Category Archives: Web/Computer Services

Author’s Corner: Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian

Our friends at the Library and Information Technology Association have published a brand new guide to becoming a digital librarian. I’m very grateful to editor Jane Monson, who has written today’s guest post. Not only will you get a glimpse of some of the topics covered in the book, but she’s put together some great advice for library students and entry level librarians.

During the past decade or so, the job title of “digital librarian” has become increasingly common as more and more libraries move their content and services online. In my recently published book, Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian: A LITA Guide, the specifics skills needed to position oneself for a job in this brave new world of librarianship – among them, familiarity with metadata, digital preservation, and web development – are explained by a cadre of experienced professionals in the field. Jump start your career as a digital librarianHowever, when it comes to job searching, the would-be digital librarian faces the same challenges as any other new professional: namely, to stand out in an over-crowded field and somehow find a position that balances both desires (to land a dream job) and needs (to pay the bills).

With that in mind, I would like to share a few kernels of wisdom that both the book’s contributors and I have gathered in our own employment searches, as well as our experiences serving on hiring committees. Much of this advice is specific to entry-level librarians, as they are usually the ones with the greatest obstacles to employment.

  1. Lay the groundwork during library school. In their chapter, “Getting the Most Out of Library School,” authors Micah Vandegrift and Annie Pho discuss ways that the savvy student can take optimal advantage of the opportunities available in library school and emerge as a desirable job candidate. They recommend surveying the job landscape early and often (ideally, before you even begin school); being creative with your coursework and fashioning your own specialty if your program doesn’t offer exactly what you want; putting in work through part-time jobs, practicums, internships, and volunteer work; and connecting with others through online and traditional venues. Knowing what skills employers are looking for by scanning job ads is a good way to target courses and part-time jobs that will give you the best experience in your chosen area. Some schools offer specialized tracks (for example, in digital libraries), but if yours doesn’t you can often create a close approximation using the DIY approach, cobbling together courses from other departments and initiating independent studies. Be willing to spend time outside of school teaching yourself relevant technology skills and keeping up on the latest journals and trade publications. Take advantage of any opportunity to attend professional conferences and workshops, and don’t be afraid to jump into online networking to get your face and name out there.
  2. Get as much work experience as you can while in school. Of the items listed above, “putting in work” may well be the most critical. It seems unfair, but the sad truth is that employment begets employment. Many a new librarian, digital or otherwise, has complained that employers seem unwilling to train new hires with little prior experience. Therefore, one of your main jobs while in library school is to train yourself, outside of the classroom. Don’t graduate without at least one volunteer gig, graduate assistantship, or other library-related job on your resume (and ideally several). If this isn’t possible for you to do, think carefully about your decision to enter library school – unless, of course, you already have significant library work experience prior to enrolling, or you don’t plan on using the degree to work in a library. When choosing a graduate program, weigh heavily the opportunities for students to find work in libraries on campus and in the surrounding area. These experiences are often more important than the classes you take.
  3. Be willing to relocate. There may be some fields that will easily allow you to go to school, undertake a career, and retire all in the same place. Librarianship, unfortunately, is not generally one of them. One important point that Elyssa Sanner and Catherine Wagner make in the chapter “Landing Your First Job,” is that unless you are willing to wait around for a relevant position to open up in your geographic area, the surest way to find a job after graduation is to cast your net as widely as possible. This is not to say that no one ever finds jobs within a targeted location, but these jobs are more likely to require a compromise – they may be part-time, or not in the area you trained for. Limiting yourself geographically may not allow you to make the best use of your library degree, and is bound to make the job search that much more difficult and drawn-out. A reality of librarianship today is that you may have to “pay your dues” by taking that all-important first job in a less than desirable location. But once you have those first years under your belt, you will have much more leverage to go after your dream job in your dream place.

The book has many more tips for navigating library school, applying for your first job in the field, transitioning from one area of librarianship to another, and further developing your career (Roy Tennant has some great advice in this chapter). It offers a wealth of information for both digital- and non-digital librarians alike, culled from the collective wisdom of more than twenty contributing authors – many of them hiring librarians themselves. I’m sure I can speak for all of them in wishing you good luck in your job search!

Jane Monson

Jane Monson received her MLS from the University of Iowa, where she was an IMLS Digital Libraries Fellow. She is currently Digital Initiatives Librarian at the University of Northern Colorado; previous to that she was Digital Projects Librarian at Truman State University. She has been published in Computers in Libraries, is a book reviewer for the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, and serves on various ALA editorial committees.

