Library Shortage a load of...bunk, says Farrelly

Michael Farrelly, Bookslut's "Library Rakehell", says they lied to him in library school.

Even with two master’s degrees, some library experience and impeccable references I cannot get a call back. Well, that is not entirely accurate. I did get one interview thus far and sat there smiling and being the ideal interviewee while I was told I was “overqualified� and my reasoning for taking a “reference assistant� position questioned. The answer to that question by the way is money, money, and money.

I have searched so many times that I have screen burn from the site. I have tried using and abusing friends and family and contacts who are friends of the family and people who pass by on the street carrying library books weeping to them “Please… I’m hungry and can catalogue, for the love of god take me to your reader’s services, put a ring on my finger and sandals on my feet!� The prodigal librarian is ready to crawl for forgiveness of his sins. The sin of being over-educated, young, and not as experienced and in some cases I think, being a male.


There may be a job market problem here. There may be other problems. It's impossible to know.I have not heard much good news generally in the way of job opportunities. On the other hand, I have heard of individual people and know of acquaintances -- yes, males as well as females (I am male and a second-year library school student) -- getting decent library jobs out of library school. I am optimistic and am hopeful that all is not woe and brimstone, although you can certainly feel for the writer's experience.However, nobody who goes into the library school wringer should have any illusions that the so-called "librarian shortage" is anything but a darn good marketing gimmick for library schools. Think about it.

Yes - hard to get a job in a field where you do not look like the typical applicant. Those doing the hiring want to be sure they hire someone they think will be a good "fit". I remember when a director told me I had too heavy of a technical background to be a reference librarian - She figured I would not be happy behind the desk so she took a chance on someone else. Well - techies to have a bad rap of telling people to RTFM - can't have that with the patrons. And of course all present at library schools never mentioned the hiring process - they all were so encouraging to me that librarians with computer backgrounds would have no trouble getting a job.

It must have to do with where you are. I'm constantly seeing listings around Washington, D.C. I certainly think there are some government positions that would really fit your background. If you catalog and read Farsi or Arabic you should be able to name your price. Maybe consider being a government contractor for a while? Or look for "information analyst" positions.

I wonder what age qualifies one as neither "young and overqualified" nor "old and overqualified."

It's probably not a real number.

Really. I was mortified when all those rosy pictures Simmons painted before I enrolled changed to stories of people waiting months or even years to land a job that they trained for.

I'm not a religious person, but I really feel someone high above was looking out for me. I got three job interviews, one for a paraprofessional position that paid more than I make now, one for a reference librarian, and a systems/reference job that I really wanted all along. I was offered the systems job and the paraprofessional job on the same day. I was turned down for the reference job on the same day I heard about the systems/reference opening. I was still in the honeymoon stage of job searching, so hope was springing eternal (you know the reasoning... Maybe I didn't get this cool reference job so I can have the cooler systems/reference job.)

Don't give up hope. I looked for a job for a year and a half before I started to go to library school. I was afraid I'd have to do that again.But I was damn lucky. My heart goes out to all you searching.

If there's one thing worse than being "young and overqualified", it's being "old and overqualified". Does that help at all?

This is certainly a painful essay to read, and it is repeated in many professions. Knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone still seems to be the quickest route. Are there headhunters for librarians or is the pay too low to make it pay?

Hey, come to the midwest. We could use more librarians in underserved areas, esp. those that have been to library school!

Also (same poster here again), nobody "lies" to anybody, at least not in my experience, in library school.I have never gotten any "lies" about the job market from my school. Now, as far as myths, misleading statements, hot air, bloviation, aggressively aggrandized expectations, and hype to the nth degree -- well, there's plenty (and boy is there ever plenty!) of that in library school, or, for that matter, any grad school setting.But IMHO, those who actually believe this stuff (or who do not take it with more than the proverbial grain of salt) are not being lied to by the school -- they are quite possibly lying to themselves.

Although not as eloquently. Library Schools' predictions of the flood of retirements and new opportunities that technology will bring are as true as used car salesmen's puffery. I have "thank you for your CV" letters from up and down the east coast, most of them "thanks but no thanks."

I leave things off my résumé because I don't want people to say I am over qualified. I liked school and I went a lot, but I don't want to not be hired because I've more than one degree. Of course I can tailor my résumé to the position but for public libraries I think a minimalist approach is best.

Things are looking up though, two phone interviews this week yielded one request for an in person interview, within a few hours drive of home!

So while there may no mass exodus from the library profession soon, at least I'm (and the author) are prepared for when it starts. Although we may be in it by then.

It is very odd how hiring in libraries takes a committee, panel interviews and weeks of waiting; and hiring in the corporate world takes two interviews and a week or two of waiting yet the jobs I had at big blue corporation pay twice as much if not more than a starting librarian. I didn't enjoy them as much but they sure pay better.

How much do the other disciplines help out with job placement? MBA programs - law schools - I suppose you are on your own once you graduate too

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