Category Archives: Instruction

Push (hard and quickly) beyond your love of books and personal nostalgia about libraries

Work with schools story hour in the open, librarian and ch...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:

Instruction/Information literacy, Cataloging, Media services

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern US .

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

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

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

√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Metadata
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations
√ Portfolio/ePortfolio
√ Field Work/Internships

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

Emotional intelligence, demonstration of knowledge of pedagogy and teaching skills, strategic planning, project management, assessment and data analysis, leadership skills (not the same as the bullet selection above called Library Management)

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

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

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

Exposure to software and applications are nice, but competency is built using them in the specific context of the practice of a particular library/institution.

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)?

Indiana University-Bloomington, Syracuse University, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, UIUC

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

University of Wisconsin- Madison

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

Push (hard and quickly) beyond your love of books and personal nostalgia about libraries. Find your professional voice. Build competency with assessment and data analysis. Practice talking to people outside librarianship about what you do– using *their* frames of reference.

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

Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.

Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Instruction, Midwestern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

We are Seeing Some Entitlement Issues with the Younger Librarians

School No.2 Students in Dublin New Hampshire 2This 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:

Reference, Instruction, Access Services

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Southern US.

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

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

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

√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Instruction
√ 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?

Understanding what teamwork is and involves – how to be a team player and support co-workers in creating a successful department. We’ve had both employees and applicants tell us “what I want to do”, “what I think is good for you” – a personal agenda – without consideration of the work setting, co-workers…

Likewise, the ability to go beyond “what I want to do” to help the team be successful – coming in early, staying late, covering a lunch break when someone is running late, pitching in when it’s busy – consideration and respect for other team members. We are seeing some entitlement issues with the younger librarians.

Ability to actively listen to supervisors and understand what they are asking of you as an employee.

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 specifics of our location, clientele, how we work within our academic setting.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
√ Other: Customer service 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?

University of Arizona – we hired one young librarian from the University of Arizona who came poorly prepared – little knowledge of collection development, how to conduct reference interview, no exposure to students in a classroom setting.

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

Ask questions – shadow other librarians – volunteer at local libraries

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

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Instruction, Public Services/Reference, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Researcher’s Corner: Education, Training and Recruitment of Special Collections Librarians

This post presents research by Kelli Hansen. As in Eamon Tewell’s research on jobs for Academic librarians, you’ll see that she finds that entry-level positions are scarce.  However, she also identifies characteristics and skills that candidates can cultivate to improve their chances, and I’m intrigued by her findings about the increasingly multi-disciplinary nature of these jobs.  I hope you enjoy this post, because I’m very proud to be able to share it with you.


This project started as a student paper in Michael Laird’s class on Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Texas at Austin in spring 2009.  Some of our readings raised questions about employers’ expectations of new special collections librarians.  I was preparing to start my job search at the time, and I wondered whether some of the answers could be found in position advertisements.  Here’s what I found out.

Methodology

For the purposes of this study, I was only interested in job ads for entry-level special collections librarians.  It was difficult to define entry-level because very few job advertisements suitable for recent graduates openly represent themselves as such.  Unexpectedly, it was also difficult to define special collections and even librarian.

In the end, my criteria for including advertisements were as follows:

  1. One year of experience or less; or, length of experience not specified; and
  2. No supervisory duties over other professionals; and
  3. Position assigned to special collections or rare books (with at least 50% of job duties in one of those areas); and
  4. Title and requirements that reflect training in librarianship (as opposed to training in archives, conservation, museum studies, or digitization).

I did not keep track of a total population of job advertisements because I did not intend to estimate the percentage of jobs available to new graduates.  I only wanted a snapshot of the skills and experience employers were looking for in entry-level applicants, and the responsibilities and environments recent graduates could expect in their first positions.

I had a hard time locating advertisements, primarily because of the ephemeral nature of online postings. Eighty-eight position announcements, culled from various print and electronic sources from 2004 to 2009, fit my criteria and were included in the study.

Findings

After I collected all of the advertisements, I broke down statistics for features like salary, professional status, geographic location, and institution type.  I found that the largest number of positions was in the Northeast.  The median salary was $40,000, and academic or research environments made up the overwhelming majority.  Over 75 percent required a single master’s degree – either the MLS or a master’s degree in a subject area.  About 30 percent of the advertisements specified that another advanced degree, in addition to the library degree, was preferred.  Almost half of the advertisements required the candidate to have some experience (of an unspecified amount), and over seventy percent of the advertisements stated that experience of some sort was preferred.

