Tag Archives: Library and Information Science

Further Answers: Any other advice for someone preparing to be off work for a while?

This is the final post in a series of three about extended leaves of absence.

Here is what happened: a reader who is about to leave work due to the incipient arrival of twin babies wrote in to ask if people who hire librarians could give some advice to people in her situation.  I thought that this was the sort of thing where the experiences of people who had been in similar situations might be even more helpful, so I collected some respondents from various listservs and the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, and am now presenting them for your edification.

This week I asked people who had returned to work after a multi-year absence:

Any other advice for someone preparing to be off work for a while?

Kathy JarombekThe one thing that I wish I had done, which I didn’t do for financial reasons, was keep up my professional memberships when I was on leave. I would definitely do that if I had a “do-over” because I think it speaks to your professionalism to do so.

– Kathy Jarombek, Leave of six years.
Prior title: Department Head for Children’s Services, New Canaan;
Current title: Director of Youth Services and Member of the 2014 Newbery Committee, Perrot Memorial Library

Veronica Arellano DouglasI would advise anyone planning on taking some time off of librarianship to read! Our profession changes so quickly and the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for future employment is to stay up-to-date on library trends, practices and research.
– Veronica Arellano Douglas, Leave of two years.
Prior title: Psychology & Social Work Librarian at the University of Houston;
Current title: Reference & Instruction Librarian at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Don’t discount the skills learned from being a stay at home parent. I feel that it has made me better at time management and juggling multiple responsibilities at work. Although I didn’t have prior work experience in doing storytime, having children was good preparation for my new role!
– Aimee Haley, Leave of three and a half years.
Prior title: Librarian (Public Library);
Current title: Librarian (Public Library)

Miriam Lang Budin I think it helps to remain active in the profession in some way while you are home raising children…even if you’re just going into libraries and schmoozing with librarians. And there are so many ways to stay involved through list-serves, chats, online courses, etc. Many more opportunities than were available back in the dark ages when I was staying home.

One of our children’s librarians is about to go on maternity leave and I tried to convince her to work for us just one night a week and/or one weekend a month, but she wasn’t interested. We would have held her job for her if she’d been able to do that, but now we’ll just have to say goodbye and good luck. I can certainly understand her not wanting to make the commitment to our library when she’s embarking on a demanding and unpredictable new chapter of her life, but I think it is a mistake if she wants to go back to work when her children are older. (Maybe she doesn’t want to…) I know I would be more interested in a prospective employee who found ways to keep her hand in. The job market is quite different than it was twenty-some years ago.
– Miriam Lang Budin, Leave of eleven years.
Prior title: Children’s Librarian, Larchmont Public Library;
Current title: Head of Children’s Services, Chappaqua Library

Cen Campbell

  • Maintain and expand your network. Visit a local library and make friends with people who are already working there. Tell them you’re a librarian and ask what’s going on in the library. Also maintain your old network, even if you think you won’t go back to your old library system. For me this meant keeping up with emails from the Eureka! Leadership Institute and keeping track of former colleagues on Linked In and Facebook.
  • Keep an eye on what professional organizations are doing. Follow listservs, attend networking events if you have flexibility with childcare, keep your membership up to date and flip through American Libraries orChildren and Libraries when they arrive.
  • Volunteer doing something you enjoy, even if it’s not directly related to your previous career (extra points for volunteering doing something that IS related, but it’s not necessary). You’ll do a better job, develop skills and probably get a good reference if you’re jazzed about what you’re doing.
  • Start an online presence. A good old-fashioned blog did it for me, but consider starting a group on Facebook in your area of interest, a Pinterest board, or Twitter account that you update regularly.
  • Serve on a committee or a board in a professional, service or non-profit organization. This can be library related or not. There are so many benefits to this; learn about board governance, network, develop programs or policy, work with other motivated individuals for a good cause etc. Meetings are often in the evening or virtual, and most boards or committees welcome new members.
  • Most importantly: DON’T ASSUME THAT A LIBRARIAN CAN ONLY WORK IN A LIBRARY. You may have to shift your expectations for what your ideal job is, but librarians skills are in high demand in many different places, especially in start-up land. Reach out to organizations who are working on products, services or tools in areas that you are interested in and ask to speak with them about what they’re doing. (I got a consulting gig that way! It works!)

– Cen Campbell, Leave of two years, and gradually adding more part-time projects bit by bit.
Prior title: Teen Services Coordinator/Youth Services Librarian, Stanislaus County Library;
Current title: Children’s Librarian/Digital Services Consultant, LittleeLit.com, Mountain View Library, Santa Clara County Library District

I think the main take away that I would pass along is to stay connected, stay in touch, maintain professional memberships, and do something while you are away.  In addition to the project and the leave replacement, I also wrote book reviews and volunteered in the library and classroom at my kids’ school, which were especially relevant given the position I left and returned to.  I would imagine staying connected is even easier today than it was then (pre ubiquitous Internet and email!).  And be open to opportunities or contacts that might seem tangential or not obviously super-relevant; you never know what can come of them.  Part time work evenings and weekends can help you keep your awareness and skills from getting too rusty, as does taking courses, or going to conferences.

– Ann Glannon, Leave of eight years.
Prior title: Curriculum Resources Librarian (college library);
Returned to work as: Curriculum Resources Librarian (college library) – same position

I would take complete advantage of all of the social networking media available to keep on top of trends and literature. But just by raising little kids yourself, you learn a LOT about kids—child development, different styles, different kinds of parenting, too. You will bring something new to the job by having that experience and paying attention.

– Susan Dove Lempke, Leave of ten years.
Prior title: Children’s Librarian I, Chicago Public Library
Current title: Assistant Library Director for Youth, Programming and Technology, Niles, IL

Jeanette LundgrenAny experience that can be used for a resume is valuable.  I volunteered in my children’s school library, helped run the book fair and became the webmaster for the PTO website.  I also kept my association membership active, that way I could kept abreast of what was happening in the field and stay connected.  There are some great professional blogs out there as well.

