Tag Archives: Law library

A Positive Work Environment

This post originally appeared on May 1st, 2013. A year two follow up with Ms. Tribbett will post shortly.
This interview is with Ta-Shire Tribbett, a library associate at the Thurgood Marshall Law Library, where Edgar Allen Poe lies buried in the courtyard. Ms. Tribbett is pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a librarian as a result of winning an IMLS scholarship to North Carolina Central University. She has been looking for a new position for six months to a year in academic and special libraries, at the following levels: Department Head, Senior Librarian, and Branch Manager. Ms. Tribbett is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US, and is willing to move anywhere. You can find her on LinkedIn here, or on Twitter @l8teebug.

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

Room for advancement
Opportunities for professional development
A positive work environment

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, Indeed, LinkedIn, USA Jobs, Twitter

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 have a standard resume and cover letter and I tweak it according to the job description. I spend at least an hour making sure my information matches up with the requirements listed. I usually ask a friend to look over my application once before I turn it in.

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
√ Being taken out to meal
√ 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 upfront about duties and expectations in the job listing.

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

Acknowledge receipt of materials, and I think they should let you know when you didn’t move to the next phase.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Flexibility and a great attitude.

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

I read the prior poster’s short blurb, and I’m sorry you had to deal with a snarky attitude! I love INALJ as it keeps me updated with library culture and the nuances of the employment process. Keep up the good work!

*Referring to this post:
https://hiringlibrarians.com/2013/01/31/since-i-have-an-advanced-degree-ph-d-in-addition-to-the-lis-degree-i-am-pickier-than-most/

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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Basic Skills for Advocating for One’s Library on Funding, Staffing, and Collection Support

Laura Orr, a Washington County (Oregon) Law Librarian, has her J.D. from Temple Law School in Philadelphia and her B.S. and M.L.S. from Indiana University, Bloomington. She has worked for the Free Library of Philadelphia, Multnomah County Library, University of Maryland Law School Library, two law libraries in Bristol (England), Willamette Law School library (Oregon), and the Yale Law Library in Connecticut. She has published articles and taught classes on American and English legal research and served as coordinator and panelist on various lawyer and librarian conference programs. She is currently responsible for the 8-year old Oregon Legal Research blog , the Washington County (Oregon) Law Library website, and the “Oregon Legal Research” website (with Justia). She is also the Gutbuster Project Manager.She has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. She says:

We’re a small (ish) public law library and hire well-rounded entry level librarians (and library assistants) who after a couple of years will be prepared to run their own small or medium public law libraries. Reference, online, and financial/management skills are especially important, but cataloging, instruction, and programming are a close second.

Ms. Orr’s library has 0-10 staff members, and is in an urban area in the Western US.

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

√ Yes

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

3

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Archives
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Outreach
√ Instruction
√ Other: Indexing and Government Documents

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

Advocacy: basic skills for advocating for one’s library on funding, staffing, and collection support – closely related to how to work with library boards.

How to apply for a public sector job, e.g. how to fill out the application form and, especially, how to answer “supplemental” questions

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

√ Other: I can give a qualified “yes” to this question: I generally value skills gained through a job (volunteer or paid) more highly than coursework or even an internship, but some courses have all the rigor of a job so I never discount classroom experience without looking more closely at what transpired. The same evaluation applies to internships, some of which provide excellent experience, while some job are big nothings.

From a hiring perspective, especially from a civil service application scoring perspective: Coursework alone will still gain you a point or more, whereas having neither coursework nor work (volunteer or paid) will gain you nothing – zero points. Points Rule when applications are “scored.”

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

I do not expect new librarians to have the bibliographic or other skills of a seasoned librarian so look primarily to interest in the subject. But I wouldn’t make the hire unless there was clear evidence of aptitude and interest in the specific type of work and service we provide.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
√ Other: Evidence of basic digital management, taxonomy, web, social media, and related skills (with samples, preferably library ones, not personal)

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

No preference.

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

No

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

Engage fully in the experience:
1) Start building your library-network starting with your classmates and favorite faculty members.
2) Live, eat, and breath libraries, principles of librarianship, and the literature of librarianship.
3) Expose yourself to as many library and information disciplines, skills, and learning opportunities in class, outside of class, at conferences, etc.
4) Join professional associations and even if you can’t attend meetings, share the listserves, dig deep into their websites, get to know association leaders, read the newsletters, etc.
5) *Take a local librarian out for coffee every chance you can. (Most will be happy to treat!)

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

Great survey!!!

And thank you for this – finally, someone has figured out it is absolutely necessary for an online survey: “You can take a look at the questions and browse through the entire survey without having to answer anything.” Laura

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

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

A Positive Work Environment

This interview is with Ta-Shire Tribbett, a library associate at the Thurgood Marshall Law Library , where Edgar Allen Poe lies buried in the courtyard. Ms. Tribbett is pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a librarian as a result of winning an IMLS scholarship to North Carolina Central University. She has been looking for a new position for six months to a year in academic and special libraries, at the following levels: Department Head, Senior Librarian, and Branch Manager. Ms. Tribbett is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US, and is willing to move anywhere. You can find her on LinkedIn here, or on Twitter @l8teebug.