In order to measure more subjective requirements, I also did some basic text analysis on the qualifications sections for common keywords, which I classified into broad categories based on the white paper Competencies for Special Collections Professionals.   In the qualifications, keywords varied widely.  The most common single keywords were history, cataloging, and technology.  The competencies with the highest frequencies were Teaching and Research and Public Service, followed closely by Cataloging and Processing and Information Technology.

When I analyzed the duties sections of the advertisements in the same way, there was much less variation.  The most frequent single keywords for duties were reference and research.  The category with the highest frequency was Teaching and Research, appearing in 73 percent of advertisements.  However, the following categories all appeared in 72 percent of the advertisements: Management and Administration, Promotion and Outreach, and Public Service.  Cataloging and Processing was represented in 70 percent of advertisements.

Conclusions

To summarize very briefly, I reached some of the following conclusions:

  1.  Entry-level positions in special collections are scarce, and they aren’t so entry-level.  Like many library jobs, there’s an overwhelming preference for candidates with some prior experience.  Nearly a third of hiring institutions also prefer candidates with additional graduate education.  These facts indicate a very competitive job market.
  2. The job advertisements reflect overlap among libraries, archives, and museums.  There has been much talk about library-archive-museum convergence over the past decade, and the job announcements confirm that idea.  It may be useful for job seekers to cultivate skills and experience in all three areas.
  3. Institutions seem to be looking for candidates who are both generalists and specialists.  Most of the skills mentioned in the advertisements – reference, research support, instruction, cataloging – apply to librarians of all stripes.  However, the position responsibilities and requirements suggest that aspiring special collections librarians need to combine comprehensive library skills with specialized knowledge of subject areas and materials.

The Future

The full version of this research was published in RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage in September 2011.  I only touched on the surface with this article, and there’s still a lot to find out about hiring and training librarians in this field.  Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.


Kelli Bruce Hansen earned her MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2010, and her MA in art history from the University of Missouri in 2003. Currently, she’s a librarian in the department of Special Collections and Rare Books at the University of Missouri Libraries, where she focuses on instruction, outreach, and reference. She can be contacted at hansenkb@missouri.edu.

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Filed under Archives, Cataloging/Technical Services, Entry Level, Guest Posts, Instruction, library research, MLIS Students, Northeastern US, Researcher's Corner

Further Questions: What is the most important “soft” skill?

**This question is inspired by the segment on non-cognitive skills from the Back to School episode of This American Life. It’s a great episode, if you’re looking for something to listen to:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/474/back-to-school

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

What is the most important “soft” skill for a candidate to have, and how can it be demonstrated in an application packet (if it can)?

J. McRee Elrod

Since our cataloguers work at a distance, the “ability to play with others” important in a workplace does not usually apply.  We value promptness and living up to commitments.  We have no way of measuring this other than experience with the cataloguer, and don’t know how it could be demonstrated in advance.

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

Nicola FranklinHmm this week’s question is harder than it looks!  Given other things being equal (which they often are; people attend the same/similar MLS programmes after all), it is soft skills that often tip the balance between candidates, so picking out just one to be the most important is hard!

I would say that communication skills are the most important ‘soft’ skill for a candidate to have.  Of course, ‘communication skills’ is a short phrase for a large range of skills.  Unpacking it, you get written, verbal and non-verbal communication, and within each of those are again a range of skills.  For example, within verbal communication you have persuasion, influencing, presenting, telephone skills, reference interviewing, etc.

Candidates can demonstrate written communication skills directly through their resume or application form – is the writing clear, concise, articulate?  Verbal communication skills are harder to show in the application packet, but can still be alluded to indirectly, for example by including experience of chairing meetings, giving presentations, manning issue or enquiry desks, etc, which involve using verbal skills.

I’ve written more about different types of communication skills on my blog.

– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.

Marleah AugustineOver time working in a library, I found that empathy and patience is one of the most important skills that people should have in a public library. We work with a wide range of patrons, and it’s very important to be patient and understanding. When I have a tough experience with a patron, I can’t be snippy and rude to them — I don’t know if they just lost a family member, if they have a mental health issue, if they didn’t take their blood pressure medication that morning, or if they just lost their job. Yes, it can be trying, but I have to be able to brush it off and move on with my day — and not take it out on the next person to approach the desk. I might be skewed in this direction because I also have a master’s in psychology, but I think it’s very important for staff to realize that they don’t know what that patron is experiencing and they must treat all patrons with the same level of professionalism and respect.

