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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

ALA correspondence goes to jlarue [at] ala [dot] org. Phone: 3 1 2 . 2 8 0 . 4 2 2 2
Please direct all other communications to jlarue [at] jlarue [dot] com. Phone: 7 2 0 . 5 3 0 . 4 2 9 4

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The outlook for librarians

Recently, libnet (an email list of some 700, mostly Colorado-based librarians) had a lively exchange in response to a simple question: one woman wondered if we would recommend that her niece pursue a Masters in Library Science. Several findings emerged:

* a lot of librarians love their jobs, and provided encouragement.

* a lot of librarians felt that, at least to date, the investment (and the assumption of debt) hasn't been worth it. They haven't found jobs that were professional in nature; they had to move quite a ways to find employment, and sometimes that has had a steep personal and financial cost. Most of these folks were still in the starting out phase of their professional lives.

* the always helpful Library Research Service did a "Fast Facts" publication about what's really going on with new library jobs. And I see the news as encouraging: there are still lots of jobs, some of them look to be breaking new ground, and most of them are in public libraries.

I threw in another comment about the issue: we are seeing those retirements starting to happen. But most of the folks leaving hold senior positions; it will take a while for that to translate into entry level positions. I continue to believe in the value of a library education, and in the long term need for us in our communities.

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