Further Questions: Does volunteering or completing an internship at your organization help candidates secure a position there?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Does volunteering or completing an internship at your organization help candidates secure a position of any level (professional, part time, or anything in between) at your organization? Many times library school students assume that experience at a specific institution leads to an “in” when jobs open up there, but have you found this to be true? How might you advise candidates looking to secure employment at the specific organizations or locations where they volunteer or intern?

Marge Loch-Wouters

We actually have not found this to be true. We use internship/volunteer opportunities to give students opportunities to work in a real world situation. They observe closely the “life of the library”, do specialized projects and often help plan and do programs. This experience is structured in a way that will help “resume-boost” for the person at any youth position they try for in the wide library world.

 

Position openings can be few and far between or in departments for which the volunteer/intern doesn’t have quite the right expertise.  If you want to increase your chances, look for ways to show your initiative, leadership and mad skillz. If a hiring manager sees great work, you may get an opportunity. If nothing else you will get an amazing reference for another opening somewhere else – which can be just as worth it.

- Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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I have been surprised with how antagonistic/unfriendly some library folks have been on my interviews

This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in academic libraries, at the following levels: entry level, supervisory. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I have volunteered/interned a variety of virtual reference services (ChaCha.com, Ask Now Texas, My Info Quest), at a community college reference desk, at a public library, and for the ALA-APA director.

This job hunter is in an urban area in the Southern US and is not willing to move.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

location (I can’t move), type of position (reference/instruction; I already have a library job so I’m not going to give it up unless the job is what I’m looking for), good work environment

Where do you look for open positions?

professional listservs, individual university/college websites

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

A couple hours. I customize my resume/CV according to the specifications listed in the ad

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: I adjunct for a for-profit college and took the summer off, but was still on their roster of instructors. Wasn’t sure how to explain this succinctly on my CV work experience, so I just wrote “Jan 2011-present”

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Being able to present

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

List a salary in the ad.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

More communication! Even worse than bad news is having to wait weeks for it when you still have hope. Also, I have been surprised with how antagonistic/unfriendly some library folks have been on my interviews; it’s hard enough making it through the 1.5 day marathon without feeling like some people are against you from the start for no apparent reason! Reminding people to be polite would be nice, though there’s not much you can do with administrators.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Having lots of experience doing what the advertised job does. Kind of a catch-22 for new librarians…

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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It’s agony having to wait for weeks in between interview stages.

Hunting party on the shore State Library and Archives of FloridaThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. This person is looking in academic libraries at the following levels: requiring at least two years of experience.

This job hunter is in a rural area in the Northeastern US and is not willing to move.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

- Instructional/information literacy responsibilities
– A good salary
– Clear job description

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, Simmons Jobline, INALJ, individual institutions’ websites

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I write a new cover letter for every position but my resume more or less stays the same, as I am applying to all the same types of jobs. Generally 30-60 minutes.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Being taken out to meal
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Many employers need to be more clear on what the *minimum* requirements of a position are, e.g. we will not look at your application unless you have an MLIS and two years experience and knowledge of MARC. A lot of job postings are vague or don’t list minimum requirements, even though the search committee is likely weeding through applications using some sort of benchmark.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Try not to drag it out – don’t start a search when a member of the committee is about go on vacation, or during a particularly busy time. It’s agony having to wait for weeks in between interview stages.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

You need to be prepared for the possibility that you’ll arrive at the interview and find that you are not a good fit for the position or it is not a good fit for you. I have had interviews where I found the position was not right for me, and the interviewers could tell. Be enthusiastic about the position, but only if you mean it.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Rural area

Tell potential candidates why working there is a great idea

stephanie santiful
Stephanie Santiful is a Cataloging Assistant at William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library, Hampton University. She says,

While I’m proud of every project that I’ve ever worked on, I would say that the Harvey Library’s Book Sale is the project that I’m most proud of. I worked with a fantastic committee who went above and beyond their duties to make the new book sale something amazing. It was so rewarding seeing faculty, staff, and students stopping by the book sale and interacting with each other.

