Category Archives: Other Organization or Library Type

You might be pleasantly surprised at how nice people are, especially library people.

Market before PassoverThis anonymous interview is with a librarian who works for a public library consulting service and has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Youth services specialists, technology consultants, and adult services generalists.

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

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met the qualifications in terms of education & experience.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

As the executive director of our organization, I do the “first cut” look to make sure the applicants meet the basic requirements of education & experience. We are a very small organization & don’t have an HR department.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Education & experience is lacking.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Read the job posting carefully and make sure your education & experience are a good fit before applying. Do not just apply for something at a place you’d like to work to get a foot in the door if you are not really qualified.

I want to hire someone who is

smart

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ Other: 0

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

We don’t hire entry-level professionals. We are a consulting organization to other public libraries, and as such, we must have experienced librarians.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

We are re-inventing ourselves as community hubs of information & recreation. Libraries are developing makerspaces, have programs of interest, and supply communities with networking opportunities in a forum that is free and open to all. We serve all ages, all races, all ethnicities, and all levels of literacy.

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

Don’t be afraid to take a job in a part of the country that you have never lived in or considered working in. You might be pleasantly surprised at how nice people are, especially library people.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

For Public Review: Ethan Fenichel

Welcome to crowd-sourced resume review for LIS job hunters!

Please help the job hunter below by using the comment button to offer constructive criticism on his resume. Some guidelines for constructive feedback are here, and the ALA NMRT has brief tips for reviewing resumes here.

This 2 page resume was submitted by a job hunter who says,

I’ve been working in the corporate sector for several years and finished my MSIS in December. I’ll be using this resume to look for a job in an academic library or a library services company (like an OCLC). I’m interested in research but also outreach and education. I’m very anxious about my lack of in-library experience and I’m interested if my resume translates to people hiring librarians.

ethan fenichel p1

ethan fenichel p2

To submit your resume or CV For Public Review,

  • send it as a Word document or PNG or JPEG image to hiringlibrariansresumereviewATgmail.
  • It will be posted as-is, so please remove any information that you are not comfortable having publically available (I suggest removing your address and phone number at a minimum).
  • Please include a short statement identifying if it’s a resume or CV and
  • describing the types of positions you’re using it for (ie institution type, position level, general focus).
  • Finally, you will also need to confirm that you agree to comment on at least five other posted resumes.

2 Comments

Filed under Academic, CV review, For Public Review, Other Organization or Library Type, Resume Review

Further Questions: What if candidates are interested in obtaining another degree?

Here’s another question from a reader. I asked people who hire librarians:

Is it a turn-on or turn-off when applicants mention their desire to obtain a further degree which is not strictly library science, but is tangentially related? (For example: a degree in education, management, etc)

I would say it probably depends on where you are applying. If it is a tenure track academic library, then absolutely, we want to know that you have thought ahead about your career, your continuing education, your research and publishing interests and frequently ask about these things in an interview. If your research and educational interests are not at all related (say for example you want to become a skydiving instructor) I would probably skip that part unless for some reason the search committee is asking you about your personal interests.

Advanced degrees in a subject specific area including management, or higher education are a big plus in academic libraries!

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

 

Marleah AugustineI don’t see it as either a turn-on or a turn-off. I take it just as more information about the candidate that I can use to determine whether the candidate will be a good fit in the position. 

I will say that, as someone with a psychology background (BS and MS, prior to my MLIS), I’ve always thought that a psychology degree is helpful when working with the public, or staff for that matter. 🙂

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

 

angelynn king

 

It can be a concern if it’s a degree subsidized by the hiring college

— the committee does not like to get the impression the applicant is primarily interested in the tuition benefit and will leave as soon as the degree is earned.

Generally, though, there is no such thing as too much education in academic libraries. 

-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

 

Furthering ones’ education is always a positive thing. For me, it would be a turn-on We have a couple of Children’s Librarians who have other masters degrees in early childhood ed and special ed. Makes them better able to provide outstanding programs and services.

– Kaye Grabbe, Director, Lake Forest (Public) Library, Lake Forest, IL

 

J. McRee Elrod

 

Libraries need cataloguers with subject specialization.  

We would be pleased.  

Whether employees may take classes free of charge is a legitimate question to ask if applying at an academic library.

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

 

I think it’s a GOOD thing when applicants express an interest in continuing their education! To me, this says that an applicant is interested is a “go-getter” and is motivated to grow, both personally and professionally. I like to hire people who have energy and enthusiasm, and the desire to achieve another degree is a good indicator of those two traits. In an academic library, it is extraordinarily helpful to have library faculty who have a secondary body of specialized knowledge beyond the library/information science degree. This expert knowledge is highly valuable to our students, but it also enhances the value of the library to the entire college. I believe our libraries *need* the broader perspective that comes with a diversity of education experience beyond the library/information science degree.