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

Room for advancement
Opportunities for professional development
A positive work environment

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, Indeed, LinkedIn, USA Jobs, Twitter

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 have a standard resume and cover letter and I tweak it according to the job description. I spend at least an hour making sure my information matches up with the requirements listed. I usually ask a friend to look over my application once before I turn it in.

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
√ Being taken out to meal
√ 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 upfront about duties and expectations in the job listing.

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

Acknowledge receipt of materials, and I think they should let you know when you didn’t move to the next phase.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Flexibility and a great attitude.

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

I read the prior poster’s short blurb, and I’m sorry you had to deal with a snarky attitude! I love INALJ as it keeps me updated with library culture and the nuances of the employment process. Keep up the good work!

*Referring to this post:
https://hiringlibrarians.com/2013/01/31/since-i-have-an-advanced-degree-ph-d-in-addition-to-the-lis-degree-i-am-pickier-than-most/

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, Law Library, Special

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Careers in Law Librarianship

I’m happy to be able to share today’s site with you. It is an excellent example of the services our professional associations can provide for job hunters and prospective librarians. Today we are featuring Careers in Law Librarianship, a site run by the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL). Wendy E. Moore, who is the Chair of the AALL Recruitment to Law Librarianship Committee as well as the Acquisitions Librarian, University of Georgia Law Library, was gracious enough to answer my questions. I hope you will enjoy!


Careers in Law Librarianship

What is it? Please give us your elevator speech!

Careers in Law Librarianship is a portal to link people interested in law librarianship with information about educational requirements, career possibilities, types of law libraries, and sources of financial assistance.

When was it started? Why was it started?

It started about five years ago or so. It was created to have a single source to share with people interested in law librarianship which would be easy to find using a search engine.

Who runs it?

The site is run by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), an organization with over 5,000 members, which was founded in 1906 to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information.

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

I am not a “career expert,” although I have been a librarian for almost 20 years. I am currently the Chair of the AALL Recruitment to Law Librarianship Committee.

Who is your target audience?

Anyone interested in learning more about careers in law librarianship. Many of our users either already have a JD degree or an MLS degree and our seeking information about what additional educational requirements they may need and for how to network with law librarians in their region.

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?

Our site is a great place to get started to understand some of the unique aspects to careers in law librarianship. It directs users to additional information at the AALL website including lists of dual JD/MLS programs, job positings, and scholarship opportunities from various AALL regional Chapters, Special Interest Sections, and Caucuses.

Does your site provide:

√ Answers to reader questions
√ Links

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

Our site is not active on social media, but the American Association of Law Libraries AALL is active on the following:
√ Twitter: @aallnet
LinkedIn
Facebook
Newsletter
√ Magazine or other periodical: AALL Spectrum
Blog
Flickr

Do you charge for anything on your site?

No, our site is free to all.

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

Since the site is an information portal, we don’t really track or follow-up on specific job positions people who use our site eventually find. We have through the site been able to match up people interested in learning more about law librarianship with law librarians in their local area, so I consider that a successful outcome of the site.

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

Law Librarianship is a very specialized form of librarianship. The more flexible you are concerning your geographic location, the easier time you will have in securing a position. Also carefully read the educational and experience requirements in job ads and make certain you meet (or will meet before the start date) those requirements before applying for a position as the requirements are usually not flexible.

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Filed under Job Hunters Web Guide, Law Library, MLIS Students

Researcher’s Corner: Does Choice of School Matter? Becoming an Academic Law Librarian

I was never convinced that where one attends library school was all that important, and by important I mean, had any measurable effect on whether or not one found employment after graduation.  So I was very interested to see that Ashley Ahlbrand and Michael Johnson had actually done some research into the matter:

Ahlbrand, A. & Johnson, M. (2012). Degree pedigree: Assessing the effect of degree-granting institutions’ ranks on prospective employment at academic law libraries. Law Library Journal, 104(4), 553-68. http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/llj/vol-104/no-4/2012-37.pdf

They’ve been kind enough to share some of their findings with us here today and, not to spoil it for you, but they do see some correlation between choice of library school, and the rank of an employing university.  They’ve also been kind enough to include some charts!  I love charts.  As always, comments are open for your responses.  Thanks for reading!


How the Project Started

This research began as a project for S505: Evaluation of Resources and Services, a course in the curriculum of Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Library and Information Science.  I was taking the course at the time, and Michael Johnson, my co-author, had just recently graduated from the program.  We had often heard that where you go to school doesn’t matter – it’s the degree that counts.  And we decided to put that to the test.

