Monthly Archives: September 2013

I Tend to Think More Highly of Schools That Are Respected in Other Fields as Well

William Fox SchoolThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

In my previous position, library assistants who perform youth services duties, shelvers, and catalogers. I don’t hire in my current position.

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?

√ 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
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Instruction
√ 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?

√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation

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

I tend to think more highly of schools that are respected in other fields as well and that have a history of a solid library program. Schools include U of Washington, U of Wisconsin, U of Texas, U of Illinois, Simmons College, U of Indiana, and many others.

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

Schools that exist entirely online and are for-profit degree mills like U of Phoenix and others. I’m more reluctant, but if the work experience is there, I wouldn’t say no.

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

Work experience is an essential complement to coursework. Also, really think about the classes you’re taking and how they will apply to your future career. MLIS programs are brief – use your time wisely.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Writing and Communication Are Not Taught in Library Schools

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

Reference, Serials, catalogers

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a rural area in the Northeastern US Midwestern US.

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

√ Other: Writing & communication are not taught in library schools

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
√ Library Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods

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

Based on the last batch of candidates: writing and communication skills were desperately needed. Just the ability to write a good cover letter.

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 of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

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

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

University of Illinois

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

Work in a library! Even if it is just a student job, it will give you an edge.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

1 Comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Stats and Graphs: Biases Against Online Library School

It’s STATURDAY!

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

Methods

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

Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis of Negative Responses

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

“Concerned” Respondents

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

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

and:

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

and finally:

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

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

“Hesitant” Respondents

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

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

and

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

and

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

and finally

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

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

“Negative” Respondents

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

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

and

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

and finally

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

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

Addressing Concerns about Your Online Degree

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

Demonstrate your people skills and customer service expertise

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

Build a Good Professional Network

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

Get Library Experience

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

Be a Scholar

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

Contribute to the Field

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

In Conclusion

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

Further Readings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 Comments

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

Further Questions: Should an Applicant Include More than One Reference from the Same Job?

This week we have a reader’s question. I asked people who hire librarians:

Do hiring managers prefer to see 3 references from the same library job, or do all 3 references need to be from different jobs, even if some of those are non-library? (or, to make it broader if you want, should an applicant include more than one reference from the same job?)

Like many questions, the answer to this one is – “It depends.”

In general I’d rather see more than one past position represented in a reference list; otherwise it could suggest that was the only place a candidate was successful.  But obviously if a candidate is early in her career, or conversely has been in one organization for many years, one position may be the best source of recommendations a candidate has.  For candidates not too many years beyond grad school using a faculty member for one reference would be fine.  And at any stage a non-library reference would be fine too.  In the case of a candidate with long service at a single organization a non-library reference from relevant volunteer work would be suitable.  For early career candidates a reference from again, an arguably relevant non-library position, can be useful.  If you are applying to run access services, and you have worked in a customer service department, that work is pertinent and a recommendation from that supervisor would be relevant.

If you do use one job for all three references it might be good if those people could represent varied parts of the organization and/or be able to speak to at least somewhat different facets of your work.  And having references from individuals senior to you in the organization and/or someone who supervised you is also important.  I might still have questions about aspects of a candidate’s competencies or behavior, and it could possibly even raise questions about a candidate’s competence or attitudes if all the references were a candidate’s friends.

So in general I’d say diversity is good, but it is not the only consideration when selecting references and that you shouldn’t be slavish to a formula.  Your three strongest recommenders should be the ones you list .  (A final note – it is critical to ask your references if they would be willing to give you a recommendation first, as well as to check each time you are searching to confirm they are still willing; listing someone you haven’t asked is a major blunder, and can do your candidacy a lot of damage. It is also a courtesy to advise them if you know or think it is possible that someone may be contacting them; providing the job description and any other pertinent information you have can strengthen your recommender’s responses to questions.)

– Ann Glannon, Associate Director, Wheelock College Library, Boston, MA

 

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundI prefer to have references from three different jobs or at least three different perspectives.  Supervisors are the natural reference, but patrons, coworkers, members of community organizations that have interacted with the candidate are welcome.

