22 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 295 2018 Thus defined, the 1986 list has only one nontraditional position, functional specialist, which accounted for only 9% of new hires that year. The comparable list for 2015 has nontraditional jobs in three of the top six job categories—digital specialist, functional specialist, and administration—comprising 41% of all new hires. Hiring for nontraditionals has grown consistently throughout the years, and in 2015 the data show no sign of this trend abating. Nontraditionals among 2015 new hires are notable for being more male than traditionals (41% of nontraditional new hires were male vs. 28% of traditional new hires) and they’re more likely to have no library degree (40% of nontraditional new hires do not have library degrees vs. only 8% of traditional new hires). It is interesting that while ARL libraries have added thousands of nontraditionals since 1986, these hires haven’t altered ARL’s gender mix, as always about 63% female. The hiring of nontraditionals has had a pronounced impact on credentialing for the profession, however, and has lowered the profile of library education in the process. The emergence of nontraditional professionals is not an indication that demand for traditional library expertise is likely to disappear anytime soon. For example, we might be concerned about hiring for reference librarians, down from one in four hires in 1986 to just over one in ten in 2015. It is possible, however, that this decline is simply the result of a shift in focus for public service professionals, away from reference desks and towards work better captured by the subject specialist category. The total number of professionals in the reference and subject specialist job categories combined shows virtually no change in hiring priority between 1986 and 2015. No such combination of job categories, however, can save cataloging from its decline as a hiring priority. If we allow for overlap in the functional duties of catalogers and technical services librarians, for ...the 2015–2020 period is almost certain to require more hiring than any time since 1985.
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