Category Archives: UK

It was never about the books – they’re just the containers!

Vegetable and flower seller and stall, Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Library assistants, research librarian posts, teaching librarian posts

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

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?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

meet the requirements of the job

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR and hiring manager look separately at every application at professional level.

We check how well they meet requirements in each area of the person specification, grading from 0 (none) through to 4 (exceeds requirements) and add notes where there are other particularly positive (ooh look, they’ve also done this!) or negative (they didn’t use capital letters when writing their name!) points.

We then meet to compare notes and shortlist candidates. We’ve done this twice so far and the results were remarkably similar each time.

The rubric is taken directly from the person specification in the job description, so if you’re applying for jobs in the UK make sure you highlight each one/have equivalent experience/can quickly gain those requirements!

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

Doesn’t show that they meet the requirements of the post. The threshold can vary for this – if there are a lot of qualified applicants you need to meet/exceed every point to get a look in. If it’s a rarer position /fewer likely to meet the requirements it’s definitely more worth an application because you’re more likely to get shortlist even if you’re missing a couple of requirements.

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

√ Other: On request

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

Keep up to date with key developments in the area your working in, e.g. Information literacy and educational technology for teaching roles, scholarly communication for research roles.

I want to hire someone who is

Astute

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?

√ 2

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

√ 1

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

√ There are more positions

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

√ No

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?

Our library doesn’t currently have any entry level professional positions, it’s a very small library within a larger network of libraries. In our library the lowest professional posts still require a qualification and some relevant experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It was never about the books – they’re just the containers! Librarianship increases in importance the more information and data there is to navigate. The roles evolve to meet specific needs, as good ones always have.

Note:  We do correct typos, here at Hiring Librarians.  This one was really funny: In answer to the question about how applications are evaluated, respondent originally put: “HR and hiring manager lol separately at every application at professional level.”

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, Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, UK, Urban area

I find finishing a masters program while juggling a job, family and other commitments very impressive,

Geraldine Fain Browses in the Free LibraryThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

research support librarians, teaching librarians, library assistants

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a city/town suburban area rural area in the UK.

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

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

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

2

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

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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

instruction skills. Nearly all librarians need these skills, whether it’s one to ones, group classes, lectures or staff development

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

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

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

Local policies and procedures

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

√ Library work experience
√ Conference presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Distance learning – I’ve seen that others disagree with this, but I find finishing a masters program while juggling a job, family and other commitments very impressive, especially if the candidate has worked in libraries while completing their qualification. They often have a better understanding of course content because they are actually applying it and reflecting on it while studying in a way that’s not possible when you do a full-time masters

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

no

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

Get experience

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

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

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

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

get involved with the library community- it’s who you know

N.S.W Primary Schools' Rugby Leauge Football Team v Queensland Brisbane, 1932This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Senior Information Assistants- generally new professionals with emphasis on staff supervision, cataloguing and serials management.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the UK.

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

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

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

4

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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

Skills surrounding computing and technology.

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

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

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

The workings of specific library management systems, general staff management and appraisal skills.

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

√ Library work experience

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

Robert Gordon University is quite focused on people management as well as skills such as cataloguing, but it’s nowhere near perfect. I suppose it would really depend on the position.

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

I’m not sure if I’m still familiar enough with all of the programmes. I do remember UCL’s course being quite dated.

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

Get relevant work experience while you’re there and get involved with the library community- it’s who you know.

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

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

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

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Take advantage of free online resources and learn to code

School at Pie Town, New Mexico is held at the Farm Bureau BuildingThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Cataloguers, reference work, marketing

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a city/town in the UK.

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

√ No

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

3

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships

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

Yes, particularly ‘non-traditional’ ones. I would like to see MLIS holders with some knowledge of communications, marketing, fundraising (e.g. grant writing), web design/usability (even if just basic), and teaching skills.

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

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

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

I expect that the practical skills will often come on the job – cataloguing and classification (though theoretical knowledge is helpful), collection management, building budgets, reference work.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Conference presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

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

Sheffield, UCL

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

Go beyond the classroom! Take advantage of free online resources and learn to code, get marketing or social media experience, give presentations, etc .

