Category Archives: MLIS Students

Fitting in with the work environment you are applying for

Brian Hunter, 1984, Asst Librarian, Slavonic Collections, London School of EconomicsThis 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, Archives, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience. This job hunter is in an urban area, in the  Western US, and is not willing to move anywhere.

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

Location, flexibility, benefits

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional Listserv, specific employer website, graduate school’s career services

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

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

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

Whatever the application calls for, I will do. 30 minutes to an hour.

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

√ Yes

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)?

√ 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?

Specifically list what they do not want in an employee in a “need not apply” section, maybe.

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

Give accurate times for how long the process will take.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Fitting in with the work environment you are applying for.

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, Archives, Job hunter's survey, MLIS Students, Urban area, Western US

For Public Review: Job Hunter EH

Welcome to crowd-sourced resume review for LIS job hunters!

Please help the job hunter below by using the comment button to offer constructive criticism on her resume. Some guidelines for constructive feedback are here, and the ALA NMRT has brief tips for reviewing resumes here.

This 2 page resume was submitted by a job hunter who says,

This resume is aimed at securing internships or paraprofessional positions, as I’m still a student.  I intend to go into academic libraries when I graduate, particularly in digital services/emerging tech or digital archives

EH Resume p1 EH Resume p2

 

To submit your resume or CV For Public Review,

  • send it as a Word document or PNG or JPEG image to hiringlibrariansresumereviewATgmail.
  • It will be posted as-is, so please remove any information that you are not comfortable having publically available (I suggest removing your address and phone number at a minimum).
  • Please include a short statement identifying if it’s a resume or CV and
  • describing the types of positions you’re using it for (ie institution type, position level, general focus).
  • Finally, you will also need to confirm that you agree to comment on at least five other posted resumes.

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Filed under For Public Review, MLIS Students, Resume Review

Further Questions: If you hire interns, do you pay them?

The responses to this week’s Further Questions were a little sparse.  I’m hoping that you will have some comments, dear readers, about your own experiences.   

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

If you hire interns, do you pay them?  Why or why not?

Laurie PhillipsNo, we don’t hire interns. We accept SLIS students on placement or for reference observation, but those are not paid because they are part of the requirements for a class or the degree. We also don’t get a lot out of those placements. The observations are just for a few hours. We are more likely to hire a SLIS student for a part time or temporary reference position. It can lead to job openings for a tenure-track position but it can also offer a great opportunity for getting academic library experience and seeing how our organization works. We have a part-time temporary reference position open right now to cover for librarians on leave: http://finance.loyno.edu/human-resources/staff-employment-opportunities.

- Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans 

It’s my understanding that if interns are hired for no pay, the position is part of a course for school, college or graduate credit. Otherwise, there is a requirement that the position is paid.

We don’t hire or place interns in our public library.

- Kaye Grabbe, Director, Lake Forest (Public) Library, Lake Forest, IL.

Jacob BergEmployment.

Side note to fellow hiring managers: pay your interns. Not doing so is classist, because only the well-to-do can afford to work for free. And because race, ethnicity, gender identity, mental illness, physical ability, and sexual identity, among others, often correlates with class, internships are discriminatory along those lines as well. Also, not paying people to work devalues our professions by sending signals to other employers that our labor, time, and effort is not worth compensation.
-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University
So, what about YOU?  Have you been an intern?  Paid or unpaid?  Have you hired an intern?  Why did or didn’t you pay her?

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 me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com. 

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Filed under Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, MLIS Students, Public, Youth Services

Job Hunter Follow-Up: Sarah Deringer

Sarah Deringer took the Job Hunter’s survey on 12/29/2012. Her responses appeared as Make Sure That the Candidate Knows That You Really Want Them to Apply.

Background and Situation

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

I will receive my library degree on December 20, 2013. I have been looking at library jobs while also earning my degree.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

I have been working at a small public library since 2009. For the first two years (2009 and 2010), I just had summer internships during June and July. But after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and moved back home in summer 2011, I started working part-time. Right now I’m a substitute aide for the library, and I have been since December 2012.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

None. I went straight for the library because I knew it’s what I wanted to do in life.

How old are you?

25 years old

What’s your current work situation?

Part-time work. Looking for a job. Almost graduated from library school. :-)

Are you volunteering anywhere?

I volunteer at my church with a children’s bible school class.

Your Job Hunt

How long have you been job hunting at this point?

I have been actively searching since January 2013.

What kinds of jobs are you currently applying for?