I call at least one of the listed references, usually the supervisor to ask if they would hire this person again.  I’m more inclined to call someone in my professional network to get their thoughts.  If the candidate has listed activity in a library association I’d call someone I knew who was active in the association.  I might call someone I trusted at a neighboring library.  In that case they may or may not know the candidate, but might fill me in on the type of library the candidate is leaving.  Are they progressive?  Rule bound? Over/under staffed? Known for having good staff?  There may be no personal knowledge of the candidate, but I can get a feeling of the setting they are leaving and this might help me in an interview situation. 

There is one library in our area that has a long history of staff unrest.  I no longer interview anyone from that library as I don’t want to spoil the good chemistry we have at our library.

References are just one aspect of the interview, but sometimes can give you more insight to the candidate.  Most libraries restrict references to dates of employment and job title so this is why I find it helpful to speak informally to someone outside of the supervisory structure.

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

 

Marleah AugustineI prefer seeing 3 references from different jobs. However, I know that sometimes folks (especially in support staff roles) are just getting into the field and may not have that many references. I’d rather see a professor as one of the references than just 3 references all from the same job. Candidates can get creative about who is a reference – as mentioned, professors, but also anyone you’ve worked closely with in your path to your career. Having a couple of references from a single job is best if the references serve different roles and worked with you in two different capacities (but can still vouch for your abilities).

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

 

Marge Loch WoutersI appreciate three references from different perspectives – and not usually everyone from the same building that someone works in.  It doesn’t always have to be a reference from a previous job.  For me, the more current, the better.

Perhaps it is a colleague who has collaborated with you; perhaps a professor; perhaps a librarian colleague who is active both statewide or nationally who has seen and appreciated your work; perhaps someone you are actively engaged with professionally on social media in planning a program or conference. The wider the net of those who can speak to your fabulousness the better.  Also choosing people who can each address a different strength of yours provides a fuller picture.  Don’t hesitate to ask your references to address specific areas. It really helps!

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

 

I don’t have a strong preference as to whether the references are from different or non-library jobs.  It will depend on the applicant’s work history.  If they had a substantial career in another field before choosing librarianship, by all means I want to know about that.  However, I do prefer to see references that are from the applicant’s supervisor(s).  Not necessarily all of them, but at least some.  I always want to speak with the applicant’s current supervisor before hiring, even if they didn’t list them as a reference.  Of course, I will talk with the applicant before contacting anyone not listed as a reference, and take into account their reasons for not choosing a current supervisor as a reference.  It’s important that the relationship between the applicant and the reference be made clear at some point, possibly by the reference in their letter or by clarifying questions is the reference is via telephone.  If a reference is just someone’s friend or colleague, and they haven’t collaborated on significant projects, that reference won’t mean a lot to me.  I would prefer a substantive reference from a non-library job, discussing personal attributes and work habits that are important in any job, to a general letter from a library school professor who taught the applicant in a few classes and didn’t have an in-depth relationship with them. 

– Anonymous

 

scott wiebensohnThis is an interesting question.  If I received an applicant that had 3 references all from the same job I would be quite curious in this candidate.  In my professional opinion, having references from past/current position(s), fellow library professionals, and a sound personal contact would be a better choice.  Following this advice allows the hiring manager to obtain a few different perspectives of the candidate in a variety of work/volunteer settings.  I also encourage job applicants to list more than three references.  It takes time to build strong professional connections and it demonstrates that you have a growing group of individuals who have wonderful words to say about your work.

– Scott Wiebensohn, Manager of Library Services, Jones eGlobal

 

Hiring managers prefer to talk to references that will be able to talk about your work with them that would apply to the job they need you to do. If that means the references are going to all be from the same library, then it means they are all from the same library especially if you worked there for several years. That being said, you should always select references that will put you in the best light possible, individuals that can talk about the success of an event that you put together, how you can keep cool under pressure, or how innovative you are. You should also always send the job description to the reference so they know what you are applying for and will have time to think of examples in advance regarding your performance that would apply to that job.

If you are worried about references (or lack of references) that would be “red flags” to a hiring manager, I can provide some examples in that area. I would be concerned if there was no former or current supervisor as a reference (the current is understandable considering you may not want them to know you are applying but a supervisor should be listed). If there are no references at all in the area of your career arch, for example, your resume shows that you have always worked in public services and you are applying for a public services job with my institution but all of your references are from cataloging and acquisitions, I would have to wonder what kind of impression you are leaving with your public services colleagues.

