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Author Topic: Paging the librarians on the board...  (Read 921 times)

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va-vacious

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Paging the librarians on the board...
« on: October 11, 2010, 01:53:32 PM »

There are several of you good librarians on this board, and I need some assistance!  No, it's not Library of Congress vs. Dewey Decimal, but along the job line. I'm considering a career change, leaving the museum world and going back to school to get a MLS and becoming a librarian. Before I get too far into this process, I'm trying to figure out if it's what I should do.  So a couple of questions for y'all:

1. According to ALA, UNC-CH Library Science, and several other places, it's a good field to get in to: there are jobs available and the apparent median salary is in the mid-$50s.  In your knowledge of the field, is this remotely true? I've heard that school libraries are cutting librarians, and I would think that that salary range is also applicable for those who have library-ing for awhile.

2. I'm not wanting to become a school librarian, but would be interested in the university system. (I already have a master's in American History, which I think might help in steering in this direction)  Good idea?  Bad idea?

3. And overall, what is the health of the field? My current field is not so great, since we're the last to get money from anyone. So would it be going from one tipping ship to another?

It's a bit scary to be considering leaving a stable job, with benefits, and voluntarily pulling myself out of the world of employed for two years to not have a job at the end of it.  I've grown accustomed to the luxuries in life, like electricity and air conditioning.

Any and all thoughts would be appreciated! (and from non-librarians, too!)
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Dan

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 03:23:11 PM »

No one ever regretted getting their Master's. Or in your case, a second one. Go for it! Follow your dreams! Don't let the man get you down!
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Poolio

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 03:36:16 PM »

*sigh*

A healthy field, it ain't. We've taken a big hit since the economic apocalypse in '08 and there's been very little recovery... although there are jobs popping back up again. Now, it is entirely possible that more jobs will open up between now and you graduating. Check out ALA's jobline and LISjobs.com for an idea of what is out there now. As for the median salary number you've got, be aware that there is a large variation depending on where you'll be working and in what environment (academic vs. public vs. schools). Are you in love with where you live? Because you may have to move, the harsh reality is that jobs have dried up and won't be back because we're not considered essentially services to most administrations. To find a job, you have to be willing to pull up stakes sometimes. I have a friend who took 2 years to find a Librarian job because she was stuck in Minnesota, she finally had to move out-of-state to get a "real" job.

With an additional Master's, you'll have a leg up in the academic arena. Although those jobs are very competitive but once you're in, you're in. After spending 8 years working at a public library and 2 years at OCLC, I would still have a hard time getting a gig in an Academic environment because of a bias against public libraries and my lack of a second Master's.

Now, I'd recommend looking at the current job openings around the country to see what you're looking at job/pay/school-wise. I'd also recommend finding a library school/program that sides heavily on emerging technologies, it is where the field is going. It's not a dying field, but we are undergoing a fundamental shift. In my opinion, reference departments are going to be taking a big hit over the next few years as more systems shift more to electronic resources and away from paper. But, I'm a Cataloger so take that with a grain of salt. :laugh:  

Taking all the bad and scary stuff about having any professional job these days, I wouldn't trade it for the world. It is endlessly interesting, there's always something new to learn and, if you work with the public, always entertaining. I'll add more later since I should be working right now.  ;)
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Poncho

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 04:42:15 PM »

I'm not a librarian, but I imagine that the 1 reward in 100 is worth every minute spent doing the job.  Actually helping someone and making a difference is important.

I have a couple of friends outside of R'ville that are in the library field and they say as much most of the time.  However, it is their belief (and mine) that it may be one of those "lost arts" at some point that ultimately will make the world a worse place.



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"Everyone needs a phone book!"  "Hi, I'd like you to meet the intarwebs!"

"Everyone needs maps!"  "Hi, I'd like you to meet my GPS personal nav machine!"

"Payphones are a staple of modern communication."  "What is a pay phone?"


Every time I go to the library, I spend less time with a human being.  In fact, my time is about 99% electronic at this point.  I fear things like Kindle & its ilk might harm the physical book 100x worse than generic online reading has (because it blows!) as they become more advanced.
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Poolio

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 06:17:47 PM »


I have a couple of friends outside of R'ville that are in the library field and they say as much most of the time.  However, it is their belief (and mine) that it may be one of those "lost arts" at some point that ultimately will make the world a worse place.
That's the trouble the profession is having now, how do we effectively translate what we do well (ie: organize information in an easy to use and functional way) using the skills we've acquired over the last 100+ years to the new waters we're swimming in? There's very little middle ground right now, either you embrace the new stuff or you hold on to the library of 10 years ago and become extinct.
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Dan

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2010, 09:39:45 PM »

"Payphones are a staple of modern communication."  "What is a pay phone?"

