In 2008, LRS conducted the 60-Second Survey What is the Value of an MLIS to You?. It was inspired by heated discussions on the Colorado library listserv Libnet about the value of the MLIS degree. The passion, urgency, and breadth of opinions expressed by Colorado librarians on the subject prompted LRS to provide a forum to systematically collect these opinions and reach out beyond Colorado.
LRS administered this survey for a second time in May 2011 to determine how the recession and its ongoing impact on the job market have affected peoples’ opinions about the degree since 2008. A total of 2,487 people responded to the 2011 survey, which asked eight questions about MLIS education, employment, and feelings about the degree (see the Appendix for the complete survey instrument). Most importantly, the survey asked respondents if they felt that the MLIS was worth the time and money they invested, and if they would recommend it to someone else today. More than half of the respondents backed up their survey responses with thoughtful and candid comments about MLIS programs and the library profession. This report presents the results of the survey, with an in-depth analysis of those comments. Additionally, it compares this analysis with the comment analysis from the 2008 survey, revealing some noteworthy trends regarding respondents’ attitudes toward the MLIS degree over time.
In the September 2011 issue of School Library Journal (SLJ), we presented a national analysis of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) state-level data on librarian staffing and fourth-grade reading scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The results from this study indicated that states that gained school librarians from 2004-05 to 2008-09 showed greater increases in 4th grade reading scores than did states that lost librarians during this time period. As promised, we now move back to the Colorado context to examine the relationships between changes in school library staffing and changes in Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) reading scores over time.
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.