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The Declining Number of Entry Level Jobs in Librarianship

:: Rachel Holt and Adrienne Stock, writing in Library Journal, describe the very sad and sorry state of the library job market for new graduates:

Data from the library job market and mounting anecdotal evidence show that there is cause for alarm. The number of full-time, professional positions in libraries is dwindling, salaries continue to be depressed, more entry-level positions are being liquidated or "deprofessionalized," and qualified job seekers are having trouble securing work. Meanwhile, an industrywide MLS recruitment drive is in full swing, ensuring another large crop of graduates will be spilled out into the job market each year. Even with this bumper crop of new professionals, library administrators complain about the lack of qualified applicants for available positions.
Following their analysis of the current situation, they conclude the following:
While there is an intense, ongoing campaign to recruit new MLS students, there is no concerted effort to hire them once they've graduated. It is unreasonable to invite an influx of new colleagues into the profession without making room for them. It is unfortunate that those entering the profession are being told that there is a current shortage of library workers, since this is not entirely true. Schools recruit an excess of people into MLS programs. While some who are recruited will fail to finish their degrees and others are already working in libraries, there will be a large number who would make excellent librarians given the right opportunities. They reach the job market and discover there are far fewer options than they had anticipated; they conduct lengthy job searches, settle for underemployment in paraprofessional or part-time positions, or, if they're fortunate, find a professional position. Some of them move to nonlibrarian work that pays better and carries more authority and prestige.

When the hiring crisis finally arrives, administrators will look down their hiring ladders and realize that they have very few qualified library professionals to promote into leadership posts. They will consolidate or liquidate their open positions, or they will hire from outside the profession. This will leave even fewer openings for new MLS graduates, and we will find ourselves right back where we started.

How do we correct this course? Begin career training for all graduating MLS students. Create formal networks for mentoring new professionals. Establish partnerships between schools and local libraries to provide apprenticeships to recent graduates. Make library experience a prerequisite for graduation from MLS programs. And, finally, find ways to ease experience requirements to allow new professionals to find good jobs. Get excited about welcoming new librarians into the work force. Let our new colleagues know that we appreciate them as agents of change, or we will risk losing the very people best positioned to carry the library into the future.

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