the ability to write clearly, effectively, and using correct grammar and punctuation

Keene High School, (Keene Academy), Keene, New HampshireThis 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 services and youth services (includes both teen and children’s).

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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)
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ 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?

Generally, the MLS holders whom I have interviewed are lacking: the ability to write clearly, effectively, and using correct grammar and punctuation; the ability to collect, interpret, evaluate, and share data; and general project-management skills.

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)?

Specific library policies and procedures, and knowledge related directly to the community in which they are working will always be learned on the job.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

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

No preference.

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

No preference.

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

Take as many internships as possible, with a wide variety of different types of skills needed (i.e., positions requiring both adult services and youth services skills).

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, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

you can’t learn how to function as a member of a team until you know what the team you are going to be a part of is like

Blumengart School Children 1963This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Information literacy librarians

This librarian works at a library in a rural area in the Southern US.

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

√ No

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?

√ Project Management
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships

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

A lot of vacancy announcements for information literacy-related positions require experience teaching (preferably teaching information literacy in some form). Very few applicants seem to have that experience, even through coursework, and some do not even seem familiar with what information literacy is. Teaching students who are interested in academic library work about information literacy and pedagogy is something that is sorely missing from most programs.

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)?

Functioning as a member of a team is usually learned best on the job because you can’t learn how to function as a member of a team until you know what the team you are going to be a part of is like. A lot of software and databases can be learned on the job.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement

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

None. I check to make sure the candidate has or will have the necessary degree by the date of hire and pay very little attention to where they got that degree or what their GPA was. The experience level matters to me much more than where the candidate went to school.

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

Unaccredited ones.

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

Get experience working in a library. Preferably, this experience should be in the type of library work you want to do when you graduate, but any experience at all, even as a volunteer, shows that you know what being a librarian is like on more than just a theoretical basis. It’s very hard to take a candidate who has no experience of libraries outside the classroom seriously, no matter how focused their in-class work was during their time in library school. Find vacancy ads for the type of job you want to do and use that as a model for the experience you seek and the classwork you do. Have a realistic (but not pessimistic) view of what the job market will be like when you graduate and how best to position yourself in that job market.

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 Academic, Rural area, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Further Questions: Should a candidate ever try to connect with you on a social media/networking service?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Should a candidate ever try to connect with you on a social media/networking service? Is it ever appropriate for a candidate to try to connect with you through social media (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing, your blog…)? If so, which ones and under what circumstances? What about in person (at a conference, etc)? Please feel free to include any additional insight you have on networking etiquette.

Marge Loch WoutersWhile we are actively recruiting and in the interview process, I turn away requests for social media connections if I am aware that a candidate is making the request. While I don’t share any hint of the process in my active social media life, I am uncomfortable with that request. The same goes for conferences. I am well aware of who is applying. Hitting me up won’t help and usually hinders – that goes for references as well!! I like to keep the application/interview waters clear and unmuddied. That thrown stone of contact is not usually appropriate.

After the process is over, I am again open to requests. I want to connect with everyone as a peer and colleague whether they were successful or not in our process. Librarianship is a small world – I will be working and interacting with former candidates throughout their career. It’s important for former candidates to know that I had one job for ninety applicants. I still appreciate their skills and knowledge even if they didn’t make it onto our staff!

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

Laurie PhillipsNo, absolutely not. I do not connect with candidates on social media. I ignore requests from candidates to connect on LinkedIn. My tumblr is personal. I have met candidates at conferences and that’s perfectly appropriate.

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

LinkedIn would be the only appropriate social media. Conferences usually have something set up for meeting and interviewing. That would be appropriate.

- Kaye Grabbe, Lake Forest Library

If the candidate has applied for an open position and they are still in the active pool of candidates I think it is completely inappropriate for the candidate to then try to connect with the supervisor on any social media/networking service.

If you met at a conference and have not applied for a job I think it would be a great idea to connect with them afterwards. Just make sure your profiles are up to date (I forgot to update Linked In before a conference one time, I was a little embarrassed)!

If you met at a conference and you are applying for a job it is possible it would be appropriate if you had a long enough conversation with them that they would remember meeting you. This particular scenario is purely a professional judgment call. I wouldn’t mind it if the conversation went beyond a name introduction and an “oh by the way I applied for your open position.”