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

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

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

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Filed under 200+ staff members, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

As this ties up two thirds of budgets in most research libraries, its kinda vital.

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

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the UK.

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

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

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

4

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

√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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

lack of experience with online resource management – subscriptions, knowledgebases, and a general understanding of the whole online resource space and online resource management. As this ties up two thirds of budgets in most research libraries, its kinda vital.

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

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

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

Local system use, teamwork, soft skills, finance, some specific skills around technical work (metadata, cataloguing)

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Student organization involvement
√ Other: Online publishing

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

Sheffield in the UK is the only one to watch

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

UCL still creates 20th century librarians. Bright ones, but 20th century ones in terms of skillset and approach.

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

Get some great experience beforehand, afterwards and on the side.

Don’t stress out on coursework and exams, most employers are not looking for that distinction. Do enough for a solid pass, thats all.

Have a great time and network with other students, they are your future colleagues and contacts!

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

Rethink the whole thing along with the MCILIP. The profession needs a serious upheaval and that starts with professional development.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

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

I see library school as a shortcut to a much better paid job

School No.2 Students in Dublin New Hampshire 2This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Cataloguers, library assistants, assistant librarians, archivists

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a city/town in the UK.

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

√ Other: Some, but most of those could be learnt on the job

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

3

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

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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

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

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

The specific LMS, local cataloguing rules, customer service and how to write emails

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

√ Library work experience

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

Relate as much as you can to real world experience, and if you can get work in a library, even shelving, do it.

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

I see library school as a shortcut to a much better paid job, and a way to ensure a smooth progression up the career ladder if wanted. It is also a shortcut for recruiters if they have a lot of applications – though if you have all the skills except the certificate you might still get an interview.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Researcher’s Corner: Reference Competencies from the Academic Employers’ Perspective

In order to be competitive in our tight job market, I think that’s it’s not enough just to be able to describe one’s skills well.  Job hunters, both in and out of library school, need to be able to manage their own professional development in a way that the skills they gain align with the competencies required by their desired jobs.

This is why I’m really excited to present Laura Saunders’ guest post today. She describes research she conducted on people who hire academic reference librarians, in order to determine what the most important competencies are.  If you’d like to read a longer, more formal account of her research, please see:

Identifying Core Reference Competencies from an Employers’ Perspective: Implications for Instruction (2012). College and Research Libraries, 73(4)


Reference librarian was one of the top five job titles reported in Library Journal’s annual Placement & Salary Survey for 2012 , suggesting that, as with Mark Twain, reports of the death of reference have been largely exaggerated. Still, the fact that there are reference jobs to be had does not necessarily mean they are easy to get, and the same Library Journal’s article reports stiff competition for those jobs (Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science was number one in job placement!). One of the best ways for aspiring reference librarians to succeed in the job market is to have a clear understanding of job expectations, to develop the necessary skills and proficiencies, and be able to demonstrate and discuss those abilities on their resume and in job interviews. In this column, I share the results of a survey of academic reference librarians indicating what skills and knowledge they believe is important in the field right now.

The Study

In 2011, my colleague, Mary Wilkins Jordan and I developed and implemented a nationwide survey of practicing reference librarians to gather input on what competencies are most important for reference librarians in the field right now. While we used essentially the same survey, I concentrated on academic libraries, while Mary surveyed public librarians. In each case, we took a random sample of libraries from across the country, in order to get a broad and representative overview. We gave the librarians a list of 33 competencies that we had compiled using Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) guidelines as well as reviews of the literature, and asked the librarians to choose the ones they thought were important to reference librarians, and then to indicate the three most important. The survey closed with an open-ended question asking the respondents to describe any skills or qualifications that they found to be lacking in recent graduates or new hires.

Findings

The respondents chose competencies grouped into three categories: general skills, technical skills, and interpersonal skills, which are summarized in the following table.

