Monthly Archives: May 2013

Further Questions: What Was the Last Position You Hired?

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

What and when was the last position you hired?  How many applicants did you get, roughly?  How many did you interview?

Laurie Phillips

Last position:  Collection Development Librarian. Hiring process in spring 2012. Started work on August 1, 2012.

Number of applicants:52

Interviews: We phone or Skype interviewed 12 people. That’s a lot for us, but it was really valuable and we were able to schedule them all within the same week. Faculty search processes dictate that we bring 3 candidates to campus. We can stretch that to 4 if any of them are local, but honestly, we have really tried to limit that unless we really can’t narrow down to 3. Campus interviews take a lot of our time as well, including dinners in the evening, so we want to make sure we’re only bringing in the best candidates. In this last search, we brought 3 candidates to campus.

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

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundThe last position we hired for was an hourly youth service librarian and we had 25 applicants for the one 22.5 hour a week opening.  The position came with pro-rated benefits (vacation, sick, holiday, pension) and allows the employee to buy into the library’s health care and deferred compensation plans.  Most of the candidate’s had skills matching the job description, at least on paper, but there are always a few that are applying for any job that might be available.  As I recall we interviewed 7 people before hiring our final choice.

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

Marleah AugustineIn the last year I have hired for our part-time Librarian Assistant position twice — equivalent to clerks/pages/reference desk assistants in other places. The first time during that time period, we had over 100 applicants. The last time (a month or so ago), we had around 40 applicants. Each time we interviewed around 15 people (we were hiring to fill multiple positions – we had around 5 openings each time).
I am currently on the hiring committee for a full-time Children’s Librarian and we’ve received around 20 applications and plan to interview around 10.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
Samantha Thompson-FranklinThe last librarian position we hired was for a Circulation Services/Public Services Librarian, in the summer of 2010. I think we received around 40-50 applications.  We interviewed 5 applicants by telephone and then brought 3 candidates to campus (as per our college policy).
– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Melanie LightbodyThe last position I hired outside the system was a branch manager this past November.  I think we ended up with 20 qualified applicants and interviewed two.  We recently were able to promote an internal candidate to a professional position and we hope to be looking outside the system for a professional children’s librarian in early fall, new grads and seasoned hands both welcome to apply as long as they have enough paraprofessional experience.

As I mentioned we had 20 qualified applicants for our last open position and interviewed two.  This is because 2 of our final candidates dropped out, one the weekend before the Tuesday interview day.  The latter drop out was because the salary was not high enough for this person to come to an in-person interview.  It said a lot to me that this person hadn’t noted the salary until the weekend before they came to visit.  Indeed as we went through the list of qualified applicants, those who’d passed paper screening and an initial phone interview, we had many people who were not interested in the interview.  You can imagine how frustrating this is to a hiring committee.  Hiring is an expensive, time consuming process and we look forward to hiring new colleagues.   I know it is a tough time for new graduates but please don’t apply for jobs you have no intention of taking.  On the other hand, if you are interested in a job by all means apply.  You don’t know how small the pool will end up being.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

 

Manya ShorrThe last position I was involved in hiring were two  full time Librarian Is. This is an entry-level classification that can cover a variety of positions, from public service to cataloging to selection. These particular openings were for Youth Services Librarians in branches. In Omaha, we have to hire from an annual list, so the recruitment was for this list. We were able to ask a series of essay questions, with applicants who were interested in Youth Services answering a couple of additional youth-oriented ones. Around 53 people applied and about 10-15 of them were internal candidates (we have a number of staff with their MLS who are working as either paraprofessionals or Clerks). Many of the applicants did not fill out the youth questions and were not in consideration for these positions. Human Resources gives us two lists to interview—one for internal and one for external candidates and we interviewed seven candidates. We ended up filling the positions with one internal and one external candidate. All in all, I am pleased with this hiring experience. It’s important to cultivate our internal staff but it’s also nice to bring in a fresh perspective from the outside. We were able, based on interviews and qualifications, hire two stellar new Librarians.

– Manya Shorr, Assistant Director, Community Programs and Services, Omaha Public Library

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

Thank YOU for reading!  Wherever I may roam, I will return to my English comment.

