Dear Internet,

I’ve job hunted in the librarian world three times: first when I graduated with my MLIS in 2010, which took nearly a year and 110 apps before I was offered a job. Second when I was thinking of leaving my last position, applied for two jobs, interviewed at one, rejected by both. Finally, this last job hunt in which I’ve been hunting for a solid year, and half heartedly the six months before that, with 120+ applications in my field as an academic librarian, 40+ in other fields for a total of 160+ applications.

I feel like I’m a damned1 near expert in job titles and descriptions2.

Let’s look at examples of job titles for similar positions I’ve come across in the last year:

  • Online Learning Librarian
  • Digital Learning Librarian
  • Web Services Librarian
  • Community & Digital Services Librarian
  • Emerging Technologies Librarian
  • Technology and Social Media Librarian
  • Systems Librarian
  • Web Content Manager Librarian
  • Learning Commons Librarian
  • Cybrarian (Yes, this really was a job title)
  • Digital Initiatives Librarian
  • Digital Content Librarian
  • Digital Services Librarian
  • Systems & Web Librarian

Stop that. You’re effing confusing everyone.

This is not including positions marked Librarian I/II/III/IV and so on that required or preferred digital/technology/emerging/web job duties. (The notation of position was mainly in public libraries, but the requirements were nearly the same.)

You could weakly argue these positions were completely different. Someone who is a systems librarian is vastly different from a web content librarian which is vastly different than a digital initiatives librarian.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: That’s a bullshit lie and we need to stop kidding ourselves.

Now let’s look at these job descriptions written by our illustrious future employers (or their HR department):

  • Liaison to varying departments
  • Collection development
  • Library / student / staff instruction
  • Develops and updates online materials; knowledge of LibGuides
  • Participates in college and community services
  • Reference responsibilities
  • Participate in various functions for tenure

Now, I’ll concede this is pretty much standard across every academic librarian position regardless of job title. Now lets look at the other responsibilities:

  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of HTML / CSS / Javascript / Python / Django / Ruby / SQL / scripting languages
  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of OSX, Windows, and Linux platforms, including server side software
  • Project management
  • Knowledge of current trends in library and technology services
  • Liaison to IT and related departments
  • Maintains library’s web presence, including but not limited to: social media, website(s), and ILS and discovery layers
  • Pioneers experimental and innovative approaches to emerging technologies (direct cut/paste from a job description currently in another tab)
  • Working knowledge of assistive and accessible technologies
  • Coordinate workflows, set guidelines and ensure that the library’s web presence is accurate, up-to-date, user-centered and accessible (another cut and paste)
  • Manage interface customizations and the integration of commercial and open source library application (another cut and paste)
  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of open source software
  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of digital and physical copyright laws
  • Maintain and administer the library’s intranet
  • Lead and/or participate in processes for usability testing, analytics analysis and assessments of the library’s virtual spaces (another cut and paste)
  • Become resident resources/tools/databases expert (another cut and paste)
  • Maintain currency with web technologies, software, tools and solutions. Participates in training efforts (another cut and paste)

And there is a lot more.

(And I had to grammar and spell check a few of the cut/paste thingies.)

You’re probably thinking, “Holy cow! That cannot be all for one job.”

Yes, yes it is.


Join me tomorrow when I dissect my last position which as the same requirements as above, unicorn librarians, and the asinine pay scale for these jobs.


1. A swears in a professional website post. Yes, I know. Shocking. If you are focusing on the swears and not the content and subject matter for the post, you’re not someone I want to work for. It also shows you pay little attention to detail and a poor understanding of written communication skills.
2. You may wonder if the subject line of this post has to do with porn. The answer is no, but it does have to do with the wildly variating titles for the same or nearly same positions, mainly in academia.