Category Archives: Urban area

You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

Civic library, Newcastle, 1957, Hood collectionThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager (you are hiring people that you will directly or indirectly supervise).  This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Interns, secondary school librarians and librarian assistants, teacher librarians, catalogers

This librarian works at a School Library with 0-10 staff members in an Urban area in Asia.

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

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

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

3

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

√ Cataloging

√ Budgeting/Accounting

√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ 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?

Policy writing and the legal aspects of careers in libraries. It’s so important to protect yourself, your staff and patrons from legal situations that can be prevented with proper policies being written up.

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)?

Practical skills related to tasks can be learned on the job, such as book repair, book processing (i.e. new books, donations), office and desk organization and management (essential when working with a team), specific software skills (there are so many new types of software coming out it is not reasonable to expect this to be taught in library school).

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

√ Library work experience

√ Professional organization involvement

√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

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

ALA accredited institutions, they have high standards. Library Schools from Europe, North America, or Australia. I would have to research certificates or degrees coming from lesser known institutions in Asia, Africa or South America.

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

Chinese institutions – Sadly, I have a hard time trusting that the standards of skills are a good fit for what I want candidates to be able to do in a North American style library. Many of the websites are in Chinese with no English option so I cannot verify what skills candidates have been taught, nor can I guarantee that the certificate is genuine.

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

Work or volunteer in a library at the same time! If you can’t get a library job, at least volunteer in one. You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, School, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

our communities might not fully understand what we do

Nevins Memorial Library First Librarians c. 1900This anonymous interview is with a academic librarian who has been aA member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Both librarians and staff

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

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

√25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Skills and experience were clearly defined and highlighted in the cover letter and CV to demonstrate the candidate was a good match for the needs of the position, whether through formal or informal experience.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applications used to be first screened by HR but now each search committee has access to all applications and does the first weeding of applications. There is a rubric and the search committee then ranks applicants to determine who will be invited to each stage of the interview process.

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

They are not qualified for the position, which can be determined through enough information provided pointing to this, or by omission of information. When candidates don’t develop their application materials for the specific job they’re applying for, they can appear as not as qualified as others if they leave information out that the specific job posting asks for.Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

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

√ Yes, if the candidate requests it

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

Be honest and thoughtful. Don’t try to hide information or puff up skills more than they are, the search committee will see through this. Candidates have scored extra points with me when they’ve honestly addressed gaps in employment, lack of experience in a certain area, or were straightforward about something they need to work on. The problem isn’t that someone is human, search committees realize things happen or maybe someone got more experience in one area than another–it’s when a candidate is insincere, and that sends a red flag.

I want to hire someone who is

open-minded

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

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

√ 3-4

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

√ 3-4

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

√ There are fewer 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?

√ Other: The work defining a librarian position has changed over the years, so yes and no

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

No, we truly consider candidates with no experience when we say something is entry-level.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Librarianship is a changing field and we are just as important as ever to our communities. The problem is not that we have “no identity” or are “replaceable” (according to a previous interviewee on this site), it’s that our communities might not fully understand what we do. There is so much information in the world that our students need to navigate, and that our faculty need for research. Our expertise is essential to organize this information, teach how to navigate this information, and connect our communities with the information they need.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

It is still very much WHO you know not WHAT you know.

Christchurch libraryThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for More than 18 months. This person is looking inAcademic library, Archives, Library vendor/service provider, Public library, School library, Special library at the following levels: Entry level , Requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

3 years @ Melbourne Museum – Volunteering in Customer service, Library and Digitisation 6 month internship @ Melbourne Museum – Doing research in the Humanities department 1 month internship @ the Parliamentary Library, Canberra – worked in collection management, digitisation, databases and media services, customer service and coding.

This job hunter is in a Urban area in Australia/New Zealand and is willing to move Anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

A good salary, professional development opportunities and career progression.

Where do you look for open positions? (e.g. ALA Joblist, professional listserv, LinkedIn)

Networking with people, attending library related events, Linkedin, ALIA job board, libraryjobs.com.au

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

  • Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Anywhere from 1-2 days to a couple of hours each day through-out the week.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

  • Other: stretched the truth

When would you like employers to contact you?(Please select all that apply)

  • To acknowledge my application
  • To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
  • To follow-up after an interview
  • Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

  • Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?(Please check all that apply)

  • Tour of facility
  • Meeting department members/potential co-workers

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be clear in the position description about the responsibilities of the job. Be clear in the interview about the type of person/personality you are looking for the interview.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

It is still very much WHO you know not WHAT you know.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Good direct questions, easy to answer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Archives, Australia/New Zealand, Entry Level, Job hunter's survey, Public, School, Special, Urban area

I felt that I had been somewhat misled before coming in for the interview

Hunting Party Near The Writing-On-Stone Royal Northwest Mounted Police Detachment Galt Museum and Archives on the Flickr CommonsThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic library, Public library, Special library, at the following levels: Entry level , Requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

Not entry level, but willing to go back there for the sake of starting somewhere!

