Category Archives: Elections/Candidates

Will you vote? Jamie LaRue Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s almost election time!  ALA presidential candidate Jamie LaRue has graciously agreed answer a few questions about her thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting instructions for ALA members will be sent out starting March 24. Visit this page for more details.

Jamie LaRue Jamie LaRue,  CEO, LaRue & Associates

In broad strokes, what do you think the ALA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

ALA has at least four roles:

  • first, to provide genuinely useful services for actively job-seeking librarians.
  • second, to provide a place to size up professional issues – a head’s up on how to stay employable.
  • third, a place to communicate those new skills and issues to library educators.
  • fourth, a voice to advocate for the importance of our professionals generally.

How can ALA serve unemployed (or underemployed) librarians?

  • ALA JobLIST is the right place to start. There are listings there not only of who is hiring, but career assessment tools, job interviews at conferences, ways to link up with recruiters, and more.
  • places to hang out (inexpensively) and share tips. I note that ALA Think Tank has assumed a lot of this role. And that seems appropriate to me. ALA’s relatively modest staff can’t ensure employment for the thousands of jobseekers. Such services work better – will be fresher, more current, more alive – coming from the people who are engaged in the issues, rather than waiting for ALA to create and operate a service. But once those services spring up, ALA should acknowledge them, and work to refer people to them. State library associations – ALA chapters – are another important link in this chain of professional engagement.
  • a more community-focused approach to advocacy. It’s clear that our advocacy efforts over the past 25 years haven’t really worked: while libraries see more and more use, their support has been stagnant or falling. I like the partnership with Harwood Institute, and its exploration of a new role for libraries. Ultimately, I think it helps demonstrate the significance of librarians not just to OUR institution, but to our larger authorizing environment. That’s what keeps jobs coming.

LIS job hunters are increasingly urged to look outside of libraries to careers in other aspects of information work. Why do you think this is, and should this be an impetus for any particular changes in ALA?

Library skills are broadly applicable to a lot of enterprises. So that makes sense on its own merits. A more immediate cause, however, is that library schools are under pressure to place students, preferably at good wages. That makes it easier for them to recruit new students. So broadening the search increases the odds of placement. What should ALA do? I think this goes back to the community advocacy idea, although I’ll say more about this later.

How can ALA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment? 

ALA’s Leadership Institute and its Emerging Leaders program come to mind: a smart investment in the next generation of leadership. What would I like to see enacted? I’ve been doing a lot of mentoring lately – about three students a year. That could be a little more formal. I believe that it is the duty of leadership to lend a hand to those coming up.

A less obvious solution here is the accreditation committee. Again, if ALA wants valued professionals, then those professionals need to have skills that not only preserve the powerful legacy of our past, but point the way to the future. This (curricular change!) is often controversial, but including a little more of the things that make a Masters in Public Administration so valuable, would be worthy additions to the MLIS. Specifically, a master’s degree is often required in the US to be a library director – but the MLIS (in many schools) has only the most cursory overview of the management of people, budgets, and projects.

In general, are library schools adequately preparing students for work in today’s libraries? What are they doing right, and what could be improved on?

Librarians are trusted in our society, and that’s a rare and wonderful thing. So what’s right about library schools is that they still offer smart, passionate, committed professionals to their many communities. What could the schools do for the future? As adjunct faculty at the University of Denver, I’ve been working on that. My platform – and the basis for my classes – focuses on three planks:

  • from gatekeeper to gardener. Libraries of all kinds can no longer be just links in the content distribution chain. We must be co-creators and publishers ourselves.
  • from embedded reference librarian to community leader. Gone are the days when we can sit at desks and wait for people to think of us. We must actively explore, catalog, and help set the agenda for broader improvement. We can transform not just lives, but whole communities.
  • from book deserts to book abundance. A book desert is a home with fewer than 25 books in it. Research has now shown, incontrovertibly, than book abundance (500 books in the home of a child between the ages of 0-5) can literally transform our whole society. We know that — but why doesn’t everyone else?

As ALA president, I would work to highlight these three ways that librarians at any stage of their careers can literally save the world.

What do you think is the secret to a successful career as a librarian?

To listen, to distill, to act, to tell the story. I really do believe this is the most exciting time in the history of our profession. But we have long been entirely too passive in too many ways. We must make the shift from library-centric to community-centric (where community can be town, school, university, or company). Librarians who dare have a greater likelihood of achieving. The caveat: not everything you try will work. And that’s ok, too. There is no learning, no accomplishment, without risk.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ALA or your candidacy? Any advice specifically for library job hunters?

Whoever you vote for, VOTE. ALA, like any other institution, does some things well, and others not so well. But it remains the best voice we have to influence our society. Step up and claim your role in it.

