Did a leading newspaper call librarians a dying breed of professional?

A recent article in USA Today, Careers: 8 jobs that won’t exist in 2030, clumps together various jobs requiring varying levels of skill and education – including librarians – in a list of jobs with no future.

The article  appears to give “career advice.” The tone pulls at the heartstrings of readers. It talks about how “times are changing,” and indicates that professions like paperboys, cashiers, and librarians will soon be a thing of the past.

Librarianship is far from a “dead-end field” or a “dying profession.” The field is transforming rapidly. Librarians and library students are leading this transformation. Library professionals are careful to consider the needs of their communities. The “Information Age” needs more professionals responsibly curating information, and hiring managers agree that there’s demand.

In 2017, communities overwhelmingly support and defend their libraries. Today’s librarians are tech-savvy professionals, who have advanced degrees and a zest for lifelong learning. So why does the “dying librarian” stereotype still exist? And why do publications like USA Today perpetuate it? Let’s find out.

Why Was This Article Written?

The article appears to be either one of two things, or maybe both:

It’s a native advertising piece.

A feature component of the web article is a video promoting “10 Entry-Level Work-From-Home Jobs That Are Hiring” by Real Simple. It’s powered by a video creation platform called Wibbitz. That’s a red flag that this is an advertisement, not an article.

Another red flag is that the article is chased by the disclosure statements: “The post 8 jobs that won’t exist in 2030 appeared first on TheJobNetwork,” and “The Job Network is a USA TODAY NETWORK content partner, providing career and job-hunting advice. Its content is produced independently of the USA TODAY NETWORK.”

It’s career advice.

Unfortunately, this is ad-hoc professional forecasting with little powerful research to back its assertions. It’s not wise to take career advice from a piece that offers blanket statements and zero evidence.

Why are Librarians a Target?

Librarians do not sway their provision and curation of information, on bended knee, to the will of advertising dollars. Librarians serve their communities first. The public needs librarians, and libraries offer a huge value add to the communities they serve.

Today, librarians and libraries offer a whole lot more than books. To borrow from iSchool Ph.D. alumnus David Lankes and name a few essential offerings of libraries: collective buying agency, technology access, economic stimulus, learning and co-working centers, safety nets, cultural heritage stewardship, civic engagement, and community.

What Are the Actual Job Prospects For Today’s Librarians?

For those pursuing the library field, here are the job prospects and trends according to a few credible sources:

Let’s debunk the whispers once and for all. Publicly funded libraries are liable to budget cuts and closings. That’s true for any publicly funded institution. But time and time again, communities fight for their libraries. The communities that fight for their libraries yield the benefits. There are also a plethora of other career options for those with an LIS degree.

Why Do Librarians Still Have a Bad Reputation?

Library science education is changing. At the Syracuse University iSchool, technology, data science, and information security are infused in the school’s culture and curricular offerings.

Librarians are getting jobs because library science education has evolved. This is not a fluke. The iSchool’s 2016 Graduate Employment Report of MS in Library & Information Science states that 98% of those who responded (72% response rate) are employed in their career field, with 90% employed full-time.

If you look at the 2016 Graduate Employment Report for MS in Library & Information Science with School Media specialization, with a response rate of 67%, all of them are working in their career field. And of those employed, 70% gained employment before  graduation. Does that sound like a career field that is dying out?

We Need More Librarians and Information Professionals

According to Paul Charette, Director of Operations at Google, the company’s pioneering mission statement in 1988 was to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Librarians have pursued and honored this mission for ages, largely without profit motivation. The shift to digital mediums and digital technology opens a world of opportunities to information professionals.

The library institution will not be disappearing anytime soon. The field needs trained, innovative professionals now more than ever. Want to learn more? Please consult your nearest librarian with further questions! And kindly ignore the doom-and-gloom clickbait advertising embedded in your newspaper and social media newsfeed.

Editor’s Note: iSchool Library and Information Science students Samantha Mairson (LIS) and Allison Keough (LIS with School Media Specialization) co-wrote this post.

Want to read more about why librarians are crucial to today’s world? Below are more articles on the importance of librarianship from our LIS faculty and students. You can also explore the Librarianship InfoSpace tag.

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