Monday, June 2, 2014

MLIS Grad Openly Doubts Job Prospects on Reddit

On Reddit, a recent MLIS grad expressed frustration at finding a full-time library job. Starting a thread on the popular online discussion board, the grad asked: "Do any other MLIS people doubt they will actually ever find full-time work?"
Some MLIS grads wonder if their help is really wanted.
Image via Tumblr
The MLIS grad, whose Reddit handle is LionOfBabylon, continued: "I've applied for jobs in 3 countries and about 15 states. One on-campus interview. They hired a local." The grad has had "one assistant job and two internships. I'm very lucky to have an assistant job at the moment. It's 14 hours a week, but it at least keeps me fed.... It's a shame. I love my job. I love helping patrons. I just apparently am not good enough to contribute and am starting to think I never will be."

This MLIS grad's obvious weariness generated 72 responses. Immediately, the discussion veered toward records management (RM), with respondents suggesting LionOfBabylon consider it as a career. "I made the jump," said Ashliek, "because I couldn't get a library job in the area where I'd just moved. I miss working in a library setting, but getting double the pay makes it worthwhile!" Agent_Peach chimed in: "Totally agree. I'm in records management for a gold mining company and I love it. Great pay, benefits, security, and I'm at least using some of the knowledge from my degree. And I was hired about 3 months after graduating."

When not recommending a career in records management, respondents offered their own job search stories and encouraged LionOfBabylon to not give up. "It took me two and a half years, moving across the country and back for a temp position, countless applications, and interviews with no response. I was unemployed for 18 months. I was terrified I'd never work in a library again," revealed rarcke. "Then one day I got three phone interviews. One hired me. That was five years ago. It's going to happen to you eventually. Stay strong and have faith." Fish_whisperer said, "It took me over half a year and over a hundred applications before I got three phone interviews and two on-campus interviews. Now I have a full-time job at a university and live halfway across the country. Keep your chin up."

In their response to LionOfBabylon, some Redditors were less than encouraging, however. "Please, save yourself tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of work," said saintstryfe. "Don't waste your time. There's no jobs, no security, and there's no hope of improvement." Ashliek went after the naysayer: "I totally disagree. There were no less than 10 records management jobs posted to recordsmgt-L this week." Saintstryfe countered,"Half of which are postings for jobs where they already have someone in mind, another group where HR people have put insane requirements up, and that last group of attainable jobs will be so inundated with requests that any real applicants will be lost. Also, while related, records management is not archival work." 

One respondent, Exlibrarian, even crunched the numbers: "From 2004-2014, we have roughly 7,000 new graduates per year. So that's 70,000 new MLIS grads in the past 10 years for what is around 120,000 librarian positions. Given the limited/nonexistent growth in this period, you'll need at least 50 percent of all librarians to retire in the period to make room. And next year there will be another 7,000 MLIS holders." Exlibrarian continued, "The math just doesn't work that it's even possible for all new MLIS grads to get jobs, there simply are not enough jobs, and despite what the BLS says, both public libraries and academic libraries have shown no growth. It needs to be crystal clear that it is currently not possible for all new grads to get jobs, and it will continue to get worse."

Nevertheless, others strove to keep the discussion positive. "Spread your wings," urged JimmyHavok. "There are places you might not have thought of, like legislative research bureaus. That's a pretty popular place for MLSs to spend some time in my state." Macjoven offered up some encouraging straight talk: "I'm not going to say, 'Don't give up.' You can give up if you want to. You can keep throwing 'can'ts' in front of you that stop you cold, and keep listening to people who confirm your fears and and pessimism. But it won't help, and you won't feel better. Go do what your passion demands and know that regardless of job title, or even industry, you are already a library professional."

For the full discussion thread for "Do any other MLIS people doubt they will actually ever find full-time work?", go to Reddit at THIS LINK.

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