Tag Archives: Information professional

Researcher’s Corner: Experiences that Influence the Outcome of Recent Grads’ Academic Library Job Searches

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this with you for a while!  I caught the authors’ call for participants on the NMRT listserv – although I didn’t fit the demographic, I knew the results of their research would be fascinating.  And they are!  I think this will be very useful for job hunters across the board, but particularly for students looking to go into academic libraries.

As three recent Library and Information Science (LIS) graduates, we know finding a position in an academic library can be challenging for new graduates. LIS students are frequently encouraged to seek out experience, network, and improve upon their technology skills in order to have marketable skills when they apply for positions, yet little research actually supports such advice. We decided to test the advice given to students and determine what academic and work experiences of recent LIS graduates most significantly influence the outcome of their academic library job searches.


In 2013, we sent out a survey that asked questions about seven primary categories: basic information, job search, professional effectiveness, professional development, service, technological competency, and previous careers. We asked about student’s graduate program, parameters of their job search, their academic and work experience, as well as other skills or professional involvement that could influence their ability to land a first-time academic library job. The link to the survey was emailed to 2008–2012 graduates from the LIS programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, North Carolina Central University, and Dominican University. We also emailed the survey link to members of the ALA New Members’ Round Table (NMRT) listserv, distributed links on index cards to ACRL 2013 conference attendees during a related poster presentation, and electronically posted the link on the ACRL New Member Discussion board.


Our results included the expected and unexpected (from our points of view). There were 360 total respondents to our survey and 56% (N = 201) reported they wanted to work in academic libraries. These 201 respondents represented 33 different LIS programs with the highest number of students graduating from the University of Illinois (56) and Dominican University (39).

We used our results to compare successful and unsuccessful job seekers to discover trends. Overall, we found the two groups to be fairly similar. Only certain factors in job search, professional effectiveness, professional development, and service made a significant difference in improving the odds of success in securing a job. Briefly outlined below are our key findings:

  • Applying for jobs four to six months before graduation were nearly seven times more likely to obtain a job than candidates who did not.
  • Having any academic library experience increased the odds of success for a job seeker and those who had participated in an internship or practicum improved their odds of success by 2.75 compared to those with no internship or practicum.
  • Attending conferences increased the odds of success by 3.33 when compared to candidates without this experience, attending workshops and seminars increased the odds by 2.05 and publishing increased the odds by 4.83.
  • Completing committee service work increased an individual’s odds of securing a job by 3.


If you’re an aspiring or current LIS student, on the job market, or are looking to help out new librarians, we have some advice. Advice backed up by our research. Start applying for jobs around the start of your last semester in library school. While in school, look for any opportunity to get some experience in an academic library, even if you don’t get paid. Join some committees, and attend some local or, if you’re able, national conferences. And, even though it’s extra work, take that professor up on the offer to co-author an article with you

To read our full findings and analysis, please take a look at our open-access journal article published by The Journal of Academic Librarianship available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0099133314000123


rosener_ashley-1Ashley Rosener, Liaison Librarian to the School of Social Work, School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration, and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University

Ashley Rosener graduated with her Masters from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is excited by all things related to library instruction.


LindyheadshotLindy Scripps-Hoekstra, Liaison Librarian to the Area and Religious Studies programs, Grand Valley State University.

Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra graduated from Dominican University’s Library Science program and, as a former high school teacher, is particularly interested in reaching students through library instruction.


Eckard_Max_MovemberMax Eckard, Metadata & Digital Curation Librarian, Grand Valley State University.

Max Eckard is a [relatively recent] graduate of North Carolina Central University, and is passionate about digital preservation and librarianship as service.


Filed under Academic, Researcher's Corner

Researcher’s Corner: Tenure and Promotion in Libraries, Part 2 – Resource List

Last week I posted the first part of this research into tenure and promotion by Lori Smith and Penny Hecker.  If you’re a current or future academic librarian (or just interested in the status of librarians), this week’s post provides an excellent resource list to help you learn more about librarians and the various ways they might achieve tenure.

On Tenure across the U.S.