*edited 6/1/2013 11:10 AM PST to add response by Manya Shorr

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Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: ACRL Residency Interest Group

It seems that each year, the number of LIS graduates increases, and the number of entry-level jobs decreases.  And the bar for those jobs is set higher and higher.  It is difficult for new grads to get their feet on the path to becoming future library leaders.  I’m interested in what we, as a profession, are doing about this problem.  

So I’m glad to present a resource which may really help new grads: the ACRL Residency Interest group.  Residencies provide a structured entrance into the profession, and the ACRL group, along with it’s associated website, provides some good insight into how you can obtain such an entrance.  Hannah K. Lee, who is the Outgoing Convener of the ACRL Residency Interest Group as well as Assistant Librarian, University of Delaware Library, Student Multimedia Design Center, was kind enough to answer my questions about the site and the group.


ACRL Residency Interest Group

What is it? Please give us your elevator speech!

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Residency Interest Group (RIG) is a group of library residents (both current and former), residency program coordinators, library administrators, diversity officers, and human resources professionals from across the country. A residency is post-degree work experience, often from one to three years, designed as an entry level program for recent graduates of library and information science programs. The aim of this group is to encourage interested parties to more broadly share their expertise regarding residency programs and to make it both available and accessible for future residents and coordinators. It was also founded as a resource for newer members, particularly library school students, who may be considering a residency program upon graduation.

When was it started? Why was it started?

In 2008, ACRL amended their bylaws allowing for communities to be created within ACRL that had a specific area of focus but that weren’t represented by Discussion Groups or Sections. They called these Interest Groups. An interest group is a network of individuals who have come together to share their knowledge and expertise with one another, and to help solve problems across organizational boundaries with those who may face similar challenges. The Residency Interest Group was the very first Interest Group to be formed by ACRL.

We have several goals:

  • To centralize information regarding residency program availability
  • To maintain a directory of past and present program participants
  • To garner interest and support for the group’s activities through the production of research projects related to residency programs
  • To serve as an information clearinghouse and resource for institutions planning, managing, or researching residency programs
  • To support potential residents, new graduates, and early career librarians in their professional development through a variety of resources including guest writers, podcasts, and downloadable documentation

Who runs it?

RIG is completely volunteer-based and is part of ACRL’s committee structure. ACRL, in turn, is a division within the American Library Association (ALA). RIG’s leadership includes the incoming convener, convener, outgoing convener, and web editors.

Are you a “career expert”? What are your qualifications?

I wouldn’t consider myself a career “expert,” and librarianship isn’t my first career. But I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’m always happy to give advice to new graduates and job seekers. As a college student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I dabbled in every possible field you can image– psychology, French, architecture, chemistry, history, photography– before eventually graduating with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Education. I started my professional career as a high school English teacher in Chicago, where I taught British Literature and Film Studies. I then set my sights abroad, and ended up teaching in the Paris, France region for a couple of years at the junior high level. I returned to the States—and to my alma mater– to continue my studies at the graduate level. While at the U of I, I taught various rhetoric and composition courses, including ART 250: Writing with Video. I received my M.A in English with a specialization in Writing Studies in 2008 and my M.S. in Library and Information Science in 2009. I have worked as a Substitute Adult Services Reference Librarian at the Urbana Free Library, as a Librarian Intern at Harper College Library in Palatine, IL, and as an Affiliate Assistant Librarian and Pauline A. Young Resident at the Student Multimedia Design Center at the University of Delaware Library. I’m currently an Assistant Librarian in the Student Multimedia Design Center. The Center is a one of the largest multimedia facilities in an academic library in the nation. During my residency, my responsibilities included assisting students in creating multimedia content, collaborating on interdepartmental library projects such as videos and interactive tutorials, digital literacy instruction, and staff and student training, among others. In my permanent position, I began a program for multimedia literacy instruction that was launched in Fall 2012. I work collaboratively with faculty across departments, consulting with them on assignment design and teaching class sessions on digital storytelling, production basics, video editing, etc.

Who is your target audience?

Our target audience is new library and information science graduates as well as people who are interested in starting library residency programs.

What’s the best way to use your site? Should users consult it daily? Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?

For recent graduates who are looking for a job, the best way to use the site is to consult it on a regular basis to see if there are any new residency positions that have opened up. They can also subscribe to the Residency Interest Group listserv, because most of the jobs that are posted on the website also get sent out through the listserv. To subscribe to the listserv, go to http://lists.ala.org/sympa. We also have regular posts from current and former residents in our Residency Diaries series, and although we haven’t had a podcast recently, we also have a Newbie Dispatches podcast series on a variety of topics of interest to new librarians.

