looking down here is lack of supervisory experience. Those I see who have some, whether they have a degree or not, are more likely to get hired. (My system recently added circulation supervisor positions for that reason, to create a career ladder for those with no degree. Guess what I, last year's grad, just applied for.)

Nor does it seem to matter where you got said supervisory experience; office or factory, it all seems to help.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and, on top of that... new grad or not, I'm also approaching the age of 55. Think that might hinder my job search?

Old or not, I'm still the "alpha geek" at my branch who fixes the computers and plugs in all the stuff. And coaches audio downloads over the phone... etc...

AL said...

Hear, hear! Solidarity forever. That's the only way to keep these capitalist libraries from exploiting the proletariat!

I thought things were bad for some people here. It sounds much worse in the UK. At least in Scotland you have the advantage of lots of cold weather and some great domestic whisky. I guess we have that in America, too, though, and here the accents are more understandable, I mean, unless you're in the Bronx or Mississippi or someplace like that.

My temptation is always to get selfish and cynical and just say to the frustrated jobseekers, quit your complaining. Nobody ever said life was easy. And if I just kept my virtual mouth shut, then it makes me that much more competitive. However, I do think librarianship is one of those fields that people just don't know much about unless they've worked in libraries. While sitting at a reference desk in a university library, I was once asked if I was a volunteer. So how do some people know not to believe the recruitment propaganda?

Anonymous said...

We all have to deal with the same biases in librarianship as everyone else. If you are looking for a job in librarianship it doesn't hurt to be tall, handsome and male. You won't find that in the ALA literature either.

Unfortunately that won't work on my search committee as I am male, but experience is a huge bonus. How else are you to gage how a person will perform if you can't look and see how they performed in the past? How do you know what this person is like to work with if you can't call someone they have worked with?

It's not that you can't train them to do the job, but you do want to know that they are not a psycho to work with. Peope too often overlook collegiality in a job candidate, but when you know you will see this person on a daily basis for the next several years you want to leave as little as possible to chance.

--Chris

AL said...

I guess I don't see the benefit of being tall, handsome, and male. Or perhaps no tall handsome males ever apply at my library. It would be a nice change.

The comment on supervisory experience pops up in the comments sometimes. Another Catch-22. I find it especially bizarre this obsession with supervisory experience considering how awful most supervisors are that I've encountered. I sometimes suspect that the candidates I see with supervisory experience are leaving their current jobs before their staffs murder them.

And why? They're not collegial or charming or smart or considerate. As I noted once before about looking for jobs, it helps to be charming and considerate. And if you're not, fake it. Fake it long enough and you might actually turn into a charming and considerate person.

Anonymous said...

I received my MLS in 2003 after several years experience in various non-profit institutions. Most classmates have horror stories about the job market. Among those of us who landed jobs, the general pattern as described by the AL holds true; graduates must accept a position in a small, often dysfunctional institution in order to gain "experience." This requirement is especially galling in the world of public libraries, where reference duties have devolved to little more than data entry. Why do I need years of experience in order to use an OPAC, explain alphabetization, or look up PIN numbers?

I'm 30, and the sense I get from older librarians (i.e., everyone else), is that I must sleepwalk through 10 or 15 years of this in order to pay my dues. My question is, of course, why? Just because they had to do it? This causes no little amount of friction in many, many libraries, especially since it is often the younger staff members who are most familiar with electronic resources, html, database design, etc. Now that I think about it, exposure to the day to day realities of library work might actually dissuade a large number of aspiring librarians from pursuing the degree. Do library schools know this?

Anonymous said...

I guess I am an exception to most of the 30-something librarians' experiences. I went straight to library school from undergrad (I had tons of corporate and academic work experience under my belt) and found a supervisor position in the library and worked it throughout my MLS experience. I also worked part time on evenings and weekends in a medical library to get some different experience, which in the end really paid off since my first librarian position was in that system.

I worked my butt off for a year and then left the state to take a promotion as a department head in a bigger university medical library. I did that gig for 4 years and just moved out of state again for a promotion at a larger university library.

I feel *very* fortunate in my career and I think part of it is "right place, right time," but it is also working my butt off and getting a lot of customer service and supervisory experience. I think that those are two areas where library programs fail miserably. I haven't seen one good library/staff management course and apparently the concept that we work in a customer service profesion is somehow forgotten.

I have sat on 4 search committees for librarians and to be quite honest, after the first 2, we swore we would never hire a librarian with no experience ever again. I am all for mentoring and helping someone get their feet wet, I have been a mentor to several new librarians, but in the end, it didn't work out, and we got burned by two librarians we hired.

I would say that lack of professionalism, collegiality, enthusiasm, and poor interpersonal interactions were the cause of the problems. No teamwork or desire to work as part of a team, and unfortunately, most of the time, that is what needs to happen.

Bottomline: I tell everyone I know who goes to library school and asks, to find a job, even if you volunteer, in a library because it makes a big difference. And if you have other experience, particularly supervisory, customer service, or working as part of a team, please stress that on the resume and in the interview. It makes a difference.

deargreenplace said...

I thought things were bad for some people here. It sounds much worse in the UK. At least in Scotland you have the advantage of lots of cold weather and some great domestic whisky

Heh heh. Whisky can make lots of things seem better than they really are. I'd be much more miserable otherwise.

Why do I need years of experience in order to use an OPAC, explain alphabetization, or look up PIN numbers?