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Filed under Author's Corner, Entry Level, Guest Posts, MLIS Students, Web/Computer Services

Library School Career Center: Drexel University iSchool

Here is this week’s installment of the Library School Career Center feature, which is presented in partnership with the folks from the blog Hack Library School.  If you’re interested in library education, or in new ideas and the future of the profession, you should check it out.  

Jennifer Lally


This interview is with Jennifer Lally, Event & Career Services Manager, Drexel University, The iSchool, College of Information Science & Technology. Jennifer Lally plans all the events for the college and manages a jobs page on the iSchool’s website, where she posts weekly full-time and part-time jobs that pertain to iSchool students.  Jennifer works with employers interested in hiring iSchool students, by setting up information sessions, webinars and field trips.  She also works with student groups helping them plan events.

Career Center Information

Who staffs the career center?  Please talk a little about how it is managed and run.

We do not have a “career center” per se; I am the only person in the iSchool’s office that deals with career services.  Drexel University as a whole has the Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC) where career services are offered to ALL Drexel students.  Each college is assigned someone from the SCDC to work with our students.  The iSchool at Drexel’s key feature is the job board we keep where any jobs received are sent to an email address where they are then opened and posted onto our website.  If students have career services questions, they stop in, call or email me.  I field the questions they have and decide which department they should speak to.  I am basically the liaison to all career services questions, I field the questions and then send them to the appropriate department/person.

We want the students to understand the resources we have available so we include a few career services slides in our mandatory online/on-campus orientation presentation in the beginning of each quarter.  We have a weekly e-newsletter, “The iSchool Weekly Digest” where announcements are sent out every Tuesday and we also have an announcements section in Blackboard Learn where I can post upcoming information sessions, networking events, internships, etc.  We have Graduate Peer Mentors who are available to speak to prospective and new library science students.  The Alumni Association also manages an Alumni Peer Mentoring Program, so students can sign up and find a mentor.  Students may schedule appointments with Ken Bohrer, Graduate co-op coordinator at the SCDC to talk about career questions, resume and cover letter review.  I also help the student chapters advertise the events they plan, which consist of information sessions, field trips, webinars, tours, networking events, resume review events.

Are there “career experts” on staff?  What are their credentials?

We have faculty mentors and we list on our website their specialty areas so students can contact them with questions.

Does the career center provide any of the following:

(If I do not directly provide this service, a department on campus does)

√ Job Listings   √ Resume/CV Review   √ Help writing cover letters
√ Literature/articles   √ Interview Practice   √ General career coaching
√ Networking events (virtual or in-person)
√ Other: We participate and help promote events sponsored by the student groups of professional library associations.

Do you provide in-person services?

√ Appointments (Ken Bohrer does at the SCDC)
√ Speakers, or programs that present experts
√ Mixers or other networking events
√ Job Fairs (*The SCDC hosts 2 big career fairs a year one in October and one in April and I have an event every year after the October career fair inviting all employers who hire iSchool students and invite them to a private reception where students can speak to them one on one.)
√ Drop-in career center:  Students can stop in anytime from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Do you provide online services?

(If I do not personally do it, the Marketing team promotes on Facebook and Twitter; The student groups have webcasted events, I advertise in the e-newsletter)
√ Website with resources
√ Webinars   √ Podcasts   √ Twitter: @ischoolatDrexel
√ Facebook:   √ Newsletter
√ Other: Blackboard announcements section.

What do you think is the best way for students to use the career center?

To read the weekly e-newsletter that goes out every week, to join a student group and keep an eye on the iSchools job board.

May alumni use career center resources?

Yes, the jobs website is open to the public, so anyone can view it.  They can also contact the Career Services Office in the Department of Alumni Relations.

Are there any charges for services?  


Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using the career center?

Students that pay attention to the announcements and job board and become involved in the student groups are more likely to get an internship and gain the experience they need to get a job after graduation.

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


iSchool Alumni GardenDrexel iSchool: Bridge MagazineApril 25, 2011

Students’ Career Paths

Can you share any statistics about employment rates after graduation?

Library Journal 2012 Placements & Salaries results.

Can you talk a little bit about the school’s approach to internships, practicums and/or volunteering?  

We post all internships, practicums and volunteer projects on our job board and will highlight specific ones in our weekly e-newsletter.  We encourage students to take the practicum after they have 24 credits to help build their job portfolio and to become involved if they do not have any prior library experiences.

Does the school have a stated approach or policy on helping students to find careers?


Does the school have any relationships with organizations that offer fellowships or other post-graduate opportunities?