Does your site provide:

√ Job Listings √ Answers to reader questions √ Interviews
√ Articles/literature √ Links √ Research √ The opportunity for interaction

Should readers also look for you on social media? 

√ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ACRL-Residency-Interest-Group/113621396297?fref=ts

Do you charge for anything on your site?

No

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?

I actually found my residency through the ACRL Residency Interest Group! I hadn’t even heard of residencies when I was in library school, and I stumbled upon a job ad for a residency program when I was searching for jobs. This piqued my interest, and I started looking for other residency programs. I came across the Residency Interest Group website and subscribed to the listserv, and not too long after, there was a posting for a job opening at the University of Delaware for their Pauline A Young Residency program. I applied for the position, and one thing led to another to bring me to where I am today. My residency was for two years, but they ended up offering me a permanent position midway through my residency. I’m still at the University of Delaware, and am very thankful for my experiences as a resident.

Anything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

Hannah LeeDon’t get discouraged! It might take a few tries to get your dream job, but in the meantime, don’t be afraid of taking on positions to help build up your experience. If you want to work in a university library, you might have to move to a location you’re not familiar with. If you want to develop your career as an academic librarian, it’s something that you’ll have to seriously consider. Good luck!

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Filed under Academic, Job Hunters Web Guide

Hired Librarians: She Said She Had a “Crush” on Us

Here’s the next post in our Hired Librarians feature, where I interview a recent successful job hunter and the librarian that hired her.  This week I’m interviewing Nicole Tekulve, Information Commons Librarian, and Virginia Cairns, Chair of Search Committee/Head of Reference & Instruction.  Ms. Tekulve and Ms. Cairns are Academic Librarians.

UTC Library

They work at the Lupton Library at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which is in the Southern US and has 31 staff members.


The Successful Candidate: Nicole Tekulve

Nicole@RefDesk

Where are you in your career?  When did you graduate, and how many years of experience do you have?

I am an early career librarian who graduated in spring of 2011. I have a little under two years of professional experience and about 5 years of paraprofessional experience in public and academic libraries.  

Why did this job pique your interest?

This was actually one of the first questions I was asked in my interview! To begin with, I knew about the UTC Library’s reputation, the innovative projects they worked on, and the type of librarians they employed. I wanted to be a part of team where I would be challenged both intellectually and creatively. I also loved that I would be doing a variety of things- from teaching classes to planning workshops and programs to managing student workers.

How many pages was your resume? Cover letter?

My CV was 3 pages long and my cover letter clocked in at a full page.

What research did you do before submitting your application?

For starters, I did some general research about the library, campus, and community. One of the greatest things about this library is that they are very transparent. The library maintains a wiki with tons of information about the organizational structure and past, current, and future projects. I made sure to pour over that information thoroughly.

I also did more specific research related to information commons. I reviewed books, journal articles, and looked at the webpages of many information commons throughout the country. This helped me define my vision of an information commons.

What did you wear (or – do you have a photo of your outfit)?

I don’t have a photo but here’s a recreation. It’s not the typical pantsuit but I wasn’t interviewing at a place that I considered typical.

 

Can you describe your process in preparing for the interview?

A major part of the interview process was developing and presenting my ideas for programs and services that would further the Information Common’s mission to serve as a collaborative hub for the library and on campus. I spent about a week developing the presentation and then at least two or three days refining and practicing. I even went so far as to record myself giving the presentation on my iPhone and listened to it over and over again while making the 4 hour trek to Chattanooga (I realize this is a little crazy).

I also read through this list of interview questions and thought about some potential answers. There’s no way to know what a search committee will ask but even developing sample answers will help you think quicker on your feet when the interview time comes.

What questions did you ask?

Be prepared for that moment when the search committee asks “do you have any questions?”! The night before the interview I jotted down about ten questions and grouped them according to the different interviews. I had different questions for each of the different groups I was meeting with. Some of the more general questions were things like “What is the biggest challenge facing the library in the coming year?” and “Why do love working at Lupton Library?”. I also made sure to stay engaged throughout the day and ask questions during the more informal moments like the coffee break and lunch.