Well you don't of course, but if we interview someone on the same day as you who does have that experience, and all else is equal, well....you can fill in the rest. We employed someone recently with no library experience but lots of enthusiasm, and we really lived to regret the decision.

With my post, I've had supervisory responsibility (of 4 people) added in to my job description without any financial recompense. At first I grumbled about this. Then, when I had the post re-evaluated and they said this wasn't worth any more money, I thought okay, two choices here. Take the experience and move on, or refuse to do it.

It sounds like the library where I work is a lot different to those in the US. I am actively encouraged to take on more and more additional tasks such as serving on interview panels, and I can use this experience both for future job applications and to count towards my chartership portfolio. More often than not, if I ask to be involved in something, the answer is yes. The age thing seems different too, with many more young people working in libraries, in my sector at least.

I did think that it was one of those universal 'truths' though that most librarians were female? Or does that just apply to those who don't make it high enough up the ladder? We rarely get male applicants for our posts. If only.

Anonymous said...

It seems that all I have heard since I was in junior high school was that there will be many, many jobs open for the those who will graduate college since there are so many people nearing retirement age. This vain hope seems to permeate every market. Since I have heard this chatter for nearly 14 years now, I wonder where are all those jobs? Same thing was said about dental hygiene and dentistry as those jobs are just as rare to find a full-time position as well.

The problem is hyper-recruiting in colleges. They put on a good dog and pony show and then with all their smoke and mirrors deceive many into thinking there are a plethora of jobs just waiting to be
had. There needs to be more honesty in these colleges. And MLIS programs ought to provide serious information upfront even as people are applying.

I once read that to get considered at Chicago PL, one should not only have an MLIS from a excellent school but also at least ten years experience....Just for an entry level position.

Sara said...

God, how true. I went basically straight from undergrad to my MLIS, although I did have a graduate assistantship in the business library. That was my only library experience when I graduated. I thought I was super-qualified - I was a great librarian, had excellent credentials, spoke two foreign languages reasonably well and could read some of a third, but I didn't have enough experience. I had to get the World's Crappiest Library Job part time as the only staff member at the library in a museum. The second week I was there they took my computer because "Special Events' computer crashed and they actually bring money in." I hardly even saw anybody but security guards. There was a card catalogue, and this was four years ago! Then, after a solid year doing that, I got a job as a substitute circ clerk at the public library. It actually paid more than what I was making at the museum. Six months later, I got a 5 hour a week part time job as an actual librarian in the public library system, and managed to leapfrog from that to full time in a job I actually wanted three months after that. Couldn't have done it without the help of the people I got on my side, either.

Anonymous said...

What truly counts as supervisory experience?

Zillah said...

I feel compelled to point out that lawyers (at least at good programs) generally do a summer internship.

And to become an MD requires both intern and resident status.

Librarianship is not as difficult as the above to professions. (imho) But experience does make a difference.

How can you have a reference who can speak to your work abilities if you have no work experience?

emilie said...

<< I wonder if it's the same for public library jobs as well. I just don't know, but I'm curious. I do see a lot of job applications rejected because the people seem to young or too inexperienced.>>

As the head of reference services in a large-ish public library, I can tell you that I'm looking for young, inexperienced recent LIS grads for my entry level positions. If they have no work experience at all, I'm not confident that they actually know HOW to work and I'll probably pass on them. But if they have work experience but no library experience I'm fine with it. I can train these folks up in the way they should go!

I also find that the younger generation of librarians have technology skills that my tried and true older generation lacks and has no real desire to acquire. I need those skills. Part of my job (a large part these days) is to be the technology czar. I have the usual database responibilities and I have to envision and develop in-house electronic resources with a meaningful local/regional bent. Although I have acquired many skills from necessity, I no longer have the time to devote to nuts and bolts creation. I need people who can run with an idea -- and the young ones have the energy and skills.

Anonymous said...

What truly counts as supervisory experience?

When I hire, it means supervising full time employees, not students. I want to know that you have dealt with the types of issues that come up when managing staff; i.e. conflict resolution, time off issues, communication issues, motivation, performance evaluation, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this! I am always shocked when I meet people who enter library school with no library experience. Crazy.

But what's with the sense of entitlement? So you got a master's degree in a year so you DESERVE a job? You can't blame ALA or academia for your inability to get a job. You certainly can't blame the Annoyed Librarian - as she just blew the case wide open. You can blame your poor interviewing skills, your lack of experience (which IS a legitimate reason not to hire someone), or your immobility (this one is huge, AL is totally right) Like I said, I just don't really get where the entitlement comes from - there are tons of people who can't find jobs in their fields, so they go elsewhere.

I don't think "librarianship" is a skill. If you are a good librarian, you have to be good at other things too. Things that recruiters in other fields will find valuable.

janitorx said...

If you think that all smaller libraries take on these new grads, you are sorely mistaken. Because of the size of our institutions , we often cannot afford to have someone clueless in the workplace. We need someone who can hit the ground running, devoting time to all sorts of duties from cataloging to information literacy. Having a small staff makes it almost impossible to provide mentoring and comprehensive training. To devote an exhorbitant amount of energy to this end would be a detriment to the services we provide.

I know some institutions, regardless of size, will take on brand new MLS librarians, but it is often at their own peril. Many are ill-equipped to catalog a basic monongraph, let alone meet the requirements for tenure.

Many of us more seasoned professionals at smaller institutions don't want 'em either and most of us do pretty well at finding people with the requisite experience.

