Tag Archives: Job hunting

Job Hunter Follow Up: Cher Armstrong

 

We last heard from Cher Armstrong on January 5, 2015.  Her post appeared as Positive environment for patrons and library employees.

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?

I am the a full-time librarian in the Reference department at a library serving a diverse population of approximately 30,000 people. My official job title is the New Adult/Digital Services Librarian. My town has a very large senior population due to the many 55+ communities. We also have many special-needs patrons such as those who were recently incarcerated and the homeless population. I was part-time at the beginning of the year but got promoted to full-time in July.

Looking at last year’s answers, have any of your attitudes changed?

My attitude has translated from idealistic to far more realistic in relation to working at a library. I have discovered that while I have a plethora of ideas, librarians have to cope with and adapt to factors such as budget, understaffing and the culture of the individual library. What works for one library might not work or might even be infeasible in another library.

What’s your best advice for job hunters?

I would look for ways to get experience related to the library job you want in any way you can. Aspiring public librarians, for example, need to be able to show they will be able to interact with a wide population and help them procure what they need. Customer service skills are very useful; skills from fields such as retail can easily translate over to library service. If you have no library experience, be ready to showcase how the skillsets you’ve acquired in other places can be beneficial to a library.

Questions for Cher?  She is willing to answer them, just post in the comments.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Elise Lafosse

 

elise lafosseWe last heard from Elise Lafosse on September 10, 2014 in the post: I have the skills to learn a new ILS very quickly.  

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?

I am at Otis Library in Norwich, CT which is about an hour commute each way from my home. I only work 12 hours a week. Sometimes I step in to help a few extra hours if needed. I still keep looking for other positions as a librarian in a public library or a cataloger. So far I have not had any luck. So my current situation is not ideal. I am still looking for a position closer to home.

Looking at last year’s answers, have any of your attitudes changed?

I still love working in public libraries and still am committed to finding a position in a public library with more hours and closer to home. However it has been very discouraging recently. I applied to about three positions in the past month, none of which called me for an interview. I wonder if it is because of my age which is 54 years old.

What’s your best advice for job hunters?

Be persistent. Volunteer your skills as well as this can help you get in the door. I think I may have gotten a cataloging contract over the summer partly because I volunteer as a cataloger at the library for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art where I also give tours.

Anything else you want to share with us?

Well currently I feel quite discouraged based on the results of my job search last month. So right now I am taking a break. Perhaps things will begin to look up in the new year.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Amber Hawkins

Amber Hawkins took the original survey in January 2013. Her responses appeared as Be more forthcoming about requirements. We followed up with her on December 17, 2013 and again on December 11, 2014.

Your Job

What’s your current work situation? 

Full-time as a library assistant in a large law firm.

Is this job the same as you had when we followed up with you last year? If not, please describe briefly how you got this new job.

It is not. I got laid off from my previous job and one of my coworkers at that place happened to mention me to the director of research services. I went through a recruiter, but eventually got hired.

Is your job commensurate with your skills and experience?

I don’t have any legal experience, but it’s definitely allowing me to use my foundationary library skills. Though, I am learning quite a lot.

Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?

Lower.

How your job different from what you thought you might do, when you first embarked on your job hunt?

For starters, I’m working in the legal field. I had really only been applying with public and state libraries. Also, the turnaround time is a lot quicker than I was used to.

Have you had a chance to participate in hiring any LIS workers? Any lessons or observations from the experience?

I recently sat in on some informal interviews to see how well candidates would fit in with the team we have in place. That was a really interesting experience. I think it helped when the interviewee had questions for us about our job. It made me think they were interested in the position they were applying for.

Have you had a chance to negotiate a raise and/or title change? What was that like?

No, I have not.

What’s the next step for your career?

I’m hoping that I will become a research librarian here at the law firm.

Your Perspectives

Was job hunting a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

Mostly negative as I received a lot of rejections until this position came along.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

A little. Being in the area for which you are applying really helps, but I’d also add knowing someone who works there and can put in a good word for you.

Do you have any advice for job hunters and/or library school students?

We actually have a few library school students on our team. I would say to apply for positions even if you don’t have your degree. You never know what might happen.