Regarding references from careers outside of the library field, if you are not far along in your career, you may need to have a non-library reference. Another reason you might use a non-library reference would depend on the position you are applying for. If there is a heavy marketing and project planning element to the position you are applying for and you have a strong background in this from your career prior to librarianship, your previous non-library supervisor in this area would be a valuable reference for you. Having all non-library references, however, would be a huge red flag for me in hiring for a professional position (but not necessarily for support staff). This is why getting some library experience while working on your MLS is so important! Even if you are a volunteer shelver at your local public library. One library reference for part-time volunteer work is better than no library reference at all.

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

 

J. McRee ElrodWe would find three references from the same job redundant.  

 

Work habits in library jobs are relevant.

 

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

 

Randall SchroederThis is one of those things doing a job search that is very easy to overthink. In my experiences references almost never get you the job. They may disqualify you, but they do not put you over the top. I would like to see at least one reference from your current position, but I also understand when you want to keep the application quiet so as not to cause political problems at your old place of work. If the other two references come from other jobs, it is not usually a red flag. The one thing that raises my eyebrow are personal references. I’ve received contacts for family friends and clergy. I’m really not that interested. Keep them professional, please.
One of the most interesting requests for a job I was applying for was a reference from someone that supervised me, someone for whom I supervised, and a colleague of equal stature on the org chart. Interesting idea.
– Randall Schroeder, Director of Libraries, Archives and Media at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota
 

Sarah MorrisonIt really depends on your work history, I think.  If you’ve been at one job long enough that previous coworkers can’t talk specifically about your qualities, I think three references from the same library would be fine; if the references were from different departments within your library, that would help.  Hopefully you can include as a reference someone you know at another library who served on a committee or worked on a regional project with you.  I would prefer to see max. two references besides supervisors from a single position. 

Even if some of the references are non-library, they’re still going to be able to talk about your work ethic, customer service skills, and reliability.  Our phone reference calls don’t go into specifics about the job duties, so non-library references are no problem.  The only thing I don’t want to see on a resume are personal references—your neighbor, your pastor, your friend.  Professors, intern and volunteer supervisors, and previous coworkers are all fine, no matter what field you were in at the time.

– Sarah Morrison, Adult Services Librarian, Neill Public Library, Pullman, Washington

 

Sherle Abramson-BluhmI personally have no qualifiers for references.  I am mostly hiring entry level so the chances that someone would have 3 library references is remote.
 
I want references to speak to work ethic, skills that could be applicable, flexibility and openness to learning.
 
I want them to be fairly recent, but have accepted new references for older positions if someone is re-entering the workforce.  My feeling is that if they can get a supervisor from the past to speak of their abilities than they made an impact.
 
I would almost rather they not all be from one job – unless the person has been there so long it would be irrelevant to go further back.
 
In this case it might be helpful to see a reference from a non-employer – someone who served on a committee with the person; someone who worked with them in a club, organization or volunteer setting.
– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan

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! Yeah man and then the local band get up on the stage and they begin to rage.  They being to rock and roll, they got the super comment.

Leave a comment

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

Project Management is Something That Many New Graduates Do Not Know How to Do

School children singing, Pie Town, New Mexico (LOC)This 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:

Currently: information literacy librarian
Future plans: metadata/cataloging, health sciences subject liaison

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 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)

4

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

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Reference
√ Instruction

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

Project management is something that many new graduates do not know how to do. Often this is something that is learned on the job. It would be a better transition for both the employee and the employer if MLS graduates had some basic project management skills.

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

√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly

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

Soft skills, leadership skills, software applications

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)?

Lately, I’m very impressed by students who graduate from Indiana University-Bloomington.

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

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

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

Gain as much practical experience as possible

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

1 Comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

They Know What the Salary Is, so Why Keep it a Secret?

Picnic lunch on a hunting party, Queensland, ca. 1912This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for A year to 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This job hunter is in a city/town in the Midwestern US and is willing to move anywhere.