Yes, we received announcements like these from faculty members and staff on the student services team.

Rush Building at Night


How many students in the library school?

We have 470 students currently enrolled in the library science program this winter quarter.

What degree(s) do you offer?

Is it ALA accredited?


What are the entrance requirements?

When was the library school founded?


Where are you?

√ Northeastern US

Where are you?

√ City/town

Brianna Marshall

This interview was conducted by Brianna Marshall is a second year dual-degree Master of Library Science and Master of Information Science student at Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science. She is Managing Editor for Hack Library School and a 2012-2013 HASTAC scholar. Learn more about Brianna through her blog and portfolio or by following her on Twitter @notsosternlib

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Filed under City/town, Library School Career Center, MLIS Students, Northeastern US, Web/Computer Services

Library School Career Center: San Jose State University

Here is this week’s installment of the Library School Career Center feature, which is presented in partnership with the folks from the blog Hack Library School.  If you’re interested in library education, or in new ideas and the future of the profession, you should check it out.  I’m particularly interested in this one because SJSU is my alma mater, and I know first hand that our career center is an excellent resource.  

This interview is with Jill Klees, Career Consultant/Employment Specialist in the Career Center at San Jose State University. Jill has worked in the career coaching field for over 15 years in both academic and corporate environments. She directly supports the School of Library & Information Science as well as the College of Engineering and Department of Computer Science. Jill is highly skilled in resume writing and helping her clients determine their unique talents and strengths. She holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University and a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavioral from the University of San Francisco. Previous to her role at SJSU, Jill gained extensive experience working in start-up, non-profit and technology-based industries providing career-related resources within the Silicon Valley marketplace. As you might expect, SJSU SLIS’ extensive library-specific Career Development Resources are available online.

SJSU career center homepage

Career Center Information

Who staffs the career center? Please talk a little about how it is managed and run.

Our School, in collaboration with the San Jose State University Career Center, develops and manages career resources and services for our graduate students, alumni, and the Library and Information Science (LIS) community. Career Counselor Jill Klees is our School’s Career Center liaison, and she works closely with SJSU SLIS faculty member Jane Fisher in developing career resources that are customized to the library and information science field.

We have an entire section of our website ( that is dedicated to career development. Students can access tools to help them pinpoint their career direction. They can view resume and cover letter directions and samples. They can get tips for conducting a successful job search, including how to use social media in their job search. They can learn how to create a career e-portfolio for sharing with future employers. The website has a wealth of valuable information about careers, and all the career resources are freely available to the public.

Our students also have access to SpartaJobs, which is an active list of job openings. They can contact us for individualized career guidance, such as resume and cover letter assistance. We meet with students – typically this is done virtually – to provide career guidance as well as very specific suggestions for improving resumes and tailoring cover letters.

We also send a monthly e-newsletter to students and alumni that includes job search tips, hot jobs, and career resources. Employers contact our Career Center looking for information professionals to fill open positions. We include these exciting job opportunities in the newsletter – sometimes they haven’t yet been advertised to the public.

We facilitate virtual career development workshops on a variety of career topics, and we offer bi-monthly virtual Career Colloquia featuring industry professionals who share tips, resources, and ideas for employment in the LIS field. For example, we recently, produced an employer meet-and-greet that featured the hiring managers at Credo Reference. Students were able to ask questions and learn what this employer, in particular, looks for in applicants. All workshops and colloquia are held online via web conferencing, allowing for real-time interaction. They are also recorded and available on-demand as webcasts and podcasts. Our Career Colloquia are open to the public for free.

Are there “career experts” on staff? What are their credentials?

Yes, both Jill Klees and Jane Fisher have a solid background in career development.

Jill is a career expert with over 15 years of experience in the career development field. She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and is certified to administer numerous career assessment tools.

Jane has worked in the LIS field for more than 30 years. She has been a part of the industry as it has evolved, giving her a unique perspective on how to be successful in the field and conduct a job search.

Does the career center provide any of the following:

√ Job Listings – Job listing sites and other job search resources are freely available on our School’s website. These resources are open to everyone. Students also have access to SpartaJobs, the San Jose State University campus job and internship database.

 √ Resume/CV Review, writing cover letters – The SLIS Career Development website has information and examples for effective resumes, CVs and cover letters. Both Jill Klees and Jane Fisher are available to critique final draft versions of each of these documents and provide detailed feedback to students.

√ Literature/articles – Yes, the SLIS Career Development website provides links to many relevant articles, job sites, blog posts, and journals.

