Friday, June 21, 2013

On Being Too Picky or The Crisis among Recently Credentialed Librarians

A few days ago, I participated in a linkedin discussion about recent library school graduates. The discussion question, "Are recent grads too picky?" prompted a few passionate responses. Among my comments, I posted this:

Unless recent library school graduates immediately expect lucrative administrative positions in large library systems, I don't think they are being too picky. I think they want responsibilities and pay equal to their educational credentials. They want to be professionals, not paraprofessionals. They want to demonstrate that an MLIS is a professional degree, not an entry level paraprofessional certificate. Can we imagine many law students getting a JD, just to be paralegals or many medical students working for their MDs, to become nursing assistants? No.

This is not a slam against library paraprofessionals. There are many experienced library paraprofessionals who advanced their careers, who provided excellent services and innovations to libraries without having one college degree, let alone two.

Due to the apparent oversupply of library school graduates, more than a few credentialed librarians take paraprofessional positions in order to stay current in the field and to pay their bills. I don't fault my peers. I worked as a student assistant at an academic library during library school and continued that position for 9 months after I received my MLIS. It helped pay the bills; it kept me current in librarianship. I met some very excellent colleagues whose advice and wisdom showed me that librarianship is the right choice for me.

But those colleagues never expected me to stay in that position, no matter how beneficial it would have been for them to have an MLIS holder as a student assistant. When I was hired for my first professional position, they wished me well. When I take the next step in my career, I know that my colleagues at my current institution will bid me a fond adieu.

Was I being "too picky" when I chose a position that more closely matched my education and other credentials? I don't think so. Are many recent library graduate being too picky for applying to professional positions and forgoing paraprofessional opportunities? Are registered nurses being too picky for not applying to any job remotely associated with nursing? Librarians may not be in the same demand curve, but there is a demand for credentialed librarians--especially those who can write grants or otherwise generate revenue for their prospective institutitions.

So, no--I don't think we are too picky. We are credentialed librarians who simply want to practice the profession.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.


  1. We need to rethink the way we train Librarians and the skills that we impart on them in Library School.

  2. I see too many very important job posting for Libraries that don't require an MLS and are looking for skills that many with an MLS don't have. There is a big disconnect there. There are many MLS's out here who are unemployed or underemployed and this is a huge reason why. Why aren't we learning these things in Library school? Why aren't these skills be taught and incorporated into the curriculum. It will definitely raise salaries and bring more respect to the field.

    1. Which skills do you refer to? Database administration? Computer programming? Network administration? If so, many of these libraries apparently want people who can technically manage their electronic information networks without relying too heavily on very expensive vendor products and services (software as service, platform as service, cloud-computing, etc). They want flexibility and customization. They want to create specific applications for their specific needs. Candidates with excellent computer programing and networking skills can provide that.

      Unfortunately, traditional library schools, like Wayne State University, cannot produce those candidates. iSchools, like the University of Michigan, can.