– Jeanette Lundgren, Leave of nine years from LIS (five spent working in the tech industry)
Prior to leaving LIS: Information Center Specialist, American Society of Training & Development (ASTD)
Re-Entry position: Reference Librarian, Hudson public library
Current title: Systems Librarian, Becker College

cara barlow

Volunteer in your community. Serving on town boards is a *wonderful* learning experience. If you’re taking time off to be with your children enjoy them! They are young for a very short time, but you can work your whole life.  At the end of the day no one ever says they wished they had worked more and spent less time with their children. Write if you can – it clarifies your thinking. Pursue what interests you and what you love.

– Cara Barlow, Leave of sixteen years
Prior title: State Aid Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
Current title: Supervisor, Music, Art & Media Department, Nashua Public Library

Keep up with the library world as you can, think about how activities you do while staying home can translate to the work place (organizational skills needed with kids, participating in public library events as a parent and selecting books as a parent–these are good if you want to go into/back into children’s services).
-Anonymous, leave of eighteen months and counting
Prior title: Evening Services Coordinator at a University Library

And as a bonus, here is some final advice from a person who hires librarians, Mac Elrod:
J. McRee Elrod

Subscribe to and read the e0lists in your field, e.g., for cataloguers Autocat, RDA-L, and Bibframe.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

I’d like to say thank you again to everyone above for sharing their stories, time, and insight.  If you’d like to share your own experience in the comments below, or your questions, they are open and waiting for you.

Thank YOU for reading!  

2 Comments

Filed under Academic, Extended Leaves of Absence, Further Answers, Public Services/Reference, Topical Series, Youth Services

Stats and Graphs: More Secrets of Getting Hired (Coding in Process)

It’s Staturday!

Building on what went up last week, I looked a little more at the answers to the question:

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

So far I’ve looked through the first 100 responses (we’re up to 389 total responses now, by the way).  I’m continuing to refine answer categories. Here’s what I have so far:

(what will eventually be) Results!

Networking/Who you Know: 37
Reputation, online or otherwise: 2
Presenting yourself well: 28
Positivity, enthusiasm, and/or passion: 7
Knowledge: 9
Experience: 6
Fit: 11
Luck: 18
Being flexible, thinking outside the box: 5
Persistence, never giving up: 10
I don’t know, you tell me: 21
Research: 7 (such a librarian answer)
The secret is that there is no secret: 3
Youth/Other demographic factor: 4
Not being me: 3

Other: 21

Here is one of the answers I’ve got coded as “other”

Humility. I think employers are scared by people who think they know it all. And no matter how much previous experience or training a candidate has, there will still be a period of adjustment after the hire. The key is admitting that you’re not perfect and projecting enthusiasm, determination, and positivity toward any potential obstacles.

I marked this one for Presenting yourself well and Positivity, enthusiasm, and/or passion, but “humility” is a separate secret I think, so I’ve marked it for other as well.  What do you think?

If you’d like to take a look at the raw data – all the answers to this question – it’s attached here:

Secret to Getting Hired_385

If you decide to do anything with it (and you are welcome to), I ask for three things: make your work freely and publicly available, email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail to let me know what you’ve done, and then link back to this site.


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

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.  

You can either comment below, or email hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Job hunter's survey, Stats and Graphs

Further Answers: What happened when you decided to return to the workforce?

This is a companion post to this week’s Further Questions, and the second post in a series of three about extended leaves of absence. Here is what happened: a reader who is about to leave work due to the incipient arrival of twin babies wrote in to ask if people who hire librarians could give some advice to people in her situation.  I thought that this was the sort of thing where the experiences of people who had been in similar situations might be even more helpful, so I collected some respondents from various listservs and the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, and am now presenting them for your edification.

This week I asked people who had returned to work after a multi-year absence:

What happened when you decided to return to the workforce? How did you frame your absence? How long did it take to get rehired? Was the position you found similar to the one you had before you left?

Kathy JarombekI had always planned to go back to work full time when my youngest entered Kindergarten but, when the time came, neither my husband nor I were quite willing to give up the family time that we enjoyed. But we couldn’t afford the status quo either, so in 2000 I approached the head of Youth Services at the Ferguson and asked if I could work there part-time on a more regular basis. Since by this time she knew my work from the subbing and the storytimes – and since I had left the library on good terms in 1986 – she was able to hire me for 19 hrs/week. I worked at Ferguson 3 days a week from 9 to 2:30 and one evening a week – the other two days I kept my storytelling job at the Perrot. This way, I was able to work and still meet my children’s bus in the afternoon. The Ferguson also agreed to give me the summers off (except for the evenings when my husband could be with the kids), since there are school librarians who are willing to work extra hours in the summer. As far as “framing my absence” – well, they all knew me so they knew why I had been out of the workforce. But they also knew that I was still interested in my library career because I made a real effort to keep up with library friends and with the latest developments and, most importantly, with the books – because knowledge of books is so crucial for a Children’s Librarian. And I could be wrong, but I don’t think librarianship is the kind of career where taking time off to have kids is viewed as a sign of lack of commitment.

In 2004, my husband and I could see that my working part-time wasn’t going to put two kids through college and that we really needed to get some medical benefits – since my husband was self-employed, we had been buying our own and the rates kept going up. But my kids were still in elementary school so I didn’t think I wanted to work year round in a public library. I made the decision to go back to school part-time and get an education degree – keeping my job at the Ferguson, but giving up my job at the Perrot. In 2006, I got my degree and immediately found work with the Greenwich Public Schools as a School Library Media Specialist, which is a shortage area here in Connecticut. Both the head of Youth Services at Perrot and at the Ferguson gave me recommendations. My kids were both now in middle school and we were all on the same schedule. Then in 2009, the Director of Youth Services job at Perrot became vacant and the director here asked me if I would come back and head the department. By now, my kids were in high school and so I said yes. So I am basically back doing the same job I did in New Canaan – heading up a small but vibrant Youth Services Department in Connecticut.

