I love infographics!

I found this infographic on the fabulous Ange Fitzpatrick’s tumblr and I wanted to share it too!

Click to enlarge

I found the stats very interesting and some were more surprising that others.

I was shaking my fist slightly at the fact that I am now just too old to be counted as the super special 1% age bracket but that’s ok! I also liked the hope that the small print provides to us younger, early career librarians with the comment about a lot of older librarians are coming up to retirement. Of course, losing all that knowledge and experience is a terrible thing but it does also guarantee that higher posts become free for people to move into, thereby freeing up lower down posts creating the chance for movement within the library community again.

We went through a stage here in Cambridge where no posts were being advertised, or if they were they were only part-time ones. This was all around the time when funding was being threatened and people were rather uneasy about their departments. Thankfully that has eased somewhat and several College Librarian posts have come up so the flow is back and people are able to develop and grow within a very competitive environment.

The wages statistics are interesting too. I’m not sure about the exact correlation with UK wages but I doubt that there is much difference. Yes, it is a shocker. Librarians don’t get paid that much. However, I think if we were all honest with ourselves, we hardly went into this profession to earn the big bucks like they do in the City now did we? I’ve never been one for chasing high paid jobs because I’d rather get less money and do something that I love. The old adage of money doesn’t make you happy is very true. Sure it helps pay the bills but I think we can get so much extra from our roles as information providers than we would doing a high-paid and soulless job, and if you’re not enjoying it then get out and find something that you do love! We spend so much of our lives working, we may as well enjoy the thing that dominates our waking hours so much!

Moving on, we use both sides of our brains. Brilliant! I have had friends who have said that being a librarian must be easy and could not understand why we needed qualifications and training to “stamp books”. As the diagram shows, we do so much more than that and it is nice to see it all listed out and divided appropriately. We librarians are definitely smart cookies when it comes to multi-tasking and having a wide skills set!

While I like that librarianship has given a lot of opportunities to women as a career environment, I do not like how we dominate it so much. With the statistics of a feisty female 78% versus a measly male percentage of 22%, the numbers are certainly skewed. I personally feel that having a balanced workplace benefits everybody. Both genders have different ways of working and different ways of looking at things, and I really feel that having a balanced team works out for the better. When I used to work at the UL, I felt there was a really nice mix of people in the various departments that I worked with. However, I have worked in other environments that are almost exclusively female. While this is not a problem for me personally, I do always ponder on what we are missing out on by having such a potentially one-sided approach to problems and working methods.

I am curious as to why the female factor is so dominant in the library world. I can understand why nursing is traditionally seen as a predominantly female role (even though this is a ridiculous stereotype!) but I can’t quite figure out what is so “female” about books and the educational environment. Surely, with all of our rather specialised technical skills and analytical thinking, this is just the industry that would appeal to men. We do many similar things to gaming developers, for example, yet women are often struggling to make an impact in that sector. I’d like to know what people think. I’m sure there are some very simple reasons, such as the stereotype of the old lady in her cardie looking after the large-print section in the local public library.

Finally, I love the statistics about librarians’ interests. Shame we don’t seem to do more of the active stuff like SCUBA diving, but we do a lot of creative and outdoors-y activities too which makes us all rather nice and balanced as people. Well done us!

Even though this infographic was predominantly American, I feel that there aren’t that many differences here in the UK and it is nice to see some interesting facts about your profession popped into a legible and fun format.

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