Tag Archives: Cover letter

Everyone Loves a Bargain, But You Often Get What You Pay For

New Yorkers now at liberty to shoot wild fowl in their own state (LOC)This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

For my internship, I assisted with cataloging in a Special Collections department.

This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Southern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

decent salary
fair management
good location

Where do you look for open positions?

Indeed
INALJ
Simply Hired
HigherEdJobs
The Chronicle of Higher Education
LibGig

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 on the requirements of the employer. If it is a form application then it could take approximately an hour and a half, but just a cover letter and resume may only take 30-45 minutes to tweak for an individual organization. I normally match the requirements of the position against my individual experience and education, then try to think from the employer’s perspective and change my cover letter and resume accordingly. This is usually my routine, but it has yet to work for me.

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 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: Being treated with courtesy and respect during the interview process.

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

The quality of candidates is related to the salary and benefits being offered. Everyone loves a bargain, but you often get what you pay for.

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

The whole hiring process could be a lot less painful if it were not so lengthy and if employers would communicate more with candidates.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

If I knew the secret then I would have gotten hired, but I often think that luck and networking plays a large part in getting hired in this economy. Times are difficult for everyone, including libraries.

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

What a great idea!! Thanks!

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

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Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Public, Southern US, Special, Suburban area

Do not require an application that is identical to what goes on a resume

October 28, 1902 via National Library of Ireland on the CommonsThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed, has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for More than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the entry level. Here is how this person describes his or her experience with internships/volunteering:

No library experience, three years cataloging in museums.

This job hunter is in an urban area in the Northeastern US and is willing to move.

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

Decent pay and benefits,
Allow me to develop my skills and talents,
Location in the NE USA

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, Google reader feed of 20 or so job posting boards.

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?

Write a tailored cover letter. About a half hour.

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)?

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

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

List salary. Be open to people who don’t meet every requirement or whose experience is in other fields but has easily transferable skills.

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

Not require an application that is identical to what goes on a resume.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

It’s who you know.

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

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

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Open Cover Letters

My sister is an actor, and a couple years ago she wrote a post about generosity that really resonated with me. She said that if you see a great role that someone else would be perfect for, you should share it.  She said that to get other people to root for you, you have to root for them.  Its better to go through the stress of auditions with people by your side.

I really think the same is true for job hunting.  If we share information, we build a better community.  We’ve got people on our side and a higher quality of work.  That’s why I’m happy to feature Open Cover Letters today. This is a site which allows job hunters to share with each other the secrets of their success.  It provides good examples, which for me personally have created clarity and improved the quality of my work.  Please enjoy this interview!


Open Cover Letters


What is it?  Please give us your elevator speech!

Open Cover Letters aims to help inspire library job hunters write great cover letters. Over 60 hired librarians have graciously submitted cover letters they wrote as part of a successful library job application.

When was it started?  Why was it started?

I created the website in June 2011 after completing a job search. I found that existing cover letter websites were generic and unhelpful. I wished I could have read real examples of librarian cover letters. After accepting my current position, I approached friends and colleagues who were hired, and launched the website with five anonymized cover letters.

Who runs it?

Stephen X. Flynn, Emerging Technologies Librarian at the College of Wooster. Wooster, Ohio.

Are you a “career expert”? What are your qualifications?

I am not a career expert at all! Instead, I try to offer advice based on my real world experience both applying for jobs, and also now hiring. I have partnered with ALA JobLIST to present cover letter workshops at the Job Placement Center at ALA. I tell the story of my own job hunt, share what I’ve learned from hiring, and use a worksheet and activities to engage the attendees in reflective practice.

Who is your target audience?

If you are looking for a library job, whether you’re an MLIS student, or an experienced library administrator, you should benefit from reading successful library cover letter examples.

What’s the best way to use your site?  Should users consult it daily?  Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?

I think it’s best to browse the website as needed, and use the tags and categories to narrow down to a specific type of library or job description.