– Elijah Scott, Director of Libraries, Georgia Highlands College

 

Sherle Abramson-BluhmI think the manner in which it is mentioned is more what makes it a turn-off or turn-on.
A candidate who brings this up without being asked may appear to be less serious about doing the work of the job – and more focused on the degree.
But a willingness to continue learning I do not feel is ever a bad thing and can be discussed in the proper context.
– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan
Laurie PhillipsIn some cases, this can be a red flag. We work really hard to hire people who will succeed and move up toward tenure, etc. We invest a lot in our junior faculty and don’t want to lose them. We are a primarily undergraduate institution with a few graduate degrees. If someone wanted to get an MBA here, we’d say go for it. There is a night program and it would be helpful in many ways to their work and to the organization. Our now retired Dean obtained her MBA here while working as a librarian. But, if someone wanted to work on a degree that we don’t offer, how would that work? What would be the outcome? Moving on? That might be difficult to support. We don’t require a second master’s degree, although some of us have them. So I can’t say definitely either way. It would depend on how that plan would fit into their work here.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

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

Thank YOU for reading!  How was I supposed to know you was a heartbreaker I didn’t know, I couldn’t know Now I’m laying on this killing floor and I wanna comment

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

Further Questions: Is salary range included in your job postings?

This week we have a reader inspired question. I asked people who hire librarians:
Do you include a salary range in your job postings?  Why or why not?  Who makes that decision?

At my private academic institution, salary information is considered confidential, which means that we are not allowed (by HR) to post salary information in our job ads. Within those constraints, we try to be as transparent as possible. If candidates inquire about salary, the question is referred to the dean who will share the target range for the position. In addition, when a search is narrowed to finalists, those finalists are notified by the dean of the target salary range, so that if their requirements are beyond what we can pay, time isn’t wasted on a search that is bound to end in disappointment.

– Anonymous

 

Laurie Phillips We include the minimum salary, not a range.

Generally, the chair of the committee negotiates the salary range with the Dean, based on other salaries in the organization.

We always include the minimum, so nobody is making a decision to do it or not.

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

 

Marge Loch WoutersYes we do.

Nothing is more frustrating to an applicant than taking the time to get credentials and application materials ready only to find that the job does not pay enough to make the move worthwhile.

This is an administrative decision.

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

 

We do. It’s policy for all state government positions.

– Kristen Northrup, Head, Technical Services & State Document Depository, North Dakota State Library

 

Terry Ann LawlerYes.

Our salaries are negotiated through the city and with our union with occasional input from outside organizations who study salaries. All of our city salary ranges are publicly available on our city website.

A salary range is non negotiable, but you can start at mid range instead of the beginning if you have more experience than is advertised for the job.

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

 

angelynn kingOnly one of the academic libraries I’ve worked in has posted salary.

Usually HR has a standard policy, and there isn’t anything the advertising department can do.

In a public college, the salary ranges are often a matter of public record, but you have to be a librarian to find them. Oh, wait: we are librarians. Happy hunting!

-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

 

We have started including a salary range in our postings so applicants can “self-screen” and not apply if their salary requirements are not a match.  We ask an applicant’s salary requirements in the screening questions we send to candidates who we might be  interested in interviewing.  Because there have been times when the gap between what we were offering and what applicants were asking  was substantial we recently moved to including a range.  It also serves as another way to shape applicants’ expectations about the level of the job.  Obviously the education and experience requirements in the job description should convey that, but those responsibilities, if filled at a larger institution than ours, might warrant a much higher pay scale.  So including a salary range gives a more complete picture.

The argument against including a range is that desirable candidates may not apply, whereas if they did and we really wanted them we might go back to our administration and negotiate for an increase and/or some way to enhance the benefits package.

We at the Library make the determination as to whether to include salary in the posting; the salary itself must be approved by our VP.

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

 

Yes a range for salary is always included in the posting. This is pretty basic and we have a salary schedule based on the grade for each position, so there is not much flexibility, except for experience.

– Kaye Grabbe, Director, Lake Forest (Public) Library, Lake Forest, IL.

 

Jason GrubbWe do not include a salary range in our job postings because a salary range is not available.

There is no flexibility in our Library Board adopted pay scale. Each position has a set grade with steps that only increase with time in the position. In other words, each vacant position begins at an established amount that cannot be negotiated. Thus, there is no reason for us to include a salary range.

This starting salary is included in the job posting.

– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

 

Yes we do.

Our county HR does this across the board. It may be voluntary but it could also be part of the union contract. I’m glad we do it because  that information can inform whether or not a person even wishes to apply for any given position.

– Christy Davis, Library Director, Klamath County Library Service District

 

Sherle Abramson-BluhmSalary range is usually in the library postings.
I am not sure if this was a University decision or within the Library itself – although most University postings do include the information.
Generally it is the high level positions, where the salary is likely to be a negotiating point, that the information is not indicated.
I think it is only fair to post this information – it is data any applicant should know going in and diminishes the possibility of surprises, misunderstandings or disappointment down the line.
– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan
Celia RabinowitzI always try to include a minimum starting salary for positions.  My institution does not usually do this for faculty positions but I have not had resistance either from the Human Resources office or from my dean when I include it in a job ad.  I feel more comfortable offering a minimum starting salary than a range.  Ultimately any negotiation involves the Dean of Faculty and establishing the ranges is tricky.  I can say that two of my last three librarian hires involved a negotiation which resulted in a higher starting salary for the candidate who got the position.  I would rather a candidate (and we) think about experience and qualifications when determining a salary rather than where they fall on a predetermined scale.  I am not sure how easy it would be to justify giving someone $48k rather than $49k but I can see offering someone $45k and then negotiating to $48.  I do usually have an upper limit that the Dean and I establish.
– Celia Rabinowitz, Director of the Library, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

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

Thank YOU for reading!  If you’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts, there they are all standing in a row, big ones, small ones, some as big as your comment.