(Penny Hecker)

I created the list of sources below because it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the varying status of librarians within the academy. Just as there are multiple types of academic librarians, there are multiple types of “faculty status” for librarians. Although the argument for how to classify academic librarians began in the 19th century, it wasn’t until 1943 when librarians at the University of Illinois were the first to be granted “faculty status”.

With the variety of terminology, procedures, and criteria that exist across just our University of Louisiana System, determining the “norm” for tenure and promotion practices nationwide would take a monumental amount of research. Therefore, I’ve created a list of sources limited to the publication scope of 2001-2013, except for one article published in 1994. The following sources provide both research and opinion on librarian faculty status. They are organized loosely by descriptive headings and alphabetized by author name or title.

Just the Facts 

Academic-Librarian-Status is a very accommodating wiki source which delineates the main categories and lists several universities under each category. In some instances, there are direct links to the institution’s criteria and procedures for tenure and promotion.

A Guideline for the Appointment, Promotion and Tenure of Academic Librarians (ALA)

Association of College and Research Libraries Standards for Faculty Status for Academic Librarians

Bolin, M. K. (2008, May 28). A typology of librarian status at land grant universities. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(5), 220-230. Accessible @ http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libraryscience/156/

Bolin, M. K. (2008, September 5). Librarian status at US research universities: Extending the typology. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(5), 416-424. Accessible @ http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1176&context=libraryscience

Hosburgh, N. (2011, June 1). Librarian faculty status: What does it mean in academia? In Library Philosophy and Practice. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1603&context=libphilprac

Rosenberg, Bonnie. Faculty status and academic libraries.  www. weebly.com, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <http://375138250656935668.weebly.com/uploads/1/9/9/3/19932831/ils560_faculty_status_rosenberg_copy.pdf>.  (Rosenberg wrote this for a library school course and I thought it was excellent. I stumbled across this after I had completed my source-gathering and was tempted to direct readers just to this source because it’s such a great snapshot of faculty status, and it already contains many of my sources.)

 For & Against; Pros & Cons; Advice

Coker, C., van Duinkerken, W., & Bales, S. (2010). Seeking full citizenship: A defense of tenure faculty status for librarians. College & Research Libraries, 71(5), 406-420.

Cronin, B. (2001). The mother of all myths. Library Journal, 126(3), 144.

Dunn, S. (2013, March 18). As their roles change, some librarians lose faculty status. In The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved April 25, 2014

Garner, J., Davidson, K., & Schwartzkopf, B. (2009). Images of academic librarians: How tenure-track librarians portray themselves in the promotion and tenure process. Serials Librarian, 56(1-4), 203-208. doi:10.1080/03615260802690694

Gillum, S. (2010). The true benefit of faculty status for academic reference librarians. Reference Librarian, 51(4), 321-328. doi:10.1080/02763877.2010.501419

Hill, J. (1994). Wearing our own olothes: Librarians as faculty. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 20(2), 71.

Hoggan, D. B. (2003, July). Faculty status for librarians in higher education. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 3(3), 431-445. doi:10.1353/pla.2003.0060

McKinzie, S. (2010). 590: Local notes — tenure for academic librarians: Why it has to go. Against The Grain, 22(4), 60.

Smith, F. (2006). Tenure and promotion: How university system of Georgia librarians rate what we do. Georgia Library Quarterly, 43(1), 11-16.

Spires, T. (2007). The busy librarian: Prioritizing tenure and dealing with stress for academic library professionals. Illinois Libraries, 86(4), 101-108.

Stouffer, C. M. (2011). Tenure and other sticky situations. AALL Spectrum, 16(1), 11-13.


Lori L. Smith, Government Information Librarian, Southeastern Louisiana University, Sims Memorial Library

Lori L. Smith obtained her M.L.S. from Indiana University in 1987, spent a few years as a Government Information Specialist at the St. Louis Public Library, and has been the Government Information Librarian at Southeastern Louisiana University since 1991.


Penny Hecker

Penny Hecker, Associate Professor & Reference/Instruction Librarian, Southeastern Louisiana University, Sims Memorial Library

Penny Hecker has worked in both public and academic libraries since 1991. She is currently a reference/instruction librarian and Associate Professor at Sims Library, Southeastern Louisiana University, where she teaches the credit course Library Science 102. 

