hi, i have a question, if you don't mind. i'm about to graduate high school and i'm considering working towards a library science degree, but people keep telling me that it's not a good idea since there's very little growth in librarian jobs. i was wondering what your experience is with the demand (or lack of?) for librarians, since you are one and have already gone through the process of school and job hunting?
Okay, so first of all, if you want to be a librarian, become a librarian. Anyone who says that you have exactly between the years of 18 and 24 (incl graduate degree years) to COMPLETELY map out the rest of your life obvs hasn’t been on a life-changing path in a while.
Demands change over time. Job markets fluctuate with the rest of the economy. I know new librarians. I know librarians who have left “traditional library jobs” and are now using the same skills in a different industry.
As per the job growth in the area, I have found the following to be true: you’ll have a hard time finding a job as a librarian if:
You expect to sit behind a desk for 8 hours per day.
You expect to work with books 100% of the time.
You love to read, therefore, librarian.
You will not consider applying for a job in another geographical location or area.
You want to work at the same library for your first job and then stay there until you retire.
So, some of these criteria become truer as you age, as you gain a partner or children, if you buy a house in an area, as the needs in your personal life change… but searching for a library job sounds so much like any other job hunt.
Other than that, go into your undergraduate education selecting a major that suits you – liberal arts, language and linguistics, history, I knew someone who majored in business admin and then did MLIS – prepare to go to graduate school, and discuss the job market with actual librarians or individuals with MLS/MIS degrees.
None of this works if you don’t discuss with, volunteer with, or job-shadow actual librarians.
On a personal “me” note, I worked four years as an undergraduate library student worker at my college. It gave me the opportunity to know that I wanted to become a librarian. Now, I work with undergraduates who sometimes end their four contiguous years with admonitions to go to library school. I wouldn’t encourage them if I thought the job was dying as a whole or if the market couldn’t support new job entries.
The real difference might be between becoming an assistant (non-MLS) versus the graduate school expense of gaining an MLS/MLIS degree. Some say that working for 5, 10, 15 years in a library as an assistant generally prepares one for the administrative and social world of the MLS-degreed librarian. That’s an argument that I’m not willing to get into, as I think both paths have definite merits, but you should take the course best suited to your career.
So, whoever is telling you this, Anon (if I may call you Anon), is probably working off that age-old adage – the library is being replaced by the internet.
It is no more true now than it is that television replaced plays and films replaced television. Same wine, new bottles. If you love to read, great. If you really enjoy getting people connected to information, then where the technology flows, you’ll carve out a job.
More articles you should read (or counter people in your life who are saying why the MLS?)
tl;dr Librarians are still in demand if you have flexibility in your heart. The jobs may not be called librarians in the future, but the idea is generally the same – you’re getting people what they want, when they want it, within legal rights, with a stamp of authority – and for the foreseeable near future decade, you can go “traditional” and/or “new technologies.”