Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Supply and Demand of Librarians/MLIS Degrees...

During my last semester of my MLIS coursework, I came across this report from SLA/IMLS on "The Future of Librarians in the Future."  Okay, so I know that this presentation is dated 2009, but if my running 3 year memory serves me correctly it was not a good time for libraries.

An archived search for "libraries" on Google News during 2009 brings up these results:
Libraries Fighting Proposed Budget Cuts
Strickland puts libraries on the chopping block
City budget plan: 30 layoffs, 1-week closure for libraries
Bad year for Pittsburgh's libraries with cuts and closings
Do I really have to add more links?

The Greying of the Profession is a conspiracy which I will always rant about no matter what.  I find it completely reckless that ALA and Library Schools continue to put out propaganda that "everything is just fine in the library world."  People will argue for both sides, but let's keep it real, those that believe that library schools should continue to pump out MLIS degrees at an alarming rate are delusional.  Now on to the lovely figures and graphs!

Wait a minute, I thought librarians were retiring??
Demand y u no go up?!
The purpose of this particular report was to study the demand and supply of the career, the future prospect of the career.

Supposedly, this slide shows the demand for librarians each year across all libraries.  I really find it hard to believe that these numbers could be this high: public libraries needed/hired 2,759 librarians last year???

Imagine how much greater the demand would be if they
took into account all the MLIS holders who also bag groceries!

Four slides from the previous one, we are met with this one graphing the demand for librarians, but not just any demand --- Effective Demand, sounds sexy, no?  I was forced to take economics class in undergrad and no where do I remember learning about effective demand, do you know why?  Because it is not Econ 101 material, which is exactly why librarians should not try using it to rationalize this "great need for more librarians."
Here is Wikipedia's page on Effective Demand.  Put simply, it's the total demand for goods and services at a given time and price.  Apparently, MLIS holders must be so cheap to explain that enormous demand; they can be placed in any job: baristas, waiters/waitresses, fast-food joints, receipt checkers at Wal-Mart.

Demand goes down = demand goes up WTF

Here are the two demand slides overlaid.  Sorry for my poor photo-manipulating skills, the image is not to scale perfectly, but it seems good enough to me so it will have to be for you.  I had to re-size the canvas area numerous times during my attempts to scale each slide to one another.

This would leave one to believe that librarians are more in demand than the [insert current hot book title]The Hunger Games trilogy.  I do not think using 'Effective Demand' is helpful or really truthful in this particular situation, I believe it was purposefully used to inflate and exaggerate these numbers and further push the conspiracy.
To get these figures, they must have started with a ZERO as the initial supply of librarians.
"4,500 Graduates Going Into Library Jobs," yeah right, they left out the slide titled: "Graduates Going Into Non-Library Jobs Because There ARE NO LIBRARY JOBS."

Librarians and stats do not mix,
unless they involve door counts or circs.

How the bloody hell does one see a 200-300% increase needed in the immediate future?  I have no clue how these people came up with these crazy numbers (drugs, alcohol, used an abacus).  If everyone was to follow this guidance you would end up with a glut of MLIS holders, worse than what we currently have. Really IMLS, really???  200+% more librarians needed???
Do you know the last time anyone projected a 200% demand/need in anything was right before the dot com bubble burst.  How are your Pets.com stocks doing now?
Luckily, we have more reliable sources for forecasting librarian demand.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' page for Librarians.  They project an addition of 12,500 jobs between 2008 and 2018, just 8%.

I'm sure the people who completed this yet another horrendous example of librarian research just wanted to be on the safe side:
Librarian 1:"BLS says an 8% increase in positions between 08 and 18..."
Librarian 2:"Hmmmm, a 350% increase in MLIS holders ought to fix that!"
Librarian 3: "Genius!"

Here's what their slides were missing:

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