Opening the Blinds: Facing LIS Job Market Facts




Readers, this week, I’m opening the blinds to new career options by literally looking at job ads in and beyond my focus of late.   As you know, I have boldly declared an interest in combining two fields: library & Information Science and Gerontology.  This unusual coupling engenders a few raised brows, and some concern that the “real world” may not offer such a unique opportunity; therefore, I have and will continue to search the job ads for more real life possibilities.  Here are a few library-related (advanced and entry level) positions worthy of a closer look:

Library Director- This high cost of living, big time library position comes with a six figure salary.  Aside from the MLIS degree, five years post degree experience, including a minimum of three years of administrative level experience is needed.  

“Under administrative direction is responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating and directing the operations of a library system.”

A closer target might be one similar to this Senior Subject Specialist position:  Requirements in addition to the MLIS included 3-5 years of collection development, programming, and readers’ advisory experience.  This position is in a lower cost of living midsize city in the Midwest.  No salary was published.  In the interest of full disclosure, this (no longer active) post: was sent to me a few months ago by a working librarian and mentor who said she could see me in a job like this.  I saved this ad  because I too, could envisage this:

”This position is responsible for managing the staff, operations, and budget of the Center for the Reader at Central Library. Under general direction of the First Floor Manager, the Senior Subject Specialist plans, coordinates and executes a comprehensive program in order to establish the Center for the Reader as the place for patrons to find what they want to read next in paper or electronic format, the latest information on authors and new books as well as classics, and how to utilize technology to enhance their reading experience.”

This Adult Reference Librarian position appears within scope: Responsibilities include outreach, research, content and staff development.  Strong customer service and diplomatic skills are required for this full time civil service position at this large urban public library. Salary posted is in keeping with a higher cost of living, a consideration since relocation would be necessary. 

With recollections of my initial gerontology department interview where I was given the name of a librarian at WSU with a background in social work and library science, this job was spotted: Health Professions and Social Work Librarian.  Minimum qualifications include MLS and “education or background in health professions, life sciences, or social work.” This position has an in-depth job description including the following: “Provides general and specialized reference service using multiple delivery methods to include face-to-face, telephone, text, chat and other online systems. Plans, designs, implements, and assesses face-to-face and online instruction. Designs online library-related resources and instructional materials in multiple formats (audio, video, print, etc.) to support the curriculum in assigned disciplines.” (shorter link is no longer working)

Readers, for the ultimate library career reality check, WSU Assistant Professor Stephanie Maatta’s annual  LIS salary survey will appear next fall.  FYI, in case you missed the 2013 Library Journal article, find:



A Forward Glance

Hello Readers, The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts by Ken Haycock and Brooke E. Sheldon serves as our LIS6010 course textbook; I have placed it with a globe to illustrate the vast range of this degree and my understanding that possibilities for professional success may lie beyond my neck of the woods.

This week, we are exploring professional associations of interest. The first association that I have chosen is one that represents a division of the American Library Association, the oldest library association in the world; the division I am referring to is the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA). First, membership in ALA is required. There is a student membership rate of $34.00 which includes a joint membership with ALA chapters in some states. For professional librarians the rate is currently listed as $133.00. First and second year librarians pay a subsidized rate of $63. To join ASCLA, a fee of $51.00 is required of professionals or $20 for students.
The ALA has numerous publications including American Libraries. An e-newsletter is available for members of ASCLA called Interface. ASCLA also offers other publications. Of particular interest to me is Library Services to the Sandwich Generation and Serial Caregivers by Linda Lucas Walling, it is currently listed as $18.00 for ASCLA members.

The mission of ASCLA “enhances the effectiveness of library service by advocating for and providing high quality networking, enrichment and educational opportunities for its diverse members, who represent state library agencies, libraries serving special populations, library cooperatives, and library consultants.”

My interest in this division of ALA manifested after some primary research for upcoming class assignment on leaders in our field with interests similar to mine. While I anticipate working in a traditional library setting, this organization may expose other opportunities. Also with my leanings toward outreach (OLOS) the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services may offer more possibilities with a focus on underrepresented groups. OLOS offers an Outreach Columns Blog, roundtables, events, and OLOS Toolkits including Keys to Engaging Older Adults @ Your Library.

Finally, I am including an organization beyond my LIS focus because of my interest in gerontology. The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is “the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging…its purpose is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public.”
There is an annual regular membership fee of $160.00, for students the fee is $75.00. Online subscriptions to two journals are included, with additional fees for access to other prominent publications. The Gerontologist and Public Policy on Aging Report are two such publications.


As I Labor

ImageDear Readers,

With record low temperatures across much of the country, this plant that wilted a bit on the way home, is temporarily perched on my printer.  As I labor at my desk, it renews my spirit.