That skill is also important when working with fellow coworkers. Not everyone has the same work style or method of approaching tasks, but different methods can be equally productive. Staff need to consider that what works for them doesn’t always work for others, and this goes for part-time and full-time staff alike.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Laurie PhillipsOkay, I’ll be the first to admit that I had to look up soft skills because I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. Truth is, what you call soft skills are, in many cases, more important to us than anything else. You have to have these basics to come work here. Most of them can’t be demonstrated in an application packet, but you should be prepared to address them in interviews and presentations and to expect that your references will have to address them.

I found any article by Kate Lorenz titled “Top 10 Soft Skills for Job Hunters” on the web. Her top 10 are all crucial in my environment:

1. Strong work ethic – we need people who are thinkers and visionaries but we also absolutely need people who are productive – what we call “do-ers.”

2. Positive attitude – one person we interviewed in my last search asked for feedback on why he didn’t get the job. The main thing was his attitude toward some big projects we were accomplishing over the summer. He sounded like he was dreading the fallout. On the other hand, the person I hired described our approach as “fearless.”

3. Good communication skills – this is a top requirement. Written communication skills are evidenced by your letter. Don’t miss that opportunity. Verbal and interpersonal skills will come out in your interviews and presentations.

4. Time management abilities – the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities is crucial. We are blended librarians who have a lot on our plates. We ask people in the phone/Skype interview to describe situations that illustrate these abilities.

5. Problem-solving skills – again, a crucial skill. We are often looking at creative solutions to difficult problems.

6. Acting as a team player – we are a team-based organization, so we often ask references about the person’s ability to work with others collaboratively. If all of their accomplishments are solitary, it’s hard to see them fitting in here.

7. Self-confidence – we have to put ourselves out there with our students and faculty and project confidence in our abilities and our knowledge in order to be taken seriously.

8. Ability to accept and learn from criticism – our librarians get a lot of feedback and mentoring as part of the rank and tenure process. If they cannot learn from that feedback and respond to it, they will not progress.

9. Flexibility/Adaptability – our jobs change and evolve. We have to be open to that.

10. Working well under pressure – our Learning Commons desk is insane for the first couple of weeks of school. If we can survive that and our teaching load, we’re fine.

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

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

Thanks for reading! All day I’ve faced a barren waste, without the taste of comments, cool comments.

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Filed under Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, Instruction, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Public Services/Reference, Recruiters

Knowledge in Area. Ability to Express Self Clearly. Not a Jerk.

Juarez, Library after battle, ca 1910-1915This anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at a library with 10-50 staff members.

 

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

Knowledge in area. Ability to express self clearly. Not a jerk.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

Application packet: don’t have degree required. Don’t have experience required. Egregious spelling/grammatical errors.
Interview: Since applicant will be working with faculty, administration and serving on committees, how will they represent the library? They must be comfortable presenting.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

“Familiar with…” “Working knowledge of….” What does this mean? Tell us how you have used a product or software. Be specific (and truthful)
Objectives. We know you want this job – why else are you applying?

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

Experience that matters. If you are applying for an instruction position, mention that you have taught K-12 even if it has nothing to do with “library work.”

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ As many as it takes, but shorter is better

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, I want to look at every accomplishment

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ Other: all apps are done online via HR site

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Wow us with your knowledge or understanding of an area. We have a gap and it’s comforting to know you can fill it with no worries on our part.
Be honest
Be courteous
Be prepared. If you have 3 days to put a presentation together – do it. We have to do it, too.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Not doing above. I seriously dislike interrupting. Be sure to tell us what we need to know about your background – this is not the time to leave anything out.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

Presentations are required and more emphasis on this.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Instruction, Original Survey

Further Questions: Can You Explain What “Fit” Is?

This week I asked people who hire librarians to define the most amorphous of candidate qualifications.  My question was:

Can you explain what “fit” is and why it is important in hiring a new employee?

Barbara Stripling“Fit” can be defined in a couple of ways, and both are important in determining how well a candidate will flourish in a particular work environment.  First, fit applies to the candidate’s qualifications for the job.  Does the applicant have the educational background, skills, and (sometimes) experiences that will enable him or her to quickly get up to speed in the new job?  If, for example, you are hiring someone to plan youth programming, but the candidate has no training in children’s or young adult services, then you have to think carefully about whether the candidate has the flexibility and drive to learn quickly and adapt previous training or experiences to youth services.  If the candidate has not pursued children’s services because he or she doesn’t like to work with children, then that lack of “fit” will spell disaster for all concerned.