Public, academic, and school libraries
Librarian, social media specialist, Teen and / or youth librarian, User Experience Librarian, Web Resources Coordinator, Marketing Assistant, Small public library director
Also, outside of libraries where the jobs are similar in nature and internships that would expand my skills.

Approximately how many positions have you applied to?

25 jobs. I knew that I didn’t have to apply to as many until I graduate.

Approximately how many interviews have you gone on?

2 interviews. I also had an interview scheduled for a paid internship, but they suspended the position.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I look at often asked questions during job interviews. I think of ways to describe myself and how I would best fit the job.

Have you traveled for interviews? If so, who paid?

I have traveled up to an hour and a half. I paid for the gas.

Have you declined any offers?

No.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How are you working to overcome it?

So far, the biggest obstacle has been that I don’t have my library degree. To combat that, I am honing my skills and branding myself to fit the job I’m looking for.

Have there been any major changes in your job hunting strategy? Are you doing anything differently than from when we last heard from you?

There’s not much that has changed, but I’m getting more and more serious about my job hunt.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I saw listed under the benefits a part-time job: “great parking space.” It made me giggle. :-)


What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

Fave interview question: We’re looking to remodel the children’s and teen’s areas. What would you like to see included in the plans?
Worst interview question: So if this full-time library director job were offered to you, what would you do for health insurance since that’s not part of the benefits?

Any good horror stories for us?

The “worst interview question” made it feel like they were taunting me with the fact that they weren’t offering health insurance. The position was for a library director at a small public library. I knew that the board of directors were probably trying to be funny, but with today’s economy, it’s not funny.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

For the most part, it’s been a positive experience. I’ve learned a lot from just the two interviews I’ve had, and I know I’ll learn a lot more as I have more interviews.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

I think it’s still having passion and enthusiasm for the career, but I also feel it’s about endurance. Don’t give up on your job hunt. There will be times when you feel like you’re not good enough, but the right job will come along if only you will keep looking, applying, and learning.

Anything else you want to tell us?

As always, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or even my blog. :-)

If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.

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Filed under Job Hunter Follow Up, MLIS Students

Stats and Graphs: How much coursework should you cram in to library school?

It’s STATURDAY!

I often hear grousing on Twitter about the number of responses checked off for the question “What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

“They’ve picked too many answers,” the grousers say. “These hiring managers are out of touch.  Library schools only require a few core courses.  No one could ever take all these classes!  You need to restrict them to just picking a few.”

Well, ok.

I think the major problem here is mistaking the word “coursework” for “course.”  The question is really soliciting topics, rather than classes.  For example, 149 respondents (48%) indicated that they thought all students should have coursework in budgeting/accounting.  We covered budgeting/accounting in my collection management class. 72% of respondents said all students should do coursework in collection management.  Hey, I killed two birds with one stone!

This question might be more analogous with core competency requirements, rather than core courses.  In another personal example, San Jose State required me to take only five core classes: an orientation to online learning, information and society, information retrieval, information organizations and management, and research methods.  In contrast, it required me to demonstrate that I filled 14 core competencies, ranging from instruction to communication to ethics.

This also brings up the question, is it appropriate to say hiring managers are out of touch?  Isn’t it the job of the school to know what managers need, rather than the job of hiring managers to know what schools are teaching?  Aren’t schools supposed to be preparing students for work, and shouldn’t they therefore be teaching the things that hiring managers need us to know?  

Methods

Here’s what I did.  First, I copied and pasted the auto-generated table for this question’s responses from Google Forms onto an excel spreadsheet. Then I recalculated the percentages to show the percentage of total respondents that picked each topic (how many out of 308).  I also used Excel to generate a graph showing the spread of responses.

Second, I copied and pasted the column containing  the text of all of these responses to this question into excel, used text to columns to separate topic choices into cells, cleaned it up a bit, and counted the number of topics each respondent picked.  I used excel to find different kinds of averages, as well as to count the the number of occurrences for each quantity of topics picked.  This second step took quite a while.

Thirdly, I looked at the write-in answers.  There weren’t a lot (62 topics, by 45 respondents).  Maybe because they had so many options already! I coded and counted the occurrence of similar answers.

Lastly, I sat down to write this.