So how long did it take me to get rehired initially? Not long at all – I think because I really made an effort to keep my hand in and to keep up with all my contacts in the library world. I think that the people who hired me felt as if I never really left the field and that I still saw myself as a children’s librarian – just one who was on an extended leave. As for the rest, I kind of made it up as I went along, taking on new opportunities when I felt the time was right for me and for my family. When I applied for the school job, although I was an unknown quantity as a school media specialist, my supervisor at Perrot gave me a reference and she knew the woman who hired me well since the school job was in the same town as the Perrot.

– Kathy Jarombek, Leave of six years.
Prior title: Department Head for Children’s Services, New Canaan;
Current title: Director of Youth Services and Member of the 2014 Newbery Committee, Perrot Memorial Library

Veronica Arellano DouglasI left a continuing appointment-track academic librarian job in 2009 and ended up getting a tenure-track academic librarian job again in 2011. The job I ended up getting after my absence was with the same library where I worked part-time in circulation and reference, which I know helped move my application up the pipeline. The people who hired me knew that my work gap was related to my husband’s relocation, my pregnancy, and a period of bereavement leave, so I didn’t have to frame my absence from the profession at all.

It felt good to have a CV that maintained my professional involvement in ALA and ACRL during a period of employment inactivity.

– Veronica Arellano Douglas, Leave of two years.
Prior title: Psychology & Social Work Librarian at the University of Houston;
Current title: Reference & Instruction Librarian at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

I had not planned to leave the workforce when I had the baby, so I knew that I wanted to go back eventually. I was happy to spend those years at home, but as my son approached preschool age I began the job search. I returned to work as a part time librarian six months after the search began. I work in a public library and had several years of experience in public libraries before my absence.
– Aimee Haley, Leave of three and a half years.
Prior title: Librarian (Public Library);
Current title: Librarian (Public Library)

Miriam Lang BudinI actually was contacted by libraries to come back to work before I’d intended to return. The first attempt (when my oldest was 15 months) was not a success. I was hired for a part-time position, was the only children’s librarian in the library, had no full-time staff devoted to the children’s room and felt that I was doing a half-assed job at work and at home. I resigned after six months (and promptly came down with mono!).

A few years later I worked about one weekend a month as a substitute reference librarian. I think that’s a good tactic for getting back into the workforce, as it updates your familiarity with new technologies and with the collection of wherever you’re working, but doesn’t demand much in the way of program planning and execution, collection maintenance and development and the other day-to-day or long-range duties of a full-time librarian.

When my youngest had just turned five another library asked me to fill in for one of their children’s librarians who had a serious illness. They were so anxious for help that they let me bring my five-year-old with me for two months on the couple of afternoons a week they needed me to work until he could go to a full-day day camp. That was a highly unusual arrangement! I increased my hours when the summer began, but was still part-time with no benefits.

When the youngest started full-day kindergarten I applied for the first full-time children’s librarian position that opened up in our county. I don’t know how many applicants I was up against or anything like that. I got the job. I would say that the position was comparable to the one I’d left when I went into labor with the first baby: the only children’s librarian in the children’s room of a public library.

– Miriam Lang Budin, Leave of eleven years.
Prior title: Children’s Librarian, Larchmont Public Library;
Current title: Head of Children’s Services, Chappaqua Library

Cen CampbellI wasn’t even looking for a position when I saw a recruitment for an on-call librarian position open up in my neighborhood library 2 years after I’d quit my full time job, but I thought I’d give it a shot. In the interview I addressed the fact that I hadn’t been working full time since my son was born, but the combination of my strong resume from before I quit, and the initiative I’d shown developing and implementing Book Babies was enough to convince the library to hire me. I was also told later that one of the reasons they hired me was because I’d had experience working with adults and teens as well as kids, and was therefore more flexible when it came to working in different departments within the library.

Just after I started working in my new part time position I began a blog (LittleeLit.com) where I began to document my interest in incorporating digital media into children’s services and programming. Another very part-time position opened up at another local library system, and I was hired to begin piloting some technology-based children’s programs, which I also developed and documented. That work caught the attention of other library systems, library advocacy groups and children’s content developers, and I have been implementing programs, training staff and developing reading platforms ever since. I have since begun serving on the ALSC Children & Technology committee, I’ve presented at a number of different conferences and I’ve been hired by a number of different organizations to develop professional development materials for training children’s libraries in the use of emergent technology.

NEVER in a million years could I have foreseen though that I’d someday be an “expert” in the use of technology with children in public libraries, but the time that I took off gave me some perspective on the nature of my job. When I returned to the workforce, I had a more objective view of the services that libraries offer, and that they need to begin offering. There was no one developing the kind of guidelines and content that I was looking for, so I began to do it myself. Now I enjoy the flexibility of choosing the projects I work on, having a flexible schedule to hang out with my son when he needs it, and knowing that I’m helping to build a community of knowledge that can guide the development of best practices for the future when most of the content we deal with in libraries is digital (yes, even with children). I don’t think I would have started walking this career path had I NOT taken the time off and then had to be creative about getting back in.

– Cen Campbell, Leave of two years, and gradually adding more part-time projects bit by bit.
Prior title: Teen Services Coordinator/Youth Services Librarian, Stanislaus County Library;
Current title: Children’s Librarian/Digital Services Consultant, LittleeLit.com, Mountain View Library, Santa Clara County Library District

I went back to work initially working a couple of evenings a week and every other weekend for a suburban library, and by the time they needed a new head of youth services, I was ready to come back to work part time. It all worked out extremely nicely for me!