1 Comment

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

For Public Review: Rachael Altman

Welcome to crowd-sourced resume review for LIS job hunters!

Please help the job hunter below by using the comment button to offer constructive criticism on her CV. Some guidelines for constructive feedback are here, and the ALA NMRT has brief tips for reviewing resumes here.

This Resume was submitted by a job hunter who says,

I have used this resume to apply for knowledge management, research manager, market research analyst, and data analyst positions at consulting firms, law firms, and corporate libraries. 

rachaelaltman_resume1

 

12 Comments

Filed under For Public Review, Other Organization or Library Type, Resume Review, Special

Further Questions: Would you hire someone for a librarian position if s/he had no library experience?

So while I was on break, Hiring Librarians turned two. I started doing Further Questions a few months later, in early April of 2012. In honor of that, and because I couldn’t think of what to ask this week, I thought I’d re-ask that original question. It is:
Would you hire someone for a librarian position if s/he had no library experience? If yes, under what circumstances? If not, why not?
For comparison: here is the link to the original post.  I also seem to have formed my own thoughts on the matter in the interim, and I wrote a post about them on my other blog.

Jason Grubb

 

We hire the right person.

It is always nice when they have library experience, but this not a requirement for entry level positions.

With most management positions we like to see at least 2-5 years of library experience.

– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

 

Ha! I would absolutely consider hiring someone without library experience because I myself had none. There are many skills – database experience, records management, customer service – that translate well. Coming from another field where the importance of confidentiality was understood would help too.

If they were doing a complete career 180 and had the MLS without experience, they probably wouldn’t rise to the top.

– Kristen Northrup, Head, Technical Services & State Document Depository, North Dakota State Library

 

Marge Loch WoutersWe would definitely hire someone without library experience if they have 1) great customer skills; 2) good decision making skills ; 3)ability to learn and innovate. Love of books, a great sense of organization and experience does not always translate into a great librarian. It’s the intangibles that we like to suss out in our interviews.

I am always encouraging potential candidates – and experienced librarians  – to throw their hats in the ring if they can show proof of mightiness. Show mightiness how?  Immerse in professional library networks/associations and contribute and/or seek out mentors.  Create an active professional presence on social media – write a blog or start a Tumblr, Twitter groups chats (#libchat,  #readadv, #alscchat, #nerdybookclub) and learn about/contribute to the discussion; show the ability to innovate and think outside the box to serve patrons (resting on laurels…ho-hum!)

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

 

Laurie Phillips

 

I’m fine with my previous answer!

Much more thoughtful than my “no” of this morning.

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

 

I think it depends on what you mean by “librarian position.”  We have various part-time positions in Adult Services that are paraprofessional positions; none of them require library experience except the position that has staff and collection oversight.  Paraprofessionals can do (and are now doing, in many libraries) many of the same tasks as professional librarians.  The difference is in time and training.  The benefit of hiring someone with library experience into a professional position is that they come with an understanding of the theories and values we all have about collection development, freedom to read, cataloging basics, etc.  Someone without library experience can be taught that, but it would be a major investment of time.

I am prevented by City HR from hiring anyone who doesn’t meet minimum listed qualifications—including history of library employment—when the job ad specifically lists it, and we are unable to make changes to our job ads.  Theoretically, even if I could make such a hire, I can’t imagine wanting to; that history of library experience (either work experience or library education) is a basic starting point for training.

– Anonymous

 

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundThe person would have to be extraordinary (multilingual, super duper talented, extremely well thought of in the community, a customer service expert, etc).  I find it hard to believe that someone would get a masters degree in library science and never have worked in a library as a page, circulation assistant, part-time librarian, or volunteer.  I also prefer their experience to be in a public library as we are a public library.
On the other hand we do hire people with masters degrees in early childhood development as librarians in our Youth Services Department, but they would have to have worked with children before.
– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library
Melanie LightbodyYes, I would (and have) hired librarians with no library experience.  I believe that entry-level positions need not require previous library experience.  With positions such as a children’s librarian or in programming and adult services other experiences could bring a welcome perspective to the job.  I look for customer service, initiative, imagination, facility with technology and strong sense of mission of and passion for public library services.  None of those require library experience.  I consider the MLIS as a good starting point for a professional librarian.
– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County
J. McRee Elrod
SLC would hire a new MLIS graduate,
if they were able to produce and send high quality MARC records.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
I would not hire someone for a professional position with no library experience. If I lived in a different area, I might have to reassess that, but I live in a metroplex with two library schools so we have a lot more applicants to choose from. So in fairness, I should say, I would prefer to hire someone with library experience. Depending on the applicant pool, experience could range from volunteer work, to a practicum, to part time work as a student assistant in college, or even two years of full time library experience. When an employee brings library work experience with them, their onboarding period is shorter and they bring along the perspective of work at another library that could benefit my library. Someone with experience has more realistic expectations of what the job will be like and what effort is required to succeed.
– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries

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

Thank YOU for reading! How I wish I had someone to comment to, I’m in an awful way.