Why do you think you were hired?  What set you apart from other candidates?

I think it was combination of experience and personality. I had a year’s worth of professional experience under my belt and I could highlight past projects and accomplishments that I felt would appeal to the search committee. I also tried to make sure that I was myself throughout the process. I mentioned Honey Boo Boo in my cover letter to clue them in on my love of pop culture. For my presentation, I included funny pictures (like dogs walking on tightropes) because I wanted to convey my lighthearted side.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why you were chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

As far as general advice, I would  strongly recommend that you have someone review your application materials. It doesn’t have to necessarily be another librarian. My sister comes from the corporate world and has helped me immensely with proofreading and formatting.

I also would suggest that you tailor each cover letter and CV to the position that you are applying for. No two jobs are exactly alike so you’ll want to make sure that you are highlighting how you fit for each position.

The job hunting process is time consuming. When I was applying for a slew of jobs leading up to graduation, I treated it as a part-time job. I would come home from work and search for jobs, draft application materials, and follow-up on applied jobs for at least two hours a day. Be willing to invest time in the process to ensure a positive outcome.

The Hiring Librarian: Virginia Cairns

Virginia Cairns

What stood out in this applicant’s cover letter?

Nicole wrote an excellent cover letter that covered all the bases (highlighted specifics of how she met the requirements of the job). She also indicated that she knew of our library and the work we have been doing (she said she had a “crush” on us). The crowning detail was a reference to Honey Boo Boo. I had to speak with this person after reading her letter. That’s what a good cover letter should do – make me want to meet you, discuss things further and learn more about you.

Did she meet all of the required qualifications listed in the job ad? How many of the desired qualifications did she meet?

Yes. Nicole pretty much met all of them. She was doing a very similar job at another school. Her CV did a great job of outlining the varied duties she was performing in her prior job that matched up with what we were looking for.

In comparison to the rest of the pool, did the applicant have more, less, or about the same years of experience?  What about for the other people you interviewed?

Nicole was right at the top of our pool of candidates. We had probably 3 who shared similar levels of relevant experience and desirable skills.

What was the interview process like?

We phone interview about 10 finalists and then bring anywhere from 2-4 to campus depending. The interview itself is dinner the evening before with the Dean, and then a full day of meetings, a formal presentation, a social hour with the library staff and faculty, campus and library tours, and we close out with a wrap up with the Dean.

What stood out in this applicant’s interview?

Nicole was articulate, she came prepared with questions, she had good examples of projects she had completed and groups she had worked with. She described herself as having a “yes: mentality, which goes a long way in our culture here at UTC. Her presentation was solid and she was clearly comfortable in front of a classroom. She enjoyed interviewing us as much as we enjoyed interviewing her. She established rapport with us very well and had done her homework (she knew who we all were,  by name).

Were there any flags or questions you had about this person’s abilities, and how did they resolve them?

No, Nicole was clearly qualified for the job. And she fits well with our existing team in the instruction department and library-wide.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why this candidate was chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

A good cover letter is the key to making it through the initial onslaught of applicants (in some cases 175+) and landing an interview. Make the letter reflect not only your skills and experience but your personality as well. Get help polishing up both your resume and your cover letter if you feel you need it.

Once you land an interview, do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the library, its services and its people. In the interview, be prepared to treat the day as a two-way conversation – ask us questions just as we are asking you questions. Practice your presentation thoroughly so you’ll be confident and comfortable delivering it. Express your continued interest in the position to the Dean or hiring manager as you wrap up the interview. If possible, follow up with an email or note to the search committee after you get home from the interview, just to cement it as a positive experience and reinforce your interest in the position.


If you’re part of a recent hiree/hiring manager pair who’d be willing to be interviewed for this feature, please contact me.  Or please pass along this request!

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Hired Librarians, Southern US

Treat both the position and applicants as professionals

digres hunting lodgeThis 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  a year to 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, and Special Librarian.  This job hunter is in an urban area of the Midwestern US, and when asked if willing to move, said:

After relocating for a spouse’s job, relocating for mine would not make sense.

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

Intellectually interesting
A genuine way to make a difference to users
A good place/institution and group of people to work for and with

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA, SAA, SLA, LinkedIn, regional library job boards, INALJ digest, Indeed, Archives Gig, and specific area employers whose jobs don’t make it to any of the above

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

√ Other: I expect it and while its not a red flag, it does give me pause when an employer doesn’t list it, especially if the employer is large.