My website is larueforpresident.com.

I’d like to thank Mr. LaRue for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit his website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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Will you vote? Julie Todaro Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s almost election time!  ALA presidential candidate Julie Todaro has graciously agreed answer a few questions about her thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting instructions for ALA members will be sent out starting March 24. Visit this page for more details.

Julie Todaro Dr. Julie Todaro,  Dean of Library Services, Austin Community College

In broad strokes, what do you think the ALA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

Professional associations have a responsibility to both lead and support professionals in hiring and employment and ALA has long been committed to providing members and potential members with a depth and breadth of hiring and employment information. I first experienced this years ago when I was asked to serve on ALA’s Office of Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) Advisory Committee. It was one of my most enjoyable service roles in ALA as we learned about not only what the office did but also what ALL of ALA’s groups did for our membership. HRDR’s website today should be visited by everyone to not only see what HRDR does but what else is available throughout the Association and in related library areas. The office brings it all together – literally – online and everyone from stakeholders to potential employees as well as employers can find what they need. In addition, those needing assistance in interviewing – for example – should search ala.org to find the most recent guides and program content. So…”yes,” ALA should have a significant role in hiring and employment and “yes” ALA does have a significant role in hiring and employment.

How can ALA serve unemployed (or underemployed) librarians?

It seems odd to answer question #1 with “we’re doing a great job” and then answer #2 with “we could do more.” It makes sense; however, that we recognize the fact that bringing resources together is critical but opportunities for illustrating navigation and identifying successes never seem to be enough. One great article from ACRL identifying processes (with valuable comments from others) articulates different and excellent approaches to seeking employment. In addition, job seekers – either new to the profession, in jobs or returning to the field, should access American Libraries and search for “Working Knowledge,” an excellent monthly column on the workforce and hiring issues.These articles – coupled with the HRDR website I identified in the answer to #1 – offer insight to not only the programs and services of ALA (AASL’s with links everyone can use, ALAJoblist) but also to working through what is available at state level and through library education – an organization that should have paramount interest in and commitment to finding employment for the unemployed. Now – my idea is to pilot a program (By division? Through any area?) with employment coaches. These coaches could be advertised and hired (with a stipend funded by ALA? ALISE?) through HRDR and be matched with unemployed professionals– much like the mentor programs match people – but with the different focus of going beyond the resume assessment and into engaging networks of managers, application, hiring and in general following the processes outlined for using the resources available much like the processes introduced in the articles/postings mentioned above. A perfect use of digital networking, these coaches should form a cohort of talented people who trade on experience and education to play one of the most important roles – that of one who ensures that the profession remains vital and growing.

And while we can’t tell library education what to do – more information (like the 2013 Researcher’s Corner: Comparative Employability of ALA and CILIP Accredited Degrees) needs to be systematically gathered and distributed to provide those seeking educational programs with additional data for decision making.

LIS job hunters are increasingly urged to look outside of libraries to careers in other aspects of information work. Why do you think this is, and should this be an impetus for any particular changes in ALA?

It stands to reason that professions want their terminal degrees to be preparatory for a breadth of careers. The broadest applications bring strength to the profession and reinforce – beyond “us” – that the value of what we do goes far beyond our more traditional expectations. And, although there are many reasons why we are urged to look outside the field, the obvious answers to “why” include reasons that are common to many professions – a bad economy that has many declining to retire, a bad economy that has open jobs not being filled, and libraries filling jobs, such as tech positions, from other professions. So how should ALA address even some of this?

  • The ALAJoblist includes much broader choices for job searching; however, if one searches under “all,” the jobs listed (for example under “knowledge management”) are all located in more traditional environments….therefore the JobList might review it’s criterion for including institutions and organizations and go beyond the more traditional.
  • ALA should update and expand the non-traditional job page, Non-Traditional Jobs for Librarians.
  • ALA should increase aggressiveness for the annual conference recruitment event with a focus on non-library employers. (Reduced dollars for attendance? special invitations to an event just for these targeted individuals?)
  • ALA’s pages should list important web content for this area…and we have a number of great columns of librarians in alternative, unusual jobs and can use more. (Syracuse, Linked-In discussions, a variety of good articles on Hiring Librarians (see LL Cool Lists and Blogroll), and – of course – Infonista!)

How can ALA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment?

Content that focuses on successful employment for graduate librarians always emphasizes the need for students (obviously still in school) to get as much experience as possible, no matter the length of employment, no matter the type of size of library and no matter if the position is paid or not. While association current job sites (and ALA in general) do not appear to include specific recommendations for library school student employment while in school, the majority of library schools have content for their students that speaks to employment while in school. These links are found on school websites under “employment,” “financial aid,” and so on.

