Librarians are disappearing

The Boston Globe has this article on the continuing trend of disappearing librarians.\"Colleges and universities are turning out as many professional librarians as ever - 4,577 in 1998 - but many quickly vanish, leaving libraries understaffed or operated by employees with less training.\"

\"The most difficult positions for us to keep pace with and the shortages we are facing are some of the technical positions and what I would call the seasonal positions like lifeguards,\'\' said Mark Hobson, Manchester\'s director of human resources.\"

\'\'We are having trouble competing with the outside world for engineers, professional engineers that are involved with our roads, bridges and parks,\'\' Hobson said. \'\'We are having trouble competing for technical people who have information systems backgrounds or specific financial or human resource backgrounds.\'\'

\"Librarians have many of the skills the information economy values, and pay in the private sector is far better. \'\'There is still the perception that this is pin money for little old ladies to do their Christmas shopping,\'\' said Connie Vandervort, Hudson\'s children\'s librarian. \'\'The salary is poor. I don\'t mean to say anything about our board of trustees by saying that, because this problem is industry-wide.\'\'

\"To be considered a professional today, librarians must have a master\'s degree in library and information sciences, according to the American Library Association. The degree generally takes at least a year and $25,000 in tuition and expenses to obtain.\"

\'\'They have been dropping like flies,\'\' said Gayle Hutchins Tudisco, Leach Library\'s head of children\'s services. \'\'They say, `I can do almost anything else, I can manage a Burger King and make more money, and you don\'t need a master\'s degree to do that.\'\'

\"In the latest survey by the library association, starting salaries for holders of MLS degrees ranged from $21,094 to $37,674. \'\'But that range is on the high end because it is for libraries in communities between 25,000 and 100,000 people,\'\' said Mary Jo Lynch, the association\'s research director. \'\'We don\'t even track the small libraries that serve communities under 25,000 because mostly they are not MLS librarians.\'\'

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