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

The cover letter (business format) is the piece that takes the longest every time since it is customized. My resume/CV usually stays pretty consistent from packet to packet unless I see the need to alter it to emphasize skills the employer is looking for.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
√ Other:  I only expect selection-stage contact if the applicant pool is large.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: All of the above is fine; whatever works for the employer.

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
√ Being able to present

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

Be honest and upfront. Say what the salary range is from the get-go. Treat both the position and applicants as professionals. Treating a job as a para-professional position when you clearly require professional (and mid-career professional at that) qualifications is unfair and disrespectful to applicants and the institution in the long run since it won’t be able to attract the top candidates.

If you are an academic institution, don’t automatically discount someone who hasn’t spent their entire career in academia.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Who knows. If I knew that, I’d be a millionaire.

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, Midwestern US, Urban area

Further Questions: Does Personal Branding Help?

Each month the ALA New Members Round Table launches a discussion on the NMRT-L listserv.  Discussions have been on topics such as interview preparation, getting published, and now this month, branding.  Inspired by that discussion, this week I asked people who hire librarians:
Personal branding has become one of the tools recommended by those dispensing job hunting advice.  
Have you ever hired a librarian who uses this strategy – developing and managing a personal brand in order to shape the image he or she presents on the job hunt and professionally? Do you have any thoughts about this trend?
(If you want to read more about branding before answering this question, there’s a recent-ish American Libraries article here.)

Marge Loch-WoutersI have not really had anyone come in with a particular personal brand for jobs we have hired for. I will say a lot of people develop brands as they go along in the job or their career.  When I am teaching MLIS students or mentoring younger librarians, I encourage them to develop areas of expertise and then blog, use tumblr or engage on social networks promoting their chops. I think social media makes it easier to put your message out there consistently. While you can’t always control your “brand’ you can show people the skills you have, how you approach a problem or other areas of mightiness by being out there and upfront!

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

Gina MillsapHere’s my take on personal branding.  It’s a balancing act.  What I’m looking for is a librarian who first and foremost wants to work at not just any library, but the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.  She has done her homework and can make the case that she is the perfect fit for us because of her education, skill set, expertise, interests and drive. And we’re the perfect fit for her because we are strategic, innovative and driven to serve our local community, making it a better place to live, work and learn, and oh, yeah, be the best damn library in the country!  If the brand helps her establish her identity as that, great.  There’s potentially an opportunity to see what that person can do vs relying on traditional resumes and other information that in the final analysis may raise more questions than deliver knowledge about a candidate.

Here’s a cautionary note.  If the personal branding process is focused on establishing her professional reputation regardless of where she works, rather than what it can do to enhance the library’s brand, I’ll think twice before considering her as a candidate.  We’ve developed a bit of a cult of personality or celebrity in the library world.  While it can clearly build the reputation of and professional opportunities for the individual, I’m not sure it always serves the interests of libraries. And not everyone who writes knowledgeably about topics actually has solid experience in the field.

Business guru Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, coined the phrase “personal brand” in 1997.  I remembered reading an article he wrote called The Brand Called You.   I went back and read it again. I don’t agree with everything he says.  But what jumps out at me is  that essentially, if you’re branding you, it should be to reveal your character, your values and your value to the organization.  Here’s what he says, “No matter what you’re doing today, there are four things you’ve got to measure yourself against. First, you’ve got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague. Second, you’ve got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Third, you’ve got to be a broad-gauged visionary — a leader, a teacher, a farsighted “imagineer.” Fourth, you’ve got to be a businessperson — you’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.” I’d hire that person.

So, that’s my two cents.  There’s nothing wrong with developing a personal brand, but it needs to be done right and for the right reasons.