Do you have any advice for hiring managers?

If you tell the interviewee that you’ll let them know within a week whether or not they have the job, stick to that time frame. Waiting a month before sending a rejection letter is unprofessional.

What’s your ideal work situation? (hours, location, library type, etc.)

A normal day shift (8-5 or 9-6), environment with a good team atmosphere, public or (now) legal library, some autonomy to do projects and be innovative.

Anything else you want to tell us?

I really enjoy my job now even though it’s not at all what I was looking for.

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Stats and Graphs: 576 Job hunters

It’s Staturday!

It’s time for our annualish check-in with our surveys.  This week: the survey with the most respondents, which I affectionately call Job Hunter’s Revenge.

Last time we checked in, we had 543 responses.  Now we’ve got 576!  

Results!

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

salary


Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not 223    38.8%
Only for certain kinds of employers 80    13.9%
No (even if I might think it *should* be) 202    35.1%
Other 63    11%

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

liars

Yes              59         10.3%
No             446         77.6%
Other               60         10.4%

When would you like employers to contact you?

when to communicate


To acknowledge my application    429    74.9%
To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage    519    90.6%
To follow-up after an interview    373    65.1%
Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me    511    89.2%
Other    69    12%

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

communication method


Phone    47    8.2%
Email    245    42.6%
Mail    1    0.2%
Phone for good news, email for bad news    238    41.4%
Other    39    6.8%

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

important events


Tour of facility    394    70%
Being taken out to meal    18    3.2%
Meeting department members/potential co-workers    521    92.5%
Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary    217    38.5%
Being able to present    73    13%
Other    127    22.6%

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Demographics

Are you currently employed, even if part time or in an unrelated field?

currently employed
Yes    464    80.7%
No    108    18.8%

Have you been hired in the last two months, even if part time or in an unrelated field?

hired last 2 mos

Yes    128    22.3%
No    438    76.2%

How long have you been job hunting (or if recently hired, how long did you look before that)?

length of search


Less than six months    184    32%
Six months to a year    156    27.1%
A year to 18 months    83    14.4%
More than 18 months    147    25.6%

What type(s) of organization are you looking in?

org type

Academic library    468    82.1%
Archives    196    34.4%
Library vendor/service provider    163    28.6%
Public library    382    67%
School library    92    16.1%
Special library    311    54.6%
Other    132    23.2%

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What position level are you looking for?

pos level

Entry level    382    67%
Requiring at least two years of experience    349    61.2%
Supervisory    150    26.3%
Department Head    81    14.2%
Senior Librarian    86    15.1%
Branch Manager    60    10.5%
Director/Dean    35    6.1%
Other    52    9.1%

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Where are you?

where 1


Australia/New Zealand    0    0%
Canada    22    3.8%
Midwestern US    150    26.1%
Northeastern US    170    29.6%
Southern US    104    18.1%
UK    1    0.2%
Western US    110    19.1%
Other    17    3%

Where are you?

where 2


Urban area    217    37.7%
City/Town    177    30.8%
Suburban area    116    20.2%
Rural area    54    9.4%
Other    9    1.6%

Are you willing/able to move for employment?

willing to move


No    155    27%
Yes, anywhere    209    36.4%
Other    204    35.5%

Would you like to include a short bio with your answers?

org type


No    439    76.3%
Yes    113    19.7%
Other    18    3.1%
This survey was co-written by Naomi House, of I Need A Library Job.  If you’re job hunting, INALJ is a wealth of information and it has job ads up the wazoo.  

Also if you’re job hunting, and haven’t taken the survey yet, please do!  If you’ve got friends, please share the link:

http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

Finally, if you have questions, comments or concerns, we’d love to hear them.

You can either comment below, or email hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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if you are paying less than say, $50,000 for a full time librarian position

Geraldine Fain Browses in the Free LibraryThis 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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I’ve had two longer archives internships. I processed materials in both but one required me to do everything independently. I have volunteered and was part of the advisory board for a library professional organization in a major city and recently began volunteering with a regional archives organization.

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

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

 Competitive pay in a (personally) desirable geographical
A healthy, pleasant, open work environment
A measure of autonomy and room to take risks

Where do you look for open positions?