Issues regarding ALA support for students includes:

  • ALA should continue to have reduced costs for membership and conference attendance as well as workshops and so on for library school students and other student populations. ALA should explore additional opportunities for supporting these individuals such as reduced costs for publications.
  • ALA conference planning committees and local arrangement groups use library school students in a variety of ways and although this experience doesn’t replicate work experience specific to libraries, these opportunities should not be missed because they include customer service, project management, leadership experiences and – most importantly – networking opportunities. (see ALA’s Student-to-Staff program)
  • While it isn’t realistic for ALA to manage a placement for library school students while in library school, it wouldn’t be difficult (in partnership with ALA student chapters?) to create online pathfinders, online forums and even conference programs for guiding graduate students on what to consider and how to value experience (paid and volunteer as well as service learning and internships) while in school.
  • ALA’s New Members Round Table provides guidance for internships and service learning and although many of these speak primarily to recent graduates, students should explore the content.
  • ALA groups (divisions, committees and so on) offer a variety of student and new graduate experiences. Searching “internships” as well as reviewing NMRT content (linked above) provides an overview of what in-person/conference and year round digital experiences are possible.

Finally, because many graduate schools and other library programs will offer a variety of other “experiential” opportunities for students such as internships, service learning and volunteerism and obviously, partnerships with library schools, undergraduate programs, library school partners, area employers and library school ALA chapters are critical to the success of any student program. In addition, online content should be continuously updated and include ALA’s content on such areas as:

  • General “Career Development Resources”
  • Specific “Hiring” content including
    • Resume information
    • Interviewing

It should be noted that although this blog is about “librarians,” ALA and ALA-APA support paraprofessionals and support staff who choose careers in library and other environments other than masters-degreed employment. Because librarians seek excellence for all employees and workers and because recruitment for masters-degreed often comes from professionals at other levels and in other areas, those interested in the career should become familiar with association support for these professionals through the Library Support Staff Interests Round Table and other groups.

In general, are library schools adequately preparing students for work in today’s libraries? What are they doing right, and what could be improved on?

Library school students today are facing employment in a variety of types of environments categorized as “today’s libraries” BUT rather than looking at academic, school, public and special as the “types” instead, we need to look at organizations and institutions categorized by their levels of currency. That is, I would say MOST institutions are a hybrid – a blend of the old and the new – and other libraries are VERY far out in front while still more may not be as far along as others in technology or change.
Given that – I have observed in both my own work with students and with students in workshops, etc. that we are seeing students well prepared with expanded skills sets but at higher levels than possible employment situations. These students – expecting higher levels of technology, for example, are often disappointed that their first professional environment might not be making use of the skills sets they have worked hard to build. In addition, many students are experiencing that contemporary management styles, leadership opportunities, staff development and continuing education funding as well as standards and practices are not as prevalent as they might have been led to believe. They are also concerned that given funding levels “keeping up” with funding may be problematic.
Overall, therefore, I would say library schools ARE preparing students for work in libraries; however, schools should make sure that:

  • they prepare students for a variety of positions;
  • they ensure their skills (including value, attitude and commitment) include techniques for keeping up their personal and professional development; and,
  • they ensure students take the “long look” at their career to be able to not only improve their existing position but look at their next position as well.

That being said, I think one area for improvement in library education is that they expand their service learning, internship and in-library class assignments. And although core curriculum doesn’t always have “room” for these experiences to be required, the more students apply what they know and build experience on real-world situations, the more they can fine tune their processes for deciding what type of library or library function will match their career aspirations. To make this happen; however, is the sticking point. Factors that should be in place should include: library school faculty being compensated fairly for supervising this experiences; area/host libraries benefiting from the experience through remuneration for the library or – for example – “credits” for in-person or online continuing education opportunities for their staff or a continued commitment to well-designed products such as collections assessed, policies drafted, procedures reviewed, etc.

What do you think is the secret to a successful career as a librarian?

A successful career can be characterized by workplace success – of course – but also a broad involvement in the profession beyond workplace walls. And although it is hopeful that individuals get considerable satisfaction from success in the workplace, this broad involvement can include publication and writing, association membership AND activity, community activism related to the vision and values of the profession, and a strong network of people not only at the workplace but in the field in general.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ALA or your candidacy? Any advice specifically for library job hunters?

Well, the obvious answer is “vote for me!” I have experience in all types of and sizes libraries and – as an employer – I have broad supervisory experience.
The not-so-obvious answer is an invitation to review my website to read the job-seeking content I have prepared for job placement training programs and ALA’s ALA-APA newsletter Library Worklife. They include general information on libraries and some type-of-library content as well as some content specific to job seekers. I hope it aids someone in finding a position in our profession!