 √ Interview Practice – Interviewing tips and strategies, including practice questions, are available on the SLIS Career Development website. There is also a link to an online mock interviewing tool free to SJSU students called Perfect Interview where students can record themselves practicing an interview. Jill Klees also offers mock phone interview practice as part of her services for SLIS students.

√  Networking events (virtual or in-person) – Our School understands the critical role networking plays in career development. We provide numerous opportunities for networking:

  1. Student chapters: All new MLIS students receive a complimentary one-year membership in their preferred professional association, including the American Library Association, Special Libraries Association, American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T), and ARMA International. Students also benefit from the opportunity to participate in our School’s active professional association student chapters. Students interact with their peers and professional leaders through virtual networking events, workshops, and conferences, as well as blogs and online discussion forums. Our student chapters have won numerous awards recognizing their excellence and their innovative approach to serving online students, including the 2009 and 2010 ALA and the 2012 ASIS&T Student Chapter of the Year. Current SLIS students can also join the combined student and alumni group, SLISConnect.

  2. Professional Conferences: SJSU SLIS participates in professional conferences and meetings held all over the U.S., Canada, and internationally. We host networking receptions at many conferences, and our students and alumni are always welcomed. It’s a great way to reconnect with colleagues and make new contacts.  A list of upcoming conferences we plan to participate in can be found on our website.  

  3. Internships: Student interns gain real-world experience for building their resumes and make new contacts with potential future employers. SJSU SLIS students have the option to complete an on-site internship located near their home. Or they can complete a virtual internship, where they interact with a host organization that may be located nearby or across the continent. Our expansive internship program gives students the opportunity to engage in exciting learning opportunities that fit their career aspirations, regardless of where they live. We offer more than 200 virtual and physical internship opportunities each semester.

  4. Career Colloquia: Our Career Colloquia feature guest speakers, who include information professionals and hiring managers from a variety of professional settings.  They discuss their work, the skills and experiences required to pursue a similar career pathway, and recruitment opportunities. If students have questions, they are often able to contact speakers directly by email and phone.

  5. Student Assistantships: Many SLIS students work as student assistants, helping SJSU SLIS faculty and staff while gaining hands-on experience with research and professional projects. Student assistantship opportunities vary each semester. Student assistantships are paid part-time positions.

Do you provide in-person services?

√  Appointments – In-person appointments are available. Since our School is 100% online, most appointments are conducted via email, web conferencing, phone, and instant message. If students or alumni live close to campus, they can choose an in-person, on-campus appointment.

√  Speakers, or programs that present experts –Our Career Colloquia series is held fully online, and all sessions are recorded and made available on the SLIS website.

√   Mixers or other networking events- Many of our student chapters host in-person social gatherings/mixers and set up tours of their local libraries. Our School also hosts networking receptions at professional conferences where current students can mingle with alumni, faculty, and friends of SLIS.

√  Drop-in career center – Jill Klees is available for drop-in consulting for students who are close to the San Jose campus and the SJSU Career Center.

Do you provide online services?

SJSU SLIS offers a wealth of online career development resources and services. These resources include self-assessment quizzes to help you pinpoint your career direction, résumé workshops, job search tips and strategies, job listings, and career guidance. All of our career resources are freely available 24/7 on our website:

√  Website with resources – updated regularly

√  Blog – new posts once month

√   Webinars – monthly Career Colloquia and Career Workshops

√  Podcasts – Career Colloquia are made available as podcasts and webcasts for access after the live program.

√  Twitter – We live tweet during our Career Colloquia. We also share career-related article links and job search tips.

√   LinkedIn – We post upcoming SJSU SLIS career events to LinkedIn library and information science discussion groups such as LIS Career Options, Job Skills for Future Librarians, and Librarianship Job Search.

√   Facebook – We share career-related article links and job search tips on our SJSU SLIS Facebook page.

√  Newsletter – emailed monthly to all students.

√  Other – We have a board on Pinterest dedicated to careers. Follow our “Explore Career Paths” board.

What do you think is the best way for students to use the career center?

We recommend that students use our career development resources and services “early and often”. By that we mean that students should think about and focus on their professional career paths throughout their time in our graduate program. Don’t wait until you are graduating. Begin in your first semester by exploring the career development site, and using the tools to help determine how your course choices can help you pursue your future career ambitions. Learn how to conduct informational interviews and to network while you are in school. Take advantage of opportunities to increase your understanding of traditional and non-traditional work settings where you can use skills learned at SLIS. We encourage students to use the resources and to contact us if they need help, have questions, or just want to learn more about the possible career paths open to SLIS graduates. We want students to be successful!