1 Comment

Filed under Academic, Researcher's Corner

Researcher’s Corner: Tenure and Promotion in Libraries, Part I – Louisiana Libraries

I’m happy to provide this two-part informal summary of research by Lori Smith and Penny Hecker on a topic which may be of great interest to you current and aspiring academic librarians.  In this post, Smith and Hecker offer a look at the tenure process within the University of Louisiana system, and their personal reflections.  Next week, they’ll broaden this information by providing resources on librarians’ tenure across the US.

Around 2007 at Southeastern Louisiana University, Lori Smith was assigned to provide tenure and promotion mentoring to Penny Hecker. One day Penny was lamenting how difficult it was to come up with a research topic for a publication.  Lori said it was easiest to pick something related to a task or project you were currently doing.  Since both had just left a meeting at which revisions to the library’s tenure and promotion guidelines had been discussed, Lori suggested an article comparing tenure and promotion requirements among libraries in Louisiana.  They agreed to collaborate on the article and it only took them five long years to get it written and published.  (They’re both very busy people: Lori is the Government Information Librarian at Southeastern and Penny is a reference librarian and an instructor for the university’s credit information literacy course, Library Science 102.)

In order to simplify the research they agreed to focus on the libraries within their own University of Louisiana System, rather than looking at all the academic libraries in the state. The article “Tenure and Promotion: Criteria and Procedures Used by University of Louisiana System Libraries” appeared in Volume 2, Issue 2 (2012) of Codex: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRLhttp://journal.acrlla.org/index.php/codex/article/view/71.

Summary of What We Found in Louisiana

(Lori Smith)

Though it did take quite a while to do it, writing the article was actually quite interesting.  The first challenge was obtaining copies of the tenure and promotion policies for the libraries in the University of Louisiana System (ULS).  (The library at McNeese University was the only one that didn’t have its own policy.)  While the university policies were often available online, none of the library policies were.  Fortunately, through my connection with the government documents librarians across the state and the help of some colleagues who used their connections, we were able to get copies of the policies we needed.

The similarities between the policies were clear in that all evaluated job performance, research/professional activity, and service, but significant procedural variations did arise.  Some libraries did tenure and promotion reviews in the fall, and others in the spring.  The University of New Orleans, which had just recently been moved into the ULS, had deadlines for both fall and spring reviews.  Some libraries used all tenured faculty at or above the rank being applied for as the peer review committee, and others used a smaller number of members.  The required contents of the review portfolio also differed slightly from library to library.  Southeastern seems to be the only institution that requires all job descriptions from the probationary period to be included in the file.  Since colleagues aren’t always familiar with each other’s duties, this is a useful addition to the file.

The weighting of the three areas being evaluated varied widely.  In most cases, job performance was weighted most heavily, followed by research/professional activity, and then service.  The only university that weighted service more heavily than research/professional activity was Grambling.  Given the amount of time that librarians at Southeastern spend on committee work for the Library and University, it may be that Grambling has the right idea.

There was very little detail in the policies about the requirement to “publish or perish.”  Various types of publications were mentioned along with other typical accomplishments within research/professional activity, but rarely was a specific number of publications mentioned.  For early promotion the policy of Nicholls State required a specific number of “scholarly works,” which topped out at three for promotion to Full Professor.  Southeastern’s policy mentioned that two “publications” were required to achieve a rating of “Excellence” in professional activity, and that a “substantial record of publication” was required for promotion to Full Professor.  None of the policies specified that publications had to be based on empirical research, though many included language (“outstanding,” “distinguished,” etc.) that emphasized the quality of the works.

After completing the article, we concluded that:

1) it would be more beneficial for future research if all ULS tenure and promotion policies were published online for easier comparison;

2) future tenure/promotion research in Louisiana might compare its two public university systems, compare its private and public universities, and eventually compare Louisiana to other states;

3) other relevant topics for future research might be faculty opinions about the process and the effect mentoring has on the process.

