The academic library workforce: past, present, and future

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This article provides an overview of the evolution of the academic library workforce in the United States based on an examination of a selected number of studies of academic librarians. The overview illustrates the ongoing unmet needs that exist for comprehensive workforce data. The overview is followed by a discussion of the findings of a recent study entitled, "Workforce Issues in Library and Information Science" (WILIS) that gathered in-depth data about the careers of librarians who graduated over a forty year period from 1964 and 2007. Basic results of WILIS study for the academic library respondents are provided as an example of the type of detailed career data, including data related to recruitment and retention, that are needed to give educators, employers, and other stakeholders the information needed to plan effectively in a time of major demographic and workforce transition.