The Application Form. TXLA. 2011 to the present. Helpful Handouts are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

The Art of the Job Description. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

A Book by Its Cover. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2007. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

Crafting Your Cover Letter. 2011 to the present. “Helpful Handouts” are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

Identifying and Conveying Transferable Skills. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

Preparing For Your Application Process. 2011 to the present. “Helpful Handouts” are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

Professional Associations…Moving Past Membership into Involvement. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

Thinking Outside the Hiring “Box.” Library Worklife.  ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

To Supplement or Not To Supplement: Post-Interviewing. 2011 to the present. “Helpful Handouts” are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Your First Ten Days of Work. Library Worklife.   ALA-APA. 2007. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

I’d like to thank Ms. Todaro for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit her website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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Will you vote? Joseph Janes Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s almost election time!  ALA presidential candidate Joseph Janes has graciously agreed answer a few questions about his thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting instructions for ALA members will be sent out starting March 24. Visit this page for more details.

Joseph Janes Joseph Janes, Associate Professor and Chair of the MLIS program at the University of Washington Information School

In broad strokes, what do you think the ALA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

I remember when there was a large placement center at the Annual and Midwinter conferences, and those were important centers for recruitment and job seeking. Now that environment has changed; it’s considerably more decentralized and much more happens at a local, regional and specialized level, not to mention online, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. So ALA’s role is likely to be a venue more broadly for networking, professional development, and advocating for the value of our work in the wider world and to increase support for libraries, something I intend to emphasize if I become president.

How can ALA serve unemployed (or underemployed) librarians?

There are a couple of important aspects to this: the reduced membership rate for those not fully employed helps, as can the range of continuing education and professional development programs the association offers, plus more targeted initiatives in a number of the divisions. (By the way, I just did a quick check of the American Bar Association to see what they offer, and other than a slicker web site, it looks pretty similar.)

LIS job hunters are increasingly urged to look outside of libraries to careers in other aspects of information work. Why do you think this is, and should this be an impetus for any particular changes in ALA?

Why? That’s simple. Because it increases the range of options for jobs, and to be blunt, many of those jobs are higher paying and more satisfying than some jobs in libraries. We all know why that’s often the case, and we also know that nobody ever got into library work for the money. There are great opportunities to be innovative and creative within libraries, and also great opportunities for people to do quite similar work in lots of other contexts. And if ALA could woo more of those people to join and be members, as many already are, that would broaden our reach and scope and further make the case that the work we do is valuable and critical in a wide variety of venues and settings, which would be a win all around.

How can ALA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment? 

There are a number of good programs here as well; the reduced membership rate for students, of course, as well as the student chapters in many programs across North America. NMRT and their programs can be a great stepping stone for students and those new to the profession to make their way into ALA and into the larger professional community. ALA also offers a number of scholarship programs, including Spectrum, and the student-to-staff program at the conferences, all of which have been really beneficial to a number of my students over the years. There’s also all the informal mentoring and networking that happens in the conferences: Annual and Midwinter, the state chapters, the divisions, and so on.

In general, are library schools adequately preparing students for work in today’s libraries? What are they doing right, and what could be improved on?

There’s no one good answer to this, because no two programs are the same…which is how we’d all want it to be. There’s a wide diversity of programs with varying goals and intents, in institutions ranging from small teaching schools to large research universities and everywhere in between, from a few dozen students to over 2,000, so it’s next to impossible to generalize in any meaningful way. I always encourage potential students to shop around, to find the one that meets their needs and will help to prepare them for the kind of career they see for themselves. Who has the right faculty, the right curriculum, the right support mechanisms, the right special features or strengths for you? What kinds of work do their alumni do? How well are they connected to their local professional community? I want all our programs, of all kinds, to be strong, vibrant, well supported, and looking forward to best prepare leaders and visionaries for what is to come.

What do you think is the secret to a successful career as a librarian?

Always be learning, trying new things, challenging yourself. Find institutions and organizations that value you, and mentors who will help you to the next step along the way (and become one yourself). Make professional connections and networks. Like what you do, have fun, and a sense of humor, particularly about yourself, never hurts!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ALA or your candidacy? Any advice specifically for library job hunters?

I want to do two things as president: make the case in the wider world for the importance of libraries and librarians in as many ways as I can, and to help us all think through how we can move forward to thrive and grow as the information environment continues to evolve. I think each of those will ultimately benefit us all, generating support for libraries and helping to raise our profile.

