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Library Trends 58 (2) Fall 2009: Workforce Issues in Library and Information Science


Library Trends 58 (2) Fall 2009: Workforce Issues in Library and Information Science. Edited by Joanne Gard Marshall, Paul Solomon and Susan Rathbun-Grubb.

Beyond buildings, collections, and services, the library and information science (LIS) workforce is key to the success of many aspects of a knowledge economy. LIS professionals partner with educators in the instruction of youth and young adults, support reading and information literacy required for productive participation in society over the life course, enable research and development through access to research findings and translational systems, and promote commerce through Web development and organization and retrieval of information, to name just a few of their service objectives. Whereas librarianship has a long history as a profession, the expanded field of library and information science presents many new opportunities for information professionals to work in non-library settings.

Occupational employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008) estimate that there are 151,170 librarians, 113,510 library technicians, 5,330 archivists, and 3,960 library science post-secondary faculty in the workforce (not including self-employed workers). The American Library Association (2009) estimates the number employed in academic, public, and school libraries at 329,941. Library and information science professionals working outside of libraries are much harder to identify and their numbers tend to be spread among various occupational categories. The U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (2008) reports that there were 6,767 master's degrees in library science conferred by degree-granting institutions in the academic year 2006–7. While the number of degrees has been slowly increasing since the late 1990s, the supply of new graduates does not appear to be adequate for the number of retirements that will take place as the baby boomers leave the workforce. According to Dohm (2000), the impact of the retirement of seventy-six million boomers on U.S. labor supply will be greatest in the decade following 2008. As [End Page 121] shown in table 1, Dohm (2000) presented Bureau of Labor Statistics data that placed librarians seventh on a list of occupations with the highest percentage of workers aged forty-five years and older in 1998, at which time the median age of librarians was forty-seven, compared to age thirty-nine for all twenty-four occupations on the list.

Concern continues to be expressed about potential LIS workforce shortages, given the expected baby boomer retirements, and the need for increased recruitment, diversity, succession planning, and leadership development in the profession. Less attention has been paid to retention of LIS professionals at various career stages, although this is another strategy that is worthy of consideration, given the nature of the workforce challenges that lie ahead. Given this concern, it is an ideal time for an issue of Library Trends that begins to take stock of some of the major issues related to the LIS workforce and to lay a foundation for future research and workforce planning at all levels.

Library Trends (ISSN 0024-2594) is an essential tool for librarians and educators alike. Each issue thoroughly explores a current topic of interest in professional librarianship and includes practical applications, thorough analyses, and literature reviews. The journal is published quarterly for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science by The Johns Hopkins University Press. For subscription information, call 800-548-1784 (410-516-6987 outside the U.S. and Canada), email jlorder [at], or visit

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