1 Comment

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

Further Questions: Should internships go under employment experience or in a separate section?

This week I have a question that I lifted off Twitter:

On resumes, should internships go under employment experience or in a separate section? 
Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library SystemShortgrass Library System in conjunction with Medicine Hat Public Library and Medicine Hat College Library Services offers a Shared Internship for a new MLIS graduate that we are very excited about. During the one year duration of the internship, the Intern Librarian spends equal amounts of time at each organization and I most definitely think that the experience gained during this year should go under employment experience. Our Intern Librarian’s responsibilities are the same that we would assign to a “regular” full time new librarian (scaled back to take into consideration the part time hours at each organization, of course). This allows the Intern Librarian to gain real employment experience and learn skills that will come in handy in future jobs.
Our internship program is in its second year and it has been a great success so far, allowing a new grad to gain experience in three different library sectors (regional library system, mid size public library and college library). It has been great for our staff to have new grads join the team who bring with them new perspectives and ideas that help us provide better library services. In our case, the interns also get the benefit of coming out of the experience with references from three supervisors, instead of the usual one.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
Jacob BergEmployment.
Side note to fellow hiring managers: pay your interns. Not doing so is classist, because only the well-to-do can afford to work for free. And because race, ethnicity, gender identity, mental illness, physical ability, and sexual identity, among others, often correlates with class, internships are discriminatory along those lines as well. Also, not paying people to work devalues our professions by sending signals to other employers that our labor, time, and effort is not worth compensation.
-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University
Jason Grubb
I’m not a fan of different sections. I don’t want to work too hard to figure out what a person has been doing for the past 5 years. Including the internship in the same section as employment experience helps an employer see where it fits in. If you would prefer not to use the “employment experience” heading go with something like “work experience” or “professional experience” or even just “experience”.
– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System
angelynn king
Employment experience is fine, as long as it’s clearly stated whether it was paid or unpaid.
-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus
Either or both (but pick one for the more detailed version, depending on what skills you acquired during the internship – and also list those skills in your Skills List!). BUT, if you’re applying for a civil service librarian position that requires not just a cover-letter and resume, but a standardized application form, make sure to include any info about your internship in both employment and education sections of the application form AND in any relevant “supplemental” questions AND mention it in your interview (also assuming if it is relevant).
Remember, civil service “fill-in-the-blank form” applications are diced and sliced by HR departments and multiple people read and review different parts of your application, often without any access to other parts, e.g. your brilliant and beautiful attached resume may not be seen by any single reviewer – or anyone at all. So, instead of being a “job app cataloger” and trying to figure out where to classify that internship, experience, skill, or training, put it everywhere – but not everywhere at great length. There is nothing wrong with being concise and saying in 2 or more relevant places “during a 6-month internship I used x software and designed x website – please see under “Education” for more detailed information and a link to the website I created”
– Laura J. Orr, Law Librarian, Washington County Law Library 

Sarah MorrisonEven if the internship was unpaid, I would expect to find it under work experience.  That’s the point of the internship, right—to get work experience?  If someone had multiple relevant internships, it would appropriate to group those experiences together in a separate section.

I consider paid and unpaid internships the same as any other relevant work experience when looking at a candidates work history.

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

Marge Loch WoutersI am more than happy to see internships go under employment.

It is usually professional level work and whether paid or unpaid probably contributes to the candidate’s toolbox of professional skills.

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

Celia RabinowitzThis is becoming an increasingly complicated experience to document effectively and efficiently for employers.  If an internship/placement happened within the context of a graduate program I think it might actually be in a new kind of section on the resume for Internship/Volunteer Experience.  Increasingly librarians pre- and post-MLS are volunteering and I think a lot of that training should be documented.  A paid internship could go under employment.

Many internships are short (3-5 months) and unpaid and I think they clutter up the employment section of a resume.  I had not thought of a separate section until the question was posed here but many librarians are not doing more than one and also volunteer work. 

– Celia Rabinowitz, Director of the Library, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Laurie Phillips

 

It doesn’t matter as long as it’s there.

 

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

 

Sherle Abramson-Bluhm
As far as I am concerned it does not matter, as long as it is clearly described.
If it is library related experience, the lack of payment is not relevant for my consideration.
I would not judge where it appears on a resume as significant either way.
– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan

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

Thank YOU for reading!  It’s the tattooed broken promise I gotta hide beneath my comment.

3 Comments

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

Further Questions: What “hot topic” would you include if you were currently interviewing candidates?

Readers, I’d love if you’d chime in on this as well.  What issues would you prepare to speak about, if you were heading out on an interview?  Or what would you ask, if you are an interviewer?

What “hot topic” would you include if you were currently interviewing candidates?  Or what “hot topic” have you recently included?  For example, in an interview about six months ago, I was asked for my opinions on “Bookgate”. What are the current library issues that you think candidates should be aware of?