The second instance of “fit” is tougher to define and even harder to discern during the interview process.  A candidate must fit comfortably into the culture of the organization.  I have found that, by asking candidates questions that get to the heart of their beliefs and passions (e.g., Why does this position appeal to you?  What do you hope to accomplish in this position?), I am usually able to tell if a candidate would feel comfortable with the underlying vision and culture of the organization.  This aspect of fit is essential, because every person in an organization makes decisions constantly (about how to respond to a patron or solve a problem or just perform a task).  If those decisions are guided by an intrinsic set of beliefs that match the organizational culture, then the new employee will be able to contribute successfully to the whole organization.

– Barbara Stripling, 2013-2014 ALA President, Asst. Professor of Practice at Syracuse University iSchool, Former Hirer of School Librarians

Petra MauerhoffA good “fit” means that a candidate will be able to comfortably be part of an organization’s culture. Ideally, good “fit” means that personality conflicts are kept to a minimum and the adjustment period for the new member of the team is quick and easy. It also means that the new team member is easily able to represent the mission, vision and values or an organization and that the existing team is comfortable with having him/her on board.
Of course it also means that the skill set of the new team member fits with the skill set required for the position and the flexibility to adapt to each position’s special circumstances.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

Marleah Augustine“Fit” definitely comes into play when I am considering applicants. An applicant’s qualifications and experience must show that they are suitable for the position here at the library – in some cases, previous employment does not show any organizational or customer service experience, both of which I am primarily looking for with applicants. If their job experience does not “fit” with what I’m looking for, I’m not likely to interview them. I also have to consider how well applicants will fit with existing staff. This is pretty touchy, since some of this deals with personality, but it is still an important factor. Sometimes in an interview, you just get a vibe from the applicant and you can tell whether they would fit in with staff or not – and of course, this can be misinterpreted and you may end up being surprised by someone you didn’t expect or hiring someone who doesn’t fit at all. All in all, I think “fit” is a lot like obscenity – you know it when you see it!

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Terry Ann LawlerFit is tough to describe because it might change according to staffing levels, current staff member abilities, and ‘holes’.  Here’s an example, I might have a whole staff of crotchety old timers who hate change and are overly negative (I don’t! Just an example!) and when I’m hiring I am looking, of course, for someone who is positive, creative and likes change.  But, the ‘fit’ part is when I’m also looking for someone who everyone else will also like.  So, in this example, I might pick someone who is of similar age or temperament to the overall group so that their positivity will be viewed as energizing rather than threatening.  If i picked someone too young they might be treated derisively or thief ideas be dismissed because if their inexperience.  This is an overly broad example of something that can be very subtle and difficult to view as a hiring manager.  In another situation I might be looking for someone very young with a more low key attitude.   Needless to say, if you don’t get the job because of ‘fit’ you might have really not liked that job anyway.  In most cases, it is very acceptable to call and ask for feedback from the HR department.

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

 

We have no such concept.

I hope such a concept is not used to hinder minority and new immigrant employment.

 

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

Colleen Harris“Fit” is hard to define and easy to notice when it’s really right. Essentially, ‘fit’ is a measurement of how well a candidate’s goals, personality, energy, communication style, and general self-presentation mesh with those of the hiring organization and with the position they’re looking to fill. (For instance, interviewing for an instruction librarian position and mentioning that you hate being in the classroom or interacting with the public indicates poor fit between applicant and job; on the other hand, a candidate who declares their desire for transparency and coordination may find a more restrictive, hierarchical library is not a good fit for them.)

More and more I see libraries attempting to address fit in their job ads, either through using a playful tone in the ad that might warn off more serious folks (or vice versa), or noting the desire for an ‘energetic’ candidate, or one who “demonstrates enthusiasm for X” in their required and desired qualifications, which is an attempt to get at the fit question.

As to why it’s important in hiring a new employee, hiring a person is like a shorter-term marriage commitment. There are responsibilities and mutual dependencies that happen between a staff member and an organization, and if the fit is poor, much like a poor match in a marriage, it can make both parties miserable. An assessment of fit is trying to get at whether the hiree will be happy in the organizational environment. I’d note that the best organizations will craft specific questions regarding fit and won’t leave it to impressions or assumptions; interviewees should do the same. (For instance, if cooperation and teamwork are important to you, have some prepared questions that subtly get at whether the institution is very siloed, which might mean it is not a good fit for you.)

