I too went to library school (1988-1990) hoping to become an academic librarian. It was a bit daunting, though, to be informed I would need a second master’s degree :eek: for a subject specialty to be considered competitive for academic library work. Hell, it was all I could do to get my MLS while raising a family and going into debt for the rest of my life for the tuition. (Until this year, when I finally folded the student loan debt into the mortgage when I bought a new house.) I did work in a university library for a couple years—as a cataloger—but it was overseas, the pay was crap, and I preferred to take my chances back in the good old U.S.A. I did get part time work in a good public library—as a cataloger—but never broke into full time.
Most of my library career was spent in “special.” The name “special” is a bit of an oxymoron, because most of the job openings are in “special.” By far the most common and easiest library job to land. (Because there’s a higher rate of turnover there?) What sucks about “special” libraries is working for louts who have no respect or appreciation for librarians, and as BobT astutely noted, these libraries are the first to get the ax. I worked for research institutes, businesses, and a law firm. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT ever work for lawyers and their paralegal minions from Hell if you value your self-respect and sanity. Bitter? No, why the fuck would you think I’m being bitter? :mad: Ahem. Yes, academic libraries are the coolest places to work in, but also the toughest job market to break into.
My last library job was in a federal government agency. I has actually been hired by a contractor tasked with implementing spiffy new information software in this library, and they were looking for an MLS. When they found out I knew lots of different languages and could translate foreign-language stuff for the other librarians, my company reassigned me to a job as a federal government linguist. With a considerable pay raise. The touching part was that the other librarians in the first agency hated to lose me and requested me to please come back and help them in my spare time. Which I continued to do as long as my company let me charge the hours. I like to think I’m holding open the option of someday returning to library science, but have no idea, really, of the likelihood of that ever happening.
The benefits of learning library science in my private life have been tangible. It has made it way easier to find anything I want to learn more about. I know how to locate and get my hands on anything I want thanks to the modern miracle of interlibrary loan. After mastering OCLC (the pre-internet interface version), I became an information demon, able to come up with bibliographical wonders at the touch of a finger. I parlayed that skill into a job helping to edit an encyclopedia for Oxford University Press. I did all the bibliographical references. Umberto Eco, in Foucault’s Pendulum, has his hero earn a living as a consultant on the strength of knowing how to mine information from a public library’s card catalog. A card catalog? In 1990?! When I read that I pitied poor pathetic Eco, who should have known about online catalogs and OCLC.
Another benefit: I have my 1,500-volume home library shelved according to Library of Congress subject classification. Every time I get a new book, I check its LC class number in the CIP information on the title page verso, and write it on the flyleaf and shelve it in its exact place. Or if it isn’t there, I just log onto the LC catalog and find it. If it isn’t there, I know the LC classification anyway and just give it a call number myself. The advantage is that I know in an instant where every single book in my collection is and I can put my hand right on it without having to hunt around for it.