Laurie Phillips

Honestly, this is something that would depend on a) when the interview was taking place; and b) (most important) what is the job we’re interviewing for? Usually the hot topic we pick is associated with the particular position. At the time we hired our last faculty librarian (in 2012), the search was for a Collection Development Librarian who would be working on ebook resources. We asked about DDA for ebooks and ebook interfaces, download restrictions, and print vs. ebooks. We were also in the thick of a somewhat bold move where we reduced print (bound) periodicals by two thirds and replaced them with large e-journal packages (a combination of JSTOR and other publishers). It was funded by the university administration because they were asking us to take in another campus unit, but we had to be willing to do it, determine the process, and carry it out. It was a win-win for our students and faculty because we gained journal titles, space, and an important campus unit with whom we closely collaborate. At least one of our candidates was somewhat horrified by what we were doing and talked about the fallout with faculty. Well, yes, there was fallout, but everything we did was accomplished with careful study and data and was completely defensible. The candidate who said, “Wow! You all are so brave to undertake this and it’s incredible” was the one who got the job. Not because she flattered us, but because she got it.

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

 

Sherle Abramson-Bluhm
Hot Topics will depend to some degree on the area of responsibility.
In my area of Acquisitions we would want candidates who are informed on balancing print and electronic; demand driven acquisitions and shared collections (development and/or repositories) but other topics in the greater library world could include:  Open Access, Copyright, Big Data, Assessment, Linked Data, cloud based resources and scholarly communication.
– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan
scott wiebensohn
I believe that a “hot topic” these past few years is the evolution (some might say, “revolution”) of libraries turning into learning/information commons. Where the space within the library is best utilized for all types of learners and also maneuverable to accommodate almost any event.  I’m not going answer this question, instead leave it open-ended for those interview candidates to ponder upon.
– Scott Wiebensohn, Manager of Library Services, Jones eGlobal

I always questions about how to deal with conflicts – between staff members or between staff members and patrons.

And, I always ask a question to feel out where a candidate stands on intellectual freedom issues.

Those things may not seem that “hot” but they often do make folks squirm a bit – which is not the point. The point is to see how they may respond under pressure or a contentious situation.

– Christy Davis, Library Director, Klamath County Library Service District 

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

Thank YOU for reading!  What do you think are HOT LIBRARY TOPICS?

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Further Questions: Does participation in the ALA Think Tank Facebook group hurt a candidate’s chances?

This question was inspired by the ennui of Andy Woodworth.  In his holiday post, he asserts that people who hire librarians will be reluctant to hire applicants who are members of the ALA Think Tank FaceBook group**.  

**One thing that I did not make clear to respondents, but that we should all know and understand, is that ALA Think Tank is not affiliated with the actual ALA.

Would participation in ALA Think Tank hurt a candidate’s chances with you? Why or why not?  (Feel free to say, “What’s ALA Think Tank?”)

Jacob BergMembership in the ALA Think Tank Facebook group won’t hurt a candidate in my eyes, but participation is another story. Ninety-five percent of what goes on in that group is fine by me, so if you use the group to “make it happen” and get ideas/feedback/discuss the issues of the day, that’s great. But the remaining five percent gives me a great deal of pause. If your participation in ALA Think Tank includes making fun of South Asians, being sexist and using the group to create gendered spaces, subtweeting and bickering with your peers as if librarianship is junior high school, and generally acting like a “drunken embarrassment,” then yes, participation in the group is going to hurt a candidate’s chances with me.
Feel free to quote me in full and put my name on that, noting that I belong to said Facebook group and have been critical of it in the past.
-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University

Marge Loch WoutersWould participation in any online group, among them ALA Think Tank (btw, not associated with ALA), hurt a candidate’s chances with me? No. Can an inability to be collegial, reasoned and supportive of colleagues on any public forum on social media hurt a candidates chances with me? Most definitely.

You know in college, how many people changed their name so they could say whatever they wanted without fear of fall-out from hiring managers when they graduated and got suddenly grown-up? Well, the same set of protocols really apply here. The biggest difference is, you are playing in a pool with librarians (a VERY small world) who are known for research skills (yes we can link back about twenty ways to the real you and don’t think we don’t) and who are networked into each other with iron webbing. Like many hiring managers and librarians active on social media, I keep my fingers in many groups. Those who can’t play well together are noted.

I suggest the same rule to candidates who post as I do to those who are active while they are on work time: the expectation is that you will represent yourself professionally. Flame wars, snark, inability to argue logically and cogently, name calling and other poor behaviors put a candidate at high risk in our hiring process. Why would I want to saddle our institution with that kind of personality? Work life is challenging enough.

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

angelynn king

Ha ha.

What IS ALA think tank?

– Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

I don’t know anything about the ALA Think Tank.  If a candidate talked about their experiences, I’d look it up and find out some information.  I don’t think it would matter so much what the Think Tank does so much as what the candidate did while involved: marketing?  Working in groups? Organizing people or information?

The only thing that would make me dubious is I think the ALA operates with an ideal idea of what public libraries are; I would be worried that anyone coming from ALA would have not enough actual library experience and the first few months would be tough for them (and for us).

