IMLS awards $10 mil in grants to bring in new librarians

I grabbed this item from the STS-L listserv this morning. The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded $10 million to 27 grant projects (listed here by state) aimed at recruiting and educating librarians to offset an expected shortage.

In May 2000, Library Journal magazine reported 40% of America's library directors plan to retire in 9 years or less. And, according to the July 2000 Monthly Labor Review, in 1998 57% of professional librarians were age 45 or older. The March 2002 issue of American Libraries magazine showed that based on 1990 Census data almost 58% of professional librarians will reach the age of 65 between 2005 and 2019.

[On a personal note, my library school, The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN, will be one of the recipients.]


Get rid of the Masters of Library Science and the shortage will go away. What is that thing needed for anyway? People who work in book stores do almost the same job as librarians without an advanced degree and most of them want to be librarians.

I am an MLS student and also a part time library assistant at a busy public library. My boss lets me do a lot of "librarian" work (because, unlike you, she does not assume that paraprofessionals are automatically incompetent) and I have not yet come across anything I need a master's degree for. Some people are slow; they will take longer to do well at a job with or without a degree. Some are intelligent, and they can easily learn how to do what librarians do without having to spend a disgusting amount of time and money doing so. Everything I have learned at work has been more valuable than what I have learned at school. Collection development? They can only teach you vague overarching ideas; the only real way to learn is to get familiar with the population you are actually dealing with in your job - and your school can't predict what population you will be working with in your job. Management? My management class was the biggest joke I have ever wasted time on. Children's services? I have learned more in a weekend working at the children's reference desk than in weeks studying scholarly articles written by ivory-tower types who don't seem to have ever actually been children. The only real value to an MLS is that employers like knowing that you have that silly piece of paper. As far as actually learning to do the job, I'm all about hands-on experience.

When I graduated from Library School with my MLS in 1978, I could not find a library job as the market was tight, so I started working for a major, now defunct bookstore chain.There was nothing that working in the bookstore ever in the remotest fashion would have enabled, or enhance my future work in public libraries, law libraries, or college libraries, but my MLS training moved me from simple minimum wage bookstore clerk to managing the store in less that a year, being selected to do so over all of the other employees in the store who had years seniority on me, as well as college degrees in other areas,The fact is that those who have not worked professionally in public libraries hav'nt the faintest idea of what the job entails, other than the superficial view they have obtained from the surface aspects they get to see when they walk into a library.As a matter of fact, I have had the opportunity to promote paraprofessionals to the professional level and have done on several occasions, but they were the rare exception rather than the rule.I was able to do so in specific areas in which I judged that they were capable of handling the work, but it took significant training on my part to enable them to do the work to an acceptable degree, and for the most part, they were all staff that I promoted into circulation management level jobs, rather than jobs requiring reference ability or collection development skills or other professional decision making jobs.Those paraprofessionals who were engaged in collection development jobs proved to be rather bad at it in most cases, and their selections of materials almost completely revolved around personal likes and dislikes and interests and hobbies, rather than on statistical data derived from branch, regional or system circulation trends and frequently various branches would have large extensive Judaica collections in the middle of mixed Afro-American/Carribean Black neighborhoods to name but one style of collection development styles on the part of the paraprofessionals involved in selecting materials.By and large, it is thee rare exception to find a non-MLS person who can handle everything involve in Library Work.Another fact is that librarians rarely have specialized positions, and are frequently required to take over management duties, technical services duties such as cataloging and classification, collection development dutiesprary childrens services. interlibrary loan , online searching,serials, government documents as vacancies occur. The simply do not sit in one department or the other and perform one set of tasks such as reference. The nature of low budgets to libraries and frequent cuts to these budgets simply means that librarians must be able to move from one type of library work to another with literally little or NO training on the job

you want a librarian job, and you cannot get one.BTW-"Egotistical git?" Fuck you.One thing I do agree with-if the pay does not increase, there will be no reason for anyone to pursue an MLS-in or out of an academic setting.

Eh, the same thing could be said for a lot of graduate degrees. Do you really need a master's in education to teach grade school?

But if they do ever do away with the MLS requirement, I'll be the first in line to get my money back.

I've actually read it. And I do realize that there must be some librarians who make use of their degrees. These librarians are probably in academic or corporate settings and it is probable that they have need of it. But it's just plain ridiculous that my local public libraries require this degree.

You know, I'm currently in the process of getting my MLS, and I agree. Most of my time is spent on completely worthless crap. I do not need to write a 25 page content analysis of a kind of young adult literature in order to be a good children's librarian. I don't need to take a class in academic theories about how people process information. I want and need practical, hands-on knowledge, and every bit of that I am getting from my job as a library assistant - NOT from my master's studies. The degree is nothing more than a silly piece of paper I need to get a higher-paying job. Perhaps it may be useful for some academic types, but I for one do not think it is nearly as helpful as practical experience.

Anti-Masters anon, I would urge you to look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( to get a better idea of what librarians do. There are probably a lot of librarians who don't actively use their Masters, but a lot of us do. Like, every day.

Somehow, my original comment was modified to flamebait. Anyway. What is a MLS good for? Librarians help people find books and do research. I have an English degree and several years of experience working in book stores. I've spoken to librarians. I've spoken to non-librarians who work in libraries. I've looked into what librarians do and nothing requires a flipping master's degree. Anyway, you egotistical git, it's not a question of fairness. There is a lot of whining about an upcoming librarian shortage. The shortage is obviously artificial and can be solved very easily.

Right. Same thing with lawyers. Lots of people want to be lawyers, dammit.GDJD degrees getting in the way.TOTALLY not fair.

O.K. I am a new librarian, just graduated last year with my masters. I have only worked and interned in public libraries, as an aide, page, children's librarian, and now reference librarian. I only briefly worked in an acadamic library as an archival assistant. This 'anti-degree' attitude doesn't just exist within public libraries; I encountered the same attitudes in academia. One can make an 'anti-MLS' argument for corporate librarianship as well, after all, database searching can be learned through experience and a few training sessions, correct? (hopefully, y'all can detect my sarcasm here). I understand why some people think that this degree is can make an argument that even getting an undergraduate degree doesn't prepare you for anything. How many people do you know now work in the field that they got their degree in? Some people are just not into a bunch of theory...this doesn't mean that some people are 'dumb' or anything like that (if one wants to know the differnce between 'theoretical' and 'practical' types, look up MBTI personality type theory)The quality of work that a library paraprofessional does compared to a degreed librarian is not always equitable. For instance, when I first started my job as a reference librarian, I was asked to weed a certain section; and of course, it needed weeding. I know a library assistant who had more experience than me (4 years more experience) was asked to weed that same section before I got there and she did not do a good job at all. Without training, study and understanding of collection development practice and theory, I don't believe she could've done a good job, even with all the experience in the world; clearly, experience was not enough (and this particular employee was a very good library assistant).

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