Tag Archives: librarians

Researcher’s Corner: Job Ads and Academic Standards and Proficiencies

I am pleased to bring you this look at the types of skills mentioned in ads for academic librarians.  I think that you will find the results illuminating, and that you will appreciate their analysis.  If you’d like to read about this work in it’s full scholarly glory, please obtain a copy of: 
Gold, M. L., & Grotti, M. G. (2013). Do Job Advertisements Reflect ACRL’s Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators?: A Content Analysis. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 39(6), 558-565. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2013.05.013


Background

Standards and proficiencies documents are one way library science organizations communicate key skills and general values to the profession and to the world. Our interest in examining the relationship between professional standards and job advertisements arose out of committee work that focused on revising and critically examining the Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators, one of the many sets of standards drafted by the profession. These standards help direct librarians’ professional development activities as well as guide those who are looking to fill positions with qualified applicants. Given the goals of such standards, we wondered if there was any clear relationship between the key skills identified by the profession and the skills deemed most important by those seeking to fill instruction positions. As new-ish librarians just emerging from the journey of the academic job market, this line of  inquiry was particularly interesting to us.

Methods

Specifically, our research examined whether the areas of focus within the Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators were represented in instruction librarian job advertisements from US academic institutions. We used a content analysis approach, in which we scrutinized job advertisements that appeared on ALA JobLIST during a six-month period (January 1 to June 30, 2012).

Proficiency Categories from the Standards:

1) Administrative skills

2) Assessment and evaluation skills

3) Communication skills

4) Curriculum knowledge

5) Information literacy integration skills

6) Instructional design skills

7) Leadership skills

8) Planning skills

9) Presentation skills

10) Promotion skills

11) Subject Expertise

12) Teaching skills.

Using these categories, we examined about 50 job ads in a pilot study in order to develop the coding guide for our analysis. The creation of the coding guide and the many spirited discussions that it sparked between us was one of the most difficult, fun, and lengthy portions of the project.

Results

Our results included an analysis of 230 job advertisements for words or phrases relating to the 12 proficiency categories. Institutions posting ads ranged from doctorate-granting universities to associate’s colleges and special focus institutions. Ads represented jobs in 46 states with the majority of ads (54%) indicating no requirement for years of experience.

  •  Administrative skills were mentioned in the highest percentage (82%) of job ads and were mentioned consistently across institution types.
  • Subject expertise (56%) and Leadership skills (52%) were also mentioned in the majority of job advertisements.
    • However, a much smaller percentage (19%) of associate’s colleges’ job ads mentioned Subject expertise compared to other institution types.
  • Instructional design skills were mentioned in 46% of ads.
  • Presentation skills were mentioned the least, in only 8% of job advertisements.
  • Teaching skills were only listed as a required skill in 13% of job ads.

Implications for Job Seekers

Though exploratory in nature, our study can be informative for job seekers interested in discovering which skills are in-demand. It is clear that employers place an emphasis on Administrative skills, which for this study meant working well in a team and communicating instruction goals. A high percentage of ads also mentioned the importance of professional development, scholarly research, or seeking out instruction opportunities, which were classified as Leadership skills. Though the desire for these skills may not be surprising, the explicit mention of them in these ads highlights the importance for job seekers to incorporate these qualifications into their application materials.

Also of note for job seekers, Subject expertise was mentioned in a higher percentage (65%) of ads from institutions offering doctorates than those not offering advanced degrees. Additionally, most ads that mentioned Subject expertise listed it as a required or preferred qualification rather than mentioning it generally in the body of the job ad.

It was surprising to see Instructional design skills (e.g. experience with lesson planning, developing learning outcomes, or course content) mentioned in more job ads than Teaching skills. However, this was likely related to the recent emergence of librarians as instructional designers and our strict definition of Teaching skills, which required knowledge of pedagogy or learning theory and was beyond mere teaching experience.

Conclusion

We feel that it is important to note that the low frequency of mentions for some skills in job ads is likely not due to employers valuing these skills any less. We believe a lack of mentions may have been due to the limited space available within job advertisements and the inclusion of institutionally prescribed language, as well as the fact that certain skills (e.g. presentation and teaching) are more effectively evaluated during campus interviews rather than through application materials. Thus, it is important to remember that job ads are only one indication of the skills that may be important for a particular position. We suggest that professional standards can provide additional guidance regarding specific competencies that go above and beyond the language of job ads. These can help applicants to articulate and identify key abilities that they have when writing cover letters or responding to the general language found in these ads.


