How do the mix of job duties, work environment, and other qualitative factors for academic librarians compare to those for tenure-track faculty? (Some academic librarians are tenure-track faculty, but I imagine that even their jobs are structured differently than their T-T professor colleagues.) Or, even without the comparative aspect, what are characteristic features of the academic librarian job?
(It's easy to learn formal requirements of a job but harder to understand other essential aspects. For instance, I heard an anecdote about a jurisdiction that combined its police and fire departments to save money. Despite lots of overlap in required qualifications--fitness, courage, first aid skills--the pace of the jobs was so different that many employees were unhappy. Typical fire departments have lots of down time interspersed with quickly responding to emergencies, while police officers often have routine duties that ideally defuse situations before they become emergencies. That is, workplace styles and job realities differed, and those differences mattered.)
As you may have guessed, I have a recent Ph.D. and have a short-term academic job. I am considering taking an library science class in the fall and/or gaining work experience in a library (as an assistant or similar position). However, before taking those steps, I'd like to learn more about what the academic librarian job looks like. While I'm reaching out to librarians at the university where I work, I would like to draw on the cross-institutional experience that you all might have. I recognize that experiences can differ greatly, so if you think what you've seen might be a limited view, I encourage you to answer but add that qualification. I am particularly interested in information about the United States and Canada.
What do the hours and demands look like? Professors usually have work "follow them home," and I wonder to what extent this is true for academic librarians.
To what extent is research and publishing required (esp. for tenure-track librarians), and how much is that "built into" the job, as opposed to something that is entirely off-the-clock? Does it matter whether publications advance academic study (e.g. curating an archive or creating bibliographies) versus library practice (e.g. how to support undergraduate learning, lessons learned from creating in-library maker spaces, designing and disseminating resources)?
How scattered or coherent is a typical day on the job? Is it constant interruptions or highly structured and routine, or does this depend on one's own preferences or the particular position?
What is the job market like? (For instance, I'd characterize the job market for professors as being nationwide, rigidly annual, lumpy (most departments have 0 openings at a given time), and uncertain.) And if one has a partner who is seeking a tenure-track professor jobs, what does the two-body-problem look like?
To what extent must one have a Master's degree in Library Science or Library and Information Science (MLS/MLIS)? What other kinds of postdocs or training might be available as alternatives? (I originally left this question out, assuming this would be required outside of extraordinary cases. However, I am aware that this is a very important question.)
Kristen Arnett has a new column in Literary Hub about life as a librarian. Her first column gives a flavor of the answer I'm seeking, but I doubt that academic librarians have frequent glitter glue shenanigans (on the clock).
"The reality of being a librarian is that it’s hardly ever about sitting down and it has absolutely nothing to do with peace and quiet. It’s about assisting others. It’s about community service. Librarianship asks you to do 12 things at once and then when you’re in the middle of those projects wonders if you’ve got any tax forms left or an eclipse viewer. It’s endless questions. It’s “my two dollar fine pays your salary.” It’s a grubby little hand at storytime grabbing your leg and smearing glitter glue down the side of pants you’ve already worn twice that week. It’s finding the right answer to a question and reveling in that small joy for a bare moment before another patron comes up to ask you something even weirder. It’s library work, and it’s exhausting."
Related SE resources
A prior question elicited some useful information but I hope answers here go further. What exactly are academic librarians?
An appropriate SE to ask is still in proposal stage. https://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/108040/libraries-and-information-science (Arguably they might not be able to speak as well to the comparative aspects.)
I was the only one to venture an answer to a somewhat related recent question. ;) How should work experience affect decision to get an MLIS (or another similar specialized Master's)?
Other resources addressing becoming an academic librarian
Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellowships: While these are fantastic, they are also limited to a dozen or so spots at specific institutions. https://www.clir.org/fellowships/postdoc/hosts/
https://www.chronicle.com/article/Putting-Your-PhD-to-Work-in/44559 Todd Gilman published a how-to in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2004
https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/librarian/ lists a lot of the important coursework areas
http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/corecomp/corecompspecial/knowledgecompetencies - lists of core competencies by specialty
https://unglue.it/work/76348/ I have not yet read the book So You Want to Be a Librarian
https://www.mennonitewriting.org/journal/2/2/series-fortunate-events-becoming/#all "A Series of Fortunate Events: Becoming an Academic Librarian" (transition through a CLIR postdoc)
The following resources assume or strongly recommend a Masters in Library Science. In general, their target audience is either an undergraduate considering an MLS or someone who already holds an MLS, meaning they're useful background information but less likely to address my concerns. While Todd Gilman's columns for the Chronicle of Higher Education are aimed at people with Ph.D.'s, he also seems to be strongly selling the role of librarian, as well as arguing that doctorate-holders ought not become librarians without an MLS/MLIS; I'd like to see how typical his views are and what other perspectives are shared by people in his position.
https://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/03/careers/how-to-become-a-21st-century-librarian/#_ "How to Become a 21st Century Librarian"
Articles suggested by the ALA: http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/libcareers/type/academic (Those by Todd Gilman strongly recommend an MLS/MLIS even for those with a PhD.)
https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/8370/8528 "Making the Most of Your Career: Advice for New Academic Librarians"
https://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/career-advice-article/tips-for-becoming-an-academic-librarian/ "Tips for becoming an academic librarian" (key skills valued by recent MLS grads versus experienced librarians)
http://www.liscareer.com/helmstutler_liaison.htm "Becoming a Subject-Specialist Librarian"