She also works as a Part-time Evening and Weekend Reference Librarian at Bryant & Stratton College Library. She says,

Even though it’s part-time, I am extremely proud of becoming a reference librarian. I have wanted more responsibility and to carry out more duties, and this position allows me to do that. I’ve learned so much in a short time, and I am still learning.

Ms. Santiful has been looking for a new position for a year to 18 months. She is looking in Academic, Public and Special libraries (but prefers public libraries), at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager. She is in a city/town in the Northeastern US, and

would love to eventually move. I don’t really have a particular state in mind, but Florida, North Carolina, or Nevada, or California would be nice!

In her spare time, Ms. Santiful is a big anime and manga fan and has gone to anime conventions in various states.She also loves reading, writing, and watching horror films (the good ones and the bad ones!) You can find her on LinkedIn or blogging at: http://nerdbabylibrarian.tumblr.com/

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Full-time, innovative, diverse community

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, INALJ, LisList, and various listservs

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Usually, I spend a lot of time on my cover letter. I have a flash drive that is dedicated only for resumes, cover letters, and reference lists. The amount of time I spend on each application packet depends on the job that I am applying for.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Being taken out to meal
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Being able to present

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Many vacant position announcements are solely about the duties that potential candidates will be carrying out. Obviously, this is needed. But it would be nice if some employers will tell potential candidates why working there is a great idea. I want to know that I’m going into a place that will value me as an employee.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Keep in touch with candidates if they are still being considered, and let them know if they aren’t. Be courteous and let candidates know when something has gone wrong that employers have no control over. I’ve received several emails from libraries that have said that they are no longer searching for anyone for the position and that the search will be closed.

If employers use status notifications on their websites, it helps to update them, so candidates know where they stand.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Determination, dedication, knowledge, the willingness to learn, and a little bit of luck!

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, City/town, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Public, Special

Researcher’s Corner: Education and Training of Access Services Librarians

I’m happy to introduce this piece by Michael Krasulski, which discusses an aspect of librarianship that we haven’t talked about very much on this blog, access services.  If you’re interested in reading a more scholarly description of his research, read the article:

Krasulski, M. (2014). “Where do they come from, and how are they trained?” Professional education and training of access services librarians in academic libraries. Journal of Access Services, 11(1), 14-29