As for job hunters, I’ve always found that flexibility is important – in geography, type of work, type of institution – the more open you’re willing or able to be, the more opportunities are available and the more success you can have. Be your own best advocate. And remember, the first job is rarely the last job, so getting a foot in somebody’s door, even a position or place you’re not entirely thrilled with, can often be the first step that leads to the next and the next and the next. As our environment and institutions change, so will our profession and necessarily our professional positions, so being nimble, thoughtful, and creative in how you view your career will always help in continuing to find the right, best position for you. All the best to everybody reading this for a great career, and I’d appreciate your support and your vote.

I’d like to thank Mr. Janes for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit his website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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Will you vote? JP Porcaro Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s almost election time!  ALA presidential candidate JP Porcaro has graciously agreed answer a few questions about his thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting instructions for ALA members will be sent out starting March 24. Visit this page for more details.

In broad strokes, what do you think the ALA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

In broad strokes, I’ll say that if there’s anything the ALA (and, as an extension, ALA-accredited LIS programs) has done a poor job of, it’s supporting librarians in their transition from degree-to-career. This created a gigantic vacuum in our field that was almost completely filled by INALJ; for many LIS students, recent graduates, and job seekers, the ALA is an expensive after-thought while INALJ is a way of life.

ALA shouldn’t be an organization only for the privileged in our field, but in many cases that is what the ALA represents. ALA should play some, ANY, role in influencing best practices in library hiring and employment, and this is one of my professional concerns when I am president.

How can ALA serve unemployed (or underemployed) librarians? 

The ALA can first begin to solve this problem for future students by imposing new standards on LIS programs similar to what we see in other academic disciplines. At the very least, every program should be required to collect & report accurate placement information. The fact that the most talked about & relevant data we have about this comes not out of LIS programs, or the ALA, but rather the Library Journal employment survey, is a clear indication that this issue isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.

If ALA wants to serve the unemployed and underemployed, it first needs to recognize that this is a real issue. Only after that recognition can we answer “what next?”

LIS job hunters are increasingly urged to look outside of libraries to careers in other aspects of information work. Why do you think this is, and should this be an impetus for any particular changes in ALA?

I have what I think is a pragmatic view: it’s a tactic employed by LIS programs to justify the amount of graduates that they are churning out vs. the actual rate of employment in libraries for those graduates. I do know lots of recent (last ten years) graduates who are doing information work outside of libraries, but I can also say this about the ones that I know personally: they ALL wish they were working in a library, but would rather have a job than be unemployed. Of course that does not apply to everyone in information work, but it’s an unfortunate reality rather than this “cool new twist on LIS education!” that the programs seem to be putting out there.

I’d have to have this dialogue with a lot of people, though, professors/students/new librarians/hiring librarian, in order to work out an impetus for particular changes. This conversation shouldn’t be relegated to a few blogs and tweets (which it seems like is the only place it happens), but should be started and opened to the entire ALA.

How can ALA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment?

NMRT is a good place to meet new folks, get matched up for mentoring, and be generally supported by the ALA. Our current ALA president was once a president of NMRT. One of the best ways for ALA to support students it to let them know the NMRT 1) exists, and is 2) there for everyone!

In general, are library schools adequately preparing students for work in today’s libraries? What are they doing right, and what could be improved on?

As a whole, LIS programs are doing an extremely poor job of recruiting diverse students, as well as an arguably poorer job of educating students on diversity issues. This needs to change.

LIS programs have been doing a great job at preparing librarians for changes in technology. This needs to continue.

What do you think is the secret to a successful career as a librarian?

To make it happen, you need to keep your spirits up – that is very important. The other secret is to do it with friends; the whole reason we started ALA Think Tank was just to have a space to talk about librarianship with a few friends…and then our friend list grew to over 11k people.

I’d suggest checking out this presentation by Peter Bromberg titled Influence (when you have no power or authority). It’s a great outline for the future for new librarians and a just-as-great reminder on recentering for those already established in the field.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ALA or your candidacy? Any advice specifically for library job hunters?

Libraries have a bright present and a brighter future, but we need to work together to attain it. On many of my issues & concerns, the profession and the ALA is at a do-or-die moment, so my advice is to be involved in building that future if at all possible. Let’s fix these problems together, because library job hunters are the ones most vested in the future of libraries.