– Susan Dove Lempke, Leave of ten years.
Prior title: Children’s Librarian I, Chicago Public Library
Current title: Assistant Library Director for Youth, Programming and Technology, Niles, IL

Jeanette LundgrenI started to worry about the length of time I had been away from the workforce and knew that the longer I was out, the more difficult it would be to find a full-time job when I wanted one.  After being out for about five years I decided to apply for a part-time Reference Librarian position at a public library.  I sent out a few applications and did get an interview at about the third job I applied for.  I was honest about why I hasn’t been working.  I had been working as a software developer and been laid off about the same time we started a family.  While I hold my MLS, I hadn’t worked in the library field since graduate school, about 10 years prior.  It took a few months to get an interview and I was offered the position.  The position was entry-level and very different from where I had been working when I left.  I went from there to a part-time Reference Librarian job at Becker College in 2006, a job that could grow with me and offer more hours.  This year I accepted a full-time 10 month position as the Systems Librarian.

– Jeanette Lundgren, Leave of nine years from LIS (five spent working in the tech industry)
Prior to leaving LIS: Information Center Specialist, American Society of Training & Development (ASTD) 
Re-Entry position: Reference Librarian, Hudson public library
Current title: Systems Librarian, Becker College

Theresa AgostinelliI have been working as a librarian for almost seventeen years. Back in 2004, while working full-time as Electronic Resources Librarian at the Monroe Township Public Library and serving as vice president/president elect of the NJLA Reference section, I became pregnant with my first child. After the birth of my daughter, Natalie, I stepped down to part-time employment so I could spend time with my daughter, while keeping my hands in the profession. A few months after my daughter, Natalie was born, I assumed my role as president of Reference Section, emailing my members and potential speakers with a lively baby in the room. I was fortunate to have an incredibly helpful and supportive vice president who I could rely on to pick up the slack when I could not find childcare. I also attended a few meetings and planning sessions with Natalie when she was a few months old. My employer was supportive of my choice to stay home for a few months before returning to work part-time. They allowed me to complete some tasks from home to keep thing running. Since they were so flexible with me, I made sure that I returned every email and completed each assignment as quickly as I could.

– Theresa Agostinelli, Leave from full time work of seven and a half years and counting
Prior title: Electronic Resources Librarian, Monroe Township Public Library 
Current title: Instructional/Educational Services Librarian, Monroe Township Public Library

cara barlowI decided to return full-time to the workforce when my oldest daughter (who was 16 years old at the time) told me that she wanted to graduate high school and get her cosmetology license. I needed to find a full-time job in order to pay for her drivers ed, to help her with a car and to pay the school tuition. I graduated Anna in Spring of 2012 and she’ll start her licensing program in Fall of 2013.

I was truthful with everyone who I interviewed with for the part-time and full-time jobs, though I downplayed or didn’t mention that I homeschooled my daughters – even just a few years ago (it’s better now) there was a stigma surrounding homeschooling your children.

I told interviewers that I made the decision to stay home with my children when they were young, but that (when applying for part-time work) I felt ready to begin re-entering the library profession. When I was searching for my full-time job I told them that I my oldest daughter had graduated from high school early and I was looking for full-time work to help her pay for what she wanted to do next – cosmetology school. I also emphasized that I was looking for new challenges and would love to work for them.

I found a full-time job within weeks. The position I have now was posted a few days after I started searching. I interviewed and was offered it within two weeks. It was at a library where I had filled in for a reference librarian’s maternity leave and medical leave, so they knew me.

My current position isn’t like any other library position I’ve had before, but my time working on boards, in small-town politics, on the newspaper and homeschooling my children along with my BFA in fine art, my MLS and library experience gave me skills that made me a good fit for the position – they needed someone with an arts background, with connections in the local arts community, who had communication skills, people skills, could build community and was comfortable thinking outside of the box.
Cara Barlow, Leave of sixteen years
Prior title: State Aid Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
Current title: Supervisor, Music, Art & Media Department, Nashua Public Library

I have applied for jobs periodically in the last year and a half–we toy with me going back to work now and then. In my most recent job applications, I both emphasized the professional experiences I had before my gap, and talked about what I’ve done to stay relevant.

-Anonymous, leave of eighteen months and counting
Prior title: Evening Services Coordinator at a University Library

I’d like to say thank you again to everyone above for sharing their stories, time, and insight.  If you’d like to share your own experience in the comments below, or your questions, they are open and waiting for you.

Thank YOU for reading!  

2 Comments

Filed under Academic, Extended Leaves of Absence, Further Answers, Public Services/Reference, Topical Series, Youth Services

Further Questions: Are Gaps in a Resume Really a Red Flag?

This week we have the second in a set of reader questions. This person is preparing to leave work for an extended period of time, due to the incipient arrival of twin babies. I’m asking questions of people who hire librarians, and I’m also running companion posts with people who have returned to work after an extended leave. Last week I asked for advice on staying professionally relevant during a leave of absence (and the companion post is here). This week’s question is: 

Are gaps in a resume really a red flag? Have you ever hired someone who has been unemployed for an extended period of time? If so, can you provide any details about how this person discussed his/her absence on a resume or cover letter, or in an interview?

