Hiring beyond the usual cast

June 4th, 2013 Comments Off

Adding to our discussion from yesterday about breaking up with libraries (which is also being discussed here and here), Curt Rice recently reported on a UK study about women [not] pursuing academic jobs. Specifically, the report looks at why women are leaving academic jobs in chemistry for industry jobs, but Rice extended the findings to all academia:

Universities will not survive as research institutions unless university leadership realises that the working conditions they offer dramatically reduce the size of the pool from which they recruit. We will not survive because we have no reason to believe we are attracting the best and the brightest. When industry is the more attractive employer, our credibility as the home of long-term, cutting edge, high-risk, profoundly creative research, is diminished.

By extension (metonymically and metaphorically), I think libraries should head the same warning. This is a reverse of the situation presented by Nina. Not only should we be concerned about librarians moving into industry, we should also be asking whether there are enough non-career (i.e. fully qualified but non-MLIS-holding) librarians applying for academic librarian jobs. And if there are, are we hiring them?

While I don’t want to discourage employers from hiring from among the legions of MLIS-holding graduates, if specific positions within libraries (esp. technology, advancement, PR, and management) are not attractive to outsiders, what does that say about our field, the way me market ourselves, how we provide for our employees, how we perceive our future needs, etc.? It’s an existential question and one for all of us, but especially library leaders, to consider.

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