Various professional listservs, Joblist, INALJ, Indeed.com, organization HR 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?

1 day to 1 week depending on deadlines and job. If I am really interested in the position the longer I may take. In those instances I will have a couple of people review my letter. However, I always take at least 1 day. As a general rule I will write a letter, then leave it overnight and return the next day to revise before sending.

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)?

√ Tour of facility

√ 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?

Be clear and realistic in expectations. If you are not willing to hire recent grads or people with only internship experience, it would be nice to know up front. Also, if you are paying less than say, $50,000 for a full time librarian position or requiring and MLS for a part time position that’s paying under $18-$20/hour, and requiring a laundry list of qualifications to be filled and duties to undertake, you might need to rethink what you’re bringing to the table and who you are willing and able to hire/attract for such positions. Certainly there are constraints and what you need in a place like NYC or Chicago might not be the same in South Carolina or Montana for instance.

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

Being very clear in job descriptions by doing things such as providing deadlines for submission, review, and projected job start dates. Clarity in all details related to job descriptions is important. Beyond that I don’t know, overall it’s just a terrible experience.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I don’t know. I have been searching for the past eight months since graduating. I am someone with lots of relevant and transferable experience in addition to library training, a Master’s degree in another field, language experience, internships, experience volunteering with LIS professional organizations, etc. and I’ve had only two interviews. Only one was particularly relevant and though I made it to the list of final candidates I still didn’t get the job.

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!

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

where I’m excited about coming to work every day

Australian Institute of Librarians' inaugural meeting at Canberra, August 20, 1937. Photographer A. Collingridge, CanberraThis 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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Special libraries,mAny organization where I can do research. at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Southern US, and is not willing to move.

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

Working in a position where I’m excited about coming to work every day.
Opportunities to learn and grow in the organization.
Stability.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, listservs, LinkedIn, INALJ, association websites, Indeed.com.

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?

Make a list of the qualifications and desired skills that I meet; Review my resume to make any changes to tailor it to the job I’m applying for; Draft cover letter. Review everything multiple times. Average time spent is 4 hours.

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)?

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

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

Be flexible if a candidate shows potential when said candidate may not tick every item on the checklist. Sometimes the desired skills are ten pages long and it seems unrealistic that any one person will possess each and every skill.

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

Communicate better with candidates. I think most of us realize that the job market is extremely competitive and that there are many candidates applying for a fewer amount of positions. However, it is completely discouraging when one doesn’t hear anything, or during the interview process, delays aren’t communicated. No one likes being left in limbo for weeks or months on end. If the hiring process is extended, notify candidates of extension. And if at all possible, provide feedback as to why a person is not selected or moving forward. It’s understandable that some places have strict HR policies to limit communication about this type of thing but it would be nice to know the reason why someone isn’t selected. It would also be helpful to streamline the application process so that a candidate is not spending additional time filling out an online application which asks for the same information provided in a resume which is submitted. It’s duplicative and a huge waste of time when one is already spending 3-4 hours on the process.

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!

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Being a unicorn

Library in United States National Museum BuildingThis 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, Medical/Health, Federal Government at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I am graduating in May 2015, but I have worked for 6 years in a senior support role. Through recent downsizing at my company, I am now operating as the solo librarian on staff for a corporate special library. I worked in my university library as an undergraduate assistant for 4 years supporting circulation and interlibrary loan.

This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Mid-Atlantic US and is  not willing to move.

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

Good rapport with colleagues, engaging work with opportunities to continue learning, and reasonable salary and commute

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ.com, ALA Joblist, SLA Career Center, SLA listservs, LinkedIn, LibGigs, individual university employment pages

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?

Time spent on application packet preparation depends on the type of job (academic vs federal vs corporate). At this point I have a very detailed resume that I customize to fit the job, and I have a very basic template for cover letters so I don’t spend time repeatedly typing in my contact information. The main content of my cover letters are written fresh for each position. On average I’d say I spend a minimum of two to three hours on an application submission, at most many hours over several days.

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
√ Other: I understand that there are time constraints on how much follow up potential employers can offer, but as the potential new hire there is no such things as too much communication.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: I prefer a mix of phone and email. Email for scheduling interviews, phone for other news.