J. McRee Elrod

No.  We don’t even check for gaps in dates.
For those prospective employers who do, one might insert something, e.g., “Rearing children.” That too takes skill and provides experience.
To cover a prison term, perhaps “Volunteer work in an institutional library”?
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Marleah Augustine

Gaps in a resume are not necessarily a red flag, but it is nice to have some sort of explanation as to how that time spent. A simple mention in a cover letter about taking time off for family, travel, education suffices.What gets my attention more as a red flag is if an applicant has had many many jobs that were held for only a short time, and again in that case a short explanation usually takes care of any concern on my part. It’s not a dealbreaker outright.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Marge Loch-Wouters

Gaps are a red flag if the applicant doesn’t address them in some way in the cover letter (out of the country; position cut during budget cuts; raising a family; unemployed due to the recession). If I don’t see anything it makes me wonder whether the candidate was fired or let go for some reason. This concern is allayed if a reference from the manager at the last place of employment is included.I have hired someone with a substantial gap – she wrote in her cover letter and discussed at her interview that she was raising a family and was now ready to come back into the job market. That person was ready and she was a great addition to our staff and has gone on to an excellent career.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
Manya ShorrThe term “red flag” has a negative connotation that doesn’t express how I react when I see an extended leave on a resume. I notice it, but it doesn’t make me question whether the person is qualified. What it does it create a space to have a conversation about the leave. In other words, it would absolutely not preclude me from wanting to interview a qualified person. That said, I think the applicant should come to the interview prepared to talk about how they stayed current in the library world while they were on leave (or how they’ve caught up since they’ve been back). Best practices in public libraries seem to change frequently and the last thing an applicant should do is talk about an outdated program, policy or practice. A leave is fine but falling behind is not.
– Manya Shorr, Senior Manager, Branch Services, Omaha Public Library

Terry Ann LawlerNo.  Unless you were fired from your last job and did absolutely nothing for the last year.  I think over all experience in the fields which I need are more important than a gap in employment   I have, several times, hired people who had gaps in their resume.  People will usually explain a gap in some way, like that they started a family, went back to school, took care of an aging or sick family member, etc.

I  have seen this addressed in the cover letters, which, I think is appropriate.  I think it is not important to give too many facts about a gap, but it is important to address it in some short way.  Maybe a line or two to state why there is a gap and to state how you have kept professionally relevant during that gap. If you spend too much time explaining yourself, you take up valuable page real estate that could be used to talk about your awesome skills.
I think the same goes for a resume.  If you have a chronological based resume (although I would recommend you don’t), you could address the gap with its own date and a brief explanation.  For example:
Nov 1994- Aug 1999 – Electronic Resources Librarian, XXX State Library
Aug 1999-Feb 2000 – Long Term Relative Home Care
Mar 2000- Present – Cashier, Barnes and Noble Book Store
Again, I don’t think it is as important to explain a gap in employment as it is to highlight your skill sets and why you are the right person for the job.  Don’t lie about it, but don’t over stress something you can’t change. Focus on what is positive about you and your employment history and what you learned during that down time.
– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library
Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.

If you’re interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

And thanks to YOU for reading! 

Alice the camel has TWO comments.

1 Comment

Filed under Adult Services, Cataloging/Technical Services, Extended Leaves of Absence, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Topical Series, Youth Services

Stats and Graphs: The Secret to Getting Hired (Coding in Process)

It’s Staturday!

I’ve started taking a look at the answers to the question:

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

So far I’ve looked through the first 50 responses, in an attempt to build answer categories (we’re up to 385 total responses now, by the way).  Here’s what I have so far:

(what will eventually be) Results!

Networking/Who you Know: 19
Reputation, online or otherwise: 2
Presenting yourself well: 17
Positivity, enthusiasm, and/or passion: 6 
Knowledge: 4
Experience: 2
Fit: 5
Luck: 6
Being flexible, thinking outside the box: 4
Persisitence, never giving up: 9
I don’t know, you tell me: 7
Research: 5 (such a librarian answer)
The secret is that there is no secret: 2
Youth/Other demographic factor: 2
Not being me: 2

Thoughts and observations are very welcome – please comment away!

If you’d like to take a look at the raw data – all the answers to this question – it’s attached here:

Secret to Getting Hired_385

If you decide to do anything with it (and you are welcome to), I ask for three things: make your work freely and publicly available, email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail to let me know what you’ve done, and then link back to this site.


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

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.  

You can either comment below, or email hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Stats and Graphs

Further Questions: How Can Someone on an Extended Leave of Absence Stay Professionally Relevant?

This week we have a new set of reader questions. This person is preparing to leave work for an extended period of time, due to the incipient arrival of twin babies. We’re going to talk about leaves of absence for the next three weeks – I’ll be asking questions of people who hire librarians, and then I’m going to also run companion posts with people who have returned to work after an extended leave. This week’s question is: 

What do you recommend that a person on an extended leave of absence do in order to stay professionally relevant?

Petra Mauerhoff

We had a staff member from our cataloguing department start an extended leave (maternity leave) at the beginning of this year and before she left she expressed concern about “staying in the loop”, professionally as well as being connected to our organization. Her supervisor gave her homework to do while she is on leave (exercises from the cataloguing course) and will invite her to participate in any professional development activities we might be offering during the year. Of course her participation will be voluntary, but it will be a great opportunity for her to stay connected to the profession and continue her connection to staff as well.
I recommend staff who are planning a leave speak to their supervisors about what the expectations are and what the supervisor would recommend in order to stay professionally connected and relevant while away from their job.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
J. McRee Elrod
Read the appropriate e-lists, e.g., cataloguers should read Autocat, RDA-L, and Bibframe
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Marleah Augustine

This question is close to home, because I recently took maternity leave. I expected to be gone during the months of August and September, planning to take 6 weeks off and then work the next 2 weeks on half-time basis, using vacation time as needed (our policy follows FMLA, and employees are expected to use their sick and vacation time). However, my daughter arrived 8 weeks early, so I ended up being gone in June and July instead. This threw quite a monkey wrench into my work plans, as the day I gave birth was the same day that I had planned to orient my assistant department head to my files and where everything was.

My recommendation to others is, if you are taking an extended leave of absence from a job that you currently hold and will be holding upon your return, stay in touch with those folks that you work with. Make yourself available via email or phone if possible. Even if you aren’t doing the actual work, just staying in touch and keeping up with issues that happen means that you will have less catching up to do when you do return.

If you are working with your supervisor to try to find the best solution for both you and your work, and you have an idea about the time off that you want, just ask. A friend of mine was unsure about whether she was going to go back to work after the birth of her daughter, and she told her supervisor that. Her supervisor worked with her and just hired someone on an interim basis so that my friend could have a year off and her position would be held in the event that she came back to work. You never know unless you ask!

