The top ten ways to make sure potential applicants for your library job are immediately turned off when they read your ad:

10. Begin your ad with a spunky, funky ode to the community in which you live, praising its (beaches/low sales tax/educated residents/well-known colleges/mild climate/arts community/growing economy/etc.), especially when your community is widely thought to be an undesirable place to live anyway. Methinks the library doth protest too much...!

9. Require a subject master's for a nonspecialist position, when your college is absolutely unknown and accepts any kid that applies. Same goes for a tech school or junior college.

8. Require a subject master's for a nonspecialist position, when the salary you offer is below $24,000/year. A subject master's _costs_ more than that!

7. Require reference letters to be sent along with the application if your deadline is short. You will end up weeding out the best applicants merely because their reference people take longer to write better-thought-out letters.

6. Ask for a curriculum vitae when you know perfectly well all you will get is a resume with the words "Curriculum Vitae" typed across the top.

5. Offer little or no information about the job. "Librarian for midsized college" is a heading, not a job ad; give us food for our imaginations, at least!

4. Give a deadline that's five days after the publication date of the magazine the ad is in, figuring that the very best people will hurry and get their applications in via two-day mail. No--the very most desperate people will hurry and get their applications in via two-day mail.

3. Misspell key words in the ad: 'aquisitions', 'cereals librarian', 'colections', 'supervizion', 'refernece'.

2. Put together an utterly unrealistic ad, just to see if you can find any poor saps who can fit your requirements: "Branch head, inner city area, must have MLS, subject masters in linguistics, advanced coursework in diplomacy, ability to dodge bullets, skill in glass repair. Salary: $20,500/year".

1. Leave out a concrete salary number: the ubiquitous salary that's "DOE" or "commensurate with experience". Or just don't bother mentioning a salary, because you know people are so desperate for jobs that they won't care how little you'll pay them; you can think up an appropriately insulting number after the interview, or make something up after hearing whether they sound stupid over the phone. This is preying upon the job force, and betrays the fact that everyone in your administration thinks librarians are menial workers. It hurts all of us.

At the time of writing this, I was (thank God!) no longer in the job market, having been at my job in Bismarck for almost exactly six months. But, with my future in mind, I was still occasionally haunting the job listings (Alexia, Academe This Week, various professional journals' job ads, etc.), and was dismayed to find the selection getting ever more sparse and ever more insulting to the applicant.

As of right now, I have no way of knowing what this job situation means for our profession on a grand scale: of what is it a symptom? What will its effects be? But I do know how it made me feel when, after an hour of looking at dismal ads, I suddenly realized how lucky I was to have any job at all in my field. I began to feel as though it would be fruitless and duplicitous for me to encourage other people to go to library school when their prospects afterwards are this bad.

Most of all, I began to feel really sad for my profession. Are we really just a bunch of menial information workers who ought to be paid less money than a data entry clerk and less consideration than the janitor? How can this be? When did this happen, and why are we perpetuating it in the jobs we offer to other librarians? Is it just our sad lack of funding, or does it go deeper than that, even among our fellow librarians?

Something to think about.

©Jennifer Friedman 1/6/96