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
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Other: A high priority for me is getting a sense of how I would fit in with the existing staff dynamics. I’d want the most time possible to be spent with department members and talking through the particulars of the job.

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

Be upfront about the job duties and clarify which items are absolutely necessary and which things are a preference or wish list item. Whenever possible include a salary; if the number seems low, emphasize some of the other benefits your institution offers. Be realistic about the amount of experience required for entry level positions.

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

Be as transparent as possible with anticipated hiring timelines. Communicate as much as possible with potential candidates.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being a unicorn: Having the right balance of personality, skills, and connections at the right time and location.

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!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Urban area

Be willing to compromise on things that may not be absolutely essential, like a driver’s license

Library Staff, c1990s, LSE LibraryThis 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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Public libraries and Special libraries, at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager. This job hunter is in an urban area, in the  Northeastern US and is willing to move, to most places in Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Midwest.

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

Salary (relative to cost of living)
Location
Good fit for my experience and skills

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, Twitter, libraryjobs.ca

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?

I don’t generally spend much time customizing my resume unless the job is far outside of my past experience. For the cover letter I usually use a previous cover letter as a base and then try to make sure I hit the main points in the job listing, and specifically refer to anything about that library that would make my skills a good fit. Usually I spend an hour or so.

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?

√ 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

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

Be willing to compromise on things that may not be absolutely essential, like a driver’s license. Offer full-time jobs. Be open-minded about people from out of state interested in relocating.

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

Communicate with applicants, and not inflate “required” qualifications on job listings beyond what’s actually required. Be transparent about salaries.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Matching your skill set to the jobs that are hiring, being flexible.

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 Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Urban area

Will you vote? Jamie LaRue Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s almost election time!  ALA presidential candidate Jamie LaRue has graciously agreed answer a few questions about her thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting instructions for ALA members will be sent out starting March 24. Visit this page for more details.

Jamie LaRue Jamie LaRue,  CEO, LaRue & Associates

In broad strokes, what do you think the ALA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

ALA has at least four roles:

  • first, to provide genuinely useful services for actively job-seeking librarians.
  • second, to provide a place to size up professional issues – a head’s up on how to stay employable.
  • third, a place to communicate those new skills and issues to library educators.
  • fourth, a voice to advocate for the importance of our professionals generally.

How can ALA serve unemployed (or underemployed) librarians?

  • ALA JobLIST is the right place to start. There are listings there not only of who is hiring, but career assessment tools, job interviews at conferences, ways to link up with recruiters, and more.
  • places to hang out (inexpensively) and share tips. I note that ALA Think Tank has assumed a lot of this role. And that seems appropriate to me. ALA’s relatively modest staff can’t ensure employment for the thousands of jobseekers. Such services work better – will be fresher, more current, more alive – coming from the people who are engaged in the issues, rather than waiting for ALA to create and operate a service. But once those services spring up, ALA should acknowledge them, and work to refer people to them. State library associations – ALA chapters – are another important link in this chain of professional engagement.
  • a more community-focused approach to advocacy. It’s clear that our advocacy efforts over the past 25 years haven’t really worked: while libraries see more and more use, their support has been stagnant or falling. I like the partnership with Harwood Institute, and its exploration of a new role for libraries. Ultimately, I think it helps demonstrate the significance of librarians not just to OUR institution, but to our larger authorizing environment. That’s what keeps jobs coming.

LIS job hunters are increasingly urged to look outside of libraries to careers in other aspects of information work. Why do you think this is, and should this be an impetus for any particular changes in ALA?

Library skills are broadly applicable to a lot of enterprises. So that makes sense on its own merits. A more immediate cause, however, is that library schools are under pressure to place students, preferably at good wages. That makes it easier for them to recruit new students. So broadening the search increases the odds of placement. What should ALA do? I think this goes back to the community advocacy idea, although I’ll say more about this later.

How can ALA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment? 

ALA’s Leadership Institute and its Emerging Leaders program come to mind: a smart investment in the next generation of leadership. What would I like to see enacted? I’ve been doing a lot of mentoring lately – about three students a year. That could be a little more formal. I believe that it is the duty of leadership to lend a hand to those coming up.