 May alumni use career center resources?

Alumni may freely use all of the resources publicly available on the website and participate in all Career Colloquia. SJSU SLIS is also offering one-year free paid memberships in the SJSU Career Center for all graduating students.

Are there any charges for services?

The SLIS Career Development resources, all Career Colloquia, and recordings of career workshops are freely available on the website. The SpartaJobs database and individual career consulting and materials review is free to current SLIS students.

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using the career center?

We receive emails from students who credit our career resources for helping them land professional jobs. Our students are also very enthusiastic about our career development web pages. Here are a few quotes from students:

  • “This site is so incredible!”
  • “This is by far one of the best, if not the best, resources for students that I have seen.”
  • “I would recommend to anyone in need of career advice, not just SLIS students.”
  • “The information is tailored to SLIS making it a one stop guide.”

To learn more about how our career development resources have helped SLIS students find jobs, we invite you to read about Sarah Naumann, who credits our School’s career resources for helping her land a job as a reference librarian.  You can also read about Sam Leif, who consulted with our Career Counselor and used our career resources to land a job as a librarian at an academic library just two months after earning her MLIS degree at our School.

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

In addition to our career development resources, the MLIS curriculum is constantly evaluated and updated to align with today’s job market and emerging trends in the library and information science field. As a Spring 2012 graduate put it, “I entered the job market with usable skills.”

It’s also very important for students to think broadly and keep an open mind when job searching. The MLIS skillset is transferable to a wide range of organizations and industries. SJSU SLIS graduates work at medical facilities, law firms, public libraries, academic libraries, high-tech companies, schools, and more. Their business cards carry titles such as Information Architect, Usability Analyst, Librarian, and Web Technologist – just to name a few exciting job titles.

SJSU Career Center

Students’ Career Paths

Can you share any statistics about employment rates after graduation?

We recently conducted a survey asking our recent graduates about their employment status after graduation. Eighty-six percent of the Spring 2012 graduating class who responded to the survey are working either full time or part time. Of those who reported they had a job, 96% got their job less than 6 months after graduating. Only a small percentage took longer than 6 months to find a job. This is due to a recovering economy and the diversity of the SLIS curriculum, which prepares students for opportunities in a variety of information environments. More information:

Can you talk a little bit about the school’s approach to internships, practicums and/or volunteering?

While internships are not required, we strongly encourage all students to take advantage of their time at SLIS by registering for one (or more) of the approximately 200 physical and virtual internships offered each semester.  Even if you are currently working in an information center or library, doing an internship in a different work environment provides you with new experience and information – and allows you to “test” or “practice” working in a new environment without much risk. Many graduates have stated that internships were the most valuable part of their master’s education, because internships lead to expanded professional networks and also often provide the critical lead to that first job.

Does the school have a stated approach or policy on helping students to find careers?

Our approach is to provide excellent career resources and services to our students, and to encourage students to take advantage of those resources “early and often” during their graduate program.

We believe it is an integral part of our School’s mission to provide relevant and comprehensive career resources, and our School supports these resources by assigning faculty and staff to develop and maintain them. While we strongly encourage students to make use of our career resources and services, it is a student’s individual choice whether or not to use the career resources.

Does the school have any relationships with organizations that offer fellowships or other post-graduate opportunities?

Not at this time.

Are there any notable graduates?

Our School’s alumni are recognized leaders in our profession.  To learn more about some of their accomplishments, we encourage you to:

  • Read about our alumni who have been recognized as Library Journal Movers & Shakers
  • Read about the career successes of some of our alumni
  • Read about our alumni who have received awards from our School (click on any name to read about a past award recipient).
  • Read about our alumni who are making a difference in our profession, by browsing stories about our alumni in our Community Profiles

SJSU career center logo


How many students in the library school?

All of our students are online students, who may live across town or on the other side of the globe, providing a diversity of perspectives that enrich each student’s learning journey.  We have approximately 2,000 students, who live in 47 U.S. states and nearly 20 countries. For more information regarding our students, check out our MLIS Student Profile web page:

What degree(s) do you offer?

The San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science offers two fully online master’s degrees, a fully online certificate program, and a doctoral program:

SJSU SLIS is a recognized leader in online learning and is a member of the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) and Quality Matters. In 2012, the School’s online programs received a score in the exemplary range according to the Sloan-C Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Education Programs.

Is it ALA accredited?

