The Job Outlook: In 2030, Librarians Will Be in Demand | Editorial

A fascinating new report takes a fresh look at what the workforce is going to look like in the future and which skills will be highly sought after. According to “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030”, there will be an increased call for librarians, curators, and archivists, among other occupations.

A fascinating new report takes a fresh look at what the workforce is going to look like in the future and which skills will be highly sought after. According to “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030”, there will be an increased call for librarians, curators, and archivists, among other occupations.

That’s just the start of the finds in this exploration of where humans will fit in the future, complementing rather than being completely supplanted by automation. The report—released on September 28 by Pearson, Nesta, and Oxford University—asks how work will be impacted by the intersection of seven “megatrends.” Change driven by new technology, including the rise of automation, is right up top. The others are globalization, demographic change, environmental sustainability, urbanization, rising inequality, and political uncertainty.

The report considers globalization but focuses solely on the impact on the UK and the United States. “In the U.S., there is particularly strong emphasis on interpersonal skills. These skills include teaching, social perceptiveness, service orientation, and persuasion,” it notes. The “findings also confirm the importance of higher-order cognitive skills such as complex problem solving, originality, fluency of ideas, and active learning.”

“The Future of Skills” is something to read when thinking about the evolution of our work in libraries [as is our annual report on placements and salaries “Librarians Everywhere,” which provides a look at what’s happening today]. Perhaps more important, it can help inform library leaders’ strategic direction as they consider how to shape services to support people of all ages through a time of rapid evolution. How will the people libraries serve be impacted by these megatrends, how will they need to learn, and what skills will they need to develop in order to thrive?

“Although the advance of automation and artificial intelligence may feel like a losing battle to some, individuals will need to focus on developing the uniquely human skills identified in this research,” the report states in a section on the implications for individual people.

According to the report, we will all also need to learn new things and develop new skills throughout our lifetimes. To help, the authors include an extensive “Glossary of Skills” mentioned in the document and offer recommendations for educators and employers.

There’s no doubt in my mind that libraries and those who work in them are here for the long haul. This report can and should stimulate conversation about how to make the long run ahead as relevant as possible for the many people who depend on libraries for the tools they need.


Below are the occupation classifications most likely to experience increased demand in 2030 out of the 772 tracked by the U.S. government.

  1. Preschool, Primary, Secondary, and Special Education School Teachers
  2. Animal Care and Service Workers
  3. Lawyers, Judges, and Related Workers
  4. Postsecondary Teachers
  5. Engineers
  6. Personal Appearance Workers
  7. Social Scientists and Related Workers
  8. Counselors, Social Workers, and Other Community and Social Service Specialists
  9. Librarians, Curators, and Archivists
  10. Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers


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Bennie Visher

In the year 2000, there was an expectation that a librarian shortage would result in lots of opportunities for graduates of library science programs. But after two recessions (2001 and 2008), the reality in 2017 is more humbling. The lesson that all librarians have to learn is that any rosy job outlook ought to be viewed with some skepticism. An increased demand for more librarians, archivists, and curators can result in more competition for those opportunities. And the increased demand may not grow as large as expected. Also, there may be more librarians than library jobs. And work in the private sector does not guarantee higher pay than work in the public sector, at all. Some librarians may have to work as library clerks for awhile. Some may have to accept two or more part-time jobs just to pay the bills. Some may even have to do work that's irrelevant to librarianship itself. That's life. And that is more realistic than an overly optimistic librarian job outlook that will likely be wrong.

Posted : Oct 25, 2017 03:56


I'm not convinced. This top 10 occupations list strikes me as a bit odd. Also, I watched the study methodology video, which talks about the novel technique of using algorithms to mesh with human opinions and historical patterns. I am suspicious of the algorithms--what are they specifically and how have they been deployed to garner these results? I would ask instead, cui bono? Who benefits from a "study" like this? Sponsors, funders?

Posted : Oct 25, 2017 01:44

Pamela Benjamin

All I can say is that nobody has a crystal ball, but things are rarely neither as good or bad as perceived. I doubt librarianship will be demolished as field nor will we necessarily be in high demand. I do believe that in the face of pervasive automation, our human touch will be a primary saving grace. We will need to be more than info gatekeepers. We are moving into the world of concierge level assistance - including those much feared third rails of social services - medical and legal help. Go to the damn need and fill it.

Posted : Oct 22, 2017 05:27

Kyle Banerjee

What happened to librarians evaluating the information sources? This "report" is just marketing copy by a company whose raison d'etre is selling the ideas in their conclusions. Their projections are way out of whack with other studies out there. Since occupations tracked by the government are mentioned, seems like Bureau of Labor Statistics might be a good place to look, maybe even the Occupational Outlook Handbook...

Posted : Oct 22, 2017 12:49

Tim Dodge

Well, as someone who will turn age 73 in 2030, I expect to be retired by that point but, who knows? Glad to know that if I still need to be in the workforce that I likely will still have a future. About 20 years ago I was worried I might be obsolete before being eligible to retire thanks to the rise of the Internet, disappearance of print journals, and students and administrators thinking a physical library was on its way out. Glad to still be employed here now at age 60. Hoping to work another 5-10 (by choice) and glad to see that my fears of obsolescence may be overblown in case I might still need to work in 2030!

Posted : Oct 20, 2017 12:13


All I know is that if the jobs of the future depend on "likability," (and the corrollary of being a "people person") I may as well give up now. That's the one skill I neither I or people like me cannot learn. Automation is great if you are an extrovert. If you are introverted and cannot join the upper genius echelon, you may as well kill yourself now.

Posted : Oct 19, 2017 02:16

Jose Rodriguez

What about healthcare? Nurses and Physicians? Did they not make the top 10 list?

Posted : Oct 17, 2017 11:10



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