Does your site provide:

 Advice on:

 Cover Letters


Should readers also look for you on social media? Or is your content available in other formats? 

√ Twitter: @opencoverletter
√ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opencoverletters

Do you charge for anything on your site?

Open Cover Letters is not only free, but also licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?

Yes! When I started the website, I hoped that librarians who were helped would pay it forward by submitting their own cover letter. This has happened countless times as cover letter submitters have told me in the email that they found my website to be helpful. Some readers have also asked me for cover letter and resume advice directly, and one individual in particular told me that after making significant changes to the resume and cover letter, the rate of call-backs went up.

Stephen X FlynnAnything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

There is no magic formula to the perfect cover letter. Like other forms of composition, it’s a form of art that requires time and passion to succeed. Also, an outstanding resumé is just as important as an outstanding cover letter. The two should, in perfect synchronization, communicate your strengths and address the job requirements. You’ve heard the advice that you should tailor your cover letter, but you should also tailor your resumé.

A healthy support network is critical to getting through the job hunting highs and lows. Ask your friends, family and colleagues to critique your job applications. Reach out to hired librarians for advice and support. I know how tough the daily struggle is, and I believe that with the right combination of passion, initiative and support, you’ll be able to find an amazing job!

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Filed under Job Hunters Web Guide

Further Questions: Can You Tell Us About Successful Cover Letter “Hooks”?

Here’s another question from the reader who asked when candidates shouldn’t apply, if current employment status matters and how the initial selection of candidate works. This week I asked people who hire librarians:

What is something that an applicant stated in a cover letter that prompted you to give him/her an interview?

A needed language.  Experience with a needed genre. Experience with a needed classification or subject heading scheme, e.g., NLMC/MeSH.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Marge Loch-WoutersI always introduce an element of play into the job ad itself. If an applicant responds playfully back in the cover letter, they move immediately up in the winnowing process. Of course, the playfulness still needs to be backed up with a resume that shows skills that match our job but it is a powerful hint that they can navigate the job we are offering in the way we are offering it!
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
Petra MauerhoffThe one thing that always perks my interest in a cover letter is if I can tell someone has done their homework. They refer to something specific to our library region, be it something related to the geographic challenges, the make up of our system, something they read on our website or read about us elsewhere. This tends to show a genuine interest by the applicant to learn more about what our organization is about. If their qualifications are at all related to what we are looking for, someone who grabbed my interest like that usually gets invited to an interview.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

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 made a comment here, you could make a comment anywhere.

EDITED 1/17/2013 7:31 AM to add in answer by Petra Mauerhoff

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

A LinkedIn Profile Can be a Nice Adjunct to the Resume

City, Public Library, 1956

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a hiring manager and works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

I look for:
1. how well-prepared the candidate is
2. an introspective candidate. One who is aware of strengths/weaknesses is much more desirable than a candidate who’s overly confident
3. someone eager and willing to work hard and contribute to the team

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

Not selling how they will be the best candidate for the job. Also, someone who’s clearly unqualified with the job’s duties, but has applied because they need a job.

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

Typos.

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

Most people don’t put website URL’s, I’d love to see that if they have one. Also, a LinkedIn profile can be a nice adjunct to the resume.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

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

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ As an attachment only

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

Understand completely what the job entails. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the job’s main responsibilities, and bring ideas about how you could make things better.

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

Not having questions about both the job duties and the environment itself. A job interview is a two-way street – they’re interviewing me as much as I’m interviewing them. Ask what it’s like to work here, the environment, the culture of the library.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Not Only Do You Need to Have the Ability to Sell and Market Your Own Expertise … You Need to Do That for the Department That is Going to Hire You Too.

 

This interview is with Darron Chapman, who has been a recruiter for over 20 years. He is the managing director of TFPL, which is:

a global market leader in recruitment, training and consulting for the knowledge, information and data industries. We work right across the private, public, and third sectors.

Mr. Chapman is also the 2012 president of SLA Europe. You can follow him on Twitter at @DPCHA

Questions about Recruitment:

Can you give us a brief run-down of how a recruitment firm works?

