IMLS Awards Over $14.7 Million to Recruit New Librarians for 21st Century

In a news release on their website, IMLS announced that they would be giving $14.7 million in grants to various schools and institutions to "help offset [the] looming national shortage of library professionals" by stepping up recruitment.
This plan has been discussed a bit on some listservs I belong to for new librarians, and a lot of us looking for jobs (for more than a year in some cases) think this shortage is imaginary. What do LISNewsters think? Will there be a shortage of librarians? Are these grants a good idea? Are there deeper problems than recruitment in the library profession that could be contributing to a shortage?


I'll be coming out of school with a MSIS(LS) within the next couple of years, and I don't feel worried; I have every intention of relocating as necessary, with a prioritized list of cities (and their respective universities) I'd prefer to work in.

Are those who are facing difficulties finding positions forced to stay within a particular area due to other concerns (e.g., house, family)? In that case, I could understand why one might run into so much trouble....

"those who are facing difficulties finding positions forced to stay within a particular area due to other concerns"That's the feeling I get. There's been a huge discussion on this over on NEWLIB-L for the past few weeks, it's worth a read for anyone interested in this topic. In short, people who are about to graduate, or just graduated don't seem to be having any luck with work. I don't think they have a web archive, otherwise I'd post a link.

I agree entirely. It's pretty clear that it's not too hard to get job as a librarian, as long as you are willing to move. I was very fortunate to get a job that didn't involve moving, but it was purely good timing.

I heard about the shortage before library school, during library school and at the ALA meeting in Orlando. I still fail to see the shortage. I have applied to ~20 full time positions locally and I have yet to land one. I did get an adjunct position at a local college, and I have a second interview at a local PL, but then I have >5 years experience at a big (blue) firm supporting and teaching LexisNexis, Factiva, and Dialog. That may give me some what of an edge, I also have other Masters degrees.

However I have rejection letters from:
A PL in Raleigh
A local junior college
A county 120 miles south
A private college in NC
A county 60 miles norty
My Alma Mater FSU (they decided not to fill the position at all)
A PL in Florence, SC
University of Florida
University of Florida again
A community college in NC
Another private college in NC
A 'career' college in Charlotte
Another local community college
My local state university (with a library school)
I have also applied for an internship at a large medical library at a large university but I have yet to hear back other than -we are still accepting CVs.
All the others - some in Nevada, California, Georgia, New Jersey and Ohio just don't bother to reply with either a thanks for your CV or sorry, we hired someone else after several months.
I have recieved some thanks and sorry e-mails from places in NY where I have applied.

I'm not sure where the shortage is. I guess there are too many people with Masters degrees willing to work for $30K.

Maybe it's time to rewrite your cover letter.

Cover letter? I write position and institution specific cover letters. However I did have the former Florida Library Association president look at my résumé (his library was not hiring) and he suggested some changes which have had a positive effect, as I have had 7 calls for interviews since ALA ended - all with the 'new' résumé.

It is kind of strange as I am used to having to decide between positions, rather than waiting for a position. Oh, well the fun of being a librarian.

I was on several search committees at an academic library in the rural south in the late 90s, and we had a hard time finding qualified applicants willing to move there. Resumes were even arriving from librarians who had abandoned the profession ten, even twenty, years ago. (I assume they heard the news of impending librarian shortage.) The library director was forced to raise salaries to attract qualified staff.

After 2001, we had a bit of competition in the searches again.

Now, I've moved to an urban area in the south just crawling with librarians--and feel lucky to have a low paying, basically entry level, position.

Some of the new, unemployed librarians I've met seem to have unrealistic salary expectations (unrealistic for the library market, not for "normal" work/living expenses.)

I do think the library leaders are a bit out of touch with the current economic situation. It may change with the economy. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but recruiting as many new librarians as they plan will keep salaries down in many areas.

And, some library directors (and college administrators, HR depts) will use the "overabundance" of librarians to justify stagnent salaries or other reduction in benefits (no training money, no travel money.)

As a librarian who has experienced the "if you don't like it, leave!" management attitude, I would say this is one of the major problems facing recruitment and retention. (That library director was speechless when he received my resignation...)

More needs to be done to retain librarians who are early to mid-career or older, more experienced librarians who might be willing to work part-time after retirement if they don't have a bad "end of career" experience.

The academic library I used to work for just had some very senior retirements (both librarian and support staff positions) and openings all at once, and instead of being able to fill all of them, the library was told that they, like the rest of campus, would have to take a permanent reduction in staff. They lost a substantial number of positions.

The shortage calculations are based on the assumption that all those open positions will be replaced, which is certainly not happening in academia under these budget conditions.

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