I have decided to go back to school and get my Masters in Library and Information Sciences. The decision was a difficult one—as decisions like these always are—and I was filled to the brim with doubts and questions: Should I be a nurse instead? Should I give up my career and focus on school full-time or just take a couple of classes first and see how it goes? And the biggest of all my questions; will I be able to make a new career for myself when I’m done?
Things are not easy right now, especially economically, and the statistics show there is not much growth projected for the library field. As Jana Varlejs says in her 2010 articled entitled Careers and Education in Library and Information Science; “Growth in librarian positions from 2006 to 2016 is projected at 4%, but at 8% for assistants and technicians. The explanation given for the disparity is anticipated budget constraints, more work shifted to support staff, and sufficient increased enrollment in library education programs to replace retirees” (p. 776).
Article after article I looked at said the same thing: librarians are on their way out. But I didn’t buy it, how could librarians be on their way out if so many people like myself still use libraries? So instead of reading more articles, I decided to change my approach and go straight to the source. I began looking at the jobs out there in the library field several months before deciding to apply to grad school. From what I can tell, it looks like librarians as we know them are in fact on the decline. But that’s not to say there is no hope. Librarianship is just changing; it’s becoming more technological, more information driven. What librarians do now may not be what you have in mind when you think about the profession. For that reason, if there is one thing I would suggest above all others for anyone considering a career as a librarian, it is to start looking at job postings NOW! Get a good idea of what it out there, what the job entails, where the jobs are located, and see if it is something you would actually want to do. If you still want to be a librarian after doing your research, great! Then find your dream job and look at what is required. Consider tailoring your education to meet the needs of the library. Ask yourself what makes you special; what can you bring to the library? The sooner you answer these questions the better off you will be when looking for a job you love. A great job site that I have found is http://inalj.com. Cleverly titled “I Need a Library Job” they offer a comprehensive list of jobs by state for the United States and Canada. Bookmark this page and visit back often.
And one more thing, getting job in a library might not happen right away so be prepared for that. But libraries almost always need help so get your good mojo flowing by volunteering. Do whatever they need; put books back on the shelves, make reminder phone calls, read a story to the children. Go get some experience and do a good deed in the process. There is hope fellow future librarians! Good luck!
Varlejs, J. (2010). Careers and education in library and information science. In M. J. Bates & M. N. Maack (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. 3rd edition, Vol 1, 776-784. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.