Magazine article Special Libraries

Washington, D.C. Special Library Job Requirements: An Analysis of Washington Post Job Advertisements 1983-1989

Magazine article Special Libraries

Washington, D.C. Special Library Job Requirements: An Analysis of Washington Post Job Advertisements 1983-1989

Article excerpt

Washington, D.C. Special Library Job Requirements: An Analysis of Washington Post Job Advertisements 1983-1989

This study examined special library job advertisements in the Washington Post over a seven-year period from 1983 to 1989 to define trends in the kinds of knowledge, skills, and experience specifically required for the jobs advertised. The resultant data was also evaluated from the perspective of expanding the study to geographic areas other than Washington, DC, for purposes of developing comparative data.

The Washington Post is recognized as a key source for special library job advertisements for the metropolitan Washington, DC area. For the period of 1983-1989, and for the purposes of this study, 1,020 job advertisements were considered. To be included, the listing had to have a clear indication that the job was in a special library setting. Any advertisements from which such a determination could not be made were excluded from the study.

For each of the listings, all of the job requirements as stated were recorded. Ultimately, the following categories of requirements were established: 1) degree requirements; 2) management/supervisory background and/or experience; 3) experience level; 4) experience type (i.e., a specific special library environment); 5) languages spoken/written; 6) online skills/training/knowledge; 7) subject area knowledge/expertise; 8) communications skills (both oral and written); and 9) computer skills. It should be noted that positions advertised for several weeks consecutively or biweekly were included only once in the study. Another study parameter was that education, skills, knowledge, or experience had to be listed specifically as a requirement to be included. Elements noted as "helpful," "desirable," "a plus," etc. were excluded from this analysis.

Table 1 indicates the number of jobs advertised over the years included in the study as well as the breakdowns among full-time, part-time, and temporary positions.

Table 2 highlights some of the types of special library environments for these jobs. The table accounts for 55% to 75% of the jobs in a given year. Other special library environments which appeared in the advertisements but are not part of the table include newspapers, engineering, advertising agencies, publishing, R & D firms, and museums, to name a few. It should also be noted that there were instances of a generic designation, that is, "special library," with no further type identifier in the advertisement.

As can be seen from Table 2, consistently the most heavily-advertised jobs in the Washington Post in this timeframe were in the law firm and association/nonprofit environments--not at all surprising in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Only a small percentage of government jobs appeared in the Post, resulting in the relatively low government numbers.

Before specifically discussing the trends in actual requirements, an interesting observation on salary data is appropriate. In terms of salaries listed, the average percentage of job ads with that data was approximately 14% per year. Though not calculated, it can be observed that, most frequently, the salaries listed related to hourly rates for the part-time or temporary positions, followed closely by government special library jobs. Government job ads tended to include salary ranges. In short, listed salaries for these positions are infrequent. While, as stated, the average number of special library advertisements running salary information averaged around 14% per year, it went from as low as 9% in 1989 to as high as 23% in 1983.

As mentioned, numerous categories of requirements were developed from the analysis of the advertisements. Following is a discussion of each of the previously specified categories.

MLS Required

Seventy percent of all of the jobs listed required an MLS or stated "MLS or equivalent experience" required. …

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