A less obvious solution here is the accreditation committee. Again, if ALA wants valued professionals, then those professionals need to have skills that not only preserve the powerful legacy of our past, but point the way to the future. This (curricular change!) is often controversial, but including a little more of the things that make a Masters in Public Administration so valuable, would be worthy additions to the MLIS. Specifically, a master’s degree is often required in the US to be a library director – but the MLIS (in many schools) has only the most cursory overview of the management of people, budgets, and projects.

In general, are library schools adequately preparing students for work in today’s libraries? What are they doing right, and what could be improved on?

Librarians are trusted in our society, and that’s a rare and wonderful thing. So what’s right about library schools is that they still offer smart, passionate, committed professionals to their many communities. What could the schools do for the future? As adjunct faculty at the University of Denver, I’ve been working on that. My platform – and the basis for my classes – focuses on three planks:

  • from gatekeeper to gardener. Libraries of all kinds can no longer be just links in the content distribution chain. We must be co-creators and publishers ourselves.
  • from embedded reference librarian to community leader. Gone are the days when we can sit at desks and wait for people to think of us. We must actively explore, catalog, and help set the agenda for broader improvement. We can transform not just lives, but whole communities.
  • from book deserts to book abundance. A book desert is a home with fewer than 25 books in it. Research has now shown, incontrovertibly, than book abundance (500 books in the home of a child between the ages of 0-5) can literally transform our whole society. We know that — but why doesn’t everyone else?

As ALA president, I would work to highlight these three ways that librarians at any stage of their careers can literally save the world.

What do you think is the secret to a successful career as a librarian?

To listen, to distill, to act, to tell the story. I really do believe this is the most exciting time in the history of our profession. But we have long been entirely too passive in too many ways. We must make the shift from library-centric to community-centric (where community can be town, school, university, or company). Librarians who dare have a greater likelihood of achieving. The caveat: not everything you try will work. And that’s ok, too. There is no learning, no accomplishment, without risk.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ALA or your candidacy? Any advice specifically for library job hunters?

Whoever you vote for, VOTE. ALA, like any other institution, does some things well, and others not so well. But it remains the best voice we have to influence our society. Step up and claim your role in it.

My website is larueforpresident.com.

I’d like to thank Mr. LaRue for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit his website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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Will you vote? Julie Todaro Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s almost election time!  ALA presidential candidate Julie Todaro has graciously agreed answer a few questions about her thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting instructions for ALA members will be sent out starting March 24. Visit this page for more details.

Julie Todaro Dr. Julie Todaro,  Dean of Library Services, Austin Community College

In broad strokes, what do you think the ALA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

Professional associations have a responsibility to both lead and support professionals in hiring and employment and ALA has long been committed to providing members and potential members with a depth and breadth of hiring and employment information. I first experienced this years ago when I was asked to serve on ALA’s Office of Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) Advisory Committee. It was one of my most enjoyable service roles in ALA as we learned about not only what the office did but also what ALL of ALA’s groups did for our membership. HRDR’s website today should be visited by everyone to not only see what HRDR does but what else is available throughout the Association and in related library areas. The office brings it all together – literally – online and everyone from stakeholders to potential employees as well as employers can find what they need. In addition, those needing assistance in interviewing – for example – should search ala.org to find the most recent guides and program content. So…”yes,” ALA should have a significant role in hiring and employment and “yes” ALA does have a significant role in hiring and employment.

How can ALA serve unemployed (or underemployed) librarians?

It seems odd to answer question #1 with “we’re doing a great job” and then answer #2 with “we could do more.” It makes sense; however, that we recognize the fact that bringing resources together is critical but opportunities for illustrating navigation and identifying successes never seem to be enough. One great article from ACRL identifying processes (with valuable comments from others) articulates different and excellent approaches to seeking employment. In addition, job seekers – either new to the profession, in jobs or returning to the field, should access American Libraries and search for “Working Knowledge,” an excellent monthly column on the workforce and hiring issues.These articles – coupled with the HRDR website I identified in the answer to #1 – offer insight to not only the programs and services of ALA (AASL’s with links everyone can use, ALAJoblist) but also to working through what is available at state level and through library education – an organization that should have paramount interest in and commitment to finding employment for the unemployed. Now – my idea is to pilot a program (By division? Through any area?) with employment coaches. These coaches could be advertised and hired (with a stipend funded by ALA? ALISE?) through HRDR and be matched with unemployed professionals– much like the mentor programs match people – but with the different focus of going beyond the resume assessment and into engaging networks of managers, application, hiring and in general following the processes outlined for using the resources available much like the processes introduced in the articles/postings mentioned above. A perfect use of digital networking, these coaches should form a cohort of talented people who trade on experience and education to play one of the most important roles – that of one who ensures that the profession remains vital and growing.