This job hunter is in a Urban area in the Western US and is not willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

A sane and collegial work environment, with colleagues who care about their work and about maintaining a harmonious, productive workplace. A good match with my particular interests. Room to expand my skills in new areas.

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional listservs (mostly regional), Indeed.com, Higheredjobs.com, occasionally even Craigslist

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I spend a lot of time customizing my letter and resume for each position, rereading the job description, and, to my constant chagrin, filling out those online application forms, each of which seems to ask for some new, obscure detail I can barely manage to get my hands on. A lot of this time is not active–there’s a combination of procrastinating and revising, the exact balance of which varies depending on my level of excitement about the position.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: I have frequently felt myself in an awkward position when answering the supplemental questions on many applications, which (I hope wrongly) I assume are used for initial screening/weeding of candidates. The wording of these questions is frequently black and white in a way that forces you to choose between discounting relevant experience that may be directly comparable, or risking an accusation of having inflated your claims of experience. I dread these questions, and almost always err on the side of discounting the experience that I think is directly comparable.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

√ Other: To acknowledge a thank you email after an interview! Receiving a polite, short, and completely noncommittal response feels infinitely better! Surely there is some way to do this politely without giving false hope.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: Having the sense that my understanding of the position from the description/application matches the interviewer’s discussion of it. I have had several experiences where I felt that I had been somewhat misled before coming in for the interview, perhaps accidentally, and each time this has felt like a red flag (among other signs of potential trouble). If the scope of the position is not yet completely worked out, it may be too early to be bringing in candidates! That said, I can imagine that a more flexibly defined position with room for growth could certainly be presented in a positive way.

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be specific and as detailed as possible in job descriptions, providing information when possible about salary range, benefits, and scheduling expectations. I would not mind seeing less librarians-as-unbelievably-awesome-superheroes rhetoric in job descriptions, in favor of substantive descriptions of the responsibilities and functions of the position. Be flexible as to how to count previous experience. While recognizing that there are real differences between public and academic librarianship, I tend to think that many job descriptions overemphasize the importance of having public library experience for public library work, and likewise for academic. Surely there is some amount of overlap that is worth valuing, and maybe it is the case that (some) hiring managers factor this in when looking at individual applications–if so, it would be nice to see that reflected in job descriptions. I think that many of us have gotten locked into one track or the other as the result of jobs taken in necessity when starting out.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

So much! I’ll limit myself to four suggestions, two of which I know are unrealistic. 1. My fantasy is that employers would move away from online application forms and simply require a resume, cover letter, and possibly a list of references. I realize there are reasons for these forms, though, and so I think the next best thing is to move to standardized, common application forms (e.g., GovernmentJobs.com) whenever possible. 2. One of the most important things I think employers can do is to recognize that many new librarians are frequently managing to get experience through cobbling together a number of part-time or sometimes extremely contingent positions. If you understand this, feel that two or three jobs simultaneously held are not equivalent to one full-time job (I’m not saying this is indefensible), and ask questions (supplemental questions, say) about years of experience, then it would be very helpful to provide examples of how to calculate years of experience that resemble the employment reality that many of your applicants have been facing. It would also be nice to see hourly wages given as an option on application forms when salary is being inquired about. 3. My other fantasy comes back to my enduring fear that supplemental questions are used to disqualify applications in bulk, without a human reviewing them. If that is the case, then I would love to see these questions function as a self-screening that would tell applicants up front, “don’t bother: you’re not qualified for this position!” and not allow them to proceed any further. Like I said, it’s a fantasy. I guess what I am trying to say is that if these supplemental questions are yes/no questions with no room for elaboration, they should be thought out very carefully, and should represent real, absolute deal-breakers rather than a wish-list. 4. Probably the most inevitable source of pain for those of us on the market is the uncertainty of when you will hear back from anyone. It is so hard, when you’ve applied or interviewed somewhere, to keep in mind that the hiring process is likely not the highest priority of that institution, and that there are bound to be reasonable causes of delay. I would just hope that employers can remember how miserable it is on the other end, and do everything in their power to update applicants/candidates as promptly as possible, and at multiple stages of the process. I would also say that if it’s not necessarily feasible to give candidates who are interviewing a more *realistic* idea of a timeframe, it is possible to name only the outer limit of your estimate. (It should take one week, but might take two? Tell them two, not one.) I think most of us would much rather be surprised by early news than agonize through a Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday when we’ve been told on Monday that there will definitely be a decision by the end of the week.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Solidly meeting all of the most important requirements–and then some combination of the following: luck, timing, knowing someone, interviewing skill, and that nebulous thing, “fit.”