Please note:  I used the pronoun “she” because I get tired of writing s/he, but no gender-bias intended!  🙂

– Gina Millsap, Chief Executive Officer, Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

Emilie SmartIf I have hired a librarian who is personally branded, I’m not aware of it.  I’ve never interviewed anyone who had a personal logo (other than a photograph of themselves) nor has anyone in an interview presented or mentioned anything pertaining to a personal brand.  Perhaps I just missed it?  I polled a couple of my freshly minted librarians asking if they had a personal “brand” and they looked at me with confusement  (yes, I know it’s confusion but I like “confusement” — it’s amusing.).
The trend of “personal branding” as described in the article sounds like a rehashing of common sense approaches to professionalism.  I guess professionalism has achieved brand status!  Whatever it takes…
– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library
Thanks, as always, to the people who hire librarians for their time and insight.
What do you think about branding?  If you’ve got opinions, you’re welcome to share them below, but I also encourage you to join the NMRT listserv (I think you may do so without being a NMRT member) and participate in the discussion there.

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Filed under Further Questions, Public

Researcher’s Corner: What are the Qualifications for an Entry-Level Music Librarian?

I’m pleased to introduce another guest post by Joe Clark, who described his research into nine years of job postings on the Music Library Association Job List and identified job trends for us here.

This post delves more deeply into the specific qualifications desired in entry-level positions.  While his research is specific to music librarians, I think there are wider implications for entry-level expectations across disciplines.

Please do click through and read his more formal account of this research, which was published last March in the journal of the Music Library Association. Notes is open access, so the entire article is available online here for free.


So you graduate with your M.L.I.S. degree ready to land your first professional job, but realize that institutions are asking for skills and experiences you didn’t learn in graduate school. Now what?

A firm understanding of the skills, knowledge, and experiences that employers want will give you a leg up in a tight job market. Not only does music librarianship require subject-specific knowledge, but sub-fields within music librarianship differ in required and desired abilities and experiences.

The Study

I examined all of the position announcements on the Music Library Association’s Placement Service Job List from 2008 through 2011 and identified those open to entry-level librarians. I then classed each position into one of five types: 1) public service, 2) cataloging, 3) administrative, 4) hybrid, or 5) archival. Hybrid positions involve work in both public and technical services, while administrative librarians might run a small library as well as catalog, provide reference, and supervise staff and budgets.

I recorded the required and desired traits, abilities, knowledge, and experience for each position by job type, and then compiled the data. I also totaled the numbers for all of the music library positions, which provided a broad picture of what employers wanted in music librarianship entry-level hires. I broke traits sought into the following categories: education, personal attributes, social attributes, experience, general knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), and technological KSAs.

Results

Most of the entry-level music librarianship positions were in academic librarianship (95%). Twenty-eight percent of the vacancies were in public services, while the remaining four job types comprised between 17 and 19 percent of the advertisements.

As I examined all of the entry-level positions, it became quite clear what employers wanted in terms of education (other than the M.L.I.S. degree, which was a prerequisite for all of the jobs): 72% of positions required or preferred an undergraduate degree in music or the equivalent, and 40% desired a second graduate degree in music. Some public service and archival posts sought completion of music/arts library classes, while 27% of cataloging vacancies required cataloging coursework. A course in archival/preservation techniques was listed in 10% of all vacancies, and this figure was over half for jobs in archival environments.

The most commonly listed personal attributes included organizational skills/ability to prioritize, self-motivation, and flexibility/ability to handle multiple demands. Aptitude for scholarly production and professional development and analytical/problem solving skills appeared less frequently.

Excellent written and oral skills was the most commonly listed trait and the top social attribute. Other required or preferred social attributes included collaborative skills and a strong commitment to public services.

Previous library experience was desired in 42% of the listings, and appeared most commonly in administrative positions and least frequently in public service jobs. Experience with specific skills were also sought; cataloging was required or preferred in 36% of the announcements, and 30% wanted experience in reference and instruction.

The most common general KSA was reading knowledge of foreign languages, required for 25% and preferred for 19% of the jobs. Many of the other general KSAs were specific to the job responsibilities; for example, knowledge of AACR2, LCSH, and MARC21 was needed for positions that involved cataloging (including archive and hybrid posts).

Conclusions

In conclusion, institutions are looking for more than just an M.L.I.S.; they seek well-rounded individuals who can effectively communicate, collaborates, prioritizes, values excellent services, and self-motivates. These skills are in addition to subject expertise, which is highly valued in music librarianship. One should keep in mind that search committee members may want to see other qualifications not mentioned in advertisements.

The entire article, “What Employers Want: Entry-Level Qualifications for Music Librarians,” was published in the March 2013 issue of Notes (69:3), pages 472-493. All preferred and required qualifications for each job type that appeared in more than 8% of the announcements are detailed in the original article.  Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.