Our MLIS program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). The program has been continuously accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) since 1969. Our Teacher Librarianship program is also accredited by NCATE. In addition, San Jose State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

What are the entrance requirements?

Prospective students can apply for admission in the fall or spring semester. Please check our website for current application deadlines.

Admission Requirements:

  • A Bachelor’s degree from any regionally accredited institution in any discipline with an overall GPA of at least 3.0
  • A general understanding of computers and technology
  • The School requires that all students have computer access
  •  International Applicants must have a TOEFL score of 600 (paper version) or 250 (computer version) or 100 (Internet-based)

We do not require a GMAT or GRE test, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, or a résumé.

When was the library school founded?

The first Library Science course was taught at San Jose State University in 1928, and SJSU SLIS first started offering a graduate degree in Library Science in 1954. The MLIS program has been continuously accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) since 1969.

Where are you?

√  Other: Online

Where are you?

√  Other: Online

 Anything else you’d like to share that’s unique about the school?

All of our School’s resources are focused on supporting online students, including our career counseling, academic advising, and technology support team.

Our instructors use emerging technology in their MLIS courses to enrich student learning in our engaging and interactive online environment. They exchange ideas and perspectives with students via live web conferences, recorded audio lectures, screencasts, emails, online discussion forums, blogs, instant messaging, and social networks. The multimedia format enlivens the learning experience while introducing students to the same types of tools they’ll use in their future careers. 

Madeleine Mitchell

This interview was conducted by Madeleine Mitchell, who  is currently in her final semester San Jose State University’s School of Library Science. With a major job hunt quickly approaching, she can honestly say that the Career Center is one of the SLIS program’s best and most comprehensive resources, and she is very grateful to have access to it.

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Further Questions: What’s the Best Piece of Career Advice You Ever Received?

This week, I have asked some people who hire librarians:

What is the best piece of career advice you ever received, and who gave it to you?

J. McRee ElrodRead Margaret Mann’s “Introduction to Cataloging …”‘ although card centric, the principles are basic in this time of flux.  I was so advised by Clyde Pettus, professor of cataloguing at new closed Emory University library school.

This advice could be extended to being familiar with bibliographic tinkers from Panizzi to Gorman.  It’s easy to get lost in the trees and not see the forest.

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

Nicola FranklinThe best piece of career advice I ever received was actually from my high school careers advisor.
At the time I was an animal-mad teenager and doing biology and other science subjects, and she said that if I really wanted to work with animals I needed to get some practical experience, and to try contacting some organisations directly to volunteer.  I did exactly that, contacting local animal shelters and zoos.  Much to my surprise I got asked to go and see the Director of Marwell Wildlife Park (a well respected zoo near Winchester, UK), and even more to my surprise he offered me a volunteer zoo keeper place at age 16.
I worked there on Saturdays and school holidays for the next two years, and then got a  live-in job at a quarantine cattery and kennels at 18.  After 6 months I returned to college and went onto university to do a Bachelors in Zoology.  During my degree I realised that I didn’t really want to spend my whole career mucking out animals, or working in a laboratory, and so in the end I changed tack and went into human resources and recruitment work.

Despite that change, the initial advice (to get practical experience and not just focus on academic qualifications) stood me in good stead and gave me some great experiences that I will remember throughout my whole life.  Whatever field you are trying to break into, volunteering to gain that first taste of real life experience is an invaluable addition to formal qualifications.

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

Marleah AugustineThe best advice is something that was told to me by my boss-slash-mentor at my library:  don’t sell yourself short. When I moved from my part-time job to my full-time position, I tended to think of myself still as not-a-professional and hesitated to offer my thoughts in the presence of people who had been in their positions longer. If you are new on the job, or if you are interviewing, be confident and don’t be afraid to volunteer information. New hires bring a new and usually welcome perspective to an organization that maybe needs a bit of shaking up.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Emilie SmartThe best piece of career advice I ever received came from the Reference Services Division Head.  When I was a Librarian I, I was offered a transfer from Reference to Computer Division.  I was unsure about making the change — I LOVED reference work and I loved working in the Reference Dept at the Main branch.  Computer Division was an unknown quantity since we didn’t even have staff computers at that time, much less public ones.
The Reference Head asked me if I was going to accept the transfer and when I shrugged she said,  “Take the job in Computer Division.  It’ll be good for your career.”
I took the job.  She was absolutely right too.
– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish 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

What about YOU?  What’s the best piece of career advice you ever received, and where did it come from?  Thanks for reading!

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

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
Thanks for reading!


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