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What’s a future librarian to do?

June 21, 2010

Every week I check local job postings, and so very, very little is out there.  When there are jobs posted, almost every one of them is incredibly far from me (hours-long drives, which with my back isn’t really a good idea) or director/administration-level positions.

Here’s the problem: You’ve got libraries with cut funding, and you’ve got library students graduating every term.  You also have, for the sake of example, four levels of employment: the student assistants (which is great for teens who think they might want to go to library school, in the sense it gets them experience in a library, not that it gets them experience with what to do once they’re librarians), the people at the check-out desk (who don’t need degrees), the reference librarians (who need degrees and, often, 1-2 years of experience), and administration.

You see where the problem is?  I hate saying this, because some of my favorite “librarians” are just people at the front desk who work there with retail hours and retail pay, but libraries need to stop putting laymen at the desk when entry-level librarians (and library school students) need experience.

I was told that I wouldn’t have problem finding a job if I were willing to move, and at the time I didn’t have a fiance but I still wasn’t sure it was something that could be on the table because of my daughter.  We’ve already moved a lot while I went to grad school; she’s gone to three schools plus homeschooling in the past two years.  (The one school was just unacceptable, so I pulled her.)  There were times when I might have been able to hold a part-time job, but guess what?  Libraries haven’t exactly been clamoring for people in the past two years, either.  So it’s like…what do I do?  My new town doesn’t even have a bookstore where I could at least keep up with what’s hot in publishing.  The nearest chain bookstore I know of is 45 minutes away.  There used to be two there, but they just closed one.

I realize that I’m pickier than most people, because of my health.  The idea of screwing up my back permanently because I push it too hard terrifies me.  But what is there for someone like that?  It’s not like libraries have the money to hire me part time.

I’m thinking of shadowing someone in September if I don’t find a job by then.  I don’t know how I’ll pay my part of the bills, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

But I still think, even if I’m not just discussing myself, that I’m right about clearing check-out desk jobs for entry-level librarians and library students.

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