Joe Clark

Joe Clark is the Head of the Performing Arts Library at Kent State University. He has published articles in Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, Fontes Artis Musicae, Serials Review, Journal of Library Innovation and The Journal of Academic Librarianship. His research interests include employment trends in music librarianship, collection management, library administration, and American music. He is currently the Placement Officer for the Music Library Association.

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Filed under Academic, Public, Researcher's Corner, Special

It Was an AWFUL Shirt, We Still Hired the Person

interview outfit
This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an Urban area in the Northeastern US

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal)

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

Counts as a suit

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

False

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

No, but it’s not a dealbreaker

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

I don’t care, as long as it’s not over-the-top

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

No Jeans allowed, I think I’d have a problem with anything frayed as well. If you are going to wear cotton or linen, make sure it’s ironed, if it looks like it was pulled from a dirty hamper I think you can’t even take care of your clothes, how are you going to take care at your job?

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

Yes, the higher the position, the more formal I expect the candidate to dress

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
Earrings
Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray)

The way a candidate dresses should:

Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Unless they looked really bad I don’t think it affects my decision. I remember a time when a person we were hiring was wearing a gold lamé type shirt with her suit. It was an AWFUL shirt, we still hired the person.

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

I usually wear a dress or a suit.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

Business casual

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? (Please check all that apply)

Jeans
Flip flops
Tank tops
Sneakers/trainers

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

Photo: interview outfit by Flickr user k_hargrav, via Creative Commons License

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

Hired Librarians: Who doesn’t want a “…technically savvy and customer-focused librarian!”

This post continues the feature Hired Librarians, wherein we hear from both a successful candidate and the librarian that hired her.  This post features Catisha Benjamin, the new Digital Acquisitions/Collections Development Librarian at Jones eGlobal Library, and Scott Wiebensohn, Manager of Library Services, the hiring librarian.  

Jones eGlobal Library

Jones eGlobal Library is a special library, located in Centennial, Colorado but with clients all over the world.  It has 13 staff members, and it’s growing.


The Successful Candidate: Catisha Benjamin

Catisha Benjamin

Where are you in your career? When did you graduate, and how many years of experience do you have?

I graduated from the University of Denver August of 2006 with over 5 years of experience I am currently a Digital Acquisitions/Collections Development Librarian, working to create and enhance K-12 digital libraries. For the past three years I have been employed in the elementary and secondary field, which prepared me for my positions I currently hold. I have also been employed as a university librarian; my first job as a librarian out of library school.

Why did this job pique your interest?

I have built libraries since I started my profession and felt it would be a challenge to assist in building K-12 libraries in a digital format. Something new and different, but exciting!

How many pages was your resume? Cover letter?

My resume including my cover letter is now 5 pages.

What research did you do before submitting your application?

I researched the background of Jones eGlobal and the library. I was already a contract librarian for Jones as well (Education Doctoral Librarian for Jones International University) and asked my former supervisor about the position. Always make sure you network!

What did you wear?

I wore black slacks, a red blouse, a black jacket, and black boots.

Can you describe your process in preparing for the interview?

I researched Jones eGlobal Library and researched library interviewee questions.

What questions did you ask?

What are you looking for in a candidate?
What are the challenges in the position?

Why do you think you were hired? What set you apart from other candidates?

My K-12 background assisted in my hiring process and my library of science degree. I was exactly what they were looking for.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why you were chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

Make sure to let everyone in your circle know you are looking for a job. They may have a lead for a job. Also make sure you do your homework and research the company before you go to your interview. Interviewers love to see when applicants want to find out more about their company or point out facts about the company.

The Hiring Librarian: Scott Wiebensohn

scott wiebensohn
What stood out in this applicant’s cover letter?

We were looking for a unique individual with a blended background. This position functions as the primary resource for K-12 collection development and digital content curation. Her cover letter demonstrated that she had the ability to choose from an array of e-books, periodicals, and online resources that would strengthen our library and better our users’ experience. Who doesn’t want a “…technically savvy and customer-focused librarian!”

Did she meet all of the required qualifications listed in the job ad? How many of the desired qualifications did she meet?