Grotti_Meg-2013-06-- smiling only

 

Meg Grotti, Coordinator of Library Instruction, University of Delaware Library

Meg Grotti’s research interests include instructional technology for libraries, information literacy pedagogy, and assessment of student learning.  Meg has served on numerous professional committees at the national and local level, including work for the ACRL’s College and Research Libraries publication and the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries initiative.

 

profilepinkMelissa Gold, Assistant Professor and Science Librarian at McNairy Library, Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

Melissa Gold’s research interests include information literacy pedagogy, using professional standards in practice, and the value of the library building. She serves on committees within the instruction section and science and technology section of ACRL and regularly presents at national conferences. Melissa has also served on multiple search committees and enjoys giving feedback to job seekers. Feel free to contact her about academic job searches.

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Posts, Information Literacy Instruction, library research, Researcher's Corner

Stay tuned in to what is going on in the profession

Rural school children, San Augustine County, Texas (LOC)This anonymous interview is with a school 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:

Elementary-High school

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

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

√ Yes

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
√ Grant Writing
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Research Methods
√ Outreach
√ Marketing

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)?

Cataloging, lesson planning, adaptation

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

√ Internship or practicum

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

University of North Texas, Texas Women’s University

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

Get internships with Professors, stay tuned in to what is going on in the profession

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 10-50 staff members, School, Southern US, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Decent Salary Benefits Benefits

Hunting Party at Norderhamn beach near the Cave of Stora Förvar, Stora Karlsö, Gotland, SwedenThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), and has not been hired within the last two months. This person is looking in academic, archives, public, and special libraries, at the following levels: requiring at least two years of experience, senior librarian.

This job hunter is in an urban area in Texas and is willing to move within Texas.

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

Decent Salary
Benefits
Benefits

Where do you look for open positions?

Texas Library Association
Texas Municipal League
Texas Association of Museums
Various City websites in Texas

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

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

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

It depends on whether or not my resume needs tweaking and if a cover letter is requried.

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?

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job hunter's survey, Southern US, Urban area

Whats the idea behind all this weeding?

Keene Grammar School Class, Keene New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with a person who hires librarians and library technicians for a school library. This individual works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a city/town in Australia/New Zealand.  When asked, “are you a librarian?” this person responded,

just someone who’s been subjected to useless librarians!

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?

√ Cataloging
√ Vocabulary Design
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?

Practical understanding of library practice and what students require in a school library. (Whats the idea behind all this weeding?)

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)?

Enhance the skills they all ready have. Knowledge of the collection.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Other presentation
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

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, Australia/New Zealand, City/town, School, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Don’t assume you will be a University/Public/Children’s/special librarian for your entire career

New England Girls School, ArmidaleThis anonymous interview is an individual who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee in a special library. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference librarians, catalogers, interlibrary loan librarians, technical trainers.

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

√ Cataloging
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Field Work/Internships

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)?

Understanding the environment & workplace politics. Skills specific to my library.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

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

UNC-Chapel Hill

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

Take a wide range of classes – don’t assume you will be a University/Public/Children’s/special librarian for your entire career.

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 100-200 staff members, Southern US, Special, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Further Questions: Would you hire someone with a MLIS for a paraprofessional position?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Would you hire someone with a MLIS for a paraprofessional position (e.g. assistant, clerk, page)? If so, under what circumstances? If not why not?

Cathi AllowayWe have several people with MLSs on our staff who are in positions that don’t require one. We are very clear in the job description, interview, and during the job offer about the status of the position, and leave it to the applicant to make the decision on proceeding with an application or job offer acceptance.  Remembering my days as a job-seeker, I always felt saddest when told I was “overqualified” for a job that I wanted.  Employers often feel that an overqualified person will leave at the first hint of a better-paying job.  Asking during the interview about downsizing can provide some good information. So can contracts that ask for a guaranteed minimum of work, i.e. 12 months.

- Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library

I just did. And not for the first time. This is a small town with a very transient population. When we receive an application from someone with an MLS who is new in town and waiting for a professional opening (which can easily take a year), we consider them very seriously. As a general rule, the shorter learning curve makes up for the inevitable turnover.

- Kristen Northrup, Head, Technical Services, North Dakota State Library

Yes, I frequently hire candidates with an MLS for support staff positions. If they meet all of the minimum and preferred qualifications and are the best suited for the job. Yes, I do have staff turn over but since they are usually planning to work in an academic library the search and hire process is typically pretty lengthy for professional positions so I do typically end up keeping them for a year before they move on.

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

 

Lake Forest did this and it turns out well. We hired an experienced MLIS for a Circ desk position; the Head of Circ wanted  her and I thought she’d leave when something professional opened up. In the Chicago suburban area here are many opportunities. She stayed in that part time position for over a year and Adult Services also used her for a sub in Adult Reference. When an opening occurred in Adult Services, we knew she would be a terrific hire and she has been. The reason she didn’t leave for a professional position somewhere else-she really wanted to work at Lake Forest, where she and he family had moved.

 

We also have had the situation of someone in a paraprofessional position went to grad school and got an MLIS. When a professional position opened, she was not hired by that department because she did not have the skills they were looking for. After another year or so, she was working part time in a professional position and still part time with us in a para position. Another professional position opened in another department and she was hired.

 

Even though our experience has been positive, I would avoid  hiring someone with the MLIS for a non professional position.

- Kaye Grabbe, Lake Forest Library

There are a multitude of reasons why I would hire someone with an MLS in a paraprofessional position but, from the outset that would have to be something they were comfortable with. Resentment and superiority complexes couldn’t be involved.

 

I wouldn’t want to hire someone with an MLS and ask them to do professional level work for paraprofessional level pay. However, there are staff positions that can provide experience in an area that will allow them to broaden their skill set. It also allows them an opportunity to try a different type of library or different department without a lot of pressure. It also can give them a start in an organization which may help determine if they want to stay there and try to get a professional position or go elsewhere.

 

There are more paraprofessional opportunities available and, if someone has the option of taking that position and has a positive outlook, they can benefit from the position and the institution can benefit from having them. While asking them to do higher level work is inappropriate, there are things that they will be able to contribute at a higher level because of their background. Fostering these opportunities is a way to encourage someone as they move toward their future goal, whatever that may be. There may also be professional development options and learning opportunities that they can benefit from.

 

In the current state of position opening fluctuations, people no longer stay in higher-level paraprofessional positions long term because there will eventually be something that will better suit them that will come along. However, for the relatively short time they are there, the benefits can be mutual.

- Alison Armstrong, Collection Management Librarian, McConnell Library, Radford University

 

Laurie Phillips

I hesitate to hire someone with an MLIS for a paraprofessional position because I don’t want to hire someone who will be miserable in the position or just putting in the time until they can find a professional position. I put in a lot of training time with my staff and I want people who are going to stay in the job for a while. I also don’t have a lot of leeway in salary and can’t afford to pay someone more just because they have an MLIS and I don’t want to take advantage of someone. I also don’t want someone to get the idea that they can somehow get their foot in the door for a professional position by taking a staff position. I will usually call applicants with an MLIS and explain that it is a staff position. Our librarians are faculty so there are huge differences between faculty and staff positions and little chance for a staff member to move into a faculty position. Our Special Collections & Archives has hired someone with an MLIS for a part-time staff position but she was well aware of the situation and chose to take it anyway.

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

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Further Questions

Hiring Librarians, Live!

Hi Everyone!

I will be doing an online presentation tomorrow for the Florida State University Student Chapter of ALA, and you’re invited, even if you’re not an FSU student (or any kind of student at all).

I will talk about the blog, including such fascinating topics as

  • how and why I started it
  • what all the features are
  • some of the lessons I have learned about library hiring

Then we will have Q & A.

This is the first time I’ve done this kind of thing for Hiring Librarians, so anything could happen!

I hope you will join us!  It is at 9 AM PST (Noon EST) on Friday, 11/14/2014.  The link to join is:

https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?password=M.4A28D3D62D4088636CD04E018FA23D&sid=9452

Your pal,

Emily

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under News and Administration