Access services is the administrative umbrella under which the circulation, reserves, interlibrary loan, stacks maintenance, and related functions typically reside within an academic library. Since the late 1970s, the access services librarian or equivalent position has become commonplace in academic libraries, and degreed professionals have been sought for these positions since the beginning. In 2009, David McCaslin, then at Yale University and now at California Institute of Technology, studied the place of access services within library and information science education. He found, generally speaking, a dedicated course in access services is not taught in American Library Association-accredited library and information science graduate programs, though aspects of access services may be covered elsewhere in the curriculum. In passing, David asked rhetorically in his article, “The question begs to be asked ‘where to [access services librarians] come from, and how are [access services librarians] trained?” Answering McCaslin’s question was the impetus for research study that was later published by the Journal of Access Services in 2014.
To determine the ways heads of access services acquired the necessary skills to assume these positions, I developed a survey instrument that helped illuminate how heads of access services achieved their positions, the skills and competencies needed to be a head of access services, professional attitudes of heads of access services, and the ways LIS programs are, and more important, are not involved in producing and developing leaders in access services. The survey was non-scientific and distributed over the various access services related listservs. A total of 171 surveys were returned. Of those, 20 surveys were eventually excluded from the final analysis: 14 because less than half of the survey was completed, and six because the respondents did not hold an ALA-accredited MLS or equivalent degree. The remaining 151 were analyzed for the purposes of the study.
The results showed that access services professionals typically learn the skills directly related to circulation, reserves, interlibrary loan, and stacks maintenance on the job. There was some disagreement concerning the appropriateness or necessity of the head of access services performing these types of tasks. For example, a large majority, 98%, agreed or strongly agreed that heads of access services should know how to answer directional and informational question at service points. Less than 95% agreed or strongly agreed that heads of access services should know how to perform various circulation desk activities, such as checking in and out materials, negotiating payment for lost books or overdue fines, and managing patron records, and less than 70% agreed or strongly agreed that heads of access services should know how to do tasks related to photocopiers, printers, and microform machines. Surprising, at least to me anyway, only 86.1% agreed or strongly agreed that a head of access services should know how to train student workers. The lack of consensus among heads of access services about lower level tasks is likely due to department size. The larger the access services department, the less the department head needs to have working knowledge of the department’s lower-level tasks.
The results also showed that higher order managerial skills are equally as important as access services specific skills to the success of the access services practitioner. The overwhelming majority of respondents reported that the ability to formulate policies, delegate responsibilities, determine policies, supervise and evaluate staff, utilize existing resources effectively, and collect, calculate, and analyze statistics were important to the success of the access services professional. The only area of real “disagreement” among higher-order managerial tasks involved budgetary planning and control. Only 84.1% agreed or strongly agreed that a head of access services should know how to perform this task. Practitioners are likely to be exposed to these types of management and statistical skills during their library and information science educational experience.
Respondents were asked to reflect upon their level of familiarity with circulation, interlibrary loan, reserves, collection management, personnel management, and customer service at the time they first became a head of access services. A majority responded excellent with respect to circulation and customer service (54.3% and 71.5% respectively). The largest group rated their familiarity with interlibrary loan (39.7%), reserves (35.7%), and collection management (47.7%) as average. At least 19% acknowledged that their familiarly with interlibrary loan and reserves was poor or very poor at the time of their appointment.
The survey results showed that heads of access services learned the majority of their access services competencies while on the job. In the survey, 94.1% of participants reported learning circulation, 89.4% reported learning interlibrary loan, and 92.7% reported learning reserves on the job. Over 60% of respondents learned the majority of their customer service and personnel management skills on the job. 27.8% of respondents learned the majority of their collection management skills through library and information science graduate education. I found this result surprising. The result may be due to the phrasing of the question. Perhaps respondents thought collection management skills meant collection development, in which case, it would make sense that the skill was acquired though LIS education.
The survey results indicated no one path to becoming a head of access services. Some began as paraprofessionals in access services departments and then assume the position once they earn the MLS degree, and others begin in other areas of the library, notably reference, and then are promoted into the head of access services position. Regardless of where one starts, they survey results are clear. Heads of access services learn their jobs on the job. Who then is training the heads of access services? I did not ask this question on the survey, but one could assume that their subordinates, the frontline paraprofessionals are.


Mike Krasulski

Michael J. Krasulski, University of the Sciences

Michael J. Krasulski is Assistant Professor of Information Sciences and Coordinator of Access Services at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Access Services. Besides his interests in the education and training of access services librarians, Michael blogs about the history of the Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.

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Filed under Academic, Guest Posts, library research, Researcher's Corner

Get to know people in your field, and make connections.

School Children In AlgeriaThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Adult Librarians
Children’s Librarians
Teen Librarians

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a suburban area in the Midwestern US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

4

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

The ability to see a library as being about more than books! It’s amazing to me how many Librarians say they want to work at my library because they like to read. Sorry, but I need someone who not only likes to read, but also solve problems, work with technology, plan and implement programs, interact with people, and be innovative.

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

How to use our ILS, what kinds of programs to plan for our Library, and how we market programs and events.

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

University of Wisconsin, Madison (or any Wisconsin school)
University of Illinois
Drexel University

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

University of Phoenix

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

They should become involved in the type of library where they want to work when they’ve graduated. Get to know people in your field, and make connections.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.

Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Send notices even if prospective candidates aren’t picked for an interview

Hunting guide Mr. Brown with wild turkeys near Green Swamp, FloridaThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in academic and public libraries, at the following levels: entry level.

This job hunter is in an city/town in the Midwestern US and is willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Benefits, salary, location

Where do you look for open positions?

Alma mater listserv, INALJ, specific job sites (RAILS), indeed.com

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Other: Yes

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Review resume and cover letter, tailor to job description/requirements. Typically I spend 45-60 minutes per application.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Offer competitive benefits and salary.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Send notices even if prospective candidates aren’t picked for an interview.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Relevant experience.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under City/town, Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US