Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Librarian Shortage a Myth according to Babeuf

[ Originally written and posted on MySpace on Oct 7, 2007, but little has changed since then ]
Someone using the Internet name "Babeuf" has posted an interesting article headlined "Librarian Shortage a Myth" on the Web site called Anarchist Librarian.  This is the most mordant assessment which we have yet seen of the A.L.A.-generated myth that there is a shortage of librarians.   [ I ] agree with points 1, 3, 5, and 6, which Babeuf enumerates.  Looking elsewhere at the website Anarchist Librarian, however, we find much with which to disagree.  Like all leftists, the anarchist librarians seem to accept the duty of all white men to launch themselves onto a never-ending "guilt trip" simply because they are white men. [I] agree that patriotic feelings are often used to the detriment of working folk, but he is not anti-patriotic the way that all leftists seem to be.  Why is it not possible to be for both social justice and national sovereignty?  Although [ I] have reservations about the anarchist librarians, [ I ] do basically agree with what Babeuf has to say.  Babeuf is even on to a significant truth when he says that producing a surplus of graduates is simply another manifestation of the reserve army of the unemployed which always exists under capitalism.   We can see that reserve army being created right now via the policies of exporting jobs (globalization) and importing workers (mass immigration).  The following is a verbatim quotation from Babeuf's article:

    The story that there is or will soon be something called a "librarian shortage" is a con job designed to convince people that it is a good idea to enter "library school" or some "school of information science."

    Library schools spread this idea because they want to remain open despite the fact that most of their graduates can't find jobs, that the schools themselves are held in contempt on every university campus where they exist, that they have been objects of ridicule since they were founded, and that at best most of the people with "MLS" or similar degrees are going to wind up basically working at clerical jobs, regardless of whether or not they are allowed to call themselves "information scientists" (whatever that means).

    Library directors want library schools to remain open so that they will have what Karl Marx would have called a large reserve army of unemployed librarians. That way, they can keep salaries down and keep making working conditions worse, and if any librarians complain they can be told that someone else is waiting to take their job.

    Some public libraries experience temporary shortages of children's librarians and, more rarely, young adult librarians. But that is about it. Forget about becoming a reference librarian in a university; these jobs attract hundreds of applicants and selection committees often cope with the mountain of applications by simply rejecting anyone without five years of full time experience out of hand. Public libraries will once in a blue moon hire someone right out of library school as a reference librarian, but this is because such jobs are usually not worth having in the first place. You can be virtually certain that some or all of these things will apply:

    1. It will be in Redneckville, USA.
    2. The library director or your department head will be a psychopath.
    3. There will be no public transportation in the area.
    4. You will be expected to do your own work and that of recently retired or laid off clerical workers as well. Occasional janitorial duties are by no means out of the picture.
    5. Many of the patrons will be alcoholic, drug-addicted thugs prone to violent outbursts - at you.
    6. Some of the clerical workers will be well aware of the low esteem in which librarians are held by administrators, and will have no hesitation in letting you know that they resent the fact that you make slightly more money than they do or that your accent is not just like their's.
    7. A refinery or manufacturing plant nearby will make for a cancer rate well above the national average.

    I don't know why anyone would go to library school today unless they have wanted all their lives to be a librarian at all costs. Why they would want this is beyond me. Take it from someone who has been a librarian for 20 years--most librarian jobs suck. I enrolled in library school during the Reagan depression of the early 1980's to avoid unemployment and homelessness. In those days college graduates were standing on street corners asking for spare change. Even in this lousy economy, today there must be better options than library school.
    Librarianship offers about as much of a future as being a blacksmith in New York City."


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