Friday, June 29, 2012

Open Letter to the Book V Blogger who sparked ARCGate

Paper Back Book Rage
Paperback Book Rage by Daven from Le Rage Comics

The Library communities response in #ARCgate bothered me. Not necessarily because of anything any one person said or did, but because of the whole climate it created. More then that I don't think any one really reached out to the creator of the video that set the whole thing off. Instead we just debated about whether ALA was just for librarians or not. I went back and found the video creators blog and I read her posts and about her. After looking at her post, and the other content I'd seen posted I decided that the best thing would be to write her myself. I'm posting it as an open letter because I hope that in the future rather then tearing people down, we can actually connect to them. I know I wish I had written the author of the Forbes piece. I'll be emailing the blogger a copy of my letter as well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Forbes Flubs

Recently Forbes put a list of 10 best and 10 worst master's degrees on-line. They made the mistake of rating a Master Degree in Library Science as the worst. I take issue with their selection for obvious reasons. However, rather than just poo poo the state of libraries and feeding our self-image complex, I'm going to take umbrage with the poor reporting of Forbes.

According to Forbes:
"Library and information science degree-holders bring in $57,600 mid-career, on average. Common jobs for them are school librarian, library director and reference librarian, and there are expected to be just 8.5% more of them by 2020. The low pay rank and estimated growth rank make library and information science the worst master’s degree for jobs right now."
True, library salaries do tap out in the mid-range, and true like all public sector jobs, librarians aren't going to be in any great demand until Keynesian economics comes back into vogue (keepin' my fingers crossed for 2013). However, is getting a library degree really such a terrible idea?

According to those that track the numbers, getting an MLIS is probably a better option then getting a MBA, or MA in Journalism (Regretting your life choices now Forbes?). For instance newly minted librarians have about a 6.7% unemployment rate, not bad in this economy (Library Journal). New MBAs on the other hand have a unemployment rate of approximately 14% (Business Week), and a new MA in Journalism has a 16% chance of being unemployed (2010 Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Grads).

Average salary wise librarians can't compete with the lucky MBA's who find jobs,they make an average of $79,806, according to a Business Week piece. But a new librarian makes about $5,000 more than a new Journo, who only pull in an average of $36,200. Library Jounral's annual 2011 placement report breaks salary down by region, but eyeballing it showed an average starting salary of about $42,000 for new librarians.

Of course cost of degree matters as well. A library science degree costs between $10K and $40K (2006), while that MBA will set you back an average of $60,000. Graduate degrees in Journalism are comparable to an MLIS in cost, but again there's a significant salary tradeoff, and that trade off continues over time with Journalism degrees starting salary decreasing, along with the overall prospects of the profession.

Running business well relies on having good information. Forbes as a business publication should probably be doing a better job checking it's facts. You can make an argument, as Forbes does that MLISs are a bad degree, you'd be using the wrong information to do it though. I suggest Forbes hirer more librarians to help it's reporters, after all it's like Neil Gaiman says, "Google can bring you back 100000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one."  #Truefact

I guess I got the right degree after all.

Edited 10:02PM 6/12/12 - Fixed Typos