I’ll add that “fit” is hard to get at. Many academic libraries get three tries at measuring applicants on this – in the cover letter, the phone interview, and the in-person interview. Even then, it’s an amorphous concept and can lead to HR troubles. Many of the libraries I’ve worked for (academic libraries at public universities) design their candidate rubrics that the hiring committee uses to address fit in terms of the job description and qualifications, which reduces the possibility for assumption and discrimination. (This way, if they note they want an energetic and enthusiastic person, and a candidate sleepwalks through the interview, they’re being fair in giving that candidate a low score for that requirement.)

– Colleen  S. Harris, Head of Access Services & Assistant Professor, Lupton Library,University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Laurie PhillipsFit means that you will work well in the type of organization that is hiring and that you mesh well with the people there and the work style and ethic and the philosophy of the organization. I know that’s long and complex but it is a complex concept. We are a happily team-based organization where almost everything we do is with others or for others. We would not hire someone who could not work well with groups. If something seems off about how the person interacts with us as a team, that’s a red flag. It’s especially important that the person can relate well to both faculty and staff colleagues, as well as teaching faculty and students. Excellent communication skills are a must. We are a “pitch in and do it” kind of organization so if someone seems reluctant to work in that environment, they’re not a good fit. We expect people to take leadership, even in entry level positions, and to grow and thrive in the organization. We ask very specific questions of both candidates and their references to get a sense of how the person would fit in and work in our organization. I hope that also explains why it’s important!

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

Thank you as always to the above for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and you would like to share your opinion in this segment (or otherwise), please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

And thank you for reading!  Comments are always open, in order to make it easier for you to comment.

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Filed under Academic, Adult Services, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, Instruction, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Public Services/Reference, School

Further Questions: Does Volunteering Help a Candidate’s Chances?

This week I asked people who hire librarians to talk to me about volunteering and internships.  My question was:

What kinds of volunteer or internship experiences (if any) help a candidate’s chances with you and your organization?

Terry Ann LawlerAny! Really.  So few people bother to volunteer or intern and it is a huge mistake. I look at that as real world job experience and, depending on the duties, just as good as any paying library job on a resume.
 So, if you are unemployed, or underemployed, consider working a few hours a week for free.  You’ll develop experience, contacts and professional relationships that pay off.  I have, for example, helped volunteers and interns with resumes, recommendations, and passed along inside info on job openings.  You get a lot more than you realize for those ‘free’ hours you put in.
– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library
Colleen HarrisAnything that you can leverage into listing as experience in technology, teaching, information management, or customer service will help. If you’ve volunteered by designing websites, flash-mob cataloged a local collection for a church or other agency, or even taught free workshops on something at your local public library, you might be able to use it.  Most importantly, what you need to do is be able to either (a) relate it to the required and preferred/desired qualifications posted for the position, or (b) relate it to something you know about my library and/or University that demonstrates how it makes you a good match for us. Listing a volunteer or internship experience alone wont help you much, it’s the connectivity factor that will make it or break it as useful to you.
– Colleen  S. Harris, Head of Access Services & Assistant Professor, Lupton Library,University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Many library schools fail to provide field work experience. Volunteering is a way to fill in that gap, as well as a source of references.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

We do not have any volunteer or unpaid internship experiences/positions available.

I like to see a commitment to service in the community, in general, as I think it is important to contribute to the community in a  positive way. Sadly, I cannot make that the most important criteria on which I base hiring decisions. Being a good person is important, but showing up, being cheerful, doing the work without complaint and being committed to excellent customer service are the most important when I am hiring someone.

If a candidate has an extraordinary volunteer position that could be considered a job, they should put it in the job category of their resume.

– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP

Photo of Daveta CooperAlmost any volunteer experience or internship is helpful, especially for entry-level candidates or those who are coming back to the profession after an absence. What a candidate has done in their free time, or in pursuit of professional development, says a lot about them. Someone who has chosen to work for the benefit of the community or intern at an organization to learn new skills is probably a better coworker and employee than someone who has not done so.
– Daveta Cooper, Library Manager,Technical Services, Benicia Public Library
Thanks as always to our hiring librarians for answering this week’s question!
If you have an opinion to share, the comments are open.  If you are also someone who hires librarians and are interested in being a regular participant in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.
Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Instruction, Law Library, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Public Services/Reference, Web/Computer Services