Anonymous said...

"I have sat on 4 search committees for librarians and to be quite honest, after the first 2, we swore we would never hire a librarian with no experience ever again...I would say that lack of professionalism, collegiality, enthusiasm, and poor interpersonal interactions were the cause of the problems. No teamwork or desire to work as part of a team, and unfortunately, most of the time, that is what needs to happen."

Do you think "professionalism, collegiality, enthusiasm" arise from library experience? Those are basic personal qualities that have nothing to do with a library background--I know because one long-time librarian I work with has none of those.

"I have sat on 4 search committees for librarians and to be quite honest, after the first 2, we swore we would never hire a librarian with no experience ever again."

Why? If a lack of experience is so awful why can't anyone articulate why the inexperienced fail so badly? Is it because of inexperience or because you made a poor choice?

"But what's with the sense of entitlement?"

Wanting a job is a "sense of entitlement"? Is it not a payoff for studying things that librarians tell us are important? I am not sure how you can then turn around and say "you have to be good at other things too." So how do you get good at other things if you only work in libraries? How, for example, do bring in people with tech skills? Frankly, many people question the value of modern libraries and if you want to shut yourself off into your own insular little world don't be surprised when YOUR job disappears.

janitorx said...

Do you think "professionalism, collegiality, enthusiasm" arise from library experience?

I think, in a great many cases, collegiality is undervalued. I've worked with some toxic individuals in libraries and their attitudes tend to influence everyone else leading the library into stasis. These intangible traits are simply inherent--you either have them or you don't. They have nothing to do with experience.

It is possible, though not failproof, to ferret out those new librarians who have no desire to learn. It would probably make sense to not only ask questions about library work, but also things about several withdrawals on one's transcript, for example.

Stephen Denney said...

I have thought of going to library school but at my age (almost 57) there doesn't seem to be much point to it, especially when I read of the difficulties MLS grads have in finding employment.

I worked under the title of "library assistant" since 1983 when I was hired by the university here to work at the UC Berkeley Indochina Archive. This job was very engaging work, but also low pay as it relied on soft funds; and I never really thought of myself during this time as a part of the library world -- in any case an MLS would not have made any difference on that job. After funding ran out I transferred here to the UCB main library where I catalog books. It is not as interesting work, but better pay and more secure.

Anonymous said...

Do you think "professionalism, collegiality, enthusiasm" arise from library experience?

I do think so, yes. Working in a team environment where you are expected to interact with others absolutely can be learned in a library. Yes, they are personality traits, but if I see that they have worked in environments that typically require these types of traits, then I expect them to be there. I know, it sounds naive, but I also thought that a brand new librarian, with no experience in a library, upon being hired would be chomping at the bit to learn as much as they can. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case.

The smaller/specialized libraries not wanting new librarians with no experience is also valid. When I worked in a medical library, we required at least one year's experience. We needed to hire someone who had database searching experience. Sure, we were willing to teach someone how to effectively search PubMed, but we wanted to make sure they had the real life searching experience. Especially in a clinical environment where life and death decisions were sometimes made based on research conducted in the library.

AL said...

There's another perspective on the collegiality and enthusiasm usually specific to university libraries. I've known PhDs who were moving to libraries strictly because they couldn't find teaching jobs and who had little interest in the work. They thought it might be like being a professor without so much grading. They are the ones least likely to be collegial, which is a little ironic, and sometimes the least likely to be interested in learning anything. They just want a sinecure. Of course there are plenty of PhD librarians who are great, so I'm talking only about a subset.

AL said...

I'm not sure I agree that library experience is the key for collegiality and enthusiasm, though. I think any intelligent and decently educated person who's willing to and capable of learning and who can play well with others can develop into a fine librarian. If only that described most of the people in the field.

Anonymous said...

I have, on occasion, been a guest lecturer at a fairly well-respected library school and I ALWAYS tell the class that it is very, very important to do internships/practicums in libraries if they hope to get a good job when they are finished with their degree. Too many students I have seen finish these programs with zero library experience.
I always ask those I interview without library experience why they decided to go to library school - since it is often obvious that they have no idea what librarians actually do - my favorite reply is "I really like to read"

AL said...

"I really like to read"--that's very funny. It's the flip side of what I sometimes hear when I say I'm a librarian--"Oh, you must really like books." I tell them I just sit in my office all day reading books, and it's great. And if they go to library school, they can do the same thing!

janitorx said...

I know, it sounds naive, but I also thought that a brand new librarian, with no experience in a library, upon being hired would be chomping at the bit to learn as much as they can.

I hope I don't come off as glib here, because I do agree with you about the "lifeless" new grads, but I think this points to a larger problem regarding admission to these programs. Too many people are getting this degree, and therefore, it makes it that much more difficult to find quality graduates. They do exist, but how many searches can one do for a position before funding for that said position is yanked?

Anonymous said...

I hope I don't come off as glib here, because I do agree with you about the "lifeless" new grads, but I think this points to a larger problem regarding admission to these programs. Too many people are getting this degree, and therefore, it makes it that much more difficult to find quality graduates. They do exist, but how many searches can one do for a position before funding for that said position is yanked?

That really hits the nail on the head. In my library we don't have the luxury of keeping a line open until the best candidate applies. If a line sits empty for almost a year, it is deemed unnecessary and we usually lose the funding. That makes it very hard to be extremely picky and wait for the ideal to walk in the door. We usually have to pick the best out of what we get and unfortunately these last two times, the applicant pool was far from stellar.