– Anonymous

First, I really don’t think membership in ALATT belongs on someone’s resume, I’m wondering if Andy was only pondering this or if some have actually done this. That being said, it would be fairly easy to find out if someone was a regular poster in the Facebook group.
I wouldn’t judge someone solely on their claimed “membership” in the ALATT. But I would check to see what kind of posts that the candidate made there. Is everything a joke? Do they tear down others? Are they dismissive of the profession? I wouldn’t want someone who is careless with their public social media persona to work for my organization.
I’d be pleased to see if a candidate has posted and contributed to the community in a useful way. I believe ALATT was originally created to connect people and ideas in the profession, and there are some who continue to use it that way. They should not be punished for the poor choices that others have made in an enormous unmoderated forum.
Disclaimer: I was once a member, but left in early 2013. There was too much drama for my tastes, and reading all the posts to find the useful bits became too tiring.
– Anonymous

Dusty Snipes GresWould I hire someone with ALA Think Tank on a resume? Sure. Would they want to come and work for me after having participated in something like that? Probably not. I am old school and old fogey and it is pretty obvious when I interview someone. Not that I am against innovative and forward-thinking  staff. But, I do have to deal with reality and so do my librarians.  And reality is little money, few staff members, and lots of patrons who want lots of services and are rather testy when they don’t get what they want, when they want it.  If a librarian can be innovative and forward-thinking and still deal with that kind of reality, I am all for them!

– Dusty Gres, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System

Participation in the ALA’s Think Tank would not automatically make a person less desirable during the hiring stage.  I do look at candidates online presence when considering someone.  But I look at the whole picture not just one portion of their participation.  If they participated in some kind of controversial or any other kind of  discussion on Think Tank, I would be interested in their kind of participation – were they a bully or voice of reason.  I would also look at the rest of their online presence to see if these are similar traits (good or bad ones) everywhere.  The general picture might influence me, but not just one forum.

– Anonymous (Oregon)

No, participation in that group would not hurt anyone’s chances to be hired.

I do google applicants (I think hiring personnel are stupid not to these days). If the nature of their social media postings was constantly negative or unprofessional, that would influence hiring decisions, no matter what social media site they were on.

But if someone contributed to healthy discussion and showed knowledge about what’s going on in libraries these days, then their participation would probably be an asset—so it could work both ways!

-Anonymous

Yes, I would advocate that ALA Think Tank would not hurt a candidate’s chances. I feel it is a wonderful forum for networking and benefits librarians more than not.

– Howard C. Marks, Director of Library Services, Western Texas College

There’s such a difference between cultures, organizations, and hiring managers that no one should count on being treated consistently when applying for a job.  My hope is that librarians working in a position of authority are putting aside prejudices and opinions for the good of the enterprise when they hire people (ever read the ALA Code of Ethics?).  On the flip side, I expect staff to put personal opinions aside when working.  Not hiring someone who participated in a think tank because of the discussions and debates held there?  Ridiculous!

– Nancy G. Faget, Federal Librarian

judy schwartzI looked up the ALA Think Tank to find out what it is, as I didn’t know. I can’t imagine why a hiring person would automatically discount either a Think Tank member, OR a Mover/Shaker.
I WANT a librarian who thinks, questions, follows through, comes up with innovative ideas – even those so far out I could never have imagined them myself. At the same time, my choice for a library team member has to know – or be willing to learn – how to actually BE a team player. Not be a person who is so focused as to run roughshod over others, including me! Not someone who doesn’t know how to listen, or give ear to other ideas, but someone who does know how to listen, how to temper their knowledge and / or past accomplishments – someone who brings valuable KSA to enhance and expand our services.I’ve been a librarian sine 1999, and a boss since 2000. We’ve grown from .5 library tech, .5 MLS and me (MLS), full time for 450 FTE students in 2000, to three FT librarians and three half time librarians and me, for an FTE number hovering around 1000. We have approximately 1400 full and part time students, another location, and three additional programs in the last 10 years.
We’ve weeded much of the print collection, removed shelving and combination desk parts to free up room for more tables/chairs to increase quiet study space, AND increased the type and number of electronic resources and tools to use them.
It’s been a good ride.
– Judy Schwartz, Senior Director of Library Services, Trocaire College

Really, it’s like Newlib and Nextgen back in the day. Sometimes people absolutely make themselves unhireable with what they have to say. Usually in the context of attacking other posters. And not everyone thinks that is fair. There were a few flameouts on those boards where someone consistently vicious was informed that their name would be remembered and there was shock and outrage about how the forum should be a safe zone where anything goes.

But as managers, we have a responsibility to both our patrons and our staff to not hire known jerks. Not to mention other ethical weaknesses.

That said, just being one of the general 5,000 on ALATT is not a negative. Yes, there has been some very bad behavior on there. And there always will be. But again, 5,000 people on the internet. I’m at a library of 35 people in the middle of nowhere. The range of experiences on there is invaluable. I don’t have many alternative networks, and that is true for many participants. Absolutely there are individuals on there who I wouldn’t consider bringing on board. But I don’t hold anything against the group.

I would roll my eyes a little at someone putting it on their resume or application as professional development/participation/etc but that wouldn’t actually be a mark against. Especially someone entry level.

– Kristen Northrup Head, Technical Services & State Document Depository North Dakota State Library

I’m not familiar with ALA Think Tank. I do search around online to see a candidate’s online reputation before considering the candidate for an interview.

