A couple of kind readers sent this on to me last week, but I didn't have a chance to read it because I was bleary-eyed with excitement about all the board- and mall-slamming librarians have been doing the past couple of days. There's a great column in the Chronicle of Higher Education called "The Annual Labor Shortage Hoax." The columnist advises young college graduates not to go into academic fields based on the opinions of alleged experts that some field is going to be HOT one day soon. He reminisces about the terrible academic job market and his own difficulty finding a tenure track job. And then:
"Now I am faced with advising undergraduates. Every year a new crop of undecided students -- echoing the concerns of their tuition-paying parents -- ask me what they should do with their lives. And every year a new study, widely reported -- and circulated by interested parties within academe -- announces the looming labor shortage in elementary education, nursing, computer programming, library science, occupational therapy, athletic training, international relations, hotel management, social work, environmental law, or whatever."
This all sounds eerily familiar. I'm pretty sure there's a professional association that has something to do with librarianship that's always telling us about the terrible "librarian shortage" that's always going to occur just over the horizon. The Chronicle columnist is as tired of these lies as I am.
"Meanwhile, no one is reporting that the labor shortage of a few years ago has since become a glut of applicants, nearly all of them the victims of what has become -- in retrospect -- the annual labor-shortage hoax."
Librarianship has been suffering from an annual labor shortage hoax for years. We've got the ALA blathering on about it all the time, and their baseless propaganda shows up everywhere from newspaper articles to Congressional bills. And then of course there's the library schools. Where would they be with a willing contingent of dupes entering library school? A lot poorer, that's for sure. And after all, what do library school recruitment people care, they won't be looking for library jobs.
And now those gullible graduates find that if they're lucky they can celebrate the excitement of being an information professional only if they want to move to the wilderness and work for $30K a year. That's probably not what they expected after the propaganda efforts of the ALA and the library schools. Librarian shortage! It's a hip profession! Plenty of jobs!
As I've argued before, there isn't a librarian shortage. If you're library is having a hard time finding librarians, then the problem might very well be your location or pay, or both. In many of the news articles I see about the "librarian shortage," it's usually the case that they can't get librarians who'll work for such low pay in such undesirable locations. Not the same thing. Despite their gullibility, I can't completely blame the graduates. After all, based on the propaganda, who would expect that you'd have to move across the country and sacrifice yourself to get a low-paying library job.
I wonder how many new library school students were fooled by the propaganda this year. I guess we'll find out in a couple of years when we see who can't find jobs.