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

A chance to develop what I learned from library school and from previous experience working in libraries.
An environment of respect and mutual encouragement, not stuffy and formal.
A decent wage, appropriate to the cost of living in that geographic area.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, USAJobs, indeed.com, university listserv

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

Other:They could at least say what the minimum salary is. Of course they know what it is, so why keep it a secret? If I have to relocate for a job, it needs to be worth it. Why waste everyone’s time by not giving out this information?

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

I have a CV and a resume that I tweak for specific job postings. I have a saved document with references and their contact info. I have a cover letter template that helps me develop a letter that specifically addresses the duties listed in the job posting. I spend about 30-45 minutes, just to make sure I’ve covered everything and corrected any errors (punctuation, spelling, etc.) I also research the organization’s website.

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 tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

Include the salary in the job posting!!!!!!!!!!

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

Please don’t make applicants wait 4-5 months before they receive any type of communication regarding their applications.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Networking, or just plain luck.

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 Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Public, Special

1 day per application

The hunt for the Governor gang of bushrangers. A posse of mounted police, aboriginal trackers and district volunteers.This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for less than six months. This person is looking for an entry level position in an archives. This new grad/entry level applicant has the following internship/volunteering experience.

Volunteer to help get the Chinatown Lantern up and running (I helped to select and implement the organization scheme and input the Lantern’s collection info into LibraryThing, which will serve as their online catalog until they can purchase a dedicated software system).

Intern at New England Historic Genealogy Society (processed a manuscript collection).

Intern at the North End Historical Society (jack of all trades & having a great time)

This job hunter is in a city/town in the Northeastern US, and is not willing to move.

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

Opportunity for advancement within the organization or peer organizations
The employer’s willingness and desire to invest in training/professional development
Colleagues who genuinely respect each other and who like to work together

Where do you look for open positions?

Twitter
Professional listserv
Archivesgig.livejournal.com
LinkedIn (INALJ)

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

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

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

1 day per application

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

Offer a workplace environment that is engaging and invest in training and professional development for all employees (both for the good of the employer and for the good of the profession). The employees of this type of organization will ensure that the employer’s qualities are known throughout their network, which will attract quality candidates.

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

Create a good management strategy before a position opens up (so that the employer is not left scrambling to fill the position). Decide beforehand how to filter the applicants down to a manageable few, and communicate to all candidates at every stage of the application process to let them know if they have advanced to the next stage or if they are free to focus on their other applications.

Silence from a potential employer is the worst thing. Silence followed by an out-of-the-blue call for an interview is not good, either; this would make me question that employer’s organization and ability to handle complex projects. I may not want to work for an employer that demonstrates such poor communication skills and lack of respect for potential employees. It poisons the well, so to speak; later in my career I may remember an employer as “the one that didn’t call me back” and my poor impression of the employer may affect possible collaborations with them throughout my career.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being on top of your game and luck. There are so many of us now that even going on an interview when you’re not feeling well could make or break you!

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

City/town and Urban area seem to be redundant. What do you mean by listing both? This might create noise when you compile your survey responses.

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, Northeastern US

Residency Run-Down: National Library of Medicine Associate Fellowship Program

Applications are now open for this residency: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/about/training/associate/applicinfo.html

REPOST FROM June 6, 2013

Here is another post for you new and soon-to-be new grads.  Kathel Dunn was gracious enough to speak with me about the Associate Fellowship program at the National Library of Medicine.  If you’re interested in being a health sciences librarian, please pay close attention!


Can you give us a brief introduction to the NLM Associate Fellowship Program?

NLM FellowsSure! The Associate Fellowship Program is a one-year residency program at the National Library of Medicine on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The fellowship offers recent library science graduates the opportunity to learn about NLM’s products, services, and databases; its research and development areas; and its outreach to the public, particularly underserved populations; and to health professionals.

Why does the NLM continue to fund this program?  What makes it important to your organization?

NLM continues to fund the program – it’s over 40 years old – because of a strong commitment to training health sciences librarians. It’s part of our Long Range Plan.

What are the main job duties of  the Associate Fellows – do they differ from those of “regular” librarians?

The Associate Fellows’ main “job” is to learn. So their responsibilities are first to participate in a curriculum, taught by staff, which covers all of the work that NLM does. It’s extensive – lasting approximately 5 months. At the end of that time, the Associate Fellows then move into the project phase of the year where they work on projects proposed by staff. In addition, they go to conferences, visit other health sciences libraries, and present on their project to all NLM staff at the end of the year.

