July 24, 2008
Do Senior Librarians Have a Moral Obligation to Retire?
The issue was presented on Brian Leiter's (Chicago) Philosophy Blog at Do Senior Faculty Have an Obligation to Retire at Some Point?, "Beneficial Retirement" of Senior Philosophers and The Brewing Economic Meltdown and the Philosophy Profession where Leiter writes
Students and especially job seekers, I fear, need to be prepared for weak job markets this year and next, if not longer... Not only will state universities likely be doing less hiring, but the catastrophic June in the stock markets means that a lot of faculty who might have been thinking about retirement in the coming year are going to postpone given the huge losses most will have suffered.
My crystal ball says job opportunities for young librarians wouldn't be all that great in either the public or private sector, so should senior librarians eligible for retirement make room for younger ones during a weak job market? Check out Leiter's review of arguments at Inside Higher Ed and take our LLB poll which is based on them.
If you select yes/no for a reason not listed as an option, feel free to explain in a comment to this post.[JH]
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The idea that older people are "morally obligated" to retire is ridiculous. No one is "morally obligated" to accede to discrimination. People of color should not accept that their skin color makes them "morally obligated" to quit so that whites can have their job. Women are not "morally obligated" to quit so that men can have their jobs.
By the way, what jerk put in the question: "It's ethically questionable to hold on to a job just out of self-serving economic interests?" And what MORONS actually agreed with it? Hello? Most people have jobs for "self-serving economic interests!"
Posted by: JDW | Oct 3, 2011 10:07:07 AM
Seniors in ALL TITLES should retire when they reach eligibility - where I work there are a number of LIBRARY CLERKS who are GOOD FOR NOTHING as their computer skills and other necessary elements to perform their jobs efficiently are sorely lacking... They are, thru Civil Service, protected and can stick around for as long as they like - and their terrible attitudes, for that matter, reflect that.
I think the various systems that protect library employees (Civil Services, Unions, etc.) should re-examine their obligations to new people entering the profession as well as the PATRONS of the facilities they support.
Posted by: Peter | Sep 10, 2008 1:38:07 PM
What really gets my goat about Sr librarians is when they retire from one(high level) position and then take another job elsewhere that could have been filled by a librarian newer to the profession, but is ready to move into a higher level position. Case in point. A library director retired from a suburban library system. Then she applied and was hired by my library system as the Chief of Youth Services--a mid level position. This job would have been a wonderful opportunity for upward mobility for a librarian who is no where near retirement. Even if for some reason, my library system did not want to offer this position to someone within the organization, someone else would have re-located for this job at their own expense.
Do Senior librarians have an obligation to retire if they cannot afford it? Probably not. However, I think that the hiring authorities have an obligation to the profession to nurture new talent and hire to people in jobs like Chief of Youth Services who are still on a career track--I mean nurture our future leaders. If a retired library director or somesuch high level person wants to retire from one place and take a post retirement job, hiring authorities should come up with other ways to use their expertise and let career track librarians, from within the organization or without, have an opportunity for a promotion or for upward mobility. Hiring retired librarians in mid to high level posions is short-sighted in the long run. Just my humble and heated opinion.
Posted by: Heated Librarian | Aug 14, 2008 12:40:40 PM
I suspect the reason many senior level librarians have not retired is not that they haven't saved for retirement (most of the ones I know have done so, including me), but because of concerns about health care costs. Many 50+ people have some kind of pre-existing health issues, and the cost for private health insurance,if they can get it at all, for those who are not yet Medicare-eligible,is likely to be prohibitive. For those who are eligible, the steadily increasing cost of Medicare Part B premiums and supplemental insurance premiums are very likely to decrease the amount of savings retirees can use for other living expenses. If the U.S. were to join the rest of the industrialized world and provide its citizens with universal health care at an affordable price, I suspect you would see many more retirees and not just in library land. Retirement planning involves just that - planning. If you cannot fix or predict your costs within a reasonable margin, then retirement planning is an oxymoron.
Posted by: Laurie | Jul 29, 2008 7:57:17 AM
Mass retirements? NOT! Divorces have made it financially impossible for many people to retire or leave their jobs until they drop dead on the job, whether they are librarians or whatever. New professionals of any kind should take that into consideration, because divorce is deeply ingrained in our society and ain't going away. Students should prepare for a profession with good job prospects now and don't expect anyone to move out of your way at some distant time in the future.
Posted by: Academic Librariantoo | Jul 28, 2008 9:24:31 AM
No, for more than one reason. Because a librarian retires doesn't mean they will be replaced by another. And no, life does not owe anyone a job. If a person is able to and wants to continue working, they should be able to. Sheesh. We could set them adrift on an ice flow! :) Implication seems to be that new librarians would do the job better anyway. Unclear to me. Why don't we put the ethical onus on academic programs that produce too many graduates? Is it right to produce more librarians than the economy can handle?
Posted by: Steven Harris | Jul 27, 2008 8:57:20 PM
I'm with Colleen: why is there such a blind eye to non-producers and dead wood, no matter their seniority or age? There seems to be such value on retention at all costs, whether it is in the best interests of the insitution or not. Maybe that's just the case where I work, where it's a cultural and management issue, but I have a feeling it exists elsewhere too. I don't think senior librarians should be forced out, especially if they are productive members of the library staff, but they should not be allowed to coast either.