Which leads me to an off topic annoyance: I don't know what they are telling students in library schools as far as applying to jobs goes, but it seems like every search we have had, where we specifically ask for 1-2 years of professional experience and require an MLS, the majority of applicants still have a year to go before completing their degree.

I guess it speaks ill of the profession and how desperate people are to work, but it is really frustrating when you are hiring for a state position and almost two thirds of your applicant pool are thrown out because they don't meet the minimum requirement of having an MLS.

AL said...

"it seems like every search we have had, where we specifically ask for 1-2 years of professional experience and require an MLS, the majority of applicants still have a year to go before completing their degree."

Yes, but they've all been told there's a librarian shortage. If there's really a shortage, then the assumption is that libraries can't be picky about who they hire.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but they've all been told there's a librarian shortage. If there's really a shortage, then the assumption is that libraries can't be picky about who they hire.

We all know this is complete garbage. My question has always been "what the heck can we do about it?" seriously.

janitorx said...

it seems like every search we have had, where we specifically ask for 1-2 years of professional experience and require an MLS, the majority of applicants still have a year to go before completing their degree.

Oh, that's because these applicants expect you will hold a job for them for the entire fiscal year! No, seriously, I suspect this because someone in LIS-land is telling them this is acceptable behavior...or maybe they are socially inept.

Anonymous said...

"That makes it very hard to be extremely picky and wait for the ideal to walk in the door. We usually have to pick the best out of what we get and unfortunately these last two times, the applicant pool was far from stellar."

This might be a stupid question, but why do you wait for people to come to you? If you have high standards and find most degree holders a bit dim, why not recruit people?

You might also find that by talking to applicants (when applying for jobs I consider myself lucky to get a rejection letter, much less an interview) you can find some at least middling candidates. Sure, my resume isn't packed with multiple Master's degrees and publications, but I can articulate myself and demonstrate my value to potential employers--just talk to me. "Professionalism, collegiality, enthusiasm" are qualities that are better demonstrated than written up.

Oh, and those "seasoned professionals at smaller institutions" can save everyone some time if they say where they work so neophytes know where not to apply.

janitorx said...

If you have high standards and find most degree holders a bit dim, why not recruit people?

Because we have jobs to do. Seriously, I did really try to recruit for the last opening we had and most of the cover letters, if one was even included, were poorly written. I am very active in my state organization and have tried for the past 2 years to connect with LIS students by even offering an employment program. Only 5 people registered!

Oh, and those "seasoned professionals at smaller institutions" can save everyone some time if they say where they work so neophytes know where not to apply.

No way! I'm not outing specific institutions--just read job ads very carefully. Obviously, you are pissed about the job market and rightfully so. Not every place is biased against new grads. You just have to cast your net very, very wide and accept something less than stellar for about a year or two.

Sylvia said...

Speaking of collegiality and enthusiasm, it seems as if someone was to enthusiastic about literature (esp. if its part of the western canon) rather than politics (and complaining how the LoC is based off of the WHIMP philosophy) they are shunned.

Just my 2d


BTW: WHIMP

White
Heterosexual
Independent
Male
Protestant

Or as I like to use it

Who
Has ever
Improved on
Male
Protestantism?

public librarian said...

I went straight from undergrad to library school, but I worked in a public library throughout high school, college, and library school, plus worked in my college library for 4 years while there. I also did a (required) practicum in library school.

I have only applied for one full-time librarian position and was lucky enough to get it (80 people applied, and they wanted me so much that they allowed me to work half time during my first 2.5 months while I was finishing up my MLS). Without my experience, I certainly would not have gotten the position. And I think my age (23 at the time) actually helped too, as they were looking for someone with lots of tech savvy, which is (sometimes mistakenly) associated with youth.

Experience does matter for public libraries too. And the people who do the hiring at my library look specifically for public library experience. If you only have academic library experience, you're less likely to get the job.

How do you know you'll like being a librarian if you've never worked in a library in any capacity?

Anonymous said...

We are a small health sciences library and as much as we would like to recruit, we don't have the time. We are all active in the local, state and national medical library associations and we are always trying to entice people we think would be successful in our library. However, the fact that we are in an area of the country where it is insanely expensive to live and the starting salary is only around 45K (which is low for this area), we really have a hard time getting people to make a move here. In our case, geographic location (New York) works against us a lot of the time.

Privateer6 said...

To Anonymous 9:17
Your professor has probably not left the ivory tower of academia and is full of it. My wife had lots of non professional library experience, starting out as a shelver and moving up eventually to cataloger before going to library school, where she has both an assistantship and internship. She had a job as a branch manager for a public library while she completed her thesis.

Anon 9:53

In reference to supervisory experience, in my case not did my supervisory work experience help me land a job, but also my volunteer experience. I am heavily involved with a youth organization, and have served in several leadership roles in a volunteer capacity. My boss loved it, and it gave me multiple experiences: i.e. event planning, fundraising, training, etc.

Anon. 4:46
The reason why applicants without the MLS are applying is because library schools are encouraging them to apply. As mentioned above, my wife applied for, and received a branch manager position before she got her MLS. Grant you she had several years of non-professional experience and only needed to write and submit her thesis, but she was encouraged to look before getting the MLS.

