Academic journal article Notes

What Employers Want: Entry-Level Qualifications for Music Librarians

Academic journal article Notes

What Employers Want: Entry-Level Qualifications for Music Librarians

Article excerpt


This study investigates skills and aptitudes required and preferred by institutions for entry-level professional employment in music librarianship. All announcements from the Music Library Association's Job Placement Service's Job List 2008-2011 were examined, and entry-level professional positions were extracted. Each was then categorized by primary responsibilities, and required and preferred qualifications were coded. Data indicate that while some required skills are common among the field's specialties, each job type demands unique training and abilities.


As the field for entry-level librarians tightens, prospective candidates must do everything within their power to make themselves competitive. In Library Journal's 2011 annual placement and salaries article, survey participants reported too many applicants for entry-level jobs, and job searches that averaged more than five months. (1) Some institutions in the study indicated they received 200 or more applicants for one entry-level position.

Most Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS or equivalently named) graduates hoping to work in music librarianship need more than just degree coursework to gain employment. Reading knowledge of foreign languages, specific personal and social attributes, relevant work experience, and technological skills not addressed in their MLIS program are often required as well. For those lacking a mentor or the opportunity to work in a library as a graduate student, entrance into the field can be even more challenging.

In a previous article published in Notes, I examined all position advertisements from 2002 through 2010 that appeared on the Music Library Association's (MLA) Job List service. (2) The analysis offered insight on how the types of hiring institutions and jobs for music librarians had changed not just during the period of study, but also since earlier evaluations of the Job List service. This follow-up article determines the number and types of entry-level positions in music librarianship, prerequisites for employment, and both differences and commonalities in requirements for the various types of employment. It examines all entry-level music-library job announcements from MLA Job List from 2008 to 2011. The eighty-three positions were categorized into one of five job types, and requirements and preferred experiences/traits were coded. This study provides data on what qualifications employers seek for the five music-librarianship position types, as well as expectations for the field as a whole. Findings will offer future music librarians and their mentors an understanding of what employers desire. The results will enable library educators to better understand requirements for entry-level employment, and assist them in tailoring curriculum to better prepare future graduates. The conclusions may also help define music librarianship's evolving core competencies in a digital information age.


A great deal of the literature examines librarian competencies and employment requirements via job announcements. Some studies have analyzed specific skills, such as foreign language. (3) In "Are Employers Asking for the Right Competencies? A Case for Emotional Intelligence," Patricia Promis investigated emotional intelligence competencies mentioned in job postings from College & Research Libraries during 2005-6. (4) Additionally, a number of articles have explored employment requirements in different fields of librarianship through job description analysis. Recent examples include Wu and Li's "What Do They Want? A Content Analysis of Medical Library Association Reference Job Announcements, 2000-2005," (5) Park, Lu, and Marion's "Cataloging Professionals in the Digital Environment: A Content Analysis of Job Descriptions," (6) and Choi and Rasmussen's "What Qualifications and Skills are Important for Digital Librarian Positions in Academic Libraries? …

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