Personal Goal/Objectives for my studies

As a full time nontraditional student, my goal is to complete the MLIS program (and my GC program in Gerontology) within the next two years. My objectives include the following:
1. Maintain Focus. Learn as much as possible as quickly as possible, but always with the intent to take that knowledge and apply it to my real world objective to be the best library professional that I can be. While I understand the necessity to keep good grades in graduate school, it is not my personal priority to become the class valedictorian. With every lesson, I am thinking of work life applications. Again, my goal is to function at the highest level possible for me so that I can ultimately deliver as a leader (on a daily basis) in the workplace. According to our course textbook, The Portable MLIS, “The path to leadership begins with self-reflection and leadership can be learned.” (Haycock & Sheldon, 2012.) In my experience, leaders have been most effective when they exude the qualities sought.

2. Balance tendencies to want to “know everything” and alleviate the self-placed pressure to “have to know “with the knowledge that “information retrieval” skills need to be honed. A general search may yield too much information, unreliable sources, and wasted time. My goal in this realm is to update my search skills; broaden my cache of relevant resources. I’m hoping that an improvement in computer-related skills as well as a firm grasp of library-related concepts will be evident as the semester progresses.

3. Decrease inhibitions by doing new things or apply new or a variety of methods to complete tasks. I was reluctant to start this blog. “Over-sharing” is a theme I’d heard enough via the news media to warrant suspension and avoidance of this type of forum; this personal journal is forcing me to reflect as I produce. Again, I ‘m recalling our text and other sources… Readers, perhaps you will find the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen of interest. It is a new copy of an older book that I serendipitously stumbled across on my way out of the public library where I had stopped just to pick up a book on reserve. The 2012 “must read summaries” would have suited me better in my time-crunched state—had I checked. The author states, “Information that might be useful lives at many levels.” For me, this book of “personal organization methods” is still quite relevant and appreciated. Oh, the possibilities….

Haycock, K., & Sheldon, B. E. (2008). The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. p58.
Allen, David (2001) Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. London: Penguin Books. p166.
Allen, D. (2012). Getting Things Done: The art of Stress-Free Productivity. S.l.: Must Read Summaries.

Reading for Life

2014-01-05 08.09.30Hello Readers,

Notice the small tree.  In the library you’re never insignificant, even if you’re a little left of center and downright puny amid the majesty of the evergreens.
I’m a new online MLIS student at Wayne State University enrolled in a core graduate course, (LIS 6010) Introduction to the Information Profession. This course requires me to “maintain a personal journal as a blog” to discuss issues related to libraries and librarianship. This is my first foray into the blogging stratosphere. As I have stated my topics will be dictated primarily by class subject matter, but occasionally I will post related items of interest to adult bibliophiles for my goal is to re-enter the library field (after some time off) not as a support worker this time, but as a professional librarian upon graduation. I am a nontraditional LIS student with an interest in Aging Services (I am simultaneously enrolled in a graduate Certificate Gerontology Program); I hope to develop collections and programs with our nation’s changing “demographic structure” in mind. (Moody & Sasser, 2012) p xxiii

It is expected that I will evolve during this educational journey, here are some “assumptions and assertions that I have at this time in my development:
1. Assumption 1: Libraries are for school children. This is a shortsighted statement sometimes voiced to diminish the importance of libraries in communities.

I believe libraries are for everyone. From toddlers to seniors, the library provides life-long learning opportunities. Libraries inform, entertain, inspire, and train people from diverse backgrounds with a variety of interests via classes, programs and age-appropriate tools.

2. Assumption 2: Libraries are behind the times. This is often said in reference to the “emergence of the World Wide Web. (Hancock & Sheldon, 2008)

Not only are libraries not behind the times; libraries are in the forefront in many communities providing access to computers and other devices along with usage instruction serving to bridge the “digital divide.” (Parsons and Oja, 2012) Older adults sign up and show up for library sponsored computer classes chipping away at negative labels. ((Moody & Sasser).

3. Assumption 3: The unemployed and the homeless are the only adults who regularly visit libraries; this is a common refrain heard especially in urban settings.

While it is true that that library serves as a comfortable refuge for some; it provides a means to lift up another. No resume, no job. No computer. No means to complete an online application. Still, adults come to the library for business and pleasure; they come by themselves or with others. It is not our job to judge…amiable and efficient customer service is expected as well as ethical behavior and professionalism. (Haycock & Sheldon, 2008)

Assumption 4: Librarians and support workers don’t get along. This is often heard especially after local news reports surface regarding union tensions or the rights of workers in the workplace.

These issues are addressed in the proper forums; then work life goes on. Management, professionals, support workers all work together to operate library and serve the needs of the community at the highest level of efficiency possible with respect and appreciation for all. In fact, National Library Week is in April. During this week, one day is referred to as National Library Workers Day; a day to honor all library workers. ( 2014.)

Moody, H. R. & Sasser, J. R. (2012).  AGING: Concepts and Controversies. (7th Ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. p. xxiii, p. 127
Parsons, J.J. & Oja, D. (2014) New Perspectives on Computer Concepts. Boston, MA: Course Technology. P. 13.
Haycock K & Sheldon, B. (2008) The Portable MLIS, Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited p. 36
American Library Society website: Retrieved: January, 18, 2014