All recruitment firms operate slightly differently but essentially a recruitment firm’s purpose is to find and qualify new employees for their client’s organisations.
TFPL provides the following services: Rapid Response – Temporary and Contract, Interim, Programme, Project and Change Management Professions, Managed Services, Contingent Permanent Recruitment Solutions Search, Selection & Talent Management, Benchmarking, Research, Metrics & Surveys, Advisory Services, Partnerships and acquisitions, and Communities of Practice.
Recruitment firms are only paid a fee on a successful placement of a candidate introduced to the client company.  A good recruiter however, acts in the interest of both parties as an intermediary between the client company and the client candidate.  The recruiter ensures that the individual looking for work finds a suitable opportunity that helps them grow and develop and builds on the person’s expertise and experience.  They also commit to find the best talent that meets the needs of the client organisation.

What types of vacancies are you most frequently placing candidates in?  In what types of organizations?

TFPL recruits a broad range of information related specialisms, including Knowledge and information management, insight and intelligence, records management and publishing and content. Our clients range from professional services firms, financial institutions, central government and charitable organisations  to large publishing companies.  We are noticing a lot of activity in the legal sector, strategy consultancies, information publishers and not for profit sectors.

What should candidates do differently when applying to a recruitment firm?  Is there anything they should be sure to include with you that they wouldn’t tell a direct-hire job, etc.?

With a recruitment firm you are more likely to have a general conversation about the job market and discuss a broad range of opportunities.  You may also discuss how to position yourself for various job roles and what you can do with your current skill set and identify skill gaps to develop.
You will need a general CV no longer than two pages with relevant key words so you are identified in any database searches, proof of identification and names and addresses of two good referees.  If you want to work in some public sector roles, you will also need to have a security or CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check.
When applying directly to an organisation your CV needs to reflect the skills that the role requires.  Your covering letter needs to highlight why you are right for the role and why you are applying for the job.  Other than that honesty is always the best policy!

Are there particular qualities or experiences that will give a candidate an edge in being considered for positions you are trying to fill?

On many occasions I have seen less experienced candidates get selected over and above better skilled candidates purely down to having the right attitude.  Clients are more willing to train and grow less experienced candidates if they fit the culture of the organisation over a skilled person that doesn’t.
Communication skills, a can-do attitude, creativity,  enthusiasm, passion, resilience, flexibility, being able to adapt to changes and challenges are at the forefront of a hirers thinking.  Not only do you need to have the ability to sell and market your own expertise but to survive these days, you need to do that for the department that is going to hire you too.

Once an initial placement has been made, what should a candidate do to keep on good terms with your agency (in order to ensure future placements)?

In the information sector there are many networks and events to attend and more often than not you will bump into a recruiter.  The market will continue to develop which will impact the types of role that emerge and your recruiter will be a great source of information on these emerging roles and skill sets.   They will also be able to help you benchmark your salary if you are up for a review.   TFPL runs networks and training course both free and paid for so you can always keep abreast of what is hot in the market place.   We would also love to help hire new staff when required so keeping a good relationship is vital.


Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know about recruitment agencies or TFPL?

Do not underestimate the value of the time spent with your recruitment consultant because the more care spent on that relationship the more likely you are to find an opportunity that is suitable for you.  Also, impressions formed by a recruitment consultant will naturally influence their assessment of you and vice versa.

Questions from the survey:

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

  • Communications skills
  • Marketability – can we promote you with confidence
  • Good at dealing with stakeholders

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

Dishonesty, not answering questions properly, question avoidance and poor eye contact. As a service industry we do get our share of folk who think it is OK to abuse their relationship with staff. It isn’t, no matter what the problem is to be solved together.

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

Typos!

CVs that are not outcome or evidence based

Profiles that cannot be backed up- subjective comments

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

More outcomes rather than a list of duties.  How they made a difference to their organisation.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√  No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Yes

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

√  In the body of the email only

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

Smile!  Be informed, be prepared and be interested! Demonstrate that you want to work for that employer and why.

