If you're looking for a reason to feel good about your job, just be grateful you don't work at the Hartford Public Library.
However, today's post is addressed to some of you who don't have jobs, or at least the cushy library jobs you'd like to have.
I think I can claim truthfully that this blog has done a lot to call attention to the lies that the ALA and library schools have propagated about librarian shortages and the ease of getting library jobs. Since I have been drawing attention to this issue for a couple of years, I feel comfortable pointing out some uncomfortable truths to complaining job seekers. The most uncomfortable truth is that nobody owes you a job. If you went to library school because you were told jobs were plentiful, then you were duped. That's too bad, but it wasn't the libraries that aren't hiring you now that duped you. Library schools benefited from your tuition. The ALA probably benefited from some dues money. Libraries seem to benefit by not having to pay much because there are plenty of suckers lined up to take sucky jobs. You're the only one that didn't benefit. Three out of four's not bad.
And so some of you complain and feel entitled to jobs that just aren't there. I've read complaints in the comments that claim academic libraries, for example, are some sort of exclusive fiefdom almost impossible to get jobs in, which isn't true as far as I can tell. There are plenty of academic library jobs, just not many libraries that want to hire someone fresh out of library school when they can just as easily get someone with library experience. Why would they? You wouldn't either if you were making the hiring decision. Some new library school graduates seem to have been under the impression that librarianship was a non-competitive field. I don't know where that impression came from, but it's just not true. It wasn't true back in the day when I was a wee little librarian and got my first library job, either. I know for a fact that dozens of people applied for that job, and understandably so. It was a good job. There might be a conspiracy against you, but probably not. What most people don't want to admit to themselves is that sometimes they don't get jobs because someone else was better for the job. The more people out there applying for the same job, the more chance that someone is better for the job than you.
The most ridiculous complaint I've read came up in comments to last week's post. My faithful reader "Anonymous" left this comment: "Newer library school grads have to take temporary job pool jobs with low pay and no benefits because boomer librarians will not retire." Oh, please. Go file a class action suit against the ALA or your library school for duping you, but stop blaming older librarians. It's not their fault you got a degree in a glutted field. They would probably have told you not to go to library school if you'd asked them.
This comment is obviously motivated by some sort of bitterness, but is problematic in a number of ways. First, the assumption is that if the boomer librarian does retire, the job won't either disappear or change into some other kind of job. That's a bad assumption these days.
But let's take a look at some of the other assumptions. There's the faulty assumption that someone is obligated to retire from a job they're doing just so someone else can fill the job. Are these boomer librarians not people who deserve jobs, too? There's the probably faulty assumption that these boomer librarians that are so mean as to keep doing their jobs can even afford to retire. I think this is probably a faulty assumption because only the boomer librarians in low-level jobs could be replaced by new library school graduates, and they're the ones least likely to be able to afford to retire comfortably.
There's no necessary reason older librarians should retire. Sometimes they're a drain on the library and a barrier to necessary change, but not necessarily. One of the benefits of being a librarian is that one can still do it at an advanced age. Librarians don't do hard physical labor, so as long as they can get around a bit and haven't gone completely insane, they can still work. This benefits the morbidly obese, obviously, but it also benefits older librarians as well as librarians with various physical handicaps.
The commenter is just jealous, of course, but that jealousy is understandable. One of the other perks of a lot of library jobs is their security. A lot of librarians are unionized or tenured, and it's rare for librarians to just be fired without cause. It happens, but it's the exception in public and academic libraries at least. These secure librarians can just keep on working at their physically undemanding jobs for decades, and do.
It's also hard to take the comment seriously as a legitimate complaint because I'd be willing to wager that the commenter wouldn't think like that in reversed circumstances. If the commenter were the one with the job, s/he would be unlikely to be motivated by such an argument. "You need to retire because I need a job" just isn't a much of an argument.
There might be all sorts of legitimate gripes for why people can't find library jobs, but criticizing working librarians for not retiring isn't one of them.