Being comfortable and experimenting with new technology is so important in the working world today regardless of your field. I’m a writer and an editor, and nearly every job posted in my field demands familiarity and a level of comfort in delivering content in ways I wouldn’t have dreamed of just a decade ago. You have to keep a consistent message across a broad scope of websites and devices including blogs, Facebook and Twitter—with new ones cropping up every day. If you don’t have a background in writing specifically for these channels you will be eliminated before the HR person finishes your cover letter.
And technology is creeping up fast in ways you wouldn’t expect. Recently, I helped a friend complete a virtual interview—she had to use my webcam to answer a set of questions in order to qualify for an in-person interview. Where recruitment is increasingly global this is likely to become more common. Surely it was awkward to talk to my webcam but if she hadn’t been confident in her use of the technology she would have self-selected herself right out of a job.
I was excited to see jobs listed for librarians that are steeped in technology—I wasn’t as excited to see the salaries. I know it’s not polite to talk about money but the idea that you need an MLIS and web development experience as well as A+ certification but the compensation is just $14 an hour (part-time, no less) is ludicrous, in my opinion. And A+ certification is for techs, not web developers so the implication is that the person hiring doesn’t understand the skill set they need or they also want you to fix computers on top of everything else!
That (supplemental) post about the Villa Park position alone is one of the reasons I’m nervous about the future. It seems librarians with technology leanings are best served by heading into academia. The only technology-based job I could find for librarians was at Penn State: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/jobs/facjobs/rhyet.html. It looks like a very interesting position—and I’m going to assume those kinds of jobs will continue to crop up, which means that those who want a foothold on relevant jobs of the future need to keep up.
I’m not as optimistic about public library positions as am other kinds of MLIS-related jobs. I recently read of a disturbing trend in the New York Times: privatization of public libraries. The article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/business/27libraries.html. It’s an uncertain future for librarians and I’m hoping negative trends will reverse as the economy recovers. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.