Retirement, Retention, and Recruitment: The Future of Librarianship in Colorado

There is much discussion in the library community—nationwide and in Colorado—about a large wave of “baby boomer” retirements that has already begun, and that will be changing the face of librarianship—literally—over the next five to ten years. During the last quarter of 2003, 1,241 Colorado librarians and other library workers responded to a voluntary statewide survey asking them about retirement, retention, and recruitment issues. Respondents to the survey came from every type of library and every corner of the state. A statewide public relations campaign accompanied the administration of the online survey, which branched to questions on one of the “R” issues after respondents identified themselves sufficiently. Because the survey dealt with a variety of issues related
to the status of librarianship, the returns are not limited to those planning for imminent retirements. Respondents include library and information science (LIS) students, library paraprofessionals, and librarians—both those who plan to retire within the next five years and those who do not. While the size of the special library workforce is unknown, it is probable that this sector is under-represented, while workers in public libraries are certainly somewhat over-represented relative to academic and school libraries.


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LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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