I’d like to thank Mr. Porcaro for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit his website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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Have You Voted? Courtney Young Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s election time!  ALA presidential candidate Courtney Young has graciously agreed answer a few questions about their thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting is open now through April 26th. Visit this page for more details.

courtney young

 Courtney Young is currently the Head Librarian and Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University’s, Greater Allegheny Campus.  She earned her MLIS from Simmons in 1997. Ms. Young has demonstrated her leadership and commitment to the profession as a current member of ALA council, past president of the NMRT, and as one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers.  Her focus, if elected ALA president, would particularly be on diversity, career development, and engagement & outreach.  As for her thoughts on Hiring Librarians, I’ll let her tell you in her own words:

In broad strokes, what do you think the ALA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

This is a challenging, but crucial and frequently asked question. ALA works to attract people to the profession by getting scholarship sponsors for programs like Spectrum and by accrediting LIS programs so that students are graduating with the skills they need to be competitive. ALA advocates for libraries, and those advocacy activities ensure we will have libraries of all types to employ librarians. Informally, but perhaps, most importantly, it provides tremendous networking opportunities for those who actively participate in the work of the association. That, right there, is worth the price of admission. There are some things ALA cannot do–the association is not a job creator although it does employ many librarians. Something I would like to see more of from ALA: more training and other HR support for managers who are hiring, such as how to apply guidelines and best practices for creating job descriptions, advertising positions and conducting interviews. The association does some of this but could do more. 

How can ALA serve unemployed librarians?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted. 

ALA has a real opportunity when it comes to unemployed and underemployed librarians and should continue to be mission-focused in this area. A category of personal membership includes “Non-Salaried or Unemployed Regular Members” at a rate of $46 per year. This category “[i]ncludes librarians earning less than $25,000 per year or not currently employed.  In a difficult economy this dues category can be helpful for those in career transition or for those just beginning their careers.” We want those who are struggling and seeking employment to stay active and engaged members, especially given the increased opportunities for professional development online. 

The mission of ALA’s Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) is to “facilitate the development of librarianship as a profession.” HRDR’s programmatic priorities and services include training and development, career development, selection and staffing, recruitment for library & information sciences careers, organizational development, and human resource management. HRDR has the potential to develop more strategic initiatives in these areas, which fits into my proposed presidential initiative related to career development. I’m excited about what we can do together.  

An ALA member contacted me in 2011 about writing a resolution to do something for librarians who were furloughed or permanently unemployed. As we corresponded it became clear to me that what we really needed was to highlight resources and services already available from the Association as well as the need for more creative and collaborative thinking around an ALA-wide resource for members who are job seekers. Finally, ALA could collaborate more with state and local library associations to provide resources and advocacy for unemployed and underemployed librarians. 

How can ALA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted.

This is where ALA absolutely shines! New Members Round Table (NMRT) is a vital piece of ALA for those new to the field.  NMRT offers the Resume Review Service (on-site at Midwinter and Annual for all ALA members; year-round via email for NMRT members), conference mentoring, and career mentoring. NMRT also provides opportunities for library school students to attend conference through the Student Chapter of the Year Award and hosting the Student Chapter Reception during the Annual Conference. It’s also, arguably, one of the strongest units for networking and models how to effectively work in an organization. 

I have to put in a plug for the ALA Chapter Relations Office and Don Wood’s role with the Student Chapters listserv. Don does a fantastic job in communicating with affiliated student groups and ensures that they feel like real ALA members. The ALA Student-to-Staff program is another great initiative. Forty library school students are selected to work with ALA staff during the Annual Conference. Program participants receive free conference registration, housing, and a per diem for meals. The Association also provides numerous scholarships for students, most notably, Spectrum. 

What do you think is the secret to getting hired by a library? 

I do not think there are secrets per se. Keep your resume up-to-date. Make use of mentoring opportunities provided by ALA, its divisions and round tables. Use contacts you make within ALA as part of your professional network. Networking can be vital to getting hired, especially when it comes to selecting appropriate professionals to serve as a reference. Following directions in the application process goes a long way. I always suggest applying for the jobs you really want, rather than applying for every advertised position. Spend more time on fewer cover letters or packets to produce a better, targeted application. One thing I have found is that our profession is smaller than you think. Little things in the application process like sending a thank you note (either handwritten or via email), whether or not you are the successful candidate, can be to your benefit in the future. Most of all, be confident. 

Any advice for people who are currently job hunting – whether for their first job, or just for the next step in their career? 

Hang in there! You will be successful. I encourage every librarian and library school student I mentor to stay optimistic. Be patient both with the job hunt process and with yourself. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone in this process. Use your network to get the help and support you need. This includes working with a career mentor or two, telling people you are looking for a job, and taking advantage of face-to-face and online career development opportunities through ALA, your state library association, even your library school. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ALA or your candidacy? 

Even though my primary role is as a library manager, I am still very much a front-line librarian; still very much in touch, on a real and daily basis, with issues that are both dear and typical to many members. 

One of the great joys of my position involves my work with the University of Pittsburgh’s Partners Program. Through the program, I interview, hire, and mentor a library school student for three semesters. Last year I successfully advocated for the internship stipend to be doubled, because we value the contribution of these students and are committed to giving back to the profession.