Now my $.02 worth, since I just got out in December and landed my job in February. GET EXPERIENCE ANYWAY YOU CAN BEFORE FINISHING SCHOOL! Whether it be working part-time, internships, even volunteering, the experience, skills, and contacts will help you get a job when you get out. I made a good impression during my internship that they called me three months later to tell me two positions were opening up and that they would like for me to apply for either one. While in library school, I discussed with the public library about volunteering one day a week to gain experience while I job searched. They were all for it.

Also another problem, with another rant for another day, is the ease of getting an MLS. the standards are so lax that as long as you have a pulse and pay tuition, you get in. Tighten up standards and things wil get better.

Privateer6

Anonymous said...

I graduated with an MLIS nearly two years ago and have yet to find a steady job. In the meantime I volunteered and occasionally worked for non-profit groups on specific projects. I worked in archives for 12 years before getting my MLIS yet all that experience means nothing. Of all the jobs I've interviewed for, one was records management and the rest were public libraries, usually for the job of head librarian. I have no library experience whatsoever yet I will never be considered for entry level jobs.

After all this frustration, I've realized that the MLIS isn't worth the paper it's printed on. My MA thesis advisor suggested I should go into teaching instead. I gave it some thought and decided to teach ESL which has plenty of opportunities and where prior experience isn't necessary.

Anonymous said...

I think a big key to landing any job, but especially if you are young and freshly MLS-ed, is to have basic social skills.

Too many librarians do not (why is that??).

I have been on many, many search committees, in 4 different colleges/universities. There are so few candidates who have basic, BASIC, BASIC social skills, like:

1. Look people in the eyes when talking or listening.
2. Dress in reasonably clean, reasonably neat clothing.
3. Do not blow your nose with your fingers.
4. Smile occasionally, and look like you are at least moderately interested in the proceedings.
5. Do not chew gum, and especially do not smack if you are trying to chew gum discreetly.
6. Use a napkin when you eat.
7. Do not steal anything on your way out.
8. Etc.

I could go on & on, but you get the idea. Where do these inept, unkempt, downright weird librarians come from? The search committees I've been on often would end up with only 2 choices, nevermind who had experience and who didn't. We were more interested in who we'd be able to work with (who wants to use a computer after a co-worker who blows his nose on his fingers? who wants a co-worker who steals?).

Yes, it's good to be smart; yes, it's not fair to ask for experience for entry jobs; yes, the market is saturated in many areas; yes, it's too bad cuteness still makes a difference.

But my FSM, it is terribly important to know basic social niceties. After all, despite what you new inexperienced grads may hope for as introverted bibliophiles or geekie tech-lovers, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK WITH PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

I think a big key to landing any job, but especially if you are young and freshly MLS-ed, is to have basic social skills.

Too many librarians do not (why is that??).

I have been on many, many search committees, in 4 different colleges & universities. There are so few candidates who have basic, BASIC, BASIC social skills, like:

1. Look people in the eyes when talking or listening.
2. Dress in reasonably clean, reasonably neat clothing.
3. Do not blow your nose with your fingers.
4. Smile occasionally, and look like you are at least moderately interested in the proceedings.
5. Do not chew gum, and especially do not smack if you are trying to chew gum discreetly.
6. Use a napkin when you eat.
7. Do not steal anything on your way out.
8. Etc.

I could go on & on, but you get the idea. Where do these inept, unkempt, downright weird librarians come from? The search committees I've been on often would end up with only 2 choices, nevermind who had experience and who didn't. We were more interested in who we'd be able to work with (who wants to use a computer after a co-worker who blows his nose on his fingers? who wants a co-worker who steals?).

Yes, it's good to be smart; yes, it's not fair to ask for experience for entry jobs; yes, the market is saturated in many areas; yes, it's too bad cuteness still makes a difference.

But my FSM, it is terribly important to know basic social niceties. After all, despite what you new inexperienced grads may hope for as introverted bibliophiles or geekie tech-lovers, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK WITH PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

If I have learned one thing after enduring several search committees and hiring processes and then having to sit across from a table twice a year later to inform people that their contracts were not being renewed is this: just because you put someone in a profession position doesn't mean they will behave professionally or become a profession.

We have non-renewed several new librarians because when it came right down to it, they had no interest in working with others, no desire to learn anything new, and showed no motivation or interest in developing new BI courses or services for our patrons.

None of these expectations existed in a vacuum, all of our new hires are given the same weekly orientation meetings to go over what is expected of them within the library and what is expected of them if they intend to go through the promotion and tenure process. Yet, twice we have managed to hire people who were impressive during an interview, but once they arrived it was a different story.

Some were brand new librarians, another was not.

The biggest piece of advice I can give new grads is show enthusiasm, and highlight how you play nice with others. During an interview talk about and describe any projects you worked on in collaboration with others. Prove that you enjoy working with other people.

I am willing to overlook lack of experience when I am convinced that this person will work well with the rest of the team.

Anonymous said...

"Because we have jobs to do."

If part of your job is interviewing job candidates how can you say that? Is it not "real" library work?

"I am very active in my state organization and have tried for the past 2 years to connect with LIS students by even offering an employment program."

That sounds good, but nobody did that at my library school...there wasn't even any contact information for employers, nor is there any central place I am aware of on the Internet (though I do like lisjobs.com). I just have seen zero outreach by employers, but that is just my experience.

"We are a small health sciences library and as much as we would like to recruit, we don't have the time. We are all active in the local, state and national medical library associations and we are always trying to entice people we think would be successful in our library. However, the fact that we are in an area of the country where it is insanely expensive to live and the starting salary is only around 45K (which is low for this area), we really have a hard time getting people to make a move here."

