Sunday, March 12, 2006

Looking Ahead

There's a somewhat sobering essay in the current issue of American Libraries - on MLS graduates who are looking for work, or those who choose a paraprofessional career path to avoid being overqualified for the job market. The current information about the field in the Occupational Outlook Handbook offers the good news - there will be a lot of retirements - along with the bad news - with budget cuts, some of those positions will disappear.

One thing it's fair to say: it's going to remain an interesting field, full of change and challenges, rewarding for those who are looking for both.


Anonymous said...

There's a discussion going on in PUBLIB right about the lack of promised openings in the library profession. Many recent LIS have been frustrated trying to find jobs. I think a serious study is in order. Are there really job openings in our profession or are they regional/restricted to just a few aspects of librarianship. And what can we do to keep jobs from disappearing as the baby boomers retire?

Charlotte said...

We were talking about this very issue at work this morning as we are currently interviewing for a LA II position to replace an employee who left the department after nine years. The job literally grew around her as she took numerous technology classes, learned web design etc. until virtually no one else in the building, including myself, is qualified for the job. The person who will ultimately get the job is expected to be willing to learn certain skills, but for us to find a web designing, poster making,story hour performing library II in small town Alaska would take a miracle.
Regarding the lack of openings, I watch the PNLA jobline pretty carefully and what I know is that there are always jobs available, but they are likely never where you live! That's why I had to move to Alaska. Also, areas where there are library schools are completely overwhelmed with good candidates. From my own experience, I know that lots of libraries hire internally from subs, pages, and volunteers who become familiar with the needs of the library and wait for an opening. I think we filled the majority of our jobs in recent years from our very active sub pool.
Lots and lots of library job seekers are on their second careers and are already invested in home and family, making a move very difficult. This fact alone can make job hunting in the profession seem almost impossible if one is waiting for a job in a certain time and place. If you are determined to work in one community, get out there and get known by the local library staff no matter what it takes so they think of you when they have an opening.