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.