I’ve come to the conclusion that library science is undergoing such a turbulent amount of change that, at this point, it’s hard to say anything definitively true about librarians and library employment/unemployment. In the Library with the Lead Pipe knows what I’m talking about.
I started thinking about this when I read SPINSTAH‘s post on the true unemployment rate for librarians. The Wall Street Journal recently posted this table on unemployment rates and salary ranges for graduates by major, and I was quite disheartened to find that library science graduates had the 4th highest unemployment rate. As were many people. But SPINSTAH unravels some truths for us, finding out that their table is based on bachelor’s degree holders only, not including those who go on to get master’s degrees. By and large, librarians are required to hold Master’s degrees, so the information here is not really accurate for predicting the demise of librarians.
What does seem to be true is that it’s hard to know real facts and figures because librarians are no longer finding employment primarily as librarian. We are information professionals. We are information architects. We are taxonomists and content managers and business intelligence analysts! San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science program has the facts.
So here’s a few disconcerting conclusions. First, it seems virtually impossible to know how many MLIS holders have jobs in the information science field since the information science field of today is so vast and undefined. And just how do we define jobs in the information science field? What exactly is the difference between a LIS web developer and a computer science web developer?
Secondly, it also seems virtually impossible to go through a MLIS program and come out the other side being qualified to take all those new jobs. I’ve been told that my MLIS qualifies me to be a knowledge integration librarian. But I have no idea what a knowledge integration librarian is. Or what the heck a content management system is. Other job titles, like Information Architect, is at least recognizeable, but I know I am not qualified for such a position. Because I did what a good student does and took classes that seemed the most pertinent, like reference services and cataloging.
I guess at least I can say I know DIALOG.