And while we can’t tell library education what to do – more information (like the 2013 Researcher’s Corner: Comparative Employability of ALA and CILIP Accredited Degrees) needs to be systematically gathered and distributed to provide those seeking educational programs with additional data for decision making.

LIS job hunters are increasingly urged to look outside of libraries to careers in other aspects of information work. Why do you think this is, and should this be an impetus for any particular changes in ALA?

It stands to reason that professions want their terminal degrees to be preparatory for a breadth of careers. The broadest applications bring strength to the profession and reinforce – beyond “us” – that the value of what we do goes far beyond our more traditional expectations. And, although there are many reasons why we are urged to look outside the field, the obvious answers to “why” include reasons that are common to many professions – a bad economy that has many declining to retire, a bad economy that has open jobs not being filled, and libraries filling jobs, such as tech positions, from other professions. So how should ALA address even some of this?

  • The ALAJoblist includes much broader choices for job searching; however, if one searches under “all,” the jobs listed (for example under “knowledge management”) are all located in more traditional environments….therefore the JobList might review it’s criterion for including institutions and organizations and go beyond the more traditional.
  • ALA should update and expand the non-traditional job page, Non-Traditional Jobs for Librarians.
  • ALA should increase aggressiveness for the annual conference recruitment event with a focus on non-library employers. (Reduced dollars for attendance? special invitations to an event just for these targeted individuals?)
  • ALA’s pages should list important web content for this area…and we have a number of great columns of librarians in alternative, unusual jobs and can use more. (Syracuse, Linked-In discussions, a variety of good articles on Hiring Librarians (see LL Cool Lists and Blogroll), and – of course – Infonista!)

How can ALA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment?

Content that focuses on successful employment for graduate librarians always emphasizes the need for students (obviously still in school) to get as much experience as possible, no matter the length of employment, no matter the type of size of library and no matter if the position is paid or not. While association current job sites (and ALA in general) do not appear to include specific recommendations for library school student employment while in school, the majority of library schools have content for their students that speaks to employment while in school. These links are found on school websites under “employment,” “financial aid,” and so on.

Issues regarding ALA support for students includes:

  • ALA should continue to have reduced costs for membership and conference attendance as well as workshops and so on for library school students and other student populations. ALA should explore additional opportunities for supporting these individuals such as reduced costs for publications.
  • ALA conference planning committees and local arrangement groups use library school students in a variety of ways and although this experience doesn’t replicate work experience specific to libraries, these opportunities should not be missed because they include customer service, project management, leadership experiences and – most importantly – networking opportunities. (see ALA’s Student-to-Staff program)
  • While it isn’t realistic for ALA to manage a placement for library school students while in library school, it wouldn’t be difficult (in partnership with ALA student chapters?) to create online pathfinders, online forums and even conference programs for guiding graduate students on what to consider and how to value experience (paid and volunteer as well as service learning and internships) while in school.
  • ALA’s New Members Round Table provides guidance for internships and service learning and although many of these speak primarily to recent graduates, students should explore the content.
  • ALA groups (divisions, committees and so on) offer a variety of student and new graduate experiences. Searching “internships” as well as reviewing NMRT content (linked above) provides an overview of what in-person/conference and year round digital experiences are possible.

