Yesterday I overheard someone say, "This is an interesting time in history to teach in law school, since there are no jobs for these students when they graduate." Her friend replied, "Yes, well, I hear that there is a palpable awareness of that in the classrooms. The students are shaken."
So, why is there no equivalent in library school? The library job market has crashed, with public libraries gaining patrons but losing state revenue; academic libraries losing patrons to Googling undergrads; and many libraries downgrading formerly professional jobs to paraprofessional ones, or replacing MLS positions with IT personnel. Yet library schools continue to accept a flood tide of students--library schools are a cash cow for universities. I watched my own classes triple in size WHILE the economy was crashing. And meanwhile, there is no sense of reality on the campus, no one telling these students that library jobs are sparse and when one opens, a glut of overqualified applicants will apply. Or that most academic library jobs opening up were two or three people's jobs a year or two ago. Or that many retiring librarians are not replaced, or not replaced right away. Or that too many graduates who are volunteering at their local library or otherwise beefing their resume are no closer to a paying full-time job than they were when they graduated two years ago. The MLS continues to be marketed as a "flexible degree."
To my knowledge, no one has written a high profile article to reverse the enthusiasm that "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers" created in 2007 (New York Times, July 8).