Career development is a major component of my platform. Keeping librarians current and equipped to serve their communities is one of the key roles of the association. Toward fulfilling this role, ALA must strive to be a leader in providing high quality, affordable, timely, and accessible professional development opportunities. I also envision ALA as a major hub that supports and facilitates substantive interactions: networking, conversation, collaboration, and learning.

I’d like to thank Ms. Young for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit her website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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Californians, Have you voted? Julie Farnsworth on Hiring Librarians

Voting is currently open for the California Library Association’s 2012 election.  If you’re a member, cast your ballot by October 15th.
This interview is with Julie Farnsworth, who is a candidate for President-Elect. Ms Farnsworth began her library career as a page at the age of 15. She has worked as a public library director at various systems in Utah, as County Librarian for Santa Clara, and since 2003 has been the Director of the Pleasanton Public Library (which is in the 50-100 staff members category). She has also been both a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.

Questions about CLA:

In broad strokes, what do you think the CLA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

CLA exists to help its member libraries and librarians.  Hiring and employment is one of the most important and most popular roles of the organization.  Whether through the actual job listings or through the opportunity to network and work together, CLA is a very useful tool for job seekers.

The most important role of CLA is library advocacy which, when successful, means more funds for libraries and more available jobs.

How can the CLA serve unemployed or underemployed librarians?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted.

CLA offers mentoring – both long-term and short-term – for new librarians, an online job listing service, job advertising and interview services at the annual conference, programs designed for aspiring job seekers and opportunities for networking.

How can the CLA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted.

CLA offers resume evaluation at each conference as well as programs on how to enhance job seeking skills and knowledge.  CLA was instrumental in starting the Eureka Leadership training which has assisted many librarians to progress in their careers.

I would like to see more programs or individualized feedback on interview skills and self-presentation.  I would like CLA to facilitate paid and unpaid internships by collating the opportunities and distributing the information to job seekers.  CLA could also create a best practices internship plan and train librarians on giving interns the best, most useful experience.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about CLA or your candidacy?

It can feel as though the job search is hopeless or you have no control or influence over your future.  It isn’t true – there are always ways to improve your future prospects. Getting involved with CLA or any other professional or non-profit group can grow your skills, give you experience you can use to illustrate your talents in interviews, teach you about advocacy and introduce you to many other professionals would can assist your efforts to build a career.

Let CLA help you while you search for a job.  It will be useful.

Questions from the survey:

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

Good judgment – the ability to assess a situation and respond wisely in the best interest of the organization and staff

Dedication to customer service with real respect for the work we do and the people we work to help

Balance – the ability to see beyond the emotion of the moment to the bigger picture, often using humor, self-acceptance, a sense of the absurd and/or acknowledgement of the faulty nature of all humans, including yourself

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

Yes.  Wanting to censor what we have in the collection in order to “protect” the community.  Being offensive about patrons of a particular age or national origin or disability or any other group status.  Making multiple derogatory comments about different co-workers and bosses.  Stating that you want to leave your current public library job because you are afraid of the patrons.  Criticizing the receptionist in a loud and angry manner for not telling you about the traffic that made you late.

Yes, these are all from my personal experience.  See, you are a better interviewer than you thought!

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

Nothing, really.  They are pretty utilitarian and appropriately so.

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

I’d love to see something they particularly liked or learned in each experience, but that wouldn’t be typical.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

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?

√ Other: Yes, so long as it is true/real and relevant to the position

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

√ I don’t care

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

Be comfortable with yourself (not the situation, no one is really comfortable in an interview), open and accepting of your strengths and weaknesses.  Be calm.  Be honest about yourself, your hopes, your interests.  Do you really want a job where they are looking for the person you faked being in the interview or a job where they want the real you?  See the people across the table as people and take an interest in what they care about, what they might be feeling and how you can help them be more comfortable.  Understand that an interview is not the measure of your worth, just a chance for those with a job opening to learn more about you while you learn about them.  Do your homework on the organization – it shows preparation and thoughtfulness.  Think what the interviewers might be proud of and bring it up.  You can always call and ask the staff what changes they have made lately that have been successful.

For me personally – hey, I always like people who laugh at my jokes.  😉

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

Most common of all, they get so nervous that their personality and skills are obliterated.  Interviews are important for functional reasons, not for referendum on the worth of your soul reasons – so learn whatever skills you need to be calm!

Another very common mistake is to focus so much on the perfect answer to the questions that you lose track of the people in the room.  Communication is more about body language and tone than words and that’s very much true in an interview.

