New Jobs Seen For Librarians In Info. Fields

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Recent "revolutionary" changes in the field of information technology are likely to have a marked effect on the employment market for librarians over the next 10 years. While the number of job opportunities for traditional librarians will increase only slightly in the next seven years, then level off and decline through 1990, the demand for information professionals in nontraditional areas will increase significantly.

These are the leading findings of a study prepared by a private research firm for the National Center for Education Statistics and the Education Department's office of libraries and learning technologies. The 243-page study, entitled Library Human Resources: A Study of Supply and Demand, is the first national assessment of libraries' personnel needs since the government's 1975 report, Library Manpower: A Study of Supply and Demand. It is designed both to help states and localities plan their budget allocations and to inform students and librarians about the future job market.

Authors of the report suggest that there is a growing awareness in the field that although traditional job opportunities for librarians are in short supply, librarians' information skills can be used in a variety of other positions outside libraries.

"There are quite a few people moving from librarianships into [nontraditional jobs]," said Margaret Myers, director of the American Library Association's office for library personnel resources. "The whole knowledge explosion has been cited many times" as the reason librarians are moving into jobs as database managers, indexers, abstracters, coordinators of bibliographic networks, and research assistants in industry, government, and other fields that call for organizing skills, Ms. Myers explained.

Higher Salaries

Higher salaries are also luring librarians into these nonlibrary positions, according to the study. "It is generally believed that nonlibrary information positions pay more than those in libraries," the report's authors point out.

They suggest to those professionals who may be considering a move into an alternative job area that "subject expertise in business and industrial related areas and computer-related skills is likely to be helpful." And they emphasize that "for individuals considering librarianship as a profession, opportunities to carry out similar functions in a nonlibrary environment should also be investigated."

Many library schools are anticipating the changing employment picture and are expanding their curricula to include nontraditional training, Ms. Myers said. In some library schools, from 35 to 50 percent of the graduates have specialized in nontraditional areas, she said.

The researchers based their study on a review of the current literature and on surveys of 275 library schools and 2,335 libraries. They used statistical models to project future supply and demand and studied staffing patterns in public, academic, school (public and private), and special libraries from 1978 to 1982.

In 1980, 131,000 librarians were employed in the nation's 43,600 libraries; the study estimates that in 1985, the number will increase to 138,000 and will remain the same in 1990.

Employment in public libraries is expected to increase from its 1980 level of 30,000 to 35,000 in 1990. Positions in specialized libraries will also increase, from 18,000 in 1980 to 23,000 in 1990.

But overall employment opportunities in libraries for librarians will increase at a slower rate in the decade ahead than was the case in the 1970's, and the number of jobs for specific types of librarians will actually decline.

Employment in school libraries is projected to decrease from its 1980 level of 63,000 to 60,000 in 1990, primarily due to the decline in school enrollment.

Following a period of slight growth, decreases are also expected in the staffs of college and university libraries. About 20,000 academic librarians are expected to be employed in 1990, the same number as in 1980.

The researchers conclude, based on their analysis of the employment market, that most of the "traditional" library-job openings in the 1980's, especially from 1985 to 1990, will occur because of retirements and deaths, not because new positions have been created.

To obtain a copy of the study, send $20 to the American Library Association, Order Department, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

Vol. 03, Issue 02

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