Our Personal Experiences of the Tenure and Promotion Process


First, I want to note how helpful Lori’s mentoring was to me in the process. It’s common in our profession to have librarians mentoring new colleagues; it’s almost a necessity when climbing the mountain of tenure and promotion. And that’s what it felt like after I completed the process and earned tenure and promotion: like I had just scaled the academic equivalent of Mount Everest for 6 years. I was awarded tenure in 2013 and promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.

My experience of tenure was closer to the traditional experience of tenure-seeking teaching faculty because I teach credit-bearing term courses in library research to undergraduates. Thus my tenure file, like non-library teaching faculty had to include documentation of peer teaching observations, student opinion of teaching, grade distributions, course content examples, research, publication, and service duties. The aforementioned was in addition to my scheduled daily duties of desk reference and virtual reference. However, I had to jump through the hoops of tenure as a 12-month employee of the university, unlike non-library tenure-track faculty who are usually contracted to work 9-10 months, allowing them the summer to work on necessary activity toward tenure. Thankfully, our library slows down somewhat in summer so the pace is more amenable toward achieving at least some of your tenure goals.

If you think that you want a tenure-track position in an academic library, consider whether or not you will be required to teach credit courses and whether your appointment will be 12 months or 9-10 months. Although the rewards of teaching can be many, there are also many unknowns in dealing with students. These unknowns may affect how much time and energy you have left over to do research, committee work, publishing, and professional activity.


I was awarded tenure in 1996.  At that point Sims Library had only one tenured faculty member and no written policies on tenure and promotion.  We followed the overall university policy, and, since peer review committees were required to have at least three members, I had to recommend faculty from outside the Library to serve on my committee.  I don’t teach any credit-bearing classes, so it was nerve-wracking trying to explain and document my duties thoroughly enough for non-librarians to understand and appreciate what I had accomplished.  Since the committee awarded me tenure but refused my request for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor, I probably could have done a better job.

In any case, shortly after I was tenured I served on a Library committee that drafted tenure and promotion guidelines for the Library.  We wanted to ensure that librarians in the future would know what was expected from them and that outside reviewers, when necessary, would have an overview of what the Library considered to be superior performance.  The guidelines have been revised many times over the past several years, but I think they’re an invaluable tool for everyone involved in the process.  I certainly wish I’d had them when I was starting out.

To end on a positive note, I did eventually get promoted to Associate Professor and as of this year, I’m well on my way to being promoted to Full Professor.  With sufficient guidance, it is indeed possible to climb to the top of the ladder.


Lori L. Smith, Government Information Librarian, Southeastern Louisiana University, Sims Memorial Library

Lori L. Smith obtained her M.L.S. from Indiana University in 1987, spent a few years as a Government Information Specialist at the St. Louis Public Library, and has been the Government Information Librarian at Southeastern Louisiana University since 1991.


Penny Hecker

Penny Hecker, Associate Professor & Reference/Instruction Librarian, Southeastern Louisiana University, Sims Memorial Library

Penny Hecker has worked in both public and academic libraries since 1991. She is currently a reference/instruction librarian and Associate Professor at Sims Library, Southeastern Louisiana University, where she teaches the credit course Library Science 102. 


1 Comment

Filed under Academic, Researcher's Corner

Researcher’s Corner: What Skills and Knowledge do Today’s Employers Seek?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but it is only since graduating from SJSU that I started noticing and appreciating the work that goes into shaping the program. SJSU SLIS not only performs and posts a self-assessment of program performance, but each year it performs and publishes a report on informal research into career trends.  The Associate Director of SLIS, Dr. Linda Main, helps steer this project and very graciously agreed to write a guest post describing the research and findings.  (Incidentally, Dr. Main co-teaches what was one of my favorite classes in library school, the History of Books and Libraries. I highly recommend it, current students.)

A topic of conversation on the minds of many information professionals is the job market. Many practitioners are concerned about being prepared for future employment opportunities – a concern that is echoed by graduate students who hope to be tomorrow’s information professionals. 

To help practitioners, students, and future students gain a better understanding of employment trends in our field, each year, the San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) publishes Emerging Career Trends for Information Professionals: A Snapshot of Job Titles.