If you are between jobs but are taking an extended leave of absence, keep up with professional developments as much as you can. Read blogs, keep browsing Library Journal.

All of this being said — take time for yourself and focus on the reason you are taking that extended leave in the first place. If you are on sabbatical to work on a dissertation, do that work first before you check in with your job. If you have a baby, that is your first priority and no one should discourage you from recognizing that.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Marge Loch-Wouters

Keep up on blogs, twitter feeds and, if you don’t already, ask to have remote access to your institutions email system.  Ask a willing colleague to forward meeting notes or policy changes or news that are posted on internal communication networks – wikis; blogs; etc – just so you stay slightly in the loop. Ten-twenty minutes a day spent perusing what’s up will make it feel like you are aware of what’s happening without needing to stress over it. And again, if you have a willing colleague who would drop off  professional print journals after they’ve been routed to the rest of the staff so you can keep up (kind of like homework being dropped off!), that is a way to stay connected.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
I really believe that whenever possible, the person on leave stay in touch with their library, either through listservs and other email methods, occasional phone conversations, conference calls for committees or other pertinent professional events that the person would have attended or in which they would have been involved.    Offer to have those at work call you at home when something of importance is about to happen–more of an FYI or courtesy than actually asking for input or opinions.  I say all of  this, because it the person is truly planning to return to their jobs, it is best to keep abreast of what is going on, rather than have to play major catch up upon one’s return.    The person should also read the literature also, just to make sure that you don’t completely remove yourself from the profession in your absence.  ALA members receive American Libraries, and others may subscribe to that or Library Journal, etc.  And of course there is the web.
Some colleges or universities may frown upon, or just plain not allow active participation in committee work or conference calling.  If that is the case, then I would recommend doing the other things I mentioned above–staying abreast of things on listservs, webpages, occasional phone calls to friends/colleagues just be kept up to speed.  Some people like to just “unplug” when they are away from their jobs, but if one is only on leave, and plans to return at some point, I don’t think that is a good idea for more than a couple of weeks.  In addition to the person on leave remaining informed, it is good for he/she to be remembered by colleagues, not out of sight out of mind.
– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands
Samantha Thompson-FranklinI have some personal experience from 2 short term maternity leaves. So here are a few suggestions that I have:
*Keep up as best as you can with the professional literature, either via online or in print publications
*Become involved or stay involved in any professional association committees at the local or national level
*Take advantage of any professional development opportunities, either face-to-face in your local area or online through webinars
*Continue to keep in touch and network with colleagues
*Look for opportunities to contribute through writing for a blog or a professional publication, if that’s of interest to youSome of these suggestions will depend upon how much time and resources/funding you have available to you, but they should help to you keep you involved and stay professional relevant.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library
Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. 

If you’re interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

And thanks to YOU for reading! 

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer, by your comments.

*Edited 2/3/2013 to add in answer by Samantha Thompson-Franklin

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Filed under Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Extended Leaves of Absence, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Topical Series

Further Answers: What did you do to stay professionally relevant during your leave?

This is a companion post to this week’s Further Questions. Here is what happened: a reader who is about to leave work due to the incipient arrival of twin babies wrote in to ask if people who hire librarians could give some advice to people in her situation.  I thought that this was the sort of thing where the experiences of people who had been in similar situations might be even more helpful, so I collected some respondents from various listservs and the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, and am now presenting them for your edification.

This week I asked people who had returned to work after a multi-year absence:

What did you do to stay professionally relevant during your leave?

Kathy JarombekI was fortunate in that, being a children’s librarian, I had a ready-made excuse to visit places where I could “network” since I had a child (and then two) of my own. I signed my children up for storytimes, I kept up with the new picture books, I talked to the librarians. I already was good friends with the children’s librarian in Old Greenwich and I asked her to feed me books for older readers so that I could “keep up” with the latest in children’s literature. I always made sure that I read the Newbery winner and honor books each year. I introduced myself to the new head of Youth Services at the Ferguson Library, with my children in tow – and since I knew that the Ferguson often hired subs, I told her that I was available during the winter months if she needed someone to come in and work (my husband has a landscape design business and winter is a slow time for him here in the Northeast). In this way, I was able to keep my hand in working the children’s reference desk once in a while and, more importantly, keeping my name and face out there. I was very active in the storytelling community here in Connecticut before kids and I so I did a little freelance storytelling as well – and got a babysitter for a couple of hours when I had a job. Then, in 1999 when my youngest was 4 and in preschool five mornings a week, I let it be known to my library friends that I was willing to do toddler and preschool storytimes during the morning hours, as long as I could be done to pick my son up at noon. The Perrot Library in Old Greenwich immediately hired me to do Two Year Old Storytime two mornings a week and the Ferguson Library hired me to do a morning of storytimes in one of their branches.

– Kathy Jarombek, Leave of six years.
Prior title: Department Head for Children’s Services, New Canaan;
Current title: Director of Youth Services and Member of the 2014 Newbery Committee, Perrot Memorial Library

Veronica Arellano DouglasTo stay connected to librarianship during my leave from professional practice, I worked a few hours over the weekend at a college library circulation desk and did one evening reference shift each week during the academic school year. I also volunteered at my local public library and a charter school media center. I didn’t do all of these things at once! I realize that not everyone on leave has time to do this, especially those at home with infants or small children, or those who are caretakers for relatives, but if you have just a few hours in the evening or on a weekend you might want to consider a very part-time gig or volunteering.

I renewed my ALA membership and continued serving on various ACRL committees, which I felt was crucial for maintaining ties to the profession.

