Tag Archives: librarians

Do not whine on listservs about your internships.

School Children in Keene New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with an academic 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:

Academic Librarians and Archivists

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town 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)

3

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

√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ 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?

I’m amazed at the number of candidates who dislike or are not knowledgeable about basic technology needs in libraries and archives.

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)?

To some extent, soft skills may be learned on the job, but it helps if the student at least recognizes they matter before starting a job. Every institution is different and a flexible, well educated new employee will pick up on institutional culture and adjust.

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

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

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

Michigan; Illinois; UNC Chapel Hill.
however, I do not think it truly matters. I have hired people from all sorts of institutions. I may think the above are the best but I do not think it influences it my decision. I may be more likely to look closely at a candidate from one of those schools.

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

I wonder about online degrees from any institutions.

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

Find excellent library related jobs or internships. Pay your dues. Do not whine on listservs about your internships. Take group projects in school seriously. Take advantage of every opportunity to explore and learn about the career from visiting speakers, your professors, and your fellow students.

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 10-50 staff members, Academic, City/town, Midwestern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

I was not ready for some of the questions, behavior and issues I faced once I was around living, breathing patrons

Westmoreland School House Number 9, New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

adult and children’s librarians, pages

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern US.

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

√ Other: Yes AND No, Some skills were valuable and some were not taught.

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?

√ Cataloging
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Customer Service

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

I found that I was not prepared for some of the situations that arise at my library on a daily basis. I did learn about information behavior and I did learn about reference interviews, but I was not ready for some of the questions, behavior and issues I faced once I was around living, breathing patrons. I felt like I missed a whole class on how to deal with people who are upset, desperate, angry, confused, or clueless (or some combination of these states). Maybe that makes me naive, but I felt like a class on general customer service would have been helpful – how to talk to people, how to calm down an angry patron, how to prevent angry patrons, etc.

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

√ Other: It depends on the skill. For example: Web design can be successfully learned from a class but reader’s advisory takes real practice.)

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

I feel that Reader’s Advisory really takes practice on the job. You really need to get to know your patrons and a collection. To an extent, Programming (events). That also takes practice – you learn what works and what doesn’t in your community.

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation

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

No.

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

If you have the opportunity to work in a library while you’re in school or do an internship, absolutely do it! It helps to be able to see and experience what you’re learning in a real environment.

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 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Researcher’s Corner: Who’s Retiring From Library Work, and Who Isn’t ?

The myth of the tidal wave of retiring librarians is pervasive and persistent (for example, see this recent Public Libraries article about mentoring Gen-X librarians). But is there a grain of truth?  I’m happy to introduce this piece by Eric C. Shoaf, in which he takes a deeper look at what exactly is happening with those boomer librarians, what this means for recent graduates, and how it affects the profession as a whole.


During 2012, Nathan Long and myself conducted a study on the retirement plans for library workers. Nathan, currently Head of Systems at Francis Marion University Library, and I had known each other for several years and wanted to collaborate on a research project. At first we looked at several aspects of librarianship where we had mutual interest: skills training to learn new technology, career arc choices related to family and work/life balance, effects of a mature workforce in libraries, and impacts on early career librarians entering the field. There were a couple of false starts in the study as we tried to hone the direction. Especially when looking at skills and experience of early career librarians, we weren’t sure we could get the data needed for analysis. Then Nathan found the Colorado study that ended up being the catalyst for our own survey (Retirement, Retention, and Recruitment: The Future of Librarianship in Colorado [2004]) because it had data from a decade earlier that we could compare, and also because we could use some of the same questions they used in order to collect comparable data in our own survey.

Because of our experiences attending succession planning programs at ALA, reading the library literature, and discussions about imminent retirements expected in the library profession, we decided to focus on whether or not it could be determined whether there is about to be a large-scale retirement boom among library workers. This is important for a number of reasons. There is evidence that new MLS graduates have difficulty finding jobs, and that as libraries currently do have job openings, whether due to retirement or not, they sometimes look for different skill sets to fill evolving needs. Many of these new skill sets are found outside those possessed by traditional library workers. It seems that we have been hearing anecdotally about impending library retirements since the 1990s. Given that Nathan and I already had data from the Colorado study that was almost ten years old, and that the data showed that 20% of the 1,400+ respondents intended to retire in the next five years, which would have been around the time of the economic downturn in 2008-09, we wanted to try and determine on a national level library worker retirement intentions in 2012. And since the Colorado survey had happened well before the economic downturn, one of the things we were interested in was how much the downturn might have affected library worker retirement plans because of the pervasive negative effects it had on savings and retirement funds, and long-term concerns generally about the viability of the economy.

The literature review we conducted focused on recent reports in all types of media, many outside library literature and validated our idea that library workers may not be planning to retire as expected. There were a number of articles about heavy retirement fund loses from the economic downturn and predictions this would affect all segments of society and all businesses and institutions, including higher education, as well as tax-funded spending that includes public libraries. Some of the warnings were rather dire about the ‘baby boomer’ population’s lack of financial readiness for retirement. At least one report cited mature workers who said they did not think they would ever be able to stop working and retire. This was, for us, an indication that there had been a fundamental change because of the economic climate, or because the reality of retirement financing becomes clearer as retirement age approaches, or both.

