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Librarian: One of Best Careers for 2007

That's right. Not knowledge worker. Not information specialist. Librarian.

According to "Get-Ahead Careers for 2007" by Marty Nemko (U.S.News & World Report, 18 December 2006), "Even though anybody can do a Google search, for instance, librarians will be needed more and more to help us navigate all that digital information."

And that, in essence, is why "librarian" is among 25 professions that "will be in growing demand as baby boomers age, the Internet becomes ubiquitous, and Americans seek richer, simpler lives." It's worth noting, however, that the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't librarian "shortage" is not mentioned at all.

The article is part of a special report entitled Best Careers 2007, which also includes the following:

The "Best Careers Table" shows salary data, minimum educational requirements, etc., for all 25 professions that can be sorted any way you like. Needless to say, librarian salaries are near the bottom of the list.

The "Executive Summary" states that "Librarians these days must be high-tech information sleuths, helping researchers plumb the oceans of information available in books and digital records."

In "James Billington Sees a Bright Future Beyond Books," the Librarian of Congress answers the question, "Will the Internet make librarians obsolete?"

"A Day in the Life" gives a brief overview of the responsibilities of a one-person librarian.

And don't forget the "Tips for New Grads" and "Most Overrated Jobs."
A less comprehensive, but more realistic assessment is available in "The Changing Role of Librarians" by Aja Carmichael (Wall Street Journal, 2 January 2006), which asserts that "The Internet and other advances have opened new fields, with higher salaries, to librarians." Carmichael's article is much more positive than "Today's Most Unpopular Jobs" by Laura Morsch (CareerBuilder.com, 6 February 2006), but both do agree that librarians are not very well paid.

Please note, however, that these articles were written for American librarians. What are the implications for Filipino librarians? Well, since Filipinos are quite familiar with the English language and American culture, the Philippines may soon be facing a shortage of librarians, too.

Agencies are now recruiting librarians for openings in the United States and elsewhere. And I know for a fact that Filipino librarians have already left or are about to leave for new jobs in North America.

Meanwhile, I also know that American companies have begun setting up offices in the Philippines so that they can hire librarians to answer reference and research questions, digitize documents, etc., which may be the start of a trend similar to the call center boom.

I don't really know what to think. On the one hand, an exodus of Filipino librarians or increase in demand for librarians in higher-paying call-center-type jobs may result in greater appreciation for our profession. On the other hand, this will leave even fewer librarians for our public and school libraries, which even now are hard-pressed to offer minimum wage salaries.

What do you think?

Category: Librarians

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