– Anonymous

Jason GrubbParticipation in an ALA Think Tank would not hurt a candidate’s chances with our organization, but I’m not sure it would help it either unless participation resulted in something tangible, i.e., a new service, process, way of doing things. Membership alone in something with name recognition doesn’t interest us. We hire innovative doers. A proven track record of success speaks louder than membership.

– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

Everything else being equal on resumes, I think my director would be impressed. Depending on who else was on the search committee, some people might feel threatened.
-Anonymous

I live and work in a very conservative community. I am not at all a conservative person. That said, what is important to me is being effective in my job. That means that I put the principles and mission of the library before my own wants, needs and, yes,  personal expression.  I don’t share my thoughts on politics or religion in my workplace – not with my coworkers or the public.  I believe, based on the careful observations I have made of the community where I am working, that I need to stay very neutral so that ANYONE in the community I serve can feel comfortable asking me for information or help on ANY topic. And that happens. Because I live in a small community, that means I don’t show up at political rallies or functions very often at all. I would never write a letter to the newspaper espousing a strong personal opinion.  I think that potential library hires need to think about what sort of culture they can tolerate in a workplace.  The super-liberal enclaves in the USA are not very abundant and the library jobs there are competitive. Which means that even in these places potential hires will need to put their library skills on display more than their opinions.  I have tailored every resume I have ever written to match what I think (based on research)the needs and skillsets might be of the workplace with which I am seeking employment. That means that even though I am on a statewide intellectual freedom committee, I might not put that on certain library resumes.  I realize it could work against me.  Some people couldn’t tolerate that sort of work culture and I really understand that. It’s NOT easy.  Years ago I attended a lecture where Sanford “Sandy” Berman, the renowned liberal cataloger from Minnesota was talking about workplace freedom of speech.  What I gathered from that is that librarians protect freedom of speech for others. But in doing so, we rarely secure it for ourselves. Do I think that should change?  Yes and no. As conservative as it sounds, I actually think that staying neutral – working hard to be skillful conduits of information – is more valuable than espousing viewpoints that may be considered outspoken, radical, or otherwise highly personal.

– Anonymous

Celia RabinowitzThe short answer to this question is “no.”  I am a member of ALATT and I am sure there are at least a few other director, manager, supervisor types among the over 5,000 members. Posts and responses are often informative, provocative, and sometimes just silly.  I don’t agree with every opinion I read.  I would not expect to see ALATT, or any other FB group, appear on a candidate’s resume.  Right?  Andy Woodworth mentions the liability of having ALATT participation on a resume.  I’m having a hard time figuring out why anyone would put the ALATT or any other Facebook group on a resume. Don’t do it.

So – either a candidate mentions their participation during an interview or a search committee goes looking.  I might do a Google search on a candidate, but it had never occurred to me to get on Facebook to check the ALATT membership, and I read most of the posts.  But I am interested in who you are as a candidate and why you want to join my library.  Unless you have posted that you hate college students and the water (see http://www.smcm.edu) I’m not sure you ALATT contributions will turn me off.

The same guidelines apply here as to all social media.  Join, make virtual friends, get advice, voice opinions, and yes, post that photo of your Friday night libation of choice.  But be smart.  Your next hiring manager might be lurking.

– Celia Rabinowitz, Director of the Library, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

It wouldn’t hurt a candidate’s chances just by belonging to the group. I am the only MLS in our system, even our director doesn’t have one, and my pay doesn’t reflect my education and experience.  With that in mind, I would be surprised if anyone of that caliber would even apply for a position in our system, let alone a position for which I would be hiring!

– Holly Parker, Thayne Branch Librarian, Lincoln County Libraries

1. “What’s ALA Think Tank?”

2. After a tiny bit of research, I certainly wouldn’t assume that participation in ALA’s Think Tank was a negative (at least they’re paying attention and are involved in ALA!). But if someone listed their participation in Think Tank on their resume, it’s fair game to view any public version of that participation (as it is with anything listed on a resume). So hopefully their participation would be professional, appropriate, thoughtful, and in the interest of making contributions to advance the profession and/or ALA and thus reflect well on their candidacy.

3. I would expect the candidate to be able to field questions about the value and controversies around Think Tank in conversation during interview. Why do you think some people view Think Tank as a negative? Why are you a participant?

– Anonymous

Although this question is specific to the ALA Think Tank, I believe it points to the larger issue of how social media can affect hiring decisions.  It seems to me that participation in a social media group such as the Think Tank is fine.  I’m a member of the group on Facebook myself, but I don’t have the time to read many of the discussions.  The only way that participation in this group would hurt a candidate’s chances for employment would be if I or another member of a search committee (we hire by committee at my academic library) discovered a sustained pattern of highly negative or offensive postings in the group.  Note that this line of thinking would apply to *any* social media outlet.  As a hiring manager, it is important to me to know that I hire individuals who will project a positive image of our profession generally and of our college specifically.  If I see postings on a social media outlet that are consistently negative, contentious, disruptive, or offensive, then I question what that person’s behavior would be like in person, and I also question how that person’s behavior, both in real life and online, would affect the overall morale of my library.

If I could give people in our profession two simple pieces of advice about social media, they would be:

First, keep it positive and keep it professional.

Second, don’t put ANYTHING in an electronic format (email, facebook, twitter, etc.) that you wouldn’t be comfortable having posted on a billboard on the interstate closest to your home.

