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Good News on Library Job Growth? It All Depends on How you Look At It.

Good News on Library Job Growth? It All Depends on How you Look At It.

Job growth in the library and information science fields could be increasing, according to a recent article written by Butch Lazorchak  in the Library of Congress’ digital preservation blog.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for library professionals is expected to be “slower than average”, as evidenced by closing libraries, lay offs, and difficulty to break into the field for new graduates.  However, the article states that the BLS’s conceptions of what librarians do are not matching up with what many of today’s librarians actually do.

The BLS lists librarians’ skills such as:

  • Plan programs for different groups, such as storytelling for young children
  • Read book reviews, publishers’ announcements, and catalogs to see what is available
  • Choose new books, audio books, videos, and other materials for the library
To this point, the article states:
“The BLS description propounds a somewhat parochial view of what it means to be a librarian these days, and the sad truth is that the “traditional” library they describe is becoming rapidly endangered as government budgets come under intense scrutiny.”
However, professionals currently working in the field, such as NewFeds members (Robin Butterhoff, Diana Crowley, and Wanda Davila) who participated in a discussion panel on digital preservation projects at the Fedlink Fall Expo, described skills and abilities employed in their current positions as more closely matching those of Computer and Information Systems Managers, for whom the BLS states job growth is at 29%, or “faster than average.”  These skills the BLS attributes to Computer and Information Systems Managers, listed below, are overlapping with many of the tasks performed by today’s archivists, digital librarians, and other information professionals:
  • Consult with users, management, vendors, and technicians to assess computing needs and system requirements.
  • Stay abreast of advances in technology.
  • Provide users with technical support for computer problems.
  • Assign and review the work of systems analysts, programmers, and other computer-related workers.
  • Evaluate the organization’s technology use and needs and recommend improvements, such as hardware and software upgrades.
While the archetypal image of the librarian is dying out, our profession is changing, and roles and skill sets are being redefined. The article calls us to question how we will handle this change:
“Librarianship is an increasingly technology-focused profession and that’s only going to become more true in the future. There are still all kinds of stereotypes (or worse) that have to be dealt with, but if we don’t act quickly to define the new face of the profession, others will do it for us, and it won’t necessarily be in our favor.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article.


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