Interesting question as I don’t know if a candidate ever truly meets all of the qualifications for a specific job posting. What a hiring team must determine is if the candidate does not meet all of the qualifications can he/she learn the basic and more complex tasks expected. Catisha met a high majority of the qualifications otherwise we would not have interviewed her for our opening. There is only so much someone can write down on paper, thus the traditional need to interview face to face.

In comparison to the rest of the pool, did the applicant have more, less, or about the same years of experience? What about for the other people you interviewed?

I can honestly answer that this candidate had more experience than the majority of the candidate pool. In comparison to the others we interviewed it was plus or minus a year or two.

What was the interview process like?

It was a two round process. The first was an interview with the HR representative who prescreened candidates to determine if they truly met the basic qualifications and if there were any immediate red flags. Then the candidate interviewed in person with the librarian team for about 45 minutes. Following this interview was a conversation with the research and development team and the company President. A discussion followed and a candidate was chosen.

What stood out in this applicant’s interview?

Not only did she have the desired skill set and applicable work experience. she was hungry for the job and had three years of work experience with one of our sister institutions. She also had a contagious smile and a warm personality.

Were there any flags or questions you had about this person’s abilities, and how did they resolve them?

We are not a typical library in that we have library users circulating throughout our building. Everything is based on a digital platform within a corporate business setting. Conveying this work environment to each of the candidates was a must and Catisha fully understood because of her prior work with our sister company. So the question was in a straightforward manner and answered clearly and concisely.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why this candidate was chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

The entire eGlobal Library team is truly delighted to have added Catisha to our library. Even in the short two weeks that she has been with us, she has expressed an eagerness to tackle a variety of level of projects. My best advice is that you have to put yourself in a situation to be mobile. It is also quite helpful to think outside of the box, be strategic, and apply for jobs that are at a level to push you to succeed!


If you’re part of a recent hiree/hiring manager pair who’d be willing to be interviewed for this feature, please contact me.  Or please pass along this request!
Thanks so much to Elisabeth Doucett for suggesting this series. Check out her blog, The Irreverent Librarian

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Hired Librarians, Special, Western US

People DO Make Assumptions Based on Appearance

Hot Summer Interview Outfit by Flickr User nfotxnThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a Suburban area in the Northeastern US.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

Yes, absolutely! It shows respect and professionalism

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

Counts as a suit

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

True

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

Other: Not necessarily. Modern summer fashion is usually fine w/o hose, but a dress shoe should be worn regardless.

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

I don’t care, as long as it’s not over-the-top

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

A generally slovenly appearance makes me wonder immediately about their work habits, attention to detail, and general reliability. I.e. wrinkled clothes, clothes that are far too casual, etc.

Can you share any stories about how a candidate nailed the proper interview outfit, especially if your organization does not expect suits?

Simple is best. A suit is great but these are all excellent:
– a nice, sheath dress with a sweater,
– pants and a sharp (pressed) blouse,
– pressed trousers, button down shirt, tie and sweater vest
– GOOD shoes – this is a must

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

No

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
Earrings
Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray)

The way a candidate dresses should:

Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Clothes tell a great deal about your personality and people DO make assumptions based on appearance. So instead of letting the clothes speak for you – they should be neat, professional, and neutral, so your words, accomplishments, and demeanor take center stage.

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

Business professional. Not a suit, but dress trousers, blouse or sweater, or a dress.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

4

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

Business casual

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

Name tags

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

Photo: Hot Summer Interview Outfit by Flickr User nfotxn via Creative Commons License

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Suburban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

Nothing Like That

Gussin Up by Flickr user yugenro

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an Urban area in the Northeastern US.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

Is totally different

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

False

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

Other: Panyhose, tights or bare legs all are fine.

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

I don’t care what’s on the face, it’s what’s in the brain that counts

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

Something you would wear to a club on a Saturday night (ie anything too flashy) inappropriate.

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
Nose Ring (nostril)
Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
Earrings
Multiple Ear Piercings
Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears)

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

I would like to think it doesn’t. Unless it is as stated above, flashy, clubby type of dressing. That would indicate someone who does not use best judgement.

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

Business Casual

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

Casual

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? (Please check all that apply)

Tank tops

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

Other: Nothing like that.

Do you have any other comments?

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

Photo: Gussin Up by Flickr user yugenro via Creative Commons License

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Filed under Academic, What Should Candidates Wear?