Are Associate Fellows paid?  Do they get any other special benefits?

Yes, Associate Fellows are paid $51,630 for the year. In addition, they receive:

  • An additional amount provided to assist in paying for health insurance
  • Up to $1,500 to aid with moving expenses
  • Full funding to attend local and national conferences

What would you tell a potential applicants in order to convince them to apply for the program?

Nlm_building_lg (resized)I usually don’t try to convince someone to apply.  If someone has to be   convinced, it’s probably not a good match. What I want to convey, though, is how exciting it is to be at the National Library of Medicine, where many of the products and services used not just by health sciences libraries and libraries but by researchers and the public across the United States and the world are created, maintained and reinvented. For a librarian in any stage of his or her career, NLM is an amazing place to be.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Applicants must have graduated from an ALA-accredited program within the past two years. That’s the basic eligibility requirement. What we also like to see is an interest in health sciences librarianship and in leadership.

What does the selection process entail? How does it differ from the regular job application process?

nlm frontWe ask for a structured resume**, three written references, transcripts, and responses to two questions: What do you hope to gain by participating in the NLM Associate Fellowship Program and If selected, what will you bring to the NLM Associate Fellowship Program?

The regular job application process for NLM is through the USAJobs web site and does not usually require responses to narrative statements.

**Emily’s note: The structured resume in this context is a resume which is formatted and contains information as specified on page 6 of the current application.

Any tips for students?  Is there anything they could do to improve their chances of winning a spot in your program?

The biggest tip is to pay attention to the application instructions. We ask for a complete job history on their resume, to include library and non-library jobs. We respect the work and skills someone may have learned from another industry, including customer service, management, project planning, or marketing, as examples.

We also look for signs of leadership or interest in leadership in the resume, reference letters, or responses to the questions.

When will the next Associate Fellows be picked?

The next Associate Fellows’ application deadline will be in early February 2014. We then review applications and in late March ask between 10 and 12 applicants to visit us for an interview in mid to late April. We make our decision on who we’ve selected by late April or early May.

Anything else you want to tell us about the program, or about job hunting in general?

Kathel DunnYes. I’m happy to take calls or emails from students interested in the program or anyone who would like to work at NLM. Really. It’s my job and it’s a pleasure to hear from someone who’d like to know more about the National Library of Medicine.


Photos of NLM Fellows and Kathel Dunn by Troy Pfister, National Library of Medicine.

Thank you to Ms. Dunn for taking the time to answer my questions!

If you run a LIS residency program and you’d like to discuss it here, please contact me.  I’d love to talk to you.

Leave a comment

Filed under 200+ staff members, Residency Run-Down, Special

Have a plan B

School Children In AlgeriaThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference and Children’s

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 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)

4

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ 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?

project management, interpersonal skills, basic knowledge of what a public library stands for, unrealistic daily job expectations, and once in a while, a basic lack of truly wanting to help ALL people.

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)?

The policies and procedures of that institution. Internal communication. Latest hot topics. Community needs.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Student organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

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

N/A

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

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

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

make contacts, take any library job to get a foot in the door and experience. Have a plan B.

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

Nice survey, good luck. We need more cooperation between library schools and the “real” world : )

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

6 Comments

Filed under 50-100 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Filling out applications are a waste of time.

HUNTING TRIPThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in academic and public libraries, for positions requiring at least two years of experience. This job hunter is in an urban area in the Northeastern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

professional level salary
congenial staff
good location

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA joblist
linkedin
indeed.com
lotsa listservs
college hr sites
sla joblist

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

√ Other: yes, and frustrating when not

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

Rewrite cover letter to reflect position requirements. Choose one of several resumes that also reflect the position requirements. Takes a minimum of half hour for each application.

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

√ Yes

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone
√ Email
√ Mail
√ Phone for good news, email for bad news
√ Other:

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: having enough time to ask my questions

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

thorough job description and offer appropriate salary

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

Just ask for cover letter, resume, references, and when necessary transcripts. Filling out applications are a waste of time.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being under 40, having tech skills

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

All the jobs I have applied to in Wisconsin have been very responsive, personal, and encouraging even if I was not selected. Wisconsin must be a great place to live.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

2 Comments

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