General Technology Personal/Interpersonal
Second Master’s degree Online searching Verbal Communication
Budgeting Programming Written Communication
Foreign language Web design Listening
Marketing Web maintenance Working in teams
Supervisory experience Social media Approachability
Ability to conduct research/publish Hardware troubleshooting Comfort with instruction/teaching
Knowledge of cataloging Software troubleshooting Self-motivated
Assessment/evaluation Chat/IM Stress management
Customer service Building relationships with co-workers
Familiarity with Paper Sources Building relationships with other professional colleagues
Familiarity with Online Sources Conflict management
Search Skills Adaptability/Flexibility
Negotiating Sense of humor
Current Events Awareness Organizational awareness
Traditional Reference Interview

Throughout the survey, respondents emphasized skills and qualities that relate to the question-answering and customer service aspects of reference. For instance, general and online search skills, as well as familiarity with both online and print reference sources were among the top rated general and technical skills. Interestingly, valuing knowledge of print resources was not correlated with either the responding librarians’ age or number of years in the field. In other words, it is not just older librarians or those who have been out of school for a long time, but a wide range of practicing reference librarians who seem to believe print resources are still important. These findings emphasize that it is still important for reference librarians to be familiar with a wide range of resources, and to be able to search and use those sources efficiently and effectively in order to help their patrons find information.

While librarians certainly need the skills to search and use resources to find information, the survey also confirms that the patron is the heart of reference services. Customer service and interpersonal skills to be able to interact with a diverse patron base are among the most important for any reference librarian. Five of the interpersonal skills—verbal communication skills, listening, approachability, comfort with instruction, and adaptability/flexibility—stood out as especially important, having been selected by more than 90% of respondents. These five are closely followed by written communication skills and sense of humor. However, it is worth noting that every competency listed under interpersonal skills was chosen as important by more than 60% of respondents. Clearly, the ability to interact and communicate with a wide range of patrons is essential for successful reference librarians.

Similarly, under technical skills, respondents indicated that ability to communicate with patrons using chat and instant messaging is important. Among the general skills customer service was the second highest rated, selected as important by 94% of respondents. Similarly, although it was not one of the top three, the ability to conduct a reference interview was deemed important by more than three-quarters of respondents. Taken together, these results suggest that being able to interact effectively with patrons and to provide a high level of customer service are among the most important attributes of a reference librarian. This is not to suggest that other technical skills are unimportant. Software troubleshooting, web design and web maintenance are all highly valuable skills, according to the survey.

The following figures give a breakdown of the rating of skills in each category:

Saunders Fig 1

Figure 1
Percentage of Respondents Choosing General Skills as Important

Saunders Fig 2

Figure 2
Percentage of Respondents Selecting Technical Skills Important

Saunders Fig 3

Figure 3
Percentage of Respondents Choosing Interpersonal Skills as Important

In the final section of the survey, we asked respondents if they saw any skills or qualities lacking in their new hires. It’s important to note that many respondents indicated that their new hires were doing very well, and praised their knowledge and enthusiasm. That said, some respondents said that their new librarians seemed to rely on the same freely available web sources (such as Google and Wikipedia) that their patrons used, and if they were not able to help the patrons using those sources, they did not seem to know where else to go. These participants worried that their new librarians were not adding any value to the research process. Similarly, some respondents suggested that new librarians they worked with did not always have strong interpersonal skills, or were not adept at working with diverse or difficult patrons.

Conclusions

There may be plenty of competition for reference jobs in academic libraries, but applicants with strong interpersonal skills and solid knowledge of searching and sources will have an edge. There are several things a current student can do to strengthen her resume and gain more of that edge.

Many LIS programs offer, or even require, an introductory reference course, and while this will likely give you a good base of knowledge, it is important to remember it is just an introduction. Anyone interested in pursuing a career in reference would do well to take ‘advanced’ reference courses that delve more deeply into the resources and services in particular disciplines, such as the sciences, humanities, or social sciences, or in particular settings such as medical or law libraries.

One question students always ask me is whether they will need a second Master’s degree to work in an academic library. The respondents to this survey did not count a second Master’s as highly important, with only 28.2% of participants selecting that competency. It would appear that experience and background with sources and searching generally is considered most important, although it’s also worth noting that librarians at doctoral-granting institutions seemed to value a second Master’s degree more highly than librarians in other academic institutions.

