Thanks for reading my blog, Karen!

I think there are a number of things at work in Andy's post and in the
comments, not the least of which are:

1) Frustrated job seekers. Recent posts to the LITA-L email list,
discussions between librarians on Friendfeed, and posts similar to Andy's
over the past few weeks have re-fired a perennial issue. Notbeing able to
find a job makes them question the worth of their degree. This isnt limited
to librarianship - English PhDs complain about this all the time :)

2) Uneven curricular robustness across programs, making some folks feel they
didnt have to work very hard for the MLS. I dont know what a good way to
deal with this is, other than overhauling accreditation requirements. More
programs are offering (if not requiring) internships, which helps a bit.

3) Uneven expectations of entering students regarding job availability. To
me, as I mention in my post Karen mentioned (,
this is a matter of personal responsibility as well as distorted info from
the professional associations.

4) False expectations of what "working as a professional librarian" means,
particularly to MLS students and recent graduates.

5) A disconnect between the skills offered in the MLS and the skills needed
in the profession. Most MLS grads are unequipped to do research design, data
analysis, public administration at the management level, heavy budgeting, or
other (what I would call) "professional level" responsibilities in
librarianship. Unless students were mindful about selecting their electives
to build these areas, they may have missed out entirely.

6) Not understanding that the MLS is not the equivalent of an MA research
degree in a subject area (at least, in my experience). It's intended to be a
professional degree, imparting the theoretical foundations as well as the
skills necessary to function in a library with the understanding of how the
library as a whole operates and the relationships between its units.

7) Not looking outside of libraries for work, despite the fact that many
schools have deliberately altered their offerings to make the MLS marketable
as information management skills outside of the very limited (and poorly
funded!) library world.

Interestingly enough, while the general trend (at least according to
anecdata and discussions) is that librarian jobs are being replaced by
parapro positions, at my university library (among others) we find that as
we continue to automate and deduplicate efforts on the staff side, we need
*more* professional librarians to handle things such as instruction
(particularly as we move beyond the undergraduates and into upper division
and graduate program curricula instruction), project management, and
exploring new areas that the library may be able to contribute to the
University. And so, as staff retire or leave, those lines are morphed to
faculty librarian lines where we need them most. Slow going, but it's

You can see my feelings about the issue if you read the comments on Andy's
post, but by and large, I would make the argument that yes, not all jobs in
a library require the MLS. I do, however, believe that the MLS is graduate
work *if the student ensures it is *through their own effort and in
consultation with their professors. There are students who are very happy to
pass up research methods/analysis and management courses. I hardly think
they're in any position to be claiming they're underutilized if they havent
developed the sort of skills their employers need.

Colleen S. Harris