I also started my own blog about librarianship to help motivate me to stay up-to-date on trends and research in libraries and librarianship. Because I was no longer a practicing librarian I didn’t have professional experiences to draw upon for my blog. So I focused on reading the library-related literature (journals, blogs, books, etc.) and making connections between my part-time work and what I’d previously experienced as a professional librarian. I would highly recommend writing or starting a blog to anyone taking some time off.
– Veronica Arellano Douglas, Leave of two years.
Prior title: Psychology & Social Work Librarian at the University of Houston;
Current title: Reference & Instruction Librarian at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

The first year, I didn’t do very much. My husband took a job that moved us out of state when I was halfway through my pregnancy. Between the move and the new baby it was a bit overwhelming to say the least. Gradually I started attending training classes, joined the state chapter’s library association, and kept up my ALA membership. The ALA offers a good rate for librarians that are not currently employed. Joining the local state’s listserv provided insight into the local job climate.
– Aimee Haley, Leave of three and a half years.
Prior title: Librarian (Public Library);
Current title: Librarian (Public Library)

Miriam Lang BudinI am sure it was helpful in terms of my re-employment prospects that I’ve always been a children’s librarian. My first child was born in 1983 and my third in 1989.

To stay relevant professionally during my maternity leave I reviewed children’s books for School Library Journal and Kirkus (as I’d been doing before I had children.)

I also devised a program for parents (which they attended with their babies) called “Baby Booktalks” during which I introduced a substantial number of books which my own baby (later babies, plural) enjoyed having read to them. This was beginning in 1983 when it was not so widely acknowledged that babies loved to be read to. It was even before the explosion of board book publication, so there were fewer books for very young babies available. I took this program to many libraries in Westchester County and New York City over the next five years or so.

I was lucky enough to be asked to serve on the Caldecott Calendar Committee of ALSC in 1983-84 and then later the Caldecott Award Committee itself (1989) and both those opportunities were exciting and rewarding professionally.

And, of course, I used public libraries unceasingly the entire time I was home with the kids.
– Miriam Lang Budin, Leave of eleven years.
Prior title: Children’s Librarian, Larchmont Public Library;
Current title: Head of Children’s Services, Chappaqua Library

Cen CampbellBy the time my son was 3 months old I had a serious case of cabin fever, and I really missed being a children’s librarian. I had been attending prenatal and then post-natal classes at a local non-profit organization called Blossom Birth Services and I had gotten to know the director and the organization pretty well. I approached them with an idea for a weekly Book Babies storytime that I could lead on a volunteer basis and keep my little boy with me while I did it. The program is still going; I lead it for 3 years and it has now been taken over by one of my regulars now that I’m busier. Volunteering gave me positive references, a fresh resume, new storytelling tricks and the confidence that came from knowing that my professional skills were not getting rusty.

– Cen Campbell, Leave of two years, and gradually adding more part-time projects bit by bit.
Prior title: Teen Services Coordinator/Youth Services Librarian, Stanislaus County Library;
Current title: Children’s Librarian/Digital Services Consultant, LittleeLit.com, Mountain View Library, Santa Clara County Library District

I was fortunate to live in Chicago and to have worked for five years for the Chicago Public Library. I had made some good relationships, so when there was consulting work to do (like make presentations in library branches about their “preschool boxes” or to come up with booklists for a particular project) they called on me. It made me feel better about myself, and it also forced me to keep up with the field.

I also did some networking so that companies like Scott Foresman knew I was available to do consulting work, so I had a number of projects with them. The pace of work was extremely uneven, but it all helped me stay relevant. As a result of the writing jobs I had done, I was contacted by the editor of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books when they needed a reviewer, and I have continued to work as a children’s book reviewer ever since. These days, you can do some of the same things by blogging regularly—look at Betsy Bird (Fuse 8)—but it does take a lot of commitment to build a voice.

I also volunteered in my sons’ school in their library—I helped them weed their collection (“Someday, man may land on the moon!”) and helped them with automation. It’s great real-world experience, and helps keep you up to date with kids and with teachers.

– Susan Dove Lempke, Leave of ten years.
Prior title: Children’s Librarian I, Chicago Public Library
Current title: Assistant Library Director for Youth, Programming and Technology, Niles, IL

Jeanette LundgrenAny experience that can be used for a resume is valuable.  I volunteered in my children’s school library, helped run the book fair and became the webmaster for the PTO website.  I also kept my association membership active, that way I could kept abreast of what was happening in the field and stay connected.  There are some great professional blogs out there as well.

– Jeanette Lundgren, Leave of nine years from LIS (five spent working in the tech industry)
Prior to leaving LIS: Information Center Specialist, American Society of Training & Development (ASTD) 
Re-Entry position: Reference Librarian, Hudson public library
Current title: Systems Librarian, Becker College

Theresa AgostinelliProfessional Associations: You may want to consider continuing or adding professional memberships. Sections and committees are always looking for people to help out. If you cannot attend physical meetings, some groups conduct virtual meetings. Look for newsletters that you can contribute articles to. Maybe you can help by making phone calls or updating the website or wiki? There is always work to be done you just need to let people know that you are willing to help. Keep you eye out for conference submission dates. You may want to share your knowledge by presenting as part of a panel or poster session.  Staying involved will keep you happy and allow you to maintain and grow your professional network.

Online Classes: Since I have an interest in web design, I enrolled in online courses through my local community college, including CSS and PHP. I had to pay to take these classes but there are tons of free learning opportunities out there.  Take a look at offerings from your local public library. My county library system offers access to Lynda.com for blocks of time. This resource offers video tutorials for technical topics including programming, image editing, and web design. My place of work and local library offer free online adult education courses through Universal Class. If you have access to this site, check it out. Course offerings range from Feng Shui to Basic Parenting 101. Free training can be found on sites such as GLC Learn Free or even You Tube.

Facebook: I joined WordPress and Librarians, a Facebook group, a little over a year ago and have been blown away by the level of support provided by its members. It is so helpful to go back into the archives and locate information in any WordPress question I can think of. I have also asked questions of the group and received responses within seconds. My experience with WordPress & Librarians led me to form Technology Training & Librarians. The group has members from across the country, sharing skills and resources. Asking questions of the group will help you to expand your knowledge, while answering questions is a great way to help others while enhancing your professional reputation.