Not having time to recruit and not paying a living wage can't really be blamed on applicants can it?

Dan said...

Even when you have experience and are still a youngster it can be hard. I interned at a not-for-profit while getting my MLA and then worked there for 2 years as a cataloger. When I then went to work for a large public library system, I was constantly treated like all new hires: as having no experience. In fact, they would get upset when people did know how to do things well (including social skills) becausehtey felt no one could do it right until they had been trained.

I think the other real problem is not specific to library-land and that is human resource depts. These folks seem to have a lock on idiocy, especially when it comes to "experience". They only look for certain keywords and if it doesn't match, then that's it for you. I noticed I got called for alot more interviews when my resume was sent directly to librarians instead of hr.

And yes, social skills are invaluable. I'm amazined at the almost autistic funtionality of librarians.

I think my first rule would be "Stop knitting at all meetings and conferences!"

Anonymous said...

Not having time to recruit and not paying a living wage can't really be blamed on applicants can it?

How many libraries pay a "living wage?" The reality is that most entry level and even a large majority of middle management library jobs do not pay well. Hell, I've seen some director salaries that make me sick.

I don't think recruiting will solve any problems. Even when we recruit, the pool is still not great.

Tailgunner said...

Excellent constructive criticism by the various posters on the the difficult task of trying to secure a library job in today's dissolving library job market.

I too bit into the "alleged shortage" of librarians and zipped through grad school with only an internship under my belt so I could be available to secure one of the many positions that would readily become available. I now realize I should have taken my time and worked in a library, gaining experience while attending library school part-time. I have almost 10 years of supervisory experience in another profession, but that does not seem to help either.

This blog should be a mandatory reading assignment for anyone giving consideration to enrolling in library school.

I am going to get another masters degree in something that actually matters while leaving the hopes of becoming a librarian in the rear view mirror.

AL said...

"This blog should be a mandatory reading assignment for anyone giving consideration to enrolling in library school."

Don't say that in front of any SRRT people, or they'll make sure you never get a job!

Anonymous said...

When I started library school (I finish up in August) I was actually surprised at those students who were fresh out of college with no library experience (not even work study). It seemed that many just didn't know what else to do, whereas I came through the library ranks. I mentored incoming students and the first thing I told them to do if they hadn't worked in a library was to do an internship or get part time work. Luckily, while my program is not rigorous by any means, it encourages students to get library trainee positions and other work. Many graduate with a job waiting, having started without any experience, being located in a large city is helpful.
I myself have 5 years of full time library work experience as well as a subject masters and still worry about finding a good librarian position. Regarding young people not getting respect as librarians, I think as long as you work as a professional people start to see you as one, and begin to look past your age. I am a very young looking 29, technically not a librarian yet, but perceived by many to be so because regardless of not having my MLS yet, I am a professional.

Zillah said...

This is vital: have something to bring to the table. Don't just think it, tell it.

Prior library experience is something (obviously) that you can bring to a job besides an MSLIS.

Enthusiasm (without exclamation points), previous projects, displayed professionalism, clear and grammatical writing: any of these that you have should be part of your cover letter.

Resumes show, cover letters tell. Emphasize previous work (non-MSLIS or not, as long as you can make it relevant) through examples. I've got your resume; I don't need to have you list your duties again.

Remember that everyone applying will have the same degree. How are you different? I want to know what you will bring to the job, not just why you want the job. Conversely, I want to believe that you have spent time thinking about my particular position and why that is the one that you want. Show that you have taken time, read the requirements and addressed them, and proofread (for the love of god). These all show dedication, professionalism, and common sense.

I had a telephone interview (while still in library school) where I was told that my cover letter was what got me that far. I did get offered an on-campus interview btw, but declined due to thinking that their insistence that I drive 12 hours rather than fly was a bad sign.

I've sat with many LIS students and evaluated their resumes and cover letters. Over time, I've learned that I need to evaluate them in the same way that I would if I was on a search committee. It is harsh and perhaps not for the weak. And not what you typically get from job-search assistance, which generally tries to be nice. I've decided that if I want the people that I assist to gain employment, I have to be the one to not be nice - rather than leaving it to the search committee.

Beth said...

"I think the other real problem is not specific to library-land and that is human resource depts. These folks seem to have a lock on idiocy, especially when it comes to "experience"."

Boy, is that true. At my previous job (in a public library but a non-public service position), the HR manager had the gall to suggest that I take a huge cut in salary and work as a paraprofessional after getting my MLS because I had "no experience." Even though I had volunteered at the library reference department AND did a 20 hr. a week reference practicum during my final semester, while also holding down a 40+ hr. a week job at the public library system. They are just so clueless about what librarians do and what is required. I had other gripes about this HR manager too, but that's for another discussion.

Beth said...

I should add that I was fortunate to gain a professional position shortly after graduating at another library. Even though I've been told I had less experience than the other candidates, I was seen as someone who was eager to learn and dive in. It was risky, but it's worked out for them (I did have many years experience in other fields--this is a 2nd career for me at age 46).

AL said...