Our survey was much shorter than the one used for the Colorado study. Knowing that people receive any number of survey queries every month, we wanted to use an online survey that would be relatively easy and painless to fill out. Hence, ours had only thirteen questions and all were geared to uncovering data about retirement planning as well as some demographic information. This is probably why our response rate was so high (4,400+ responses to the survey). In fact, we were quite overwhelmed with the response. On the other hand, we probably spent more time than most who circulate these sorts of surveys, actively publicizing it in a variety of venues and working to identify and notify state library associations in all regions of the country. I number of people sent personal email asking to be notified of the results of the survey. Certainly, it was all rather gratifying and made us feel that we had pinpointed an issue that a lot of library workers are thinking about.

Neither were we surprised by the results. Nearly half of the survey respondents indicated that the latest economic downturn had affected their career plans and would lead them to retire later and/or stay in their current job, which is a significant increase over the eleven percent from the 2003 Colorado survey. The strength and duration of the 2008-09 economic downturn has both surprised and deflated workers’ retirement accounts and their plans including library workers. The survey shows that library workers not yet close to retirement age are planning to work longer. At the end of our article we ask the question, Is sixty-five the new fifty? We included that because one of the highlighted trends of the baby-boomer generation has been a focus on living longer, refusing to “get old” in demonstrable ways, and we think that will extend to delayed retirement among this group as well. On the other hand, nearly 40% of the survey respondents indicated that the economic downturn had no effect on their career plans.

What the results of the 2012 survey mean for the library profession and for job seekers is not completely clear, and the news may not be all bad. Technology and other changes have already been driving the need for new skill sets in new types of library jobs for almost a decade. This is not expected to change. A maturing workforce that is not ready to retire is likely to reduce the number of new positions that are available, but it may not be appreciably different from the present. According to some past predictions, those library workers were to have already retired by now, but didn’t, and there are still jobs available. What is more likely to change is the type and character of jobs available, with new skill sets continuing to be needed in evolving library technological environments. Expect more mature workers to seek part-time employment as an option to full retirement. For two former full-time jobs that become part-time, one new full-time job can be created. Job seekers should also remember that despite national surveys, purported trends, and a sometimes bleak economic outlook, job offers happen at the local level, and it only takes one to secure employment.

The full article on our survey and analysis was published as Shoaf, Eric C. and Flowers, Nathan. “Library Worker Retirement Plans: A Large Survey Reveals New Findings” Library Leadership & Management (Vol. 27 no. 4) Fall 2013, and accessible here http://works.bepress.com/eric_shoaf/8/ .



Eric ShoafEric C. Shoaf, Clemson University Libraries

Eric C. Shoaf received his BA from Duke University, the MLS from North Carolina Central University, and an MPA from the University of Rhode Island.  He is currently Associate Dean of Libraries at Clemson University.

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

children and teens (understand how they operate differently, and thus how services must be delivered differently to provide equity of access)

School Children In Anzac AlbertaThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager.

This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Children’s Librarians

This librarian works at a library with 200+ 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?

√ No

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?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ 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)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Writing publicity, blogs, presentations; Child Development (i.e. a basic set of understanding to understand how 0-18 operate psychologically)

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

Project Management (how to set goals, schedule, involve stakeholders, evaluate); Leadership/Supervision basic techniques (not theory, but actual techniques); Understanding of how to adapt library theory and techniques to children and teens (understand how they operate differently, and thus how services must be delivered differently to provide equity of access); Budgeting; Design (this could be web design, print design…but also even more: space design…how the physical features of the library and collection affect usability).

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)?

Ideally, they learn it all at school; some things are better developed on the job but need the theoretical framework; programming, outreach, leadership/advocacy, etc, fall into this category.

Grant writing is best taught on the job as different organizations approach this differently; but to write a good grant you need to have project management skills, so I’d rather they come with that.

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Other publication

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

Have no idea. I don’t pay much attention to what school they came from, I really care about the interview/experience.

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

Have no idea. I don’t pay much attention to what school they came from, I really care about the interview/experience.

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

If you want to work in public libraries, take children/teen related coursework. You will need it, even if you don’t think you want to work with young people. (And if you don’t, you should either get over that feeling, or reconsider public librarianship).

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshallfrom 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 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

A lot (perhaps most) of a job can be learned AT the job

Sydney Primary Schools (N.S.W Rep. Team), 1922 who beat Q'ld [Queensland] Reps. 2 Matches to 1This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.

This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

varies

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern 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?

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Outreach
√ Field Work/Internships

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

An understanding of the history of the book and the history of the profession, an ability to catalog, and experience in providing actual services (of any type) to patrons.

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 coursework 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)?

Depends on the position – a lot (perhaps most) of a job can be learned AT the job, assuming the candidate has a sufficient capacity to learn. This is something that can not be assumed judging by the caliber of students accepted to library schools.