The informal report explores recent job postings for information professionals.  It’s not a comprehensive study, but instead is a snapshot of job postings during a brief point in time.

To develop the most recent report, we scanned job listings for information professionals posted during the summer of 2013.  We searched general job listings websites, as well as websites aimed specifically at recruiting information professionals.

Emerging Job Trends

After a brief analysis of the data, some trends emerged.  For example, job titles are changing. Many job listings still use titles that we categorized as “traditional” in the report, such as Reference Librarian or Collection Manager.  Yet we also found job titles that reflect some newer employment trends, such as Metadata Manager or Digital Initiatives Librarian.  The report provides many examples of what we call “traditional” and “emerging” job titles.

In addition to exploring job titles, the report also provides a snapshot of job responsibilities included in the listings, along with skills employers seek in job applicants. For example, an Informatics Specialist needs to understand metadata standards, know how to manage digital materials, and troubleshoot software.

And as you might expect in today’s evolving work environments, many job titles suggest a blend of responsibilities.  For example, consider the scope of work for someone who is both a SharePoint Librarian and Research & Outreach Assistant.  That’s one of the positions we found.  It’s a good example of how today’s employers seek job candidates who can offer a range of skills.

The report also recaps what hiring managers are looking for in applicants in terms of their education, skills, and work experience. A growing number of hiring managers are looking for applicants with strong technology skills, leadership skills, and the ability to deal with a rapidly changing work environment.  That should come as no surprise, as our profession is rapidly changing, and even “traditional” work environments are being transformed. 

Tips for Keeping Up with Employment Trends

Conducting this informal research each year helps our school stay in touch with employment trends, which helps us do a better job advising our students about the courses they might want to take, as well as the types of internships and volunteer experience that can prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs.

Of course, we don’t just rely on this one report to advise our students or update our curriculum.  We also rely on input from our faculty, and from advisory groups made up of leaders in our profession.  They help us spot emerging trends, allowing us to ensure that our curriculum is up to date.

And while you may not have access to a formal advisory group like we do, you can follow a similar process.  Chat with colleagues about the trends they are noticing.  Attend a professional conference and see what topics are presented, or at least visit the conference website and scan the list of presentations.  For example, at the recent Library 2.103 Worldwide Virtual Conference, topics included mobile technologies, virtual learning commons, MOOCs, information governance, data visualization, and social media strategies.  Can you picture yourself working in any of those areas?

You can make it a priority to keep your skills up to date by attending conferences, reading blogs, and viewing webinars, like the free career trend webinars offered by our school.  Or to make an even bigger investment in updating your skills, you could complete a post-master’s certificate program.  Several ALA-accredited programs offer these types of certificate programs.  At our school, professionals can complete a post-master’s certificate fully online.

Finally, there are some outstanding resources that can help you explore career options for information professionals.  Our school offers a web-based career development resource, which is freely available to anyone interested in learning more about careers for information professionals.  On the site, we provide links to other resources that can help you keep up with employment trends in our profession.

Regardless of the path you choose to keep up with changing trends in our profession, I hope you are optimistic about the future of our profession.  It’s an exciting time to be an information professional.

linda mainDr. Linda Main is the Associate Director of the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science. Shereceived her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). She also holds Masters degrees from the University of Wales (Aberystwyth) and the University of Dublin, Trinity College (Ireland).

She spent many years working in the library of Trinity College Dublin rotating through many different departments including rare books and manuscripts. She was also a project Coordinator for CELDS (US Army Corps of Engineers) and a database coordinator for the Recidivism Database (US Dept. Justice).

Main has written three books and published many articles. Her research interests are in designing information products for a global audience, Web programming languages delivered online and digitization of medieval manuscripts.

Main has been involved in many consultancy projects including projects for the British Library, the Bibliotheque National, the Benito Juarez Autonomous University (Oaxaca, Mexico), the State Technical Library (Prague), Udaras na Gaeltachta and the National Library of Malta. She also works with a small Eastern European consultancy business that develops Web sites and digitizes manuscripts.

1 Comment

Filed under Academic, Researcher's Corner