July 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm #33593
I know there are a couple members who have this degree, so I was hoping for some advice! It’s something I’ve considered for a long time and is actually something my boyfriend is currently thinking about. What is the job market like in this area (mainly focusing on academic, public library, and archive type jobs)? My boyfriend has some museum work type of experience and has other academic qualifications which would look good on a resume. Thanks!July 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm #33602
Hey there Clare!
I don’t know how much I can really tell you (I’m still earning my degree!), but I’ve read that the job market is a little slow, but that it’s OK because a lot of librarians are older and will be retiring within the next ten years.
I’ve also heard that law and corporate librarianship is an area that’s growing… Since he has experience in a field that would be relevant to archiving, then that would definitely make things easier!
I guess it also depends on where you are when trying to find employment. I know in Atlanta, it’s harder to find a job in the city, but if you live in the country they’re clamoring for librarians.
Also, for you boyfriend, the good news for him is that men typically get better positions and salaries than women. (angry feminist grumbling)
So, I hope that this was kind of helpful…. I’m afraid I don’t know everything about it.July 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm #33603
Oops when I wrote “Since he has experience in a field that would be relevant to archiving, then that would definitely make things easier!” I meant your boyfriend… So yeah.July 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm #33606
I have my MLS! I graduated in 2009 and went on for my PhD, so I don’t have direct experience with the job market, but I have seen many of my friends and peers struggle to find jobs.
The job market for MLS grads looking to go into academic libraries is ROUGH. Truly rough. There are folks that graduated with me who have not yet found a position, and some have made the decision to leave the field. I went to a highly ranked school, too, and these are folks with great internships, high grades, etc. It’s true that many older librarians are retiring, but with university budgets being squeezed, those positions are often eliminated when someone retires rather than being refilled. It’s often the same in public libraries. Many of the archives positions out there are grant-funded, short-term positions instead of permanent jobs.
The people I know who got good jobs have a couple things in common: they worked their tails off with part-time jobs and internships while in school, often working close to full-time in addition to taking full course loads; they attended and networked like crazy at professional conferences; and they were very geographically flexible, so they could pick up and move to wherever there was a job for them. Folks with strong tech skills or who specialized in digital libraries / digital preservation had much better outcomes than those who were focused solely on traditional librarianship.
That said, if your boyfriend has his heart set on librarianship, he should go for it. He should be strategic about what program he chooses, though. Look for programs that will offer scholarships or other ways to lessen the tuition burden, like teaching assistantships or research assistantships. Look at the school’s employment statistics, and ask the admissions office hard questions. (Some schools report ANY employment after graduation as a successful outcome, even if it’s waiting tables or something that has nothing to do with the degree.) Talk to alums of the program, if you can.
Really, the ideal thing might be for him to try to get a library assistant job that doesn’t require the degree, and then do an online program while working. That way he’ll build up experience at the same time that he gets an education.
Sorry this got so long! I don’t mean to be such a downer, but it really is heartbreaking to see so many of my friends out of work and in serious debt from grad school. If it’s what your boyfriend loves, though, it’s worth it!July 13, 2012 at 6:30 am #33611
Thanks! It’s always hard to choose a career path where getting a job is a difficult prospect. We’re both currently in a different academic field where job prospects also are hard to come by, so the uncertainty is difficult. But, you’ve given me some good info to pass along!July 13, 2012 at 9:38 am #33616
The job market is terrible. It’s awful. I really cannot emphasize this enough. I just got my MLS in December. I have a job because I’ve had the same government internship since 2008 and my office has had six people retire in the past two years (but isn’t allowed to hire new people) and they could convert me without too much struggle.
Academic librarians: Here’s the story of one person who got a job as an academic librarian. She worked as a GA in that exact position for two years, she speaks five languages (literally), she had five years of work experience as a translator, she’s really good at what she does, she plays the game well, oh, and btw, she went to Harvard for her undergrad. (Seriously. This girl is the shit.) Another friend ended up as an academic librarian, and this one sort of fell into his lap–he moved to a small city in rural Pennsylvania to take a PART TIME, STAFF job at a college. He found another job at the other tiny college in town, this one full time and librarian-level. But he hates where he’s living. I have a third friend who got a librarian position at the same academic library where her father works. She interned there and then she got a permanent, librarian job. I can think of two other classmates who work as academic librarians. So, five academic librarians out of two classes totaling 200 students, with around 60 aspiring academic librarians. 1/12.
Public librarians: Fewer people want to work as public librarians, just as a general rule. It probably has to do with the lower pay and an unwillingness to run a community center, which many public librarians basically do. I have three classmates who are public librarians. One for DC Public Libraries, which is a pretty poor system, with aging libraries. One in a pretty solid job in Northern VA. And one who had to move to freaking Denver to get a job. She was open to moving, but it wasn’t a goal of hers. So, three public librarians out of 200, and they all did internships.
I know one corporate librarian, but I’m hoping she’ll speak for herself.
I know one government librarian, and she got her job through an unpaid internship. I’m a government analyst, and I got my job through a paid internship that I’ve held since 2008.