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

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

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

Ensure that they are benefitting from their internships. So many are unpaid today, and it is unfortunate that some of these unpaid positions do not even attempt to prepare students for professional positions.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshallfrom 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 100-200 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

You really have to LOVE public service and have lots of patience to go into Public Libraries as a specialty

Alma Public School - opening of new playground for infants departmentThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

children’s librarians, catalogers, reference librarians, outreach librarians, technology

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town 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?

√ Collection Management
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Outreach
√ 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?

Soft skills, outreach, reader’s advisory

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)?

reader’s advisory

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

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

Use/visit as many different kinds of libraries as possible,

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

You really have to LOVE public service and have lots of patience to go into Public Libraries as a specialty…it’s NOT about loving books or loving to read.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshallfrom 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 10-50 staff members, City/town, Public, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Further Questions: How often does your library communicate with applicants throughout the process?

This week we asked people who hire librarians:

How often does your library communicate with applicants throughout the process–from notification of receipt of application onwards? A common refrain in job seeker surveys on Hiring Librarians is that job seekers want more communication throughout the hiring process (i.e. at each stage). Is this realistic? Why or why not? An insight into your processes may give job seekers better expectations for what to expect.

Thank you all for your responses! This is can be a difficult issue for job seekers who have never been “on the other side” to understand. The last respondent, Melanie Lightbody, asks job seekers: How often do you expect to be communicated with and what types of communication would work for you? If you are (or have been) a job seeker, please reply in the comments OR email a response to hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com for inclusions in a future post. Inclusions can be anonymous–just mention that! Thanks!

Laurie Phillips

This is particularly relevant for me right now because I am currently chairing a search for a tenure track librarian. I email each applicant to confirm receipt of his or her application or to let them know if there is a problem with an attachment, etc. After that, there is very little communication unless the person reaches the next round. We do not routinely contact people who don’t make the cut at each round. We really can’t because we haven’t finished the search. I email anyone we have interviewed to let them know that we have offered the job to another candidate. I used to call people at that level, but I was told that applicants prefer email. In an academic search, even the top candidates won’t hear from us until at least a week after the job closes. We generally don’t do a final review of applications until after the job closes and we’ll set a meeting for about a week later to go through all of the applications together. After that, we start calling people for phone/Skype interviews. I suppose, if someone contacted me, I could give them the general plan for the search, but not much else. If you’re interested in working for me, check out the ad: http://library.loyno.edu/blog/?p=3691
- Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Celia RabinowitzI was director at my previous institution for ten years. We communicated at regular stages throughout the process and they included: (1) acknowledging receipt of an applications – this shifted from paper to email at some point, (2) notification to applicants who were eliminated very early in the search because they did not meet minimum qualifications. This is where it gets tricky. Generally we don’t want to send notifications to people not included in the phone interview pool if we think we might want to include them once we do the first round. And then we don’t want to notify phone interview candidates that they are not coming to campus until after the in-person interviews just in case we want to go back to that group if we need to. This may account for gaps in communication that can be frustrating or in responses to requests for information that seem deliberately obtuse. We would hate to lose a good candidate among many so we might opt for “stringing” someone along for a bit.

But I think it is very important to notify candidates at any point when it is clear that they are no longer a viable applicant, and we always contact every candidate who does not move forward or who is not selected. This may be easier at a smaller institution. We had two recent searches and received in the range of 40-60 applications for each.
- Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH.

If we advertise for a position, we respond when we invite a number of applicants for interviews; once the position is filled, we send something to all applicants that the position  has been filled.

I would also like to send an email or a post card to let applicants know that their application has been received. We don’t do this because we seem to get a very large number of applications especially when we have a full time position to fill. With e mail this should be easier.

- Kaye Grabbe, Lake Forest Library

Melanie LightbodyCandidates are communicated with at each step of the process.  Some of the processes take weeks and weeks, however, especially if there are many applicants.

1)      Candidates apply for the open position on our website.  There should be notification that they’ve submitted their application automatically generated.

2)       The application closes and then when HR can schedule the time, the initial culling is done.    When that is done, the candidate is notified whether or not they meet the minimum qualifications.  Sometimes there is quite a delay at this step.  I believe they are notified if they don’t meet the MQs.

3)      All candidates who meet minimum requirements are scheduled for an oral examination.  This may take a month or more to set up. This is generally an oral interview with set questions.  Currently, we do most of these by telephone. Candidates are notified of their score within a week or two +.  Those who score too low are out.  Those who score high enough are put on a hiring list which is good for six months to a year.

Now there may not be any more communication for quite a while, depending on when or if they are scheduled for a final interview.  The lower the candidates score the less likely it is they’ll be called right away or at all.  This may be our last contact with the candidate.  The email/letter they receive basically tells them that, I believe.

4)      The top several candidates are invited for a final interview.  They are notified one way or another.

Here is my question back to job seekers:  How often do you expect to be communicated with and what types of communication would work for you?

- Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

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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Filed under Further Questions