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

Marleah AugustineI think the best practice is for candidates to NOT connect with me through personal social media, especially my personal Facebook. My Goodreads happens to be pretty open since I sometimes refer to it for work purposes, so that’s more of a gray area, as is LinkedIn. If a candidate tried to connect with me through my personal blog, which has very little relevance to myself and my library, I would feel awkward.
I wouldn’t mind if a candidate approached me at a conference — networking opportunities are one of the reasons we are there, after all.
- Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Samantha Thompson-FranklinThat’s a very good question. I would say that it might be awkward for an interviewer to connect with a candidate or potential employee via a social media site while the interview process is taking place, and so I would probably not recommend it.  It might also be seen as a possible conflict of interest for the interviewer. If, however, after the interview process is over, an interviewer and/or candidate wished to connect with one another, I would see no problem with that. I also think that it’s fine for candidates to seek out potential employers and/or interviewers at conferences and in fact it can be beneficial for interviewers to meet candidates in that type of forum or venue.

- Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Celia RabinowitzI would not recommend that a candidate for a job contact anyone involved in the search using social media.  There certainly isn’t anything stopping a candidate from looking at the presence of those individuals on social media sites just as a committee might look for the digital media footprint of a candidate.  This one is easy, I think.  Somehow we all get that it doesn’t “feel” right.
If a candidate for a job is attending a conference he/she could certainly contact a search committee member or library director/dean to inquire about whether there might be an opportunity to meet either formally or informally.  The process does need to be handled carefully so that all candidates receive the same information and access to the search committee.  So if time to talk is not made available to all candidates, I imagine a committee member might not want to set up time with one individual candidate.
- Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH.

My answers (advice) below are from a public sector library director for job seekers who have submitted a job application and are awaiting a decision by the hiring librarian and public sector employer. None of these answers applies if there is no current recruitment in progress; all connection opportunities can then be pursued, within reason, of course.

My answers may apply only to public sector applicants, although I would still tread cautiously unless you know the lay of the land at the hiring institution.

Social media: no, no, no, no, please, no. (But inadvertent connections and pre-existing connections are not a problem, depending on how you handle the situation.)

In-library: Library visits to scope out the place: yes, entirely appropriate. Library visits to “connect” with the hiring librarian: no, please no.

Email: Please don’t, unless it’s in response to a question or if you would like a status update and no other contact person has been provided for that status update. And please, please, please don’t have your references call before you have been short-listed or otherwise informed that references are needed.

Conference: Unless the hiring librarian has vetoed it, conference connections are entirely appropriate, in fact connecting is a great use of conference time, whether the hiring librarian is actively interviewing at the conference or just there to network. Networking = Connecting. But if you do not have a set appointment to discuss a (or the) job opening, please disclose up front that you have submitted your application for x job or plan to.

Applying for jobs in the public sector is a unique exercise. Please talk to public sector librarians or HR professionals BEFORE you apply for public sector jobs if you’ve never submitted one or made it to a short list. And please, please, please, read the application instructions carefully and read about how applications are screened in the public sector. A colleague and I have an almost-written article on this subject because it drives us crazy – great applicants with flawed applications – but it’s no secret how the process works.

-Anonymous

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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whether or not it goes beyond the simply resume/CV, cover letter, & list of references

OP_82 US Cavalry Hunting for Illicit Stills in SC 1870This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not 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 less than six months. This person is looking in academic, public, and special libraries, and library vendors/service providers, at the following levels: supervisory, department head.

This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Western US and is willing to move almost anywhere.

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

Salary commensurate with my qualifications.

A forwarding-looking organizational approach receptive to change

Supportive librarian colleagues

Where do you look for open positions?

Primarily on established joblists, including ALA, but I expect to see numerous postings appearing on listservs also

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

√ Other: I don’t necessarily expect it, but it is a red flag.

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

That depends on whether or not it goes beyond the simply resume/CV, cover letter, & list of references sent via e-mail. For that scenario, I usually spend ~30 minutes. Any major customization takes longer – for example, if I have to write a cover letter which is substantially unique.

For the standard online application process via the HR interface, as long as an hour, depending upon how much data must be entered into the forms.

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?

√ 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
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

The keys are providing salary information from the outset and presenting the most accurate description of the duties associated with the job

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

Avoid the assumption that the current employer’s organizational structure represents the candidate’s point-of-view as to how a library should be organized, etc. This includes what positions do and do not exist.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being perceived as the best fit for the current organizational needs

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, Suburban area, Western US

Because I’ve never had a salaried position, I’m not really sure what price range to look for

Hunting Giraffe, Kalahari.' Author of work: Lulu Farini. via National ArchivesThis 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 six months to a year. This person is looking in academic, archives, Historical societies and museums, public, and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience, supervisory. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

1. Internship – Created an exhibit and two, year-long social media campaigns to publicize an archives’ oral history collection. Helped implement a renewed social media program.
2. Internship – Consolidated five former Girl Scout archives into one new archives – appraised, accessioned, minimal processing, some preservation, created several databases of material, digitized photographs and documents, supervised two other interns, created an archives/history webpage, created a Flickr page for digital collections, organized an outreach activity, consolidated and created a database for library of GS books.
3. Internship – Conducted an oral history, transcribed interviews, prepared interviewee’s personal papers for inclusion in local repository (along with audio and transcripts of oral history).
4. Volunteer – Tag, transcribe, and otherwise assign metadata to 4 separate crowdsourcing projects.
5. Volunteer – Helped with a children’s summer reading program for several years.

