Academic journal article Notes

Job Trends in Music Librarianship: A Nine-Year Analysis of the Music Library Association's Job List

Academic journal article Notes

Job Trends in Music Librarianship: A Nine-Year Analysis of the Music Library Association's Job List

Article excerpt


This study examines employment distribution for both professional and nonprofessional positions in music librarianship. Data were collected from the Music Library Association's Job Placement Service's Job List postings from 2002 through 2010. The 700 advertised positions are categorized by primary responsibilities, the hiring institution, and whether or not the position required an American Library Association-accredited master's degree in the field.

With the creation of the Library of Congress's Music Division in 1897, (1) institutions in the United States began seeking capable librarians to work with music materials. The Music Library Association (MLA) long maintained an employment file at the New York Public Library's Music Division, and later offered an annual subscription service to the "informal and irregular" print version of the Job List. (2) During the early 2000s, the Job List migrated from print to an online format. The electronic version has existed on several platforms, and is available through the "Employment & Education" link at the MLA Web site. (3)

Although the Job List does not capture all available positions in music librarianship, it includes most professional announcements, and therefore reflects hiring trends in the field. By identifying position types and hiring institutions in recent job advertisements, prospective and practicing librarians can better understand what types of jobs are available. This might assist students in deciding what classes to take in a library science program. It may also be helpful to established professionals looking to transition into music librarianship from another area of specialization, and better position practicing music librarians for a new job within the field.

This article analyzes all Job List announcements from 2002 through 2010, examining professional and nonprofessional music librarianship positions by hiring institution and job responsibilities. While the importance of the study may be most relevant to professional positions, it also examines job types and hiring institutions with nonprofessional positions and other appointments that appear in the Job List. Additionally, it provides insight into recent trends in the music librarianship job market.


Studies examining position announcements are commonplace in librarianship; only two previous publications, however, focused on the Job List itself. (4) The first was Laura Dankner's "Job Trends, 1974-1989," which analyzed numbers of advertisements, types of hiring institutions, nature of the work, and salary minimums. (5) Dankner also surveyed the MLA Placement Service members (subscribers to MLA's Job List). Her questionnaire requested information about members' education, work experience, reason for subscribing to the Job List, opinions about the quality of the jobs listed, types of jobs for which they applied, and pros and cons of posted positions. Dankner concluded that the market was strong for music librarians during the years of her study, but noted that in the final year (1988-89), 50 percent of the positions were reposts.

The second publication was Renee McBride's "What Employers Want Now: A Survey of the MLA Job List," (6) which looked at hiring institutions and position types for Job List postings from January 1999 through April 2003. While this study lacked figures for individual years, it did break postings down by hiring institutions and job responsibilities. McBride found most opportunities in music librarianship existed in academic settings, followed by public libraries, and specialized institutions. Since the present article addresses the same topic as the earlier studies, it updates the established body of work.


All employment announcements were retrieved from the MIA Job List Web postings, primarily from the archive pages. (7) Each job was placed into one of seven categories: (1) a professional library position working with music, lasting at least twelve months, and requiring an American Library Association-accredited Master's in Library Science (MLS) degree or equivalent; (2) nonprofessional library employment working with music, not requiring an MLS degree; (3) an appointment in a professional library organization; (4) a position in a scholarly organization that produces materials related to music librarianship; (5) library jobs that are not music-specific; (6) work that relates to music but is not library-specific; and (7) professional music library positions lasting less than one year with no possibility of renewal. …

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