This survey also confirmed the findings of many other studies, that instruction is becoming an ever-more central part of reference. Here again, introductory reference courses will probably address user instruction, but are unlikely to give students a firm grounding or much hands-on experience. Students should seek courses focused on user instruction, especially those that incorporate pedagogy and information literacy, and that give students plenty of practice in speaking in front of groups and actually teaching modules both in-person and online.

Interpersonal skills are a little harder to teach and assess in a classroom environment. Certainly, students could take classes that center on diverse and underserved populations. However, job applicants should also identify any co-curricular or work experience (including volunteering and internships) that involves communication, interpersonal skills, and customer service. Retail jobs and waiting tables, for instance, are both jobs that require a high-level of customer interaction, and could be highlighted for a potential employer.

As I noted earlier, the findings I report here are really only half of the story- the academic library side. My colleague, Mary Wilkins Jordan did a parallel survey of public librarians, and our comparison of the responses of the academic and public practitioners will be featured in an upcoming edition of RUSQ.

I want to finish this post by highlighting a few points. There is a tacit belief in the field that academic and public reference are very different—so much so that practitioners often have a hard time moving to one setting after having worked any length of time in the other setting. Our studies suggest that the differences between reference services in the two types of libraries is actually very subtle, and is more a matter of different emphasis than different competencies. Specifically, public librarians seem to put a little more emphasis on the ‘soft’ or interpersonal skills such as customer service and communication, while the academic librarians were somewhat more likely to choose as important ‘hard’ skills such as ability to engage in evaluation and assessment, or research and publication. However, as you can see here, academic reference librarians also value interpersonal skills very highly. So, the differences seem to be more subtle and the similarities more pronounced than is often believed. We hope that this research might spur further research and conversation about the topic.


Laura SaundersLaura Saunders received her PhD from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in May 2010.  She holds an M.S.L.I.S from Simmons as well as a B. A. from Boston University in English Literature and Italian.  She worked as a reference librarian and branch manager of the Career Resource Library for Simmons College from 1999 to 2003, where she provided reference and instruction services, as well as participated in collection development, Web page maintenance, and marketing of library services.  While completing her PhD, she worked as an adjunct faculty member.  Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Simmons College, teaching in the areas of reference, evaluation of information services, information literacy, and academic libraries. Her first book, Information Literacy as a Student Learning Outcome: The Perspective of Institutional Accreditation was published in June 2011. Her research interests include information literacy, assessment, accreditation, reference services, and the place of libraries in higher education.  She has had articles published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Library & Information Science Research, College & Research Libraries, and portal: Libraries and the Academy.

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, library research, Public Services/Reference, Researcher's Corner, UK

As long as the candidate shows they have taken care over their appearance that day … it doesn’t matter what they wear

ama interview by Flickr user MaryN1234

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an Urban area in the UK.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal)

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

Counts as a suit
:

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

False

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

Other: Who cares?

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

I don’t care what’s on the face, it’s what’s in the brain that counts

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

A mask and cape… Seriously, as long as the candidate shows they have taken care over their appearance that day (showing commitment to the interview) it doesn’t matter what they wear.

Exception is higher level posts where they are expected to talk to senior staff inside and out of the service… need them to at least vaguely conform to the norm in that case.

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

Yes, the higher the position, the more formal I expect the candidate to dress

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
Nose Ring (nostril)
Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
Earrings
Multiple Ear Piercings
Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears)

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

I don’t really care how a candidate dresses

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

Smart – suit.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

Other: No real dress code…

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code?

N/A: We wear what we want!

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

Name tags

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

Photo: ama interview by Flickr user MaryN1234 via Creative Commons License

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, UK, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

Researcher’s Corner: Comparative Employability of ALA and CILIP Accredited Degrees

Let’s think internationally today.  Dana Hamlin (née Goblaskas) wrote a wonderful article for the Library Student Journal (hey students, why not try to get that term paper published?), entitled:

Assessing the Transferability of Library and Information Science (LIS) Degrees Accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Library Student Journal, 2012, Feb.

