Sometimes I wonder how the NZ Library and Information Association in 2010 and Careers NZ gathered their statistics to describe library careers.
I have more faith in their data than my own observations, but the latter is perception of fact rather than reported data – and perception can easily have more power and sway over one’s reactions and decisions.
I present to you with a screenshot of the webpage describing the job of a Library Assistant:
Now although there is always a lot of interest in these positions, I wouldn’t say that your chances of getting a job were exactly poor – but your chances of receiving the salary they’ve recorded certainly are.
Have a look – and someone please comment to tell me I’m undeniably, irrefutably wrong, and this data is correct (and also what library you work at!!)
This website is designed predominantly for college students, I believe, and this might be somewhat disheartening to a young person tossing up the idea of pursuing a career in libraries.
However, that is only at assistant level, so let’s take a look at what it says about being a Librarian:
Well that’s more promising… yet so vague. What kind of librarian? Who is considered a ‘librarian’? I am assuming this is an average across a large field, but depending on your position and experience, you could easily knock 10k off the lower estimate, or add 100k to the upper one. I realise that sounds extreme, but if one counts the Library Manager as a ‘librarian’, it might well reach these heights.
That takes me back to my original question. Who is a librarian? I so seldom come across anyone whose job title is simply ‘librarian’. At what point is the cut off?
I hope one day someone shall say to me, “Sorry, we realise you work in a library and are qualified, but you just earn too much to call yourself a Librarian now.”
I am also distracted by the sparkly: Archivist, Historian, Curator… all these related jobs – wow! Have I ever thought too deeply into what kind of library or librarian I would like to be? Wouldn’t it be simply amazing to work in a museum library or archive?
Further exploration reveals that the economic recession and subsequent cuts to funding are responsible for the poor outlook in library assistant jobs. But there’s a bright side! The pay is also poor, so there is a steady turnover as people move on to more affluent positions.
Wait… that didn’t quite sound right…
Let’s try again:
Being a Library Assistant is a good stepping stone to develop your skills, discover what you love in a library, where your passion lies, and the specific career path you’d like to follow. And, yes, it is even possible to both live comfortably on the salary received and still save money if you are wise.
The question becomes: just how easy is it to move up?
Watching my colleagues who have more ambition than I, I would say that:
- having a relevant library qualification
- developing language skills in Te Reo
- having a knowledge and understanding for many cultures
- developing skills in information technology
- teaching experience
- making it your professional development career goal
I rather love this website, and would recommend looking at the tabs beyond the summary of library jobs – and also checking out the other listed careers: careers.govt.nz
Also, please excuse my lazy citations and enjoy this meme instead: