Saturday, January 17, 2009

What a Bargain

There's a post on the Freakonomics blog (via New York Times, which I found as a link via Tim Spalding's Facbook Page - and if that doesn't challenge the Information Literacy Standards insistence that research starts with identifying an information need, I don't know what does ... but I digress, as I almost always do when finding information) about the soaring use of libraries in tough economic times. Read the comments. It will do your heart good to hear how much people value their libraries and the whole idea of public libraries as a communal resource. There are notes on the proposed closure of Philadelphia library branches (a huge controversy in the city) and some about closures of entire library systems in Oregon due to lack of funding and a reluctance to increase taxes that lasted nearly two years (!!!!), but there are also proud descriptions of libraries that provide their communities enormous value.

There is also a comment that amused and dismayed me. (It's comment #52 on page 3.) At a newly-opened library in Connecticut there are all kinds of innovations, including this one:
The Dewey Decimal system is gone. Books are arranged by subject.
That qualifies as the most inadvertantly damning critique of library organizations I've ever encountered.

Friday, January 09, 2009

"among our society's most empowering people"

US News once again points to librarianship as one of the best careers.

Librarianship is an underrated career. Most librarians love helping patrons solve their problems and, in the process, learning new things. Librarians may also go on shopping sprees, deciding which books and online resources to buy. They may even get to put on performances, like children's puppet shows, and run other programs, like book discussion groups for elders. On top of it all, librarians' work environment is usually pleasant and the work hours reasonable, although you may have to work nights and/or weekends

The job market for special librarians (see below) is good but is sluggish for public and school librarians. Nevertheless, persistent sleuthing—that key attribute of librarians—should enable good candidates to prevail.

That effort to land a job will be well worth it if you're well suited to the profession: love the idea of helping people dig up information, are committed to being objective—helping people gain multiple perspectives on issues—and will remain inspired by the awareness that librarians are among our society's most empowering people.

In the interest of objectivity, this week a post about the difficult job market in academic libraries at ACRLog has generated lots of comments from the trenches. The effort to land a job is not to be taken lightly.