Methodology

We focused our study on academic law librarians, in part because that was my desired profession, but also because Michael found that law school libraries were most consistent about publishing the educational backgrounds of their librarians.  Increasingly, academic law libraries seek librarians with both law and library science degrees; thus our research considered education in both degrees.  In addition there are standard rankings for law schools and MLS programs, while for other subject masters determining rankings can be difficult because of granularities of specialty.

We sought a non-invasive means of conducting our study, so we collected our data solely through publicly-available profiles.  The majority of our data came from institutional websites.  Where data was absent from institutional websites, we also obtained educational background information from individuals’ public profiles on Google+ and LinkedIn; this only occurred for a few librarians in our study.

Because of our desire to make this a non-invasive study, our measure to answer the question of whether school or degree matters more was institutional rank.  We compared the ranks of where librarians acquired their library science and law degrees to the rank of the school at which they were employed.  We used U.S. News and World Report rankings as our measure since they are most prevalent today; in a few instances, we encountered library science programs attended that are no longer in operation; for these we attempted to find older rankings from other sources, such as the Gourman Report, but where no ranking could be found, we qualified them as unranked for purposes of data analysis.  This only occurred in a few instances and had little bearing the results of our study.

Michael collected the data for our study.  He recorded each librarian’s employing law school and its current rank; the attended law school and its current rank; the attended library science program and its current rank; and the years each degree was attained, if available.  Michael performed the initial data analysis on both our intended sample of librarians working at top-fifty law schools and a random sample drawn from all U.S. law schools by calculating frequency statistics.  I then followed up with a few chi-square analyses to compare groups of data in different categories.

Findings

Our study showed that, to attain a position at a top-fifty ranked law school, one should strive to attend a top-ten ranked library science program.  This conclusion was drawn through chi-square analysis comparing the library science education of librarians in the top-fifty sample and those in the random sample.  The analysis revealed that those working at top-fifty ranked law schools were more likely to have attended highly ranked library science programs than those in the random sample of all law schools.

Figure 1

A similar analysis of law school education of librarians in the top-fifty and random samples yielded surprisingly different results.  Conducting the same chi-square analysis, we found no significant difference between the rank of law schools attended for librarians in the top-fifty and random samples.  However, by more closely comparing librarians working at top-twenty-five and top-ten law schools, the data did reveal a difference in law school educational patterns: librarians working at top-ten law schools were much more likely to have attended highly ranked law schools than those working at law schools ranked in the top twenty-five.

Figure 2

In a final analysis, we compared the overall education (library science and law) of law librarians to their current place of employment and found that librarians in the top-fifty sample were more likely to have obtained an overall highly ranked education than those in the random sample.

AhlbrandFigure3

Conclusions

This study explored the question of institutional merit and its potential bearing on employability.  It’s safe to say that Michael and I had pre-conceived expectations for what our study would reveal, but it’s also safe to say that our findings surprised us by not reflecting our expectations!  It would have been natural to expect one degree to stand out as more significant for employability in this field than the other; however, we found that each degree held its own importance: if one’s ambition is to attain a position at a top-fifty law school, the rank of the library science program seems to be most important; however if one’s sights are set on working at a top-ten ranked law school, the rank of the law school attended becomes just as significant.  And indeed, while the rank of law school education alone did not seem to be significant between our top-fifty and random samples, it appears that this rank cannot be ignored – our analysis of overall education revealed that those working at top-fifty law schools were more likely to have attended both higher-ranked law and library science programs.

While the results of this study seem to suggest choices one should make if pursuing the education to become a law librarian, it is important to acknowledge the limitations of the study as well.  In our efforts to conduct the study in a non-invasive manner, we were limited in the data we could obtain and analyze: not all schools post their librarians’ credentials; some post more data than others; and we elected not to contact librarians in our samples in any way, thus limiting us strictly to our quantitative analysis.  Certainly, other factors such as personality and technical skills inform hiring decisions at any library.  In fact, we conducted a separate analysis during this study of law library directors alone, and were unable to draw any significant conclusions; although some certainly had very high educational credentials, this was not always the case and analysis did not reveal this to be a significant pattern.  Clearly there is some other factor that informs the qualities of a directorial candidate.  Our study is not, therefore, a predictor of hiring outcomes.  But for those interested in a career in law librarianship, our study does suggest considerations that should be made when applying to library science and law programs.

Questions about the study can be directed to the authors: Ashley Ahlbrand, aaahlbra@indiana.edu, and Michael Johnson, mjohnson2@shawnee.edu


Ashley Ahlbrand

Ashley Ahlbrand is the educational technology and reference librarian at Indiana University Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law.  Her research focuses on social media and other emerging technologies and the ways in which they can be and are used by law libraries and law faculty for teaching purposes.

Michael JohnsonMichael Johnson is the circulation librarian at Shawnee State University.  His research and professional interests are citation analysis, science librarianship, information visualization, big data, library usage and career influences.

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Filed under Academic, Guest Posts, Law Library, library research, Researcher's Corner