transplanted goose

Ask Susu, v2n3

Dear Susu, Do you happen to know where I could go to get information and statistics regarding becoming/being a librarian? Such as, the basic amount of schooling required, the male/female ratio, new trends, etc? Thank you, Liz Genest

Dear Liz, The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, includes information on becoming a librarian in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. They also published an excellent article on librarians in the Winter 2000 issue of Occupational Outlook Quarterly.

This article listed several "non-traditional" career paths for librarians, including:

It probably doesn't take a government statistician to predict that the largest growth will be in these non-traditional career paths - the article notes zero growth within academic libraries, and negative growth within federal government libraries. I think we already have quite a bit of anecdotal evidence to show that newly minted grads are bypassing libraries on their way to fame and fortune in the private sector.

Statistics about librarians – other than employment, salary, and age statistics – are difficult to find. I did find a few things related to the ratio of males to females within the profession:

Data from the United States 2000 Census will undoubtedly be useful when the data on occupations is released. You probably won't find a table showing you occupations by gender (at least there wasn't one in the 1990 data that I could find), but you can download the data sets and run your own cross-tabulations.

Most universities and colleges publish a student profile of some kind, but in looking at the student profiles for the Top 10 LIS Programs (from the 1999 U.S. News & World Report rankings), I couldn't find data that cross-tabulated program of study by gender.

Searches in the library literature revealed articles on age demographics and closing the gender gap regarding salaries. However, I didn't find anything new about the ratio of males to females within the profession. I was also unable to find any data about special libraries and non-traditional career paths for librarians related to gender.

Now, on to the "hot topics" in the profession. According to Librarians in the 21st Century, a web site created in 2000 by students at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, the following are the future trends and issues:

Where else can we look to see what the trends and issues are? Library associations and organizations are a great source of information about this. What task forces and working groups are being formed within our national and state/provincial associations? What issues have been in the media? What issues are librarians talking about locally? What's showing up in the library literature?

And remember, there are several of us keeping track of what's going on in the profession. If you want to stay informed on life as a librarian, check in from time to time.

Published in NewBreed Librarian, volume 2, number 3, June 2002- archived at

(web links have been updated where applicable; expired web links are shown in bold)

© 2002, colleen bell about / words