I'm done

Submitted by mdoneil on Fri, 07/30/2004 - 19:40

I'm done looking for full time work as a librarian come the end of this month.
I have sent out more than 50 résumés and cover letters (composed after I researched the position and the library) and I have recieved 7 interviews. I went to them all and was called back to 3 places for follow up interviews.
All of the interviews went well, especially the follow up interviews. One place, a local community college, called my references and offered me an adjunt position with no guaranteed hours (sort of a substitute-teacher librarian position) which I accepted. Another a PL has called my references and I wait to hear from them, they said they would let me know either way by the end of this week. I am encouraged by the PL and I certainly hope I get the job. I want to be a full time librarian.
However hiring in libraries is much different that what I am used to in the private sector. Three months from application to interview seems about the norm. In my last job in the private sector it was less than 2 weeks.
I'm not sure why this is, I'm told that there is a shortage of librarians - I was told that all the way through library school. Indeed my school still tells the same tale of librarian shortages and even received an IMLS grant to recruit and train librarians. I have never seen evidence of this shortage, I have not even heard from other librarians that there is a shortage of librarians anywhere else in the country. I submit to you that this shortage is a myth. Library schools do a great disservice to students by perpetuating this myth. The ALA also lends its support to the perpetuation of this nonsense. It even has a press kit prepared to support their philosophy.
The floiridalibraryjobs.org site lists 58 jobs today only two of which are suitable for new graduates or those with less than 2 years of library experience. How do they expect people to get experience as a librarian unless someone hires new grads? Working the circulation desk for 2 years does not a librarian make, yet it was suggested by in more than one of my interviews that experience such as that would make me stand out above other applicants. I'm sorry but I have a MLS (not to mention 2 other graduate degress) should that not make me stand out about applicants that do not. My local library is recruiting for a Librarian II / circulation supervisor. The position requires a bachelors degree with two years of supervisory experience (according to floridalibraryjobs.org). The city's website job description is complete nonsense: Graduation from an American Library Association accredited library school with a Bachelor's Degree in Library Science and one year of full-time professional-level experience in public or college library work. How can you have full time professional-level experience with only a BS?
That is why I am giving up come the end of the month. The profession through its professional organization fails to stand up for itself, if cities still consider BS degreed people professional librarians, if the schools keep feeding students nonsense about employment opportunities, if librarians find it hard to make ends meet on the salaries paid, then I really can't fathom why anyone would want to go into the profession. I have other options, I want to be a librarian - I don't have to be a librarian. I have to make a living, even a modest one as a librarian, but I can't wait for others do die off before I get a job. Just this week I entertained offers in nursing and an overseas job (although only for six months but at 11.5K/month) managing data communications networks. I have not said no to either position, I want to be a librarian but with the obstacles in the way to a rewarding career in librarianship it may never come to be. Sure I'll keep the adjunct position for a while but I'm afraid my MLS will just hang on the wall gathering dust while I'm working elsewhere to feed and shelter myself. That is really disappointing.