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

Lack of homework and preparation

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

Selection has moved from chronological analysis, to competency based analysis to evidence based recruitment

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

Don’t come with a list of stuff you don’t want – think about what contribution you can bring to an organisation and where you could apply it.  Before you embark on a job search, take some time to prepare what you want to say about your competencies and what you are good at, and would like to do more of. Thinking about this in advance, makes the consulting part of recruitment much quicker, and helps us sell your attributes better. Don’t wait until we meet you to start to thinking about it.

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Filed under Non-Anonymous, Original Survey, Other Organization or Library Type, Recruiters

Guest Post: Recapping OpenCoverLetters LIVE!

Have you visited OpenCoverLetters?  This site, run by Stephen X. Flynn, presents anonymous cover letters from hired librarians, allowing job hunters to learn from their peers’ examples.  Flynn paired up with Emily Thompson, host of LiTTech, to recreate this resource in real time, face to face, with live persons.  They graciously agreed to recap the experience for today’s guest post.  Please enjoy!


On the June 24 we had the exciting opportunity to present “OpenCoverLetters LIVE!: Writing a Cover Letter that Will Get You Noticed” an interactive workshop on cover letter writing at ALA Annual 2012. This is our summary of what we did, what we learned and what we hope to do next.

What We Prepared:

We prepared a 45 minute presentation and interactive workshop. To facilitate audience participation, we created a traditional packet with a worksheet and 3 example cover letters from OpenCoverLetters.com and 2 current job ads. For the majority our time, we led attendees through reflective practice exercises, asking the following questions:

• What makes a successful cover letter sing?
• What are the keywords you should look for in a job application?
• What are qualities of the ideal candidate for a given job?
• What are 5 things that make you awesome?

 

We deliberately blocked out time after the session to allow for individual consultations and conversations.

Why We Did It:

A year ago, we were in the same boat as attendees: applying for dozens of jobs and thus writing dozens of cover letters. We wanted to provide the kind of support and tangible advice to current job-seekers that we would have found useful at the ALA we attended.

Networking is something people usually associate with job seekers, but as hired librarians, we are similarly interested in networking with other librarians, current and future. This workshop provided us an opportunity to meet library job seekers, especially those who had used Open Cover Letters.

As new librarians we also wanted the experience of presenting at a national conference. Now having gone through the cycle of submission, preparation, execution, and post-reflection, we will be even more prepared for future conference presentations, that especially in Emily’s case, will be required for promotion and tenure.

What We Learned:

It’s really hard for people to admit that they’re awesome – including the presenters. We asked everyone to put down five things, but most could only come up with two or three.

If you do a workshop for job seekers, hiring managers might show up and provide valuable discussion points. They added clarification and insight that new librarians like us could easily miss. It also felt great when the comments were more “Yes, and  . . . .” than “You guys are wrong.”

Workshops don’t record well. We wanted to have an audio recording, but since most of the time was spent with smaller groups buzzing in conversation, it’s not very listenable.

Sometimes you don’t need slides in a workshop. We could have just used Poll Everywhere and been good. We had to keep running up to change the slide. It would have been better to just have a space for the attendees to post comments.
Don’t forget to give out your business cards. We had them on the table in front, but we both got so into the workshop that we forgot to invite people to take them.

What We’re Planning for the Future:

At the end of the session we conducted an informal and anonymous assessment. Our most frequent suggestion was for more time: 45 minutes simply flew by. We are exploring ways to expand our workshop to a larger and more diverse audience, and for a longer period of time. We want to give attendees a chance to delve into the process more meaningfully and hone their cover letter writing skills.