Follow those two guidelines in your online life, and you’ll have no worries.

–  Elijah Scott, Director of Libraries, Georgia Highlands College

Search committee members at our institution (which usually includes the supervisor) are not charged with looking for online posts by applicants, but they aren’t prevented from doing so either. Information uncovered this way would never be used to disqualify a candidate, but if it raised questions about a potential candidate’s interpersonal skills or work habits, the committee would find a way to explore the topic during phone/campus interviews or in conversations with references. The general issue of a candidate’s online “brand” has come up more than once in the past few years, but never over a post in the ALA Think Tank. So, to answer the question, involvement in the ALA Think Tank or any online venue would not be a deal breaker, but it could get the committee’s attention, and not necessarily in a positive way. I would probably be more concerned about a candidate with no online presence than an ALA Think Tank participant. It is my observation that our best candidates are sophisticated users of social media and know how to manage the image they convey to their professional community.

– Melissa Laning, Associate Dean for Assessment, Personnel & Research, University of Louisville Libraries

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

Thank YOU for reading!   Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never commented upon; The flames of Love extinguished, and fully past and commented.

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Further Questions: Do You Use Interns/Volunteers?

This week’s question came via TUMBLR.  I’m not very good at Tumblr, but I do it anyways! You can follow Hiring Librarians on it here, and you can also follow me/my other blog here.

Does your library use interns or volunteers?  What tasks do they do?  How are volunteers and interns chosen?  What qualities are you looking for in potential volunteers/interns?

As a commercial enterprise, of course we do not have volunteers.

We have had interns from time to time who wish to gain experience in cataloguing.  

We expect a knowledge of current rules, MARC21, and data entry skills.

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

Laurie PhillipsWe haven’t very often, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t. We don’t really use volunteers (with one notable exception) but we do get students doing placements for library school. We have a lot of students coming to observe at our Learning Commons desk. When we have students inquire about internships or placements, we usually get very vague information that someone wants to do a placement or internship. It’s more helpful if the person tells us their interests and skills, then we can determine if we have work for them. We would be interested in someone who is willing to take on a project or learn new skills, pitch in right away with what needs to be done.

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

Our library accepts practicum students and since we have a library school on campus, we also hire quite a few graduate assistants.

The time of the practicum student is fairly limited so they are usually project based. Since I work in public services, I once used a practicum student to try out some online reference service hours that we weren’t sure if we wanted to start assigning paid staff too. I also gave the student some collection development projects to do in between assisting online patrons. If the practicum student were in technical services they might have an inventory project or a short cataloging project. Practicum students are interviewed and selected just like any other paid staff. Library experience is great, but not required. I would be looking for someone with customer service experience given my area but also someone with a clear idea of what they hope to accomplish during their practicum and what their plans are post-practicum for their career.

Our Graduate Library Assistants are paid and are on a 9 month contract. Ours mostly work the reference desk, give library tours, help with library instruction, collection development, and research projects. Other Graduate Library Assistants in the library may be working on metadata, responsible for copy cataloging or assisting with interlibrary loan. Again, library experience is a plus, but not required. Candidates must have customer service experience and be able to articulate why they are pursuing their MLS and why they want the position they are applying for.

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

Marleah AugustineWe have a couple of long-term volunteers in the Adult Department. They have both been volunteering here for several years. One comes in weekly on Monday afternoons and re-shelves nonprint media to help out the front desk staff. Another comes in daily in the mornings and does the running inventory process throughout the library.

In the YA and Children’s Departments, volunteers come through on more of a rotating basis and do tutoring and homework help or Foster Grandparent-type activities with young patrons.

We have an active Friends of the Library group that runs periodic book sales and has a permanent used book store located within the library. When people express interest in volunteering, we direct them to Friends, who can often put them to work doing cashier work in the book store or helping organize donated items for sales.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
At our academic library we don’t generally use volunteers.  We might run into union problems if we used volunteers to do tasks that union members normally do; I know that has happened at some libraries.  We do have interns and practicum students.  They are usually students at library schools.  The practicum students work through an organized program at their library school and earn credit.  Interns usually work through more informal (and unpaid) arrangements.  The library itself doesn’t have an organized program for these students; each department can arrange them to suit their needs.  I currently have one practicum student in my department, who is the first we have ever had.  I try to assign tasks that give the student a picture of what the department does as a whole, as well as incorporating tours and meetings with various people.  While I don’t expect someone who is only here for 10 hours a week for a semester to jump into librarian-level work, I don’t just give him the tasks our student employees do.  There are stated goals and objectives for his practicum experience that I helped to write, and we focus on these.In a previous job, we had two undergraduate student employees who were interested in library work.  We were able to create special paid internships for them one summer, where they did higher-level work in various library departments.  We also took them on several field trips and tours.  Both went on to become librarians.

In these students, I am looking for enthusiasm, curiousity, and interest/classwork in whatever specialized area they will be working in (reference, cataloging, digital projects, etc.)  Of course, I also want some qualities I would like in any employee: organizational skills, capability with technology, and showing up for work.

-Anonymous

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

And thank you for reading!  Ten thousand people stand to sing on the miry comment.

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