Posted by: PJ | Jul 27, 2008 1:05:26 PM
I recently moved to Cincinnati from Washington DC and can totally feel the difference in job availability but I agree with the previous post. When people retire, the jobs are emliminated. Also in the law library community the often required JD makes it very hard for an MLS only librarian to find anything outside of DC or NYC.
Keeping my hopes up that I'll find something soon. I miss working!
Posted by: Maggie Patel | Jul 25, 2008 11:20:29 AM
If more experienced librarians are forced out, the profession loses its collective wisdom.Older librarians have things to teach the newer librarians, and the field would lose tremendous amounts of knowledge if our elders were forced to retire.The elder librarians have a lot to give and the newer ones need to understand that everyone has to pay their dues in our profession.
Posted by: Academic Librarian | Jul 25, 2008 9:59:52 AM
Let us all remember that "young" librarians and "new" librarians are not necessarily the same thing. I would venture to say that very few of us started our careers in our 20s. I finished library school at 40, and I intend to have a very full, long career in my chosen profession, and get every bit of money, joy, experience and satisfaction out of my expensive education that I can. If that means retiring at 70, so be it.
Posted by: Still a newbie | Jul 25, 2008 9:49:29 AM
Finding a job isn't easy for anyone. Expecting people with years of knowledge and experience to quit because young people need a job is silly. Certain industries require retirement at 65 for safety purposes (airline pilots) but I cannot imagine that an older librarian would cause the same issue. Unless they were throwing their orthopedic shoes at patrons...
Posted by: Julia | Jul 25, 2008 9:48:33 AM
I am a new librarian, and yes, I know that the job market is tough but I would NEVER expect that someone should give up their career to "make room" for me. If someone loves their career and is still passionate about job, their only obligation is to their library and their patrons.
Posted by: Jen | Jul 25, 2008 9:24:58 AM
I, too, was told (and am still being told) that mass retirements are on the way. The lack of retirements has certainly had an impact on my career, especially when retirees are hired back as part-time staff.
Yes, it's been a bummer for me but I cannot expect the world to revolve around me. Boomers have not saved for retirement and cannot be expected to retire if they can't support themselves. I want them to retire, I want them to move out of the way and I do think many of them aren't working very hard anymore. But they do not owe it to me or anyone else to retire.
And the same will apply to me when I get older.
Posted by: Manya | Jul 25, 2008 9:10:10 AM
You must be kidding to even think up some of the response answers. It is my moral responsibility to take care of myself and my family. I have been a librarian since 1972 and plan to continue until I wish to retire. That is my moral and ethical responsibility.
Posted by: Francis Kuykendall | Jul 25, 2008 9:02:14 AM
I voted no, because a major part of a person's life is their job and no one has an obligation to give up their life for another person. Each person needs to decide for themselves, in their own situation, when they need to retire. In no field is it easy to get a job, librarians are no exception to the rule. Some academics have told me they tried for jobs for over 2 years, sometimes doing 60 or 70 aoolications. My ex did over 120 aps for his second job. If any younger librarian thinks it will be faster for them, they need to look at the job market in all areas and recognize librarianship is a very specialized field, one that covers the whole country. I moved hundreds of miles for my first professional job; it happens to academics all the time. In point of fact, I do expect to retire on schedule but one never knows what will happen when I actually get to that point. However, when one finds the right job and the right fit, it is great. And that is the important part - the right job rather than just any old job.
Posted by: Karen Chobot | Jul 25, 2008 9:01:33 AM
No for other reasons. Mainly, the talent amongst the whippersnappers is in short supply. Were senior librarians to retire early their libraries would collapse even faster than they are now.
Posted by: Joe Madarotz | Jul 25, 2008 8:55:16 AM
The only librarians who should get out of the profession are those who are obsolete, and there are plenty of young obsolete librarians.
Posted by: Barry | Jul 25, 2008 8:50:19 AM
I'd like to see less about pushing 'older' librarians out, and more discussion about when libraries are going to get serious about pushing non-producers of *all* ages out. There's a managerial obligation to get rid of people who don't do their jobs, isn't there? (Full disclosure: not a problem in my current place of work, but I've seen it at previous institutions.) I see very little discussion about getting rid of people who aren't performing their role within the library.
Posted by: Colleen | Jul 25, 2008 8:48:20 AM
I answered "no, life does not owe young librarians a career" because everyone,even senior citizens, has a right to pursue a career, but I must state that the profession will have a mass unemployment problem if library schools continue to stretch the truth in their recruting practices. I was told that a coming wave of retirements would bring a wave of job openings. Well, the wave never happened, and I suspect that when retirements did happen, the positions were often just eliminated. It took me eighteen months after graduation to find a job, but I still see recruitment literature touting the coming boom in library job openings. I would not recommend than anyone attend library school in the current climate.
Posted by: Still a newbie | Jul 25, 2008 5:10:51 AM