Findings

Respondents had a choice of 25 topics, plus the option to write in their own. Here is the range of choices, with the number of times each was picked, and the percentage of total respondents who picked it:

Reference 237 77%
Collection Management 223 72%
Project Management 199 65%
Library Management 191 62%
Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations) 183 59%
Research Methods 182 59%
Web Design/Usability 175 57%
Cataloging 174 56%
Instruction 168 55%
Field Work/Internships 165 54%
Marketing 157 51%
Outreach 152 49%
Budgeting/Accounting 149 48%
Digital Collections 134 44%
Information Behavior 130 42%
Readers’ Advisory 117 38%
Grant Writing 115 37%
Programming (Events) 108 35%
Metadata 96 31%
Services to Special Populations 82 27%
History of Books/Libraries 76 25%
Other 45 15%
Programming (Coding) 38 12%
Archives 29 9%
Vocabulary Design 27 9%
Portfolio/ePortfolio 15 5%

Here is the same information, only as a graph (click it to see one big enough to read):

coursework choices

The average (Mean) number of options each respondent picked?

10!

The dead center number of options each respondent picked (Median)?

10!

The most frequent number of options each respondent picked (Mode)?

7!

But what was the full range of picks?  What are the different quantities of topics picked, and how many people chose each of the different quantities?

I’m glad you asked, please look at this table:

No. of topics picked How many picked that number of topics?
0 2
1 1
2 5
3 6
4 14
5 14
6 26
7 32
8 24
9 24
10 26
11 26
12 19
13 20
14 20
15 9
16 15
17 3
18 3
19 9
20 2
21 3
22 0
23 2

Here’s that in graph form:

number of topics

And what did people write in?

Applying common sense in situations (1 person), content management (1), Copyright (1), customer service (4), data curation (1), facilities – particularly unplugging toilets (3), flexibility and willingness to change (1), Government Documents (2), indexing (1), intellectual freedom (1), IT/Technology (5), knowledge Management (2), Library Law and legal issues (1), networking/self promotion (3), people skills–like working with people (1), presentations/public speaking (4), Professional Ethics (1), psychology (1), Scholarly communication topics (1), searching techniques (1), social media (3), SQL (1), statistics/data analysis (2), strategic planning/community assessments (3), supervision/HR (6), teamwork and team building (1), Writing (2), youth services or related skills – e.g. storytime, child development (5)

A Note on Diversity

Did you read Black OR Queer? Life at the Intersection over at Hack Library School? If you haven’t, go read it.  It’s good.  I’ll wait for you here.

In it, Ettarh asks:

For instance, why does Rutgers require all of its MLIS students to take a class like Cataloguing, but not Planning Outreach Services? If that is not possible, why is there no mandatory webinar or colloquium on diversity and intersectionality? If MLIS programs reflect the knowledge deemed important to become an information professional, does this therefore mean that Rutgers does not place an importance of learning to deal with diverse populations?

It’s a question worth considering.

In this survey population, 49% of respondents indicated that they thought students should complete coursework in Outreach and only 27% chose services to special populations.  We didn’t ask about coursework in diversity or intersectionality. It was probably partly because we looked at course catalogs for inspiration, and we didn’t see those classes listed.  It was probably also partly because intersectionality isn’t really a word that’s deep in my psyche, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask about it (although, living in the Bay Area means diversity is a very familiar concept and concern).  It’s maybe also because personally I’m increasingly focused on practicalities of librarianship, rather than the theory.

But if it’s important to us to be a diverse and inclusive profession (and I think it is – what good is it to espouse intellectual freedom, to protect and present materials from all points of view, if we are not providing access by and for people of all kinds?), then shouldn’t this be reflected in our coursework?

In Conclusion

Ok that’s all folks!  

I’ve got to go apply common sense and people skills to unplug my toilet!

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Filed under MLIS Students, Stats and Graphs, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Further Questions: Do You Use Interns/Volunteers?

This week’s question came via TUMBLR.  I’m not very good at Tumblr, but I do it anyways! You can follow Hiring Librarians on it here, and you can also follow me/my other blog here.

Does your library use interns or volunteers?  What tasks do they do?  How are volunteers and interns chosen?  What qualities are you looking for in potential volunteers/interns?

As a commercial enterprise, of course we do not have volunteers.

We have had interns from time to time who wish to gain experience in cataloguing.  

We expect a knowledge of current rules, MARC21, and data entry skills.

- J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging 

Laurie PhillipsWe haven’t very often, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t. We don’t really use volunteers (with one notable exception) but we do get students doing placements for library school. We have a lot of students coming to observe at our Learning Commons desk. When we have students inquire about internships or placements, we usually get very vague information that someone wants to do a placement or internship. It’s more helpful if the person tells us their interests and skills, then we can determine if we have work for them. We would be interested in someone who is willing to take on a project or learn new skills, pitch in right away with what needs to be done.

- Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans 

Our library accepts practicum students and since we have a library school on campus, we also hire quite a few graduate assistants.

The time of the practicum student is fairly limited so they are usually project based. Since I work in public services, I once used a practicum student to try out some online reference service hours that we weren’t sure if we wanted to start assigning paid staff too. I also gave the student some collection development projects to do in between assisting online patrons. If the practicum student were in technical services they might have an inventory project or a short cataloging project. Practicum students are interviewed and selected just like any other paid staff. Library experience is great, but not required. I would be looking for someone with customer service experience given my area but also someone with a clear idea of what they hope to accomplish during their practicum and what their plans are post-practicum for their career.

Our Graduate Library Assistants are paid and are on a 9 month contract. Ours mostly work the reference desk, give library tours, help with library instruction, collection development, and research projects. Other Graduate Library Assistants in the library may be working on metadata, responsible for copy cataloging or assisting with interlibrary loan. Again, library experience is a plus, but not required. Candidates must have customer service experience and be able to articulate why they are pursuing their MLS and why they want the position they are applying for.

- Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries

Marleah AugustineWe have a couple of long-term volunteers in the Adult Department. They have both been volunteering here for several years. One comes in weekly on Monday afternoons and re-shelves nonprint media to help out the front desk staff. Another comes in daily in the mornings and does the running inventory process throughout the library.

In the YA and Children’s Departments, volunteers come through on more of a rotating basis and do tutoring and homework help or Foster Grandparent-type activities with young patrons.

We have an active Friends of the Library group that runs periodic book sales and has a permanent used book store located within the library. When people express interest in volunteering, we direct them to Friends, who can often put them to work doing cashier work in the book store or helping organize donated items for sales.
- Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
At our academic library we don’t generally use volunteers.  We might run into union problems if we used volunteers to do tasks that union members normally do; I know that has happened at some libraries.  We do have interns and practicum students.  They are usually students at library schools.  The practicum students work through an organized program at their library school and earn credit.  Interns usually work through more informal (and unpaid) arrangements.  The library itself doesn’t have an organized program for these students; each department can arrange them to suit their needs.  I currently have one practicum student in my department, who is the first we have ever had.  I try to assign tasks that give the student a picture of what the department does as a whole, as well as incorporating tours and meetings with various people.  While I don’t expect someone who is only here for 10 hours a week for a semester to jump into librarian-level work, I don’t just give him the tasks our student employees do.  There are stated goals and objectives for his practicum experience that I helped to write, and we focus on these.In a previous job, we had two undergraduate student employees who were interested in library work.  We were able to create special paid internships for them one summer, where they did higher-level work in various library departments.  We also took them on several field trips and tours.  Both went on to become librarians.

In these students, I am looking for enthusiasm, curiousity, and interest/classwork in whatever specialized area they will be working in (reference, cataloging, digital projects, etc.)  Of course, I also want some qualities I would like in any employee: organizational skills, capability with technology, and showing up for work.

-Anonymous

Thank you as always to the above for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

And thank you for reading!  Ten thousand people stand to sing on the miry comment.

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Filed under Academic, Further Questions, MLIS Students, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

Stats and Graphs: Biases Against Online Library School

It’s STATURDAY!

For the newest survey, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?, the responses which have received the most comments are the ones which express some sort of bias against online schools or classes.  I’m a graduate of an online-only school myself (SJSU).  I had thought the prejudice against online degrees was not prevalent, and was surprised to see it crop up in the surveys.  But how frequently?

Methods

Here’s what I did.  On the Excel spreadsheet of responses, I used the Find All tool to find all responses which contained: “online” “on-line” “on line” “brick and mortar” “face to face” “face-to-face” “f2f” and “distance” (if I missed any key terms, let me know and I’ll search again).

Findings

Out of 291 responses, only 52 contained those terms (17.86%).

Of the 52, 11 responses (3.78% of 291 total) were using “online” or “distance” in another context, such as describing a commonly lacking skill like “understanding the importance and significance of cataloging and our online catalogs,” expecting students to have skills in “online tutorials,” describing skills needed by librarians working with distance learners, mentioning something often repeated in online discussion, or advising students to “be very, very careful with your online reputation through social media.”