Emily Thompson was born in Helena, MT and worked as a costume designer in Texas and an  English teacher in South Korea and Taiwan before she became a librarian. After getting her MSI at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2011, she started as the Learning Technologies Librarian at SUNY Oswego. Now she spends her day exploring apps, researching gadgets, and teaching students how to get the most out of their studies. She also can’t believe she gets paid for such a great job! Her podcast, LiTTech posts every Wednesday at EdReach.us (and you can also find it on iTunes and Stitcher).  You can contact Emily at emily.thompson@oswego.edu or on Twitter at @librarianofdoom.

 

Stephen X. Flynn is the Emerging Technologies Librarian at The College of Wooster.  He founded Open Cover Letters following his own (successful) job search, in order to provide job hunters with something other than generic examples.  The innovative site landed him a place as one of Library Journal’s 2012 Movers & Shakers.  Flynn also earned his MSI at the University of Michigan, where he specialized in Library and Information Studies and Information Policy.  In addition to Open Cover Letters (on Twitter at @OpenCoverLetter), he blogs at sxflynn.net and tweets at @sxflynn. You can also contact him at sflynn@wooster.edu.

 

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Please Be Clear About How Your Current Institution is Similar to Mine

A librarian and a teacher, New Ulm Minnesota, 1974This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian from a library with 50-100 staff members, who has been a member of a hiring committee.



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

Relevant experience,

good communication skills,

evidence of commitment to the field through service, organization work, and/or publishing.

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

In the packet:  if you don’t address how your qualifications are relevant to the position, you’ll immediately be ranked behind the people who clearly state how their qualifications/knowledge base would make them good candidates.
In the interview process:  For god’s sake, have some questions!!!!  I was deeply shocked in a recent interview when the candidate, who had received the schedule ahead of time, had zilch questions for the hour scheduled to meet with the librarians.  Nooo questions….sooooo awkward.  Sure, maybe be at that point in the day she had decided she didn’t want the job, but it definitely showed an overall lack of curiosity about the field.  She could have at least pretended there were things she wanted to know about our library/campus.

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

When it is clear people are just dumping their resume anywhere there is a job opening.  Please, please, please don’t waste a search committees time.  If you have absolutely no reference desk experience and the position requires reference experience but because you just got an MLS and are willing to move anywhere you send your resume…no.  Don’t do that.  Most publicly funded institutions have to do a shit-ton of paperwork for EACH and EVERY application we receive, and if you didn’t bother to write up how you think your previous experience applies to us, we’ll be cranky.

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

Please be clear about how your current institution is similar to mine.  How do I know how big/small urban/rural two-year/four-year your current institution is?  And if I’ve got a stack of 60 applications in front of me, you are not amazing to me if I have to speculate about how That State College is similar or different to This State College.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: a cover letter should be well written

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

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

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ As an attachment only

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

Make the day easy for us by smiling, trying to engage with us.  Yes, you will be exhausted by the end of the day, and many of us in the field are introverts, but you need to mingle and show us your most engaging self.  Awkward silences are ten times more awkward on interview days.

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

As noted above, not having questions. This applies to the phone interview too.  It indicates to me that a.  you are not curious and b.  you didn’t do your homework.
Advice:  if you get a phone interview, get the heck online and read everything posted by the institution.  Read its alumni newsletters.  Read its self studies.  Read the student newspaper.  Know what is happening locally and ask open ended questions, “i.e. I read in xyz that your institution is getting a new stadium, how do you all feel about that?” Or “I read in xyz that your graduation rate is %.  How do you all feel about that?”  or “what is your perspective on that”.  Seriously, I was recently on a search committee and some really good phone interviews went south at the end when we said, “What questions do you have for us” and the candidate had not a one.  Cringe.

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

More and more paperwork.  Many state funded institutions are under the gun to prove, via piles of paperwork, we have done our due diligence to conduct the search process in an entirely above board way.  I’m cool with that of course, but seriously, the forms….a form to evaluate each candidate whose packet we read.  A form to fill out about every phone interview we conduct.  A really really loong form about the candidates we want to hire and don’t want to hire.

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

Have questions prepared for the phone and in-person interviews.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Academic, Original Survey, Public Services/Reference