"More than machinery, we need humanity."
Despite — and partially because of — the pandemic related turmoil of the last year and a half, there are a lot of library jobs out there right now. While there is still a distinct lack of truly entry-level positions available, as we continue to eat our young, it is possibly the best time to find a new gig at least since I graduated library school a dozen years ago. And there are A LOT of jobs open if you are a mid-career or later librarian, especially in tech services and the rungs of supervision and administration. And some neat paraprofessional jobs, which would be great for current library school students. It’s a weird time out there, and I hope some of you can take advantage of that.
It turns out, I guess, that there is actually a lower limit on how few staff is needed to make a library function. I don’t know about your workplace, but the university I work at offered early retirement incentives during the early pandemic as a money saving measure. Several workers in the library took it. My department was probably the worst hit, losing about 20% of our staff.
On top of that, library work is a pink collar ghetto and millions of women have dropped out of the workforce under the pressures of domestic labor during the pandemic. Where working conditions during the pandemic have been dangerously untenable, especially in the absence of a wage that makes up for it, be it waiting tables or shelving books, some workers have simply quit. And now that we’ve thoroughly proven that remote work is possible, including for many areas of the library, workers who are forced to work on-site while the pandemic continues are finding they have other options. There’s a lot going on, and it means that while we are drastically understaffed in libraries, it also means that labor has more power than it’s had in decades.
Even the powers that be seem to finally realize that libraries can’t actually run without staff. Hence, I think, the current proliferation of job ads. We’ve been talking for a long time about the line many of us were fed in library school — that there were tons of retirements just around the corner, which would mean available jobs for all us new librarians. That turned out to be an utter lie; some older library workers have retired (while others still hang onto their jobs out of economic necessity because we live in hell), but many of those jobs were cut by library administrations when they were vacated. No new librarians were ever hired to fill those positions, and the work those positions were responsible for was instead redistributed among the remaining workers. We’ve all been working a speedup for decades.
But it seems we’ve hit the bottom. We can’t actually do more with less, and it’s finally starting to show. So, go get a new job. Negotiate the hell out of it. And, if you can, walk away if it doesn’t suit you. Unionize, or breath some fire into your existing union. We have opportunities right now that we haven’t had before, so let’s try to grab as many of them as possible.
Here are some interesting open positions:
Director, Bob Dylan Center, American Song Archives. Tulsa, OK. Bachelor’s (master’s preferred) & 5-7 years experience. Salary not listed. Damn, if I wanted to move to Oklahoma, this would be hella tempting. Spearheading the Dylan Center, which is getting tacked on to the Woodie Guthrie Center. If folk music isn’t really your bag, there’s also an Audiovisual Archivist position open at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland, OH; master’s degree & 3 years experience; salary not listed). And if neither of those suit you, there’s an archivist position available at Lincoln Center (NY, NY; master’s & 3-5 years; salary not listed).
Head of Digital Initiative, University of Miami. Miami, FL. Master’s & 3 years experience. Pay grade 50 (I’m told the range is $75-80k), non-tenure track faculty. You might eventually slide into the sea or get swept away by a hurricane, but in the meantime you’d be working with some really nice people.
Project Cataloger at the Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum. Dallas, TX. Master’s degree. Salary not listed. Join the ranks of those of us who have spent their careers documenting genocide? It’s a small, weird club, but a welcoming and supportive one. Both of us here at this blog can tell you about what that work is like, though we haven’t worked for this particular institution.
Student Success Librarian at Borough of Manhattan Community College. New York, NY. Master’s & experience. Salary: $42,261-$85,162. Important work at the largest CUNY school. The ad asks for applicants who are “commitment to social justice and inclusive pedagogy.”
Hebrew Cataloger at Brandeis. Waltham, MA. Bachelor’s & Hebrew proficiency required, master’s & 3-5 years experience preferred. Salary not listed, but I bet we could figure it out if you’re interested, since I know a couple people who used to work there.
Specialist/Librarian at NYPL’s Schomburg Center. New York, NY. Master’s degree & experience. Salary: $55,027. In the Moving Image & Recorded Sound Division, so this sounds like an A/V archivist/librarian position. The collection is probably FANTASTIC. COVID vaccine required.
Hampshire College, in Amherst, MA, is looking for an archivist (master’s & 3-5 years experience; salary range of $52,000-$55,000) and an ILL associate (bachelor’s required, 2 years experience preferred; FT 35hrs/wk, $18-$20/hr). Wanna work somewhere REALLY WEIRD and also lovely?? If so, Hampshire is for you.
Associate Director for Collections & Discovery at the Getty. Los Angeles, CA. Master’s & 10+ years experience. Salary: $145,492–$196,414. The threat of wildfire aside, talk about a dream job. Imagine actually having a budget. And getting paid well enough for the work you do to be able to live nearby.
Special Collections Budget Coordinator at Smith College. Northampton, MA. Associate’s & 3-5 years experience required. Salary: Grade L, whatever that means. It’s not the Getty, but the collections are also really, really nice at Smith, and it’s a lot less likely that stray fireworks will burn the library down.
Researcher for CBS’s Tooning Out the News. New York, NY/Remote. Bachelor’s & 2 years experience. Salary not listed. I hesitate slightly to include this one, since it’s freelance and temporary. But it’s interesting enough, and they are good people, so perhaps it’s worth it.