Of the 52, 3 responses expressed a positive opinion about online classes (1.03% of 291 total responses).  One named SJSU online as a school whose alumni were preferred, and the other two suggested that students should expand their experiences by taking online classes in another discipline (e.g. coding) or at another university.

Out of the 52, 1 response was neutral, saying,

In this order specifically….hands down I prefer graduates from the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign.  NEVER been disappointed in any of their graduates and they excel!  After that, U of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; U of Wisconsin-Madison; Indiana.  I don’t care whether they got their degree online or on-campus.

So out of 291 total responses, only 36 expressed a negative opinion about online schools.  That’s only 12.37%.

Analysis of Negative Responses

I characterized the negative comments about online education in three categories.

“Concerned” Respondents

12 responses expressed concern – concern for students of online courses or concern for the state of library education.  These respondents said things like:

I feel bad for students who have to do everything online now. It’s difficult to really learn effectively without being around other students and having personal interactions with instructors and peers.

and:

Library schools have been moving to the online model of instruction but in the case of our local school, it seems to coincide with the watering down of the curriculum a LOT. If libraries need motivated, tech savvy leaders, our local school is not turning them out.

and finally:

It’s a hard job market and has been for the near 30 years I’ve been a librarian.  Sadly the MLIS degree has been oversold, particularly by online programs but ALA has been a willing partner in the deception. Not a one of the librarians I work with is contemplating early retirement and just one is planning to retire at 65.  Most are going to be working to at least 70 and some plan to work until they die.  Despite what ALA says, libraries are filled with librarians who cannot afford to retire and make way for new librarians.

The reasons for a “concerned” response included the perception of online schools as degree mills – particularly in light of the tight job market (3), the perception that online education was of poor quality (1), the perceived lack of professional contact (5), the perception that online school did not develop of people or customer skills (1), the perceived lack of real world experience (1), and no reason given (1).

“Hesitant” Respondents

I characterized 18 responses as “hesitant” (4 respondents talked about online education in more than one question, so I’m actually looking at 39 individual responses, from 34 respondents). The “hesitant” responses expressed a reluctance to hire candidates from online schools, but did not dismiss them entirely and often suggested techniques for mitigating the “negatives” of online education.  These responses included:

I wouldn’t be reluctant, exactly, but I’d want to be sure the applicant had significant real-world library work experience, as the degree itself does not prepare graduates, IMO.

and

None that I can think of … except if the program was entirely online, I would be a bit hesitant.  I’m old school enough to think that there is real benefit in at least some face to face time with the instructor.  There is a real benefit in a live classroom experience in terms of learning to work in teams (because librarians are constantly working together in internal working groups and so on and you have to learn to play nice).  I am not saying that the classes all have to be held in person, but I do think that at least some classroom attendance is a good thing.

and

Prefer someone who attended graduate school in person over and online degree, but would still hire an online-degreed person if they had the right mix of personality and experience.

and finally

There are many more MLS holders than there are jobs, so we can be picky. Personality is important. People generally learn the theory of libraries while pursuing an MLS, but personal organization, people skills, and enthusiasm are not things that everybody possesses, but are key when working in a service-oriented library. We want people with experience, but lack of experience is not a dealbreaker. However, if someone received an MLS through an online program, and has no experience, we are not going to grant an interview. As librarians we are concerned about the dumbing down of the education system, which we are a part of, and many of us here feel that an online degree is not the same as immersing one’s self with other MLS candidates.

The reasons given for hesitancy could be categorized (with some responses falling into more than one category) as perceived lack of real world experience (4), no reason given (6), perceived lack of people/customer service skills (4), perceived lack of professional contact (3), perceived lack of quality of education (3), and past experience with poor candidates/programs (1).

“Negative” Respondents

I characterized the final 12 responses as simply “negative.”  These responses do not try to advise the candidate on how to mitigate their online library education, and they did not express the possibility that online learners *could* be good candidates.  They simply expressed a negative opinion about online education.  These responses included:

I won’t state specific schools in this forum, but there are those that typically graduate very underachieving graduates with marginal identifiable skill sets.  I will say, and it pains me to say this, but exclusively online programs don’t graduate the same caliber students as those who have at least some on-site matriculation.  There’s no substitute for creating relationships in the classroom that you’ll carry with you your entire career.

and

Alumni from completely online programs.  To me, it’s important that a student at least attend a class or two in-person, even if it’s just an introductory and a final meeting.  I don’t trust completely online programs.

and finally

Something that is totally on-line and no face to face is required.  “Most” librarians work with people.  It is odd to get a degree for that kind of job online…I believe that many folks are graduating that should not….university thoughts are we promise folks an education not a job…however, that is messy on the other end when they try and get a job.  We are not doing them any favors!