Ms. Hamlin was kind enough to summarize some of her key points here for us today.  I think it’s a fascinating topic.  As the world gets smaller, and new grads are encouraged to move in order to find work, it becomes more useful to understand the way degrees are really perceived.  Library Student Journal is open-access, so if you want to read more you should be able to click above and get the full text of her in-depth original article.


The Backstory

When I was first considering library school, I had my heart set on a program in London. As a lifelong Anglophile this seemed like the perfect choice, and I was excited about what networking opportunities and possible jobs might come about from my attending school in the UK. Knowing that the ALA accredits library schools in the US, I did some research to see if the UK had something similar and came across CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. CILIP’s webpage about overseas qualifications explained that, due to a reciprocal agreement, libraries in the UK recognize ALA-accredited degrees, and that Master’s degrees accredited by CILIP are similarly recognized in the US. I figured I was sorted until a nagging feeling made me check ALA’s website, and sure enough there was no mention of any reciprocal agreement. Instead, ALA just recommends that holders of international LIS degrees have their credentials checked by an independent agency.

This discrepancy made me think twice about going to library school overseas, since I didn’t want to risk being considered under-qualified in the US if I couldn’t get a job in the UK. I ended up getting my MLS here in the States, but the quandary of cross-Atlantic credentials stayed in my mind. When it came time to think of a topic for my final research project in library school, I decided to look into how transferable LIS degrees from either side of the Atlantic (including Canada, since the ALA accredits seven programs there) really are.

Methodology

First, I compared the core competencies of librarianship as defined by each accrediting body, as well as the core curricula from all ALA– and CILIP– accredited programs, in order to determine the similarity of the knowledge base expected of LIS graduates in the US, Canada, and the UK. The latter step involved collecting data about required courses or modules from the websites of every accredited (as of August 2011) LIS program listed by ALA and CILIP.

Second, I developed and distributed two surveys. One was geared toward LIS graduates of ALA- and CILIP-accredited programs, and the second was intended for library employers in the US, UK, and Canada. Through these surveys I hoped to find out a) a rough percentage of how many LIS graduates were able to successfully use their credentials to gain employment overseas, b) how happy – or unhappy – managers were with any international hires they had made, and c) what, if any, knowledge gaps existed between graduates of ALA-accredited programs and those with CILIP-accredited degrees.

Comparison Findings

A comparison of the core competencies of ALA and CILIP showed that the two organizations hold very similar expectations for graduates of their accredited programs. Though presented in two visually distinct ways and employing slightly different language, ALA’s Core Competencies and CILIP‘s Body of Professional Knowledge (BPK) outlined essentially the same knowledge base that is expected of new members of the profession. The only major difference was that the ALA expects LIS graduates to have knowledge of the history of librarianship; the BPK did not address this topic.

Note: In the year-and-a-half since I completed this research project, CILIP has updated their BPK to a new model called the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB), which can be viewed here. This new PKSB lays out CILIP’s core competencies in a more direct and specific manner than the BPK did, but apart from a few additions, the competencies appear to be fundamentally the same.

Although the core competencies are very similar, a divergence occurs between what classes are required (as of August 2011) in ALA-accredited programs and those accredited by CILIP:

ALA v CILIP figure1

ALA- and CILIP-accredited programs also differed in whether or not they required field experience/internships and dissertations/research projects:

ALA v. CILIP figure2

From the data shown in the figure above, it can be presumed that CILIP-accredited programs place significantly greater emphasis on practical experience in the field than programs accredited by the ALA do. In fact, nearly half (46.67%) of CILIP-accredited programs require that applicants have previous related work experience before they can be admitted. Thus it can be argued that graduates of CILIP-accredited programs enter the job market with more hands-on knowledge of the field. However, since the previous work experience of graduates with ALA credentials is unknown and therefore not included in the data, this argument is not thoroughly supported.

Another assumption from the data in the figure above is that CILIP-accredited programs are more academically rigorous than those accredited by the ALA, since 100% of Master’s-level programs in the UK require dissertations of 15,000 words or more. It is noteworthy to mention that students in CILIP-accredited programs who do not complete a dissertation still graduate with what is called a Postgraduate Diploma, or PG Dip, and are still considered by CILIP to be professionally qualified. The PG Dip is not recognized by the ALA as equivalent to an ALA-accredited Master’s degree, even though graduates of most ALA-accredited Master’s programs are not required to complete a dissertation and are therefore earning the CILIP equivalent of a PG Dip.