The third mistake I see is not engaging your audience.  Ask questions.  Ask follow up questions to their answers.  It’s often said that whoever talks least in any interview wins.  This isn’t so true in an oral board, of course, but in the personal interviews its a big mistake to do nothing but answer.

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

Not at all in the mechanics.  Those are dictated by the organization and the public hiring legalities.

We’ve done a better job on getting the word out and certainly I’m fond of my hires and think they are the bees knees, but no functional differences.

Of course, we’ve been doing NO hiring for years and only now allowed to replace key positions.  So I guess that’s a change.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Don’t give up!  Being a librarian is a great career that I highly recommend and I do believe that jobs will come back.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Elections/Candidates, Non-Anonymous, Public

Californians, Have you Voted? Teresa Landers on Hiring Librarians

Voting is currently open for the California Library Association’s 2012 election.  If you’re a member, cast your ballot by October 15th.
This interview is with Teresa Landers, who is a candidate for President-Elect.  Ms. Landers has over 33 years of experience working in public libraries in 4 different Western states.  For the past three years, she has been the Director of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, which is in the 100-200 staff members category.  Ms. Landers has been both a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees.

Questions about CLA:

In broad strokes, what do you think the CLA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

CLA is a professional organization. Its mission is to represent and serve the needs of its members who are the staff of all our libraries in California.  CLA’s role is therefore to do what it can to help make the connection between those looking for work and those wanting to hire. This is achieved through several services which are described below.

How can the CLA serve unemployed or underemployed librarians?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted.

The jobline is the primary source of connecting those looking for work and those looking to hire workers.  Offering professional development opportunities helps prepare both the unemployed and the underemployed by teaching the skills that are in demand by potential employers.

In California we are fortunate to have an organization, Infopeople, which offers free and low cost training and development. It used to be largely supported by State and Federal funding. In these challenging times those funding sources are threatened and Infopeople has had to get more creative in finding support but continues to be an invaluable resource to all California librarians.

The Eureka! Leadership Program and CLA sponsored mentoring programs are both excellent resources that serve our profession well by preparing emerging leaders.

I think CLA can do more at the annual conference for job seekers and employers. Maybe this can also be developed into regional job fairs.  At a minimum, providing practice interviews and resume review would be valuable additions to the conference program.

How can the CLA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted.

CLA does have a library school representative on the Executive Board. This provides good input from the student perspective while providing  the student with excellent leadership experience.

Perhaps the two Library Schools in the State could be the sponsors of the conference program and regional job fairs that I mentioned in the previous question.

Internships are another excellent way for library school students to get professional experience and to get known by potential employers. CLA could work more closely with the library schools and work with them to figure out how CLA can play a role in brokering this process.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about the CLA or your candidacy?

I know this is a difficult hiring environment for new graduates. I do believe the job market is loosening a bit. In my library we are no longer reducing and have started adding back. We are also starting to see more retirements which will result in more opportunities for new graduates.  I know this isn’t directly related to CLA or my candidacy but if there is a way the CLA President can help, I will be looking for it.

Questions from the survey:

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

1. Technical skills

2. An understanding of the changes facing libraries and a willingness to be flexible, innovative and not afraid of change.

3. Able to relate to people and understand the meaning of excellence in customer service.

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

I hate it when candidates have not done their research on the library and specific job for which they are applying.  I actually had a phone interview with a candidate who asked where the library was located.

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

I find objectives to be useless. If  someone is applying for a job with my organization then that is their objective. They will have time to talk about career goals in the interview.

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

I like to see a connection between the jobs they have performed and what knowledge, skills and abilities doing that job required.  For customer service and supervision, I am very willing to give credit for non-library jobs that show they have specific skills.  I can teach them how to use our computer system or how to do do a reference interview but the basic ability to relate to people is either there or it isn’t.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

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?

√ I don’t care

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

Show interest in the position and knowledge about my library. Be confident, make eye contact with everyone, let your personality show so we can both look for best fit.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?
Not dressing appropriately. Not being prepared. Not asking specific and interesting questions.

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

I am in an unusual situation in that my first three years at my current organization involved severe reductions. It is only now that we are starting to hire again. We have several staff who have gotten their MLS and have been waiting for several years so the next couple of librarian hires will most likely be in-house. In about another 6 months or year we will start hiring from the outside.

We are changing our interview process and trying to make it more of a dialogue between candidate and interviewers. We will do this by providing some questions ahead of time and having less questions with more time to go in depth. We are also going to include a session where the candidate meets with the staff in the division where the opening is and will spend some time talking with them and doing a session where they have to “teach” something.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

No matter how badly you need the job, remember that fit is important from both perspectives.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Elections/Candidates, MLIS Students, Public, Western US