Tangent: payphones are EVERYWHERE in Manhattan because of their advertising capacity. Basically they are a cashcow and thus they aren't going anywhere.

Every now and then I actually see people using them, too.
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Poncho

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2010, 10:51:54 PM »

I really think that librarians (if they don't morph and adapt) would be a group of people that would never be ADEQUATELY missed until they were gone.  At that point, you'd be like "OMG I can't believe there are no librarians.  Remember when someone could have made the world right at this point?"

I give big props to you folks, whatever level you serve, I'm your fan.
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trixi

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2010, 12:40:54 AM »

You really want to think about which route you want to go.  I have been sorely disappointed in many universities and their pay levels, especially considering that many do want people to have a 2nd master's.  For instance, UC at one point advertised an entry level librarian job requiring 2 masters for under $30K.
That's ridiculous.  I'm guessing that as an entry level, someone may be at the point of starting to pay of some loans, and 30K isn't a lot to live on.  Even without loans, it's not something I would ever apply for, because I don't feel that salary level is acknowledging the worth of my degrees. Miami seemed to have an OK pay scale.  If you like computers, sort of like Poolio mentioned with emerging technologies, you might want to consider looking at a systems librarian type job.   That's basically what I am.  School libraries sometimes require you to have a teaching certificate, depending on the state, so that would be something to look into as well.  You can also look at Chronicle of Higher Education for jobs to get a feel.  
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 10:05:27 AM by trixi »
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Poolio

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2010, 07:42:21 AM »

School libraries sometimes require you to have a teaching certificate, depending on the state, so that would be something to look into as well.  
The one thing to be wary of with school library gigs in some place when layoff season comes the first people they'll cut will be the Librarians and then they'll put a teacher who got (or would have gotten) laid off into the Librarian job. It happened a bunch when I was in Nashville.

Even if you do decide to stick with a reference job, I'd suggest getting a good handle on the tech-y side of things. It will make you more marketable and open up your job options a lot more.

ETA: You could always consider a job in technical services (Systems Lib, Cataloger, or Collection Development Lib.)... join Trixi and me on the dark side.  ;)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 08:02:53 AM by Poolio »
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va-vacious

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2010, 10:58:58 PM »

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll be checking out those sites.  What is really helpful is hearing about the options that are available. I had a hunch that the computer side of things would be stronger, so I'll need to look into that more.  I know I don't want to do public school library, even though young adult lit is my favorite genre.

As far as relocation goes, I'm all for it! Part of why I'm interested in changing fields has to do with wanting to get out of my current town, and not finding other ways to do so.  (Thanks, economic apocalypse!) I managed to escape the financial squeeze last year (county leaders were threatening to eliminate my department), but rumor has it we're already a few million in debt for this fiscal year. I see cuts looming in the future, and would rather have some control over that.

As and aside, when I started looking for jobs in museum education, starting salary was usually $18,000 and required a master's degree.
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rva

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Re: Paging the librarians on the board...
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2010, 11:56:53 PM »

As and aside, when I started looking for jobs in museum education, starting salary was usually $18,000 and required a master's degree.

This is the kind of shit that drives me crazy.  Anyone with a master's degree who is remotely competent is NOT going to take a job for $18,000.  They either have better job opportunities or like you, they will find another field.  You would be much better off looking for people who *don't* have a Master's degree but are willing to take the job as career stepping stone or out of interest.  A fairly bright non-college graduate maybe.  By requiring a Master's degree along with a ridiculous salary, you're basically guaranteeing that you will hire the least competent person possible. 

I hate the notion of people being "over-qualified" so I would never rule out someone who wants the job at a seemingly mystifyingly low salary.  You could hit the jackpot.  I'm just saying-- if you take out the Master's requirement you might still get lucky with someone like that, but at the same time you are also opening up the position to other people.

When I see a salary like that, basically it just tells me the hiring agency doesn't care at all either.  They just want something on paper so their ass is covered and they would prefer to have no applicants or crazy applicants than someone who might do a good job.
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