The reasons given in this “negative” catch-all category include perceived lack of people/customer service skills (2), perceived lack of professional contact (1), past experience with past experience with poor candidates/programs (2), no reason given (5), perceived lack of quality of education (1), and the perception of online schools as degree mills (1).

Addressing Concerns about Your Online Degree

If you’re worried about a negative response to your online degree, these responses suggest that you might be able to do a few things to address employer concerns.

Demonstrate your people skills and customer service expertise

Respondents are concerned that the online degree doesn’t allow students to develop good people skills.  While you and I know that people can and do develop strong connections online, you might want to supplement your online work with face to face interactions.  If you’ve got customer service experience, you might highlight it in your application.  You might talk about the number of disgruntled customers you’ve soothed, or about all times you’ve volunteered to work closely with children, or seniors, or teams of other librarians.  Be friendly and outgoing.  It might not be a good idea to sarcastically point out that you’ve got friends – close friends – from all over the world on Twitter, but if there’s a way you can show that you’re ever so charming online and that virtual people skills are increasingly important, go for it.

Build a Good Professional Network

Professional contacts will help you be a better librarian, enjoy your career, stay relevant, and get a job.  Employers who know you, or who know people who know you, will be more likely to advance you in the hiring process. Don’t just take the time to build friendships with your virtual classmates, attend professional opportunities in person.  The SF Bay Area, for example, has several LIS social groups, including both The Information Amateurs Social Club and The Information Professionals Social Club (both groups welcome amateurs and professionals).  And of course, keep in contact with professors, librarians you volunteer for, librarians you run into at the grocery store, fellow conference attendees, and anyone you ever meet in your entire life.

Get Library Experience

Some respondents were worried that you got your online degree in a virtual bubble, and are totally practically inept.  Get some library experience to show them that you can work synchronously just as well as asynchronously, and that you can deal with being around physical items such as books and chairs.  Seriously, get library experience.  Volunteer and/or intern, while you’re looking for paid work.

Be a Scholar

Prove that online education can be high quality by showing off your big brain. Do research and get published.  Review books or articles.  Engage in intelligent discussion with other librarians, online or in person.  Show off your theoretical understanding and rhetorical prowess.

Contribute to the Field

Demonstrate that you’re not a puppy from a degree mill by making your own positive, individual contributions to the field.  Take part in committees or run for association office.  Think about a unique project that might benefit other librarians – a database of a certain book genre for example, or an open source program or app, or … I don’t know!  Be you!  Be you and help other librarians!

In Conclusion

We could all get very mad that biases against online degrees still exist.  But, I think it’s a great opportunity to understand factors that might weigh against you, and what you might do to mitigate them.  I think it might be likely that the general population reflects the population in this non-scientific survey – and in this survey only 12.37% expressed a negative opinion about online schools, and most of those opinions were hesitant or cautious, rather than dismissive.  So don’t sweat it too much.

Further Readings

There’s a recent Reddit Discussion about online versus campus-based library school.

You can search the ALA Database of Accredited Schools by online/in-person options.  The list that resulted when I asked for schools that offer 100% online degrees was as follows:

1. Clarion University of Pennsylvania
2. Drexel University
3. Florida State University
4. Indiana University
5. Kent State University
6. Louisiana State University
7. North Carolina Central University
8. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
9. San Jose State University
10. Southern Connecticut State University (Conditional)
11. Texas Woman’s University
12. The University of Southern Mississippi
13. University at Buffalo, State Univ. of New York (Conditional)
14. University of Alabama
15. University of Kentucky
16. University of Maryland
17. University of Puerto Rico
18. University of South Carolina
19. University of Tennessee
20. University of Washington
21. University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
22. Valdosta State University (Conditional)
23. Wayne State University

Hack Library School has several posts about online school, including: Online Classes: A Non Love StoryThe Perils/Possibilities of attending Library School Online, and In defense of online LIS education

Michael Stephens talks about it in Online LIS Education – or Not

Brief discussion of Online Classes in an interview with one of LJ’s teaching award winners: LIS Education Q&A with Martin Wolske

Finally, here are all 42 Negative Responses to Online School, with my coding/analysis.

**Edited 8:50 AM 9/28/2013 to add Further Readings

***Edited 8AM 10/2/2013 to add in responses using the term “distance”

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