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Is librarianship a dying profession?


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Hey, everyone.

I just applied to the PhD in English for the Fall 2020 cycle. My dream was always to be a professor of English literature. Right now, I'm working as an adjunct professor, which truly doesn't make a lot of money. At the same time, I'm temping at a travel agency.

Anyway, I've been battling some depression lately. A part of my anxiety and depression stems from teaching. I'm not sure why, but I took a break from teaching at the college level.

I've been exploring other career options. Librarianship seems like an interesting field, but everyone keeps telling me it's a dying profession and it's not worth the MLIS. 

What should I do? 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Hi I'm about to graduate with my MLIS. I can tell you firsthand that librarianship is not a dying profession. (It is, however, a highly competitive one. A lot of applicants for a few openings, though that also really depends on what your interest is.) More people visited libraries last year than went to see a movie in a theater.

Librarianship is actually a really exciting field right now. There's been a lot of change and evolution as we shift away from the "stacks and shush" model in public and K-12 libraries and focus on more community-based learning, for example. There's also a lot of cool stuff happening in digital preservation and metadata at the moment (though those aren't my specialties so I can't speak to them in detail).

A degree in LIS also does not lock you into working in a library or even being a librarian. There are a lot of career paths available to you. Though if you do want to be a librarian, there are so many kinds of libraries you can work in. So, basically, even if you have trouble finding a job as a librarian in the type of library you want to work in straight out  of a program, you have other paths and options open to you in the meantime. I highly recommend volunteering at a library if you're able to. It looks great on your application and will help you understand the current state of the profession as well.

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20 hours ago, ravenclawace said:

Hi I'm about to graduate with my MLIS. I can tell you firsthand that librarianship is not a dying profession. (It is, however, a highly competitive one. A lot of applicants for a few openings, though that also really depends on what your interest is.) More people visited libraries last year than went to see a movie in a theater.

Librarianship is actually a really exciting field right now. There's been a lot of change and evolution as we shift away from the "stacks and shush" model in public and K-12 libraries and focus on more community-based learning, for example. There's also a lot of cool stuff happening in digital preservation and metadata at the moment (though those aren't my specialties so I can't speak to them in detail).

A degree in LIS also does not lock you into working in a library or even being a librarian. There are a lot of career paths available to you. Though if you do want to be a librarian, there are so many kinds of libraries you can work in. So, basically, even if you have trouble finding a job as a librarian in the type of library you want to work in straight out  of a program, you have other paths and options open to you in the meantime. I highly recommend volunteering at a library if you're able to. It looks great on your application and will help you understand the current state of the profession as well.

How's the market for law librarianship in particular?

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3 hours ago, MettaSutta said:

How's the market for law librarianship in particular?

Sorry I have no idea. I have a couple friends who work as hourlies at the law library on campus, but I don't know anyone who's actually interested in pursuing it as a career. All I know is that they struggled to fill the graduate assistantship position at the law library because they wanted someone with a JD, which I have not personally encountered in my program (though my focus is youth services, so I don't really take classes that are as relevant to law librarianship). You could try reaching out to some professional organizations for law librarianship and seeing if there's anyone willing to give you an insider's perspective. Generally, people in LIS are very willing to offer help and advice, so I imagine you could find someone more knowledgeable to talk to!

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On 2/9/2020 at 5:25 AM, ravenclawace said:

Sorry I have no idea. I have a couple friends who work as hourlies at the law library on campus, but I don't know anyone who's actually interested in pursuing it as a career. All I know is that they struggled to fill the graduate assistantship position at the law library because they wanted someone with a JD, which I have not personally encountered in my program (though my focus is youth services, so I don't really take classes that are as relevant to law librarianship). You could try reaching out to some professional organizations for law librarianship and seeing if there's anyone willing to give you an insider's perspective. Generally, people in LIS are very willing to offer help and advice, so I imagine you could find someone more knowledgeable to talk to!

Ok I already have a J.D. and several years of full-time legal work experience.  Good to know that it will make me more competitive as a job applicant.  

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On 2/12/2020 at 2:32 PM, MettaSutta said:

Ok I already have a J.D. and several years of full-time legal work experience.  Good to know that it will make me more competitive as a job applicant.  

Definitely. Also, the iSchool at Illinois is having a panel on careers in law librarianship on March 6. It'll be streamed online if you'd like to check it out!

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  • 8 months later...

My answer is "Maybe Yes, Eventually" -- BUT --

1) I don't think it's likely for libraries and librarians to disappear soon ... people has been saying this since 40 years ago, but today there are still many libraries and librarian positions ...

2) As far as I know, librarians are still relatively better paid than many other jobs humanities major students can get.

3) Some MLIS programs also offer very "inclusive" entry-level IT and data analytics education too (by inclusive, I mean they won't ask you for a BS in computer science or equivalent).

Edited by JeffSalton
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On 2/8/2020 at 10:16 AM, ravenclawace said:

Hi I'm about to graduate with my MLIS. I can tell you firsthand that librarianship is not a dying profession. (It is, however, a highly competitive one. A lot of applicants for a few openings, though that also really depends on what your interest is.) More people visited libraries last year than went to see a movie in a theater.

Librarianship is actually a really exciting field right now. There's been a lot of change and evolution as we shift away from the "stacks and shush" model in public and K-12 libraries and focus on more community-based learning, for example. There's also a lot of cool stuff happening in digital preservation and metadata at the moment (though those aren't my specialties so I can't speak to them in detail).

A degree in LIS also does not lock you into working in a library or even being a librarian. There are a lot of career paths available to you. Though if you do want to be a librarian, there are so many kinds of libraries you can work in. So, basically, even if you have trouble finding a job as a librarian in the type of library you want to work in straight out  of a program, you have other paths and options open to you in the meantime. I highly recommend volunteering at a library if you're able to. It looks great on your application and will help you understand the current state of the profession as well.

Hi there, I'm a journalist and I'm looking to write a piece on how librarianship is NOT dead, and the young grads choosing this as their profession, how the role is evolving etc. I would love to chat to some young librarians or any considering this path or taking an MA to pursue it. Please email me on jr.rawnsley@gmail.com. Thanks in advance!

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