This kind of comment really cracks me up, as if most areas of librarianship are so hard that you have to have "professional librarian" experience to do them. My word. The most demanding parts of any of my jobs required a good liberal education, intelligence, and good people skills. I sometimes wonder if a lot of librarians are just trying to make the trade seem more specialize than it is to protect their status. Considering the low status of librarians, this too cracks me up. It's a trade. Any smart and educated person can learn it with some effort. Many people do it badly, but it's not because they don't have MLSs and "professional" experience. Ugh.

I'd consider doing something else, but I'm not sure what. Robert Benchley once wrote that he eventually discovered that he wasn't a very good writer, but by that time he was so successful he couldn't quit. I feel that way about librarianship sometimes.

Alexandra said...

To add yet another voice to this cacophony, I have found that having experience that is several years out of date counts as having no experience, apparently. I have a Masters in Art History, experience in libraries and supervisory positions, have taught writing so I know how to write a decent cover letter, have experience teaching, did a practicum at the public library last Fall, but have yet to even get an interview. OK, so I've only been at it a few months, but I thought I would have gotten at least a nibble by now. I know I interview well, and I know I can do each and every one of the jobs I have applied for, and do them well. Unfortunately, I can't afford to move across country on the salaries that are being offered at the entry level. There is certainly no librarian shortage. However, I never really believed that. I thought my experience would count for something, but since it was pre-MLS, it doesn't.

I, too, believe the whole library school thing is a scam. After all, where would all those PhD's work if they closed down the schools?

And as for all those commentors who need to find employees and complain about lack of decent applicants, you haven't interviewed me yet, have you?

AL said...

Despite my own confidence that I'm pretty darned good, I do wonder at my own good fortune. I had no experience in libraries outside a year's graduate assistantship in the university library, and even that wasn't for very many hours a week. And yet, well before I graduated I was offered what I still consider a pretty good job. I remember mentioning during the interview that I was sure other people had more library experience, and one of the interviewers said, yes, but you have other experience. For me, it was obviously that I was applying at an academic library, and I had a lot of experience as an academic in various capacities. But in some ways the timing was perfect. And this wasn't so many years ago.

Sorry, I don't mean to seem like I'm gloating, but the more I read of other's experience, the more I think my own has been the exception rather than the rule.

Anonymous said...

Is it time to confront the ALA and force them to stop recruiting librarians?

Is it time to work with them to create jobs for the backlog of unemployed librarians?

Write us if you're interested in working with us on either project.

unemployedlibrarians@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hardly a day goes by that I don't dream of becoming a librarian and doing things I really love.

Then I visit this blog and wake up...

AL said...

For the right person in the right job, librarianship can be great. I think what people can discover, especially from my commenters, is that it can be a tough field to break into, and even if you do the rewards are rarely that great. I've liked my jobs, more or less, but as I said I think the more I read what others say the more I believe that I was lucky as well as qualified.

Anonymous said...

"I think the other real problem is not specific to library-land and that is human resource depts. These folks seem to have a lock on idiocy, especially when it comes to 'experience'..."

The above comments come from dan (12:19 PM). Unfortunately, his rather lousy semi-skilled writing leaves a lot to be desired. More important, his perception of a human resources department (HR) is horrendously foolish.

It is very difficult to hire the best candidate for any job. When searching for the right person, HR managers and recruiters have to consider several expensive options: Travel by recruiters to numerous career fairs and colleges, advertisements in print and electronic media, internet searches of online resumes, and the like.

After receiving too many job applications (many of which are poorly written, pitifully missing resumes and transcripts, etc.), HR has to eliminate job applicants who clearly are not qualified whatsoever for the advertised position.

Once narrowed to a few highly qualified candidates, the interviews commence. From there, a hiring committee chooses the presumed best candidate for the position. This assumes that there are good candidates to be found.

Before hiring anyone, HR has to run criminal background checks to avoid hiring persons who could do much harm to others. And never overlook the examination of driver's license records to see if any candidate has a revoked or suspended license.

Even if all seems to go well, HR occasionally receives notices from collection agencies because some employees fail to pay their bills. And the IRS will contact HR for those employees who fail to pay their taxes.

Plus, HR has to ensure that full-time employees who want benefits actually receive the benefits that they desire. While employees pay a small fraction for medical and other coverage, the employer pays for the bulk of such burdensome expenses.

And when it comes to employees misbehaving, HR has to resolve the problems that employees create for themselves. This is why HR informs employees on why it is wrong to discriminate against anybody, to sexually harass anyone, to use profanity against others, and to assault any person.

And the above situations do occur in a lot of work settings, including libraries.

Considering the many problems of hiring the right person for the right job, perhaps dan should think twice before commenting on anyone's "idiocy."

Anonymous said...

Here are some more facts regarding human resources (HR) work: Since organizations often outsource benefits packages, HR has to ensure that all the necessary information about each employee is accurate.

But that effort becomes annoying when employees fail to inform HR about name changes (often for marital reasons), while they tell the benefits companies about the changes.

Here’s one example: When an employee is listed as "Jane Doe" in HR records, it would be nice to assume that she is listed as "Jane Doe" in the records of a benefits company that offers medical, dental, or vision coverage.

What happens if she changes her name to "Jane Roe?" If she informs the benefits provider but not HR, problems will arise.

Failing to inform HR about this change means that she may not have benefits coverage in the future.

HR has to work hard to prevent unnecessary payments, and HR will tell benefits providers to stop coverage for an employee for a variety of reasons (termination of employment, employee changes from full-time to relief status, etc.).

Then HR has to search through social security records to match the name of "Jane Doe" with her marital name "Jane Roe."