There are plenty of people who go through library school already having a library-related job. I know exactly one person who has a job in archives, and she had her job before she started school. There’s also a fair number of people I graduated with who are working as library staff (a position that only requires a high school diploma), are working at Barnes and Noble, or are just unemployed but still looking for jobs. Please know that the people who are unemployed or underemployed all have internships and paid experience in libraries. I have a friend who has another masters degree in addition to her MLS, and she’s working for the university we attended in the Dean’s Office. I have another friend who has five years of teaching experience, and she’s unemployed. Having additional qualifications doesn’t necessarily help you.
What all of this boils down to is: If you’re getting your MLS because you’ve always wanted to be a librarian and you can’t imagine doing anything else, go ahead, get your masters. If you’re getting your MLS because you think it will help you get a job, think again. Learn something with computers instead. It’s a really tough market for new librarians. And no one’s retiring, because the economy is still so bad. That’s a lie that ALA is feeding to encourage new MLS students.
Sorry if I sound bitter this morning, but I just cannot emphasize enough how library school is generally a bad economic decision. I got lucky by getting an internship in 2008 with the agency that my stepmother works for. I’d have gotten this job with basically any masters degree. Other people haven’t been so lucky.July 13, 2012 at 9:50 am #33618
Ok, I think Christy and happypup covered it very very well. But I’ll tell you about my experience.
I chose my school based on location because I wanted to work at a Smithsonian or the National Archives in DC. When I visited my school they assured me that there would be funding. This was in spring of 2009. When I arrived that fall I subsequently received an email (as did all MLS students) that the university was going on a hiring freeze and that current GAs would be funded through the year, but there would be no library GAships opening up. So…I had to pay for my Masters with loans. Here’s a hint: you don’t want to be paying for your own Masters. Your school should have funding for you. I should’ve gone to a different school that had funding set up for me, this was my mistake.
I specialized in archives and records management. I got experience in this for 2 summers in college before going to grad school, so I knew this is what I wanted to do. I worked in the special collections library throughout my masters, gaining very relevant experience. I started applying for jobs in October of my last year of grad school, I did not start working full-time until 7 months after I graduated (I was offered the position 5 months after graduation but had to wait for funding). I am now a corporate librarian and I love my job. That is the common thread among librarians: Most of them love their jobs. So if this is truly your boyfriend’s passion then go for it, but know that it is a VERY tough job market that will most likely send him into debt.
Being unemployed was really hard and made me question all of my decisions of going to library school and even college. I am still angry at my school for accepting too many graduate students and not having funding available. I don’t even like to talk about it because I just get bitter. Now I am about 80K in student loan debt. I can pay my bills but I don’t have much spending money. I know that being at a corporation allows for greater raises and promotions than if I was at a public library, so there’s that.
Am I glad I got my MLS? Not sure.July 13, 2012 at 9:52 am #33619
Oh, and Christy is right. The job market for librarians will not pick up in the future because everyone is retiring. They told me this 3 years before I got my MLS. Number 1, no one is retiring because baby boomers didn’t save enough for retirement so now they are screwing everyone by staying in the job market longer. They also realize that if they retire that their institution will not hire someone to replace them, thus their life’s work of 30 years building a collection will be completely obsolete. This is a hard pill to swallow. People retiring does not equal new jobs in the library field.July 13, 2012 at 10:49 am #33631
Thanks again for the input, everyone! I was afraid this was what I was going to hear, but I think it’s definitely best to be fully informed. I’m glad things turned out well for you kerrycontrary and Christy!July 13, 2012 at 11:26 am #33637
Clare, where are you located? If you’re near DC, I would love to get coffee sometime and chat about the library world.July 13, 2012 at 11:39 am #33639
I wish! I live in Toronto. I’ve never been to DC, but would love to go someday.July 16, 2012 at 3:10 am #33713
Siiighhhh… I am BONED!July 16, 2012 at 9:49 am #33715
Hi Clare – I’m a Canadian librarian too! I graduated from UWO in 2009. I don’t think the job situation is quite as dire in Canada as it is in the US, the retirements they have been saying are coming (since about 2000) haven’t really materialized. If you’re insistent on staying in Toronto rather (where there are 2 library schools within 2 hrs) you are going to have a much harder time finding a job than if you are willing to move (MLIS is recognized by NAFTA – I know a few people who have found jobs in the US after).
I’ve worked in both academic libraries and archives – academic libraries are struggling with budget cuts and getting a permanent position is rare (I was on contracts for 3 years and still wouldn’t have a permanent job if I hadn’t left). Archives are really suffering in Canada right now because the government just eliminated the National Archives Development Program, which provided significant funding to archives.
Without direct library experience, it might be worth it to look into UWO as they have a huge co-op program. And it goes year round so you can finish in as little as 1 year. The flip side is that classes are large and more public library focused. UBC also has an MLIS or MAS program (I think you can do a dual degree there).
That’s super-long-winded but at the end of the day, if I’m being completely honest, I hated library school, but I love being a librarian.July 16, 2012 at 10:05 am #33716
Not really related to advice…But one of our professors at UMD was Canadian. And a lot of what she talked about was how they do archives and libraries in Canada. Except we were in the US…She’s very well known and respected in the field, but I was like “Wow, this would be useful if I lived in Canada, but I don’t”.July 16, 2012 at 11:16 am #33720
I’m curious what she was referring to, because in my experience (living in both Canada and the US) neither are really different. All the libarary schools in Canada are ALA accredited, use LCSH, MESH etc.; mainly Dewey or LCC. I could go on, but that’s enough library-nerd-speak for now..
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
by Clare on · in