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

This is a great blog

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Public, Special, Urban area, Western US

currently obtaining my MLIS, as it is a (painfully reinforced) professional ceiling

PhC42.Bx17.Hunting.F12-3This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, Special libraries,  Informatics environments, knowledge management, records managemen at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory,  Senior Librarian, Branch Manager. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I have five years of combined public and academic (both university and community college level) library experience, and am currently obtaining my MLIS, as it is a (painfully reinforced) professional ceiling.

This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US, and is not willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Livable wage/reasonable salary with room for advancement.

Engaged, supportive staff environment where innovation, exploration, and collaboration are encouraged at all levels.

Opportunities for continuing education; awareness of organization’s place in greater network of the profession.

Where do you look for open positions?

CLIR jobs list, local institutions’ websites, ALA Joblist, various listservs.

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Depends on the application/institution. I tend to tweak the master copy of my resume to better reflect the specifics in a job posting. A few hours, usually over coffee or lunch to stay relaxed and focused.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Intimidating list of qualifications and requirements, list of salary and benefits, ease of access and understanding of online applications. Simply accept a resume instead of reiterating resume information in feilds; eliminate the copy and paste syndrome!

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

It helps (and hurts!) a lot to get rejection notices so the applicant can brush herself off and move on.

I like the idea of being taken out to lunch, but this has never been my experience.

Less paperwork, if possible.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

There is no secret. You keep your skills sharp, develop your talent deeply, work hard, keep your resume up to date and flexible, and nail the interviews. Compete. Believe in yourself.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Public, Special, Urban area

I have applied for many jobs and never even gotten a phone interview

PhC42.Bx17.Hunting.F13This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, and Other: Anything I’m qualified for.  This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Interesting and challenging work
To know my contributions are valued
Good pay

Where do you look for open positions?

LinkedIn
ALA Joblist
Higher Ed joblist
Library websites

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

It depends. Sometimes hours are spent rewriting my resume and cover letter.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Other:  I wouldn’t know. I have applied for many jobs and never even gotten a phone interview

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

I really don’t know anymore.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Contact everyone who applies with something other than a robo-email to acknowledge their application.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

You have to know someone who works there for them to pull your application out of the pile and be your advocate

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Special, Urban area

I’ve had senior colleagues at a former place of employment take credit for my projects and accomplishments

Hunting Party Near The Writing-On-Stone Royal Northwest Mounted Police Detachment Galt Museum and Archives on the Flickr CommonsThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic library, Non-library academic and campus units, at the following levels: entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

3 years of academic library and research experience. Additional experience in public and special libraries.

This job hunter is in a Urban area in the Northeastern US and is willing to move  It depends on the institution and the job.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Responsibilities that aligns with my interests and skills. Colleagues that will motivate, support, and challenge me to grow. Healthy organizational culture.

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I tailor my CV to highlight my most salient experience, research, service, and honors, which can take an hour or two. Cover letters can take anywhere from an hour (if I’ve applied to a similar position before) to four hours. I also spend some time reviewing the library’s and university’s website to determine whether the particular institution would be a good fit for me.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: It depends on whose truth we’re referring to. I’ve had senior colleagues at a former place of employment take credit for my projects and accomplishments. I am truthful, but I recognize that librarianship is a small pond and people talk, so I’m prepared to substantiate the truth through evidence of my accomplishments and experience if needed. Not an ideal situation, but it’s one of the outcomes of working (and leaving) an unhealthy organizational culture.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: I prefer self-directed tours of the library and campus.

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

I’m wary of a minimal list of responsibilities that end with “other duties as assigned,” as well as laundry lists of 20+ responsibilities if a percentage break-down of time isn’t included. Be thorough in defining the position, but don’t expect one person to accomplish anything of substance with so many competing responsibilities. Incentivizing your staff to be active in the professional community is helpful. It increases the visibility of your library and could encourage job seekers to apply. I would like prospective employers to provide some support my research-related activities, so having a professionally active staff is an implicit affirmation that I may receive the same level of support. I also find it useful when background information on the institution and library is included in job postings.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

I have mixed feelings about full-day interviews. They’re a great way to determine whether you’d enjoy working with your future colleagues and learn more about the library and campus culture. However, most entry-level academic librarian positions would not qualify for a faculty appointment using standard assessment metrics (e.g. instructor of record, scholarly impact), so full-day interviews seem to appeal more to academic tradition than is worth the time and expense.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Low standards and expectations? I know that sounds harsh, but most of the positions that align with my interests and skills are very traditional and, quite frankly, boring. I would not be content with a full-time job that consists of standard one-shot instruction sessions, general reference work, and limited engagement with students and faculty.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Thank you for creating and overseeing this website! It’s an invaluable resource.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Entry Level, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Urban area