Survey Findings

From the data gathered in the survey geared toward employers, it can be inferred that employers who hire employees with foreign credentials tend to be satisfied with the speed with which those employees adjust to working overseas, and no major gaps seem to exist in core areas of the professional knowledge base. However, the data from this survey may be biased due to the low number of respondents (13), and unequal representation of employers from varying types of libraries or the countries represented.

The data gathered in the second survey geared toward LIS graduates suggests that graduates of ALA-accredited programs are more successful at acquiring jobs overseas in the UK than CILIP-accredited graduates are in the US or Canada; roughly 81% of respondents with ALA credentials who applied for library jobs in the UK reported being successful, compared to approximately 35% of respondents with CILIP credentials who applied for jobs in the US or Canada. However, according to the data, this assumption is not due to the issue of foreign credentialing.

While conducting these surveys, I also received some interesting comments via email. Three self-identified American citizens wrote to tell me about how they had earned LIS degrees in the UK, only to return to the US and find that libraries would not hire them due to their CILIP credentials. One commented that library administrators told him that “non-ALA degrees would not even be considered, regardless of [the] reciprocity which CILIP currently claims.” Another respondent, who identified herself as a lecturer at one of the CILIP-accredited programs in the UK, shared that a few American graduates of the program had told her that they were denied employment upon returning to the States. In contrast, two respondents with non-CILIP credentials shared that they were able to find professional jobs in the UK without any difficulty. Thus, although not reflected in the statistical survey data, it is clear that foreign credentialing is indeed an issue when it comes to professional LIS employment in the US.

Conclusion

I drew three conclusions from this study: 1) ALA and CILIP expect roughly the same of their LIS graduates, since their core competencies are so similar; 2) required courses in both ALA- and CILIP-accredited courses differ, but neither side of the Atlantic shows a greater deficiency in covering the core competencies than the other; and 3) most ALA-accredited Master’s degrees are effectively the equivalent of CILIP-accredited PG Dips, and graduates of CILIP-accredited programs are more likely to have more practical experience in the field.

If those conclusions are true, then why has it been so difficult for graduates of CILIP programs to have their credentials recognized in the US and Canada? The ALA claims to celebrate diversity, and “promotes the exchange of professional information, techniques and knowledge, as well as personnel and literature between and among libraries and individuals throughout the world” (American Library Association, 2011b, para. 1). Wouldn’t working alongside library professionals who earned their degrees from around the world be a great way to do just that?

Michael Dowling wrote in 2007 that the ALA has changed its policies to be more accommodating of foreign credentials, but that the organization hasn’t communicated this change well enough to human resource departments. However, most of the comments I received about CILIP credentials being denied in the US indicated that this problem has continued since 2007. If the ALA has indeed changed its policies, it doesn’t seem to be communicating them any better. I, for one, would like to see this question of transferability addressed more clearly by the ALA and CILIP, in hopes that more LIS students don’t complete a year or more of study and hard work only to find that their degree is effectively worthless in the country where they’d like to work.


Dana HamlinDana Hamlin (Goblaskas) is an archives collections associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She earned her MLS at Southern Connecticut State University in August 2011, and can be contacted at dgoblask@mit.edu

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Filed under Guest Posts, library research, Researcher's Corner, UK

Tie etc

suit by flickr user pretendtious

 

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian from a city/town in the UK.  This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members and has been a hiring manager.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Probably not (but it’s ok if the candidate does wear one)

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ I do not know and/or care

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

√ I don’t care

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are innappropriate

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ I don’t care what’s on the face, it’s what’s in the brain that counts

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

Any top too low, I didn’t notice but other panelists did

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

√ Yes, the higher the position, the more formal I expect the candidate to dress

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

√ Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears)

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ I don’t really care how a candidate dresses

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

Tie etc

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

√ Casual

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? Please check all that apply

√ Flip flops
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

Photo: suit! by flickr user pretendtious

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Academic, City/town, UK, What Should Candidates Wear?