Online Magazines and Websites: Many magazines offer free access to articles through their websites. Current articles on a variety of topics are always available through EbscoHost and other online subscriptions. One great resource is the American Libraries website at http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/. Click on “Archives” to view articles from past and present issues.

Blogs: Subscribe to library and non-library blogs through Google Reader or other subscription services. With the popularity of Facebook and Twitter, it is easy to forget about blogs, but following your favorites through RSS feeds is a fast and easy way to stay informed. Different sites, including EduBlogs put out a list of the best library blogs each year and can provide some good starting points for you.

Twitter: The first step is to find some librarians to follow that tweet about your interests. Then find a few to follow that tweet about topics beyond your interests. If I cannot attend a conference, I will often locate the hash tag to find out what was discussed, as well as read the reactions of attendees. This is also a great way to find links to conference handouts, presentations, audio, and video. If you are having trouble finding librarians to follow, the section of Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki can help you get started. You can also use the Twitter search feature to find people to follow. Perform a search on a topic that interests you and then start following the person with the most interesting tweets.

Listservs: Listserv memberships are a great way to learn about free webinars and services that other libraries are offering to their users. Members often ask for advice and this is a great opportunity for you to share your knowledge and expand your network. Do not limit your memberships to local organizations. It is always interesting to hear what people are doing in other parts of the country or even the world.

Webinars: The number of free webinars out there is amazing. Nobody has to know that you are home with two babies while you are listening. Webinar archives can often be accessed if you are unable to attend at the time that are originally offered. You may take advantage of webinars through your local consortium but free webinars are also available from other parts of the country or even the world.

Volunteer Work/ Part-Time Employment: After the birth of my first daughter, I became involved in my local Mom’s Club where I volunteered a great deal of my time. Maybe you have a talent that you could apply towards teaching an adult education class or a program once a week at your local library? Maybe you can volunteer your time at your child’s school? You may want to consider something tangible that will eliminate gaps in your resume. There are options out there that do not require a large time commitment.

Conclusion: My intention was not to overwhelm. I have listed several options here but you do not have to do everything all at once. Have fun and keep learning!

– Theresa Agostinelli, Leave from full time work of seven and a half years and counting
Prior title: Electronic Resources Librarian, Monroe Township Public Library 
Current title: Instructional/Educational Services Librarian, Monroe Township Public Library

cara barlowI left the full-time library world for 16 years, so there was a lot of time for me to do things. < g >.
When I first left work it was to take care of my infant daughter. I knew that I needed to have some professional activities to put on my resume for the time I was home with her. I wanted to keep building skills that would be useful in my professional life, but didn’t want to be committed to a rigid or full-time schedule – my baby was my priority, not work. I decided to search out volunteer opportunities and part time employment that would fit around my family commitments.When Anna was about 1.5 years old I ran for and was elected to my town library’s board or trustees. I served for six years, five of them as chair. During that time I also I wrote for my local paper as a part -time reporter and columnist, and ran for and was elected to the school board. Through these volunteer positions and part-time work I kept my hand in the library world, gained experience with boards, budgets, politics, and learned how to write clearly and on a deadline.
When my daughters were ages 6 and 8, they were increasingly unhappy with school and given my knowledge of child development and how schools worked (from serving on the board for four years at that time) I knew that things were not going to get better. My husband and I decided to pull Anna and Molly from school to homeschool them. My library experience proved invaluable to me as a homeschooling parent.  I was already was confident that people could learn independently, outside of school, and I understood how to use the resources a library offered.
When Molly and Anna were 9 and 11 years old I began working as a reference librarian part-time. I took jobs that had evening and weekend hours so that my husband could be home with the girls. I did that for approximately five years.

– Cara Barlow, Leave of sixteen years

Prior title: State Aid Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
Current title: Supervisor, Music, Art & Media Department, Nashua Public Library
Kept up library association memberships–for me, ALA and NCLA (North Carolina Library Association), and some years, YALSA; volunteered for 1 2-hour shift each week for NCknows, an NC virtual reference collaboration (I did this while employed, so it was easy to keep doing it from home); reading library blogs and magazines; submitted and had accepted one chapter to a library book publication
-Anonymous, leave of eighteen months and counting
Prior title: Evening Services Coordinator at a University Library

I’d like to say thank you again to everyone above for sharing their stories, time, and insight.  If you’d like to share your own experience in the comments below, or your questions, they are open and waiting for you.

Thank YOU for reading!  

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Filed under Academic, Extended Leaves of Absence, Further Answers, Public Services/Reference, Topical Series, Youth Services

Further Questions: Any Tips for Out-of-Area Applicants?

Here’s final question in a series of six from the reader who asked when candidates shouldn’t applyif current employment status matters, how the initial selection of candidate works, for some cover letter hooks that worked, and if knowledge of specific tools was important. This week I asked people who hire librarians:

How much does the geographic location of the applicant matter to you? Any tips for out-of-area applicants?

Petra Mauerhoff

The geographic location doesn’t matter when we are trying to find the best candidate for the job. As long as the applicant is legally permitted to work in Canada and has the proper qualifications, we want to hear from you.
Since our organization is located in a medium sized town, all the folks with library related education tend to know each other or at least know of each other. When we post a position requiring library related qualifications, we can generally guess whether or not we will have local applicants.
The most important thing for applicants who are not located within driving distance to our office is that they need to be comfortable interviewing either via phone, skype or video conference. When I’m trying to set up an interview via distance an answer such as “but I don’t own a webcam” doesn’t show a lot of flexibility. The onus is on the candidate to make this happen.
Also, don’t have the interview situation be the first time you are actually using this technology. An improperly positioned camera can be distracting and the focus should be