Wednesday, January 03, 2007

3329 WSJ features two stories about libraries

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal featured librarianship in its Career Journal section. Gee, most of this good news should have been withheld or the profession will never get the new blood. Must have been a woman writer (see my previous article here).

The writer opines (parentheses are my comments):
1) An aging profession (therefore, there must be opportunity--and haven't we been hearing that since the 1960s when I was in grad school?).
2) Low salaries (you don't want to know how bad they are).
3) Limited opportunities in desirable areas (in rural areas it's $25,000/year and all the snow you can shovel).
4) Expensive advanced degree requirements--ca. $20,000 at a top school like my alma mater. (It's not unusual to find librarians with 2 or 3 advanced degrees because they keep going to school while job hunting.)
5) 80% of the profession is female. (This always depresses salaries and causes a problem in a field that increasingly is computer dependent, a field dominated by men).
6) 89% of the profession is white. (It's not called welfare for the middle class for nothing!)
7) The better salaries are in the private sector (i.e., corporate, but the profession tends to be anti-capitalism).

Then today there was a lengthy opinion piece in the WSJ by someone named John J. Miller, who suggests that libraries should hang on to Hemingway, Proust, and Solzhenitsyn even if it means crowding out the latest John Grisham and David Baldacci. He uses the Fairfax Co. VA system which apparently has installed a circulation system that will flag books for withdrawal (that's the librarian's sexy term for "dump it") when it hasn't circulated (librarian's term for check-out a book) for two years. He thinks libraries should be cultural repositories because they can't compete in today's world of, i-Pod and MP3.

". . .librarians should. . .discriminate between the good and bad, the timeless and the ephemeral . . . as teachers, advisers and guardians. [They shouldn't be] clerks and stock boys at grocery stores."

Oh dear! Sometimes it is hard to know if someone is writing tongue in cheek. He apparently doesn't realize that librarians already are acting as guardians of the public welfare. They are more liberal than the ACLU or Barbra Streisand and Tim Robbins combined. Just go look at the issues and forums on the web page for the American Library Association and read the Bush bashing.


Anonymous said...

While being a librarian has its appeal, I couldn't bear to be collectively referred to as a liberal. That's enough to push me away.

I always thought they made decent money ... $50K and up?

Norma said...

Em--after 25 years, and being promoted to director--maybe. That's about what I made when I retired.