Finally, because many graduate schools and other library programs will offer a variety of other “experiential” opportunities for students such as internships, service learning and volunteerism and obviously, partnerships with library schools, undergraduate programs, library school partners, area employers and library school ALA chapters are critical to the success of any student program. In addition, online content should be continuously updated and include ALA’s content on such areas as:

  • General “Career Development Resources”
  • Specific “Hiring” content including
    • Resume information
    • Interviewing

It should be noted that although this blog is about “librarians,” ALA and ALA-APA support paraprofessionals and support staff who choose careers in library and other environments other than masters-degreed employment. Because librarians seek excellence for all employees and workers and because recruitment for masters-degreed often comes from professionals at other levels and in other areas, those interested in the career should become familiar with association support for these professionals through the Library Support Staff Interests Round Table and other groups.

In general, are library schools adequately preparing students for work in today’s libraries? What are they doing right, and what could be improved on?

Library school students today are facing employment in a variety of types of environments categorized as “today’s libraries” BUT rather than looking at academic, school, public and special as the “types” instead, we need to look at organizations and institutions categorized by their levels of currency. That is, I would say MOST institutions are a hybrid – a blend of the old and the new – and other libraries are VERY far out in front while still more may not be as far along as others in technology or change.
Given that – I have observed in both my own work with students and with students in workshops, etc. that we are seeing students well prepared with expanded skills sets but at higher levels than possible employment situations. These students – expecting higher levels of technology, for example, are often disappointed that their first professional environment might not be making use of the skills sets they have worked hard to build. In addition, many students are experiencing that contemporary management styles, leadership opportunities, staff development and continuing education funding as well as standards and practices are not as prevalent as they might have been led to believe. They are also concerned that given funding levels “keeping up” with funding may be problematic.
Overall, therefore, I would say library schools ARE preparing students for work in libraries; however, schools should make sure that:

  • they prepare students for a variety of positions;
  • they ensure their skills (including value, attitude and commitment) include techniques for keeping up their personal and professional development; and,
  • they ensure students take the “long look” at their career to be able to not only improve their existing position but look at their next position as well.

That being said, I think one area for improvement in library education is that they expand their service learning, internship and in-library class assignments. And although core curriculum doesn’t always have “room” for these experiences to be required, the more students apply what they know and build experience on real-world situations, the more they can fine tune their processes for deciding what type of library or library function will match their career aspirations. To make this happen; however, is the sticking point. Factors that should be in place should include: library school faculty being compensated fairly for supervising this experiences; area/host libraries benefiting from the experience through remuneration for the library or – for example – “credits” for in-person or online continuing education opportunities for their staff or a continued commitment to well-designed products such as collections assessed, policies drafted, procedures reviewed, etc.

What do you think is the secret to a successful career as a librarian?

A successful career can be characterized by workplace success – of course – but also a broad involvement in the profession beyond workplace walls. And although it is hopeful that individuals get considerable satisfaction from success in the workplace, this broad involvement can include publication and writing, association membership AND activity, community activism related to the vision and values of the profession, and a strong network of people not only at the workplace but in the field in general.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ALA or your candidacy? Any advice specifically for library job hunters?

Well, the obvious answer is “vote for me!” I have experience in all types of and sizes libraries and – as an employer – I have broad supervisory experience.
The not-so-obvious answer is an invitation to review my website to read the job-seeking content I have prepared for job placement training programs and ALA’s ALA-APA newsletter Library Worklife. They include general information on libraries and some type-of-library content as well as some content specific to job seekers. I hope it aids someone in finding a position in our profession!

The Application Form. TXLA. 2011 to the present. Helpful Handouts are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

The Art of the Job Description. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

A Book by Its Cover. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2007. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

Crafting Your Cover Letter. 2011 to the present. “Helpful Handouts” are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

Identifying and Conveying Transferable Skills. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

Preparing For Your Application Process. 2011 to the present. “Helpful Handouts” are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

Professional Associations…Moving Past Membership into Involvement. Library Worklife. ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

Thinking Outside the Hiring “Box.” Library Worklife.  ALA-APA. 2005. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

To Supplement or Not To Supplement: Post-Interviewing. 2011 to the present. “Helpful Handouts” are posted on the TLA jobline web pages and are also used for training during TLA’s placement center activities.

Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Your First Ten Days of Work. Library Worklife.   ALA-APA. 2007. APA’s HR newsletter web content offers members extensive career content.

I’d like to thank Ms. Todaro for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit her website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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