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

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

1. I want to do something I’m interested in!
2. I want to work with people I like and feel comfortable around.
3. I want to be able to pay my bills.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, SAA’s job site (although I wish they would improve it), ArchivesGig, listservs, and INALJ, mostly.

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

√ Other: I would like to, but it seems to be pretty hit or miss. Because I’ve never had a salaried position, I’m not really sure what price range to look for (or propose, if they require that on the application)

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

I read the posting several times; underline/highlight/make note of key words, phrases, and requirements; go to the library’s/archives’ site and look around (esp. their staff page, mission/purpose statement, etc.); look around the larger institution’s site (if there is one – like a university site for a university archives), esp. their mission/purpose statement and about page; look up the library/archives/institution online (Wiki and other sites with possible outside perspectives on the job site); customize my resume/cv to fit the application’s and job site’s language; customize my cover letter the same way; revise and revise again; submit and hope for the best! Usually this takes me an hour or two, maybe more for jobs I really really want.

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
√ Other: Any kind of contact is so much better than the agony of no contact!!

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
√ Other: I’ve never gotten an on-site interview for a professional position, so these are just what I think would be most important to me.

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

Get the word out in as many places as possible.

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

Contact their applicants in a timely manner!!

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I honestly can’t figure that one out, except for maybe it depends on who you know. Oh – and having endless years of “professional” experience. I have lots of experience, but because it was done while I was a student it doesn’t seem to count. And all of the entry level positions (including unpaid internships) I see are requiring anywhere from 3 to 5 to 7 years of post-MLS experience.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Thanks very much for doing this survey and having two amazing services for job hunters (Hiring Librarians and INALJ)! It really helps to have these two sites around. Job hunting is one of the most frustrating, drawn-out experiences I’ve ever had to deal with, and my continued failures really make me question my worth. Getting advice (and seeing new and interesting jobs to apply for) helps me get back on track and focus on staying positive!

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, Northeastern US

Take all of elective courses that you can

Lagere school in woonwagenkampThis anonymous interview is with a special librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Medical librarians

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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)

3

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

√ Vocabulary Design
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Portfolio/ePortfolio
√ Other: public presentations, using social media, technology

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

It depends upon the curriculum and the student.

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

√ No preference–as long as they have the skill, I don’t care how they got it

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

Public Service skills, policy writing, political environment of the community the library serves, innovation, creativity, mentored experiences

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Scholarly publication
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Take all of elective courses that you can specifically on management, budgeting, marketing, public services, services to special populations, digital preservation, grant writing

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Special, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

I do not need a personal note on embossed stationery, just a courtesy of where we are in the process

ConDev5378A Hunting Dog, 1945, Washington County, NCThis 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 less than six months . This person is looking in academic libraries, at the following levels: requiring at least two years of experience, supervisory, senior librarian, director/dean.:

This job hunter is in a rural area, in the Western US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

Supportive and forward thinking administration. Opportunity for education and/or advancement. Consistent and clear expectations for librarians, staff, and library direction.

Where do you look for open positions?

Higher Ed Jobs, INALJ, PNLA

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?

2 hours to tailor the resume/cv & cover letter. 2 to 5 hours (or more) reading the positions entire website, looking up library staff on LinkedIn, finding library staff websites, perusing the college catalog and local news for what has been happening at the college or what will be happening

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
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
√ Other: They can be form replies. I do not need a personal note on embossed stationery, just a courtesy of where we are in the process.

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)?

√ 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?

Be upfront with what the expectations are. Really think about what skills your library needs to be successful and go after those skill sets. Give a salary range and have a policy surrounding where a candidate can be expected to fall. Not having arbitrary policy such as, “Everyone starts at the beginning pay range.”

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

Be organized, know what skills set they want and tailor the interview to those skills. I have been to interviews for Instructional Librarian positions and never been asked to teach. That is a dead give-away they have no idea what I do or how to tell if I do it well.
Be forthcoming in where you are in the process (position closed, not considered, considered and you will hear from us by x date, not chosen for an interview, chosen for an interview that will be scheduled by x date, position filled) and notify applicants within a reasonable time frame.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being clear on what your skill set is. Showing interest, asking questions that show you did your homework and know what they value. Being courteous and polite to everyone you encounter (janitors, secretaries etc.) And being yourself even when you realize it is not going to be a good fit.

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, Rural area, Western US