After HR tells "Jane" to provide proof of change in marital status (a copy of a marriage certificate will suffice – for divorces, an employee needs to present a copy of proof of divorce from a state court).

Afterwards, HR can finally resolve the conflicting information that the employee "Jane" created. Overall, the employee has to do one's part in telling HR about any change in marital status.

Additionally, an employee ought to provide two weeks notice of resignation to one's supervisor (in writing, of course).

Equally important, after the organization works very hard to find the right candidate for the right position, that employee should work at that position (assuming that it is full-time) for at least two consecutive years. Consider the last point a worthwhile appreciation for what an organization provides for an employee.

Melanie said...

I wish I had known that entry-level jobs required so much experience. I'm graduating next month; I've been applying for jobs since February without so much as a single bite for an interview. I'm getting really frightened.

Anonymous said...

I've gotta say, I went to library school straight out of my undergrad because I didn't think English majors got jobs (and I'd worked the circ desk and liked what I saw the reference librarians doing). Now, though, I've spent my two grad school years with a research and editing position with the state historical society press and I'm going into publishing/editing--and getting a lot more calls to interview than I would have as an MLS, perhaps even if I had gotten more targeted experience in school.

My program, by the way, does require a practicum (I took mine as an archivist but have since changed tracks), but I added extra hours to my editing because I was unable to get a part-time campus library job--too many MLS students to too few positions.

Anonymous said...

I think I am going to quie and get a job at Starbucks. They pay well and have great benefits. All my schooling has been a JOKE, both undergrad and grad.

I can make more as a bagger at a grocery store with junior and high schoolers than I can with a BA and MLIS.

Freakin' A

Anonymous said...

Amen to the suggestion for more young, attractive, straight males in the profession.

As for the work experience, if I had worked in a library prior to library school, I probably wouldn't have gotten my master's in library science. The pay is decent (where I work), but I would like to move on (this is my first job), but I can't get a job anywhere else. Too much competition, I suppose. Furthermore, day-to-day library work is just plain boring and mundane.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to know when to fold. If it takes this much struggle to get a library position, it may not be worth it in the end. There are plenty of other jobs out there that require an understanding of information organization. Apply and see what happens. Don't get discouraged when you don't get a public library position. I'm going to be honest and tell you that it's not that great. I have a MLIS, I work as a public librarian, and I hate it. I'm ready to go. You can't pay me enough to deal with the crazy people, zealots, and perverts I encounter every day. This is what your library school won't tell you.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I stumbled upon this post when I was looking for a job and have found this post very interesting. It pretty much proves what I've found out in the past year and a half.

I'm a 21 year old female, so yes age is deffinetly against me in work.

I studied for two years for a Diploma of Arts to get into Uni (so traineeship is out of the option).

Now I've done my first year of a librarianship, now called Bach of Bus in Australia. One down, two years to go.

I'm taking time out because I'm starting to see that experience is everything in employmet and employers don't employ Uni students, even if they say they do. My experience has been that it hasn't helped in the library/ writing/ anything attainable job hunt.

Especially not when you're younger and had the same job for six years like me. I've registered with agencies for temp library and even admin work. So I think the need is to get a balance between library studies and library work.

So... what's the time limit on finding temp work? Six months, a year? Does the three year, expensive and stressful degree really put you above in the resume slush pile?

Anonymous said...

P.s. from previous blog, I'm even volunteering. I did read the bit about 'crazy' to enter librarian school before getting experience. Sometimes people won't give you the chance to get paid experience without having that little bit of degree paper... Not sure if this is true, but that's what I've been taught.

Brian said...

As a tall, handsome "guy-brarian," I can honestly say that all that helps very little when it comes to securing that coveted "first-library-job-out-of-library-school." I graduated with my MLS back in the Spring of 2006 (right after getting my bachelors in education. At one interview, I was even asked how I would handle being the supervisor for people who were older than me (can anyone say, "age-discrimination"?). None of my professors ever suggested volunteering in or applying for internships until the very last week before graduation. Needless-to-say, it would have been helpful to have that advice going into library school.

greenbeans said...

Here in England you can't get onto a CILIP accredited Library Masters without doing 12 months practical experience FIRST. (Maybe the ALA should put something like that in place? Might solve some of the problems people are talking about.)

After MONTHS of applying I nearly gave up trying to find a library assistant role for this purpose, but finally I landed one at a small law college. The money is awful, literally enough to survive on with no extra to save up for tuition fees. Although I have some experience now I don't know if it is at a high enough level to be valuable to a future employer. Now I have a place on the course of my choice...reading this, makes me wonder, will it all be worth it and how the heck will I find a job to pay my loans at the end of all this??

Melissa said...

Before I entered library school, I had already volunteered for a couple of years one day a week, while also volunteering at my church's library for about a few years. The principle of the school wrote me a reference letter and one of my profs mentioned that they were going to require new applicants to give some sort of reference letter in their application.

Even though one hasn't had any paid experience, employers do look at volunteer experience and can be just as important as paid experience, male or female.

Anonymous said...

I am as annoyed as the annoyed librarian. At this point I believe half the library schools in this country should be closed due to too many librarians. And I am tired of people thinking they got their jobs because they are "smarter" than others. I am particularly angry that American libraries have hired Canadians over Americans, yet often try to leave fellow citizens out by requiring a driver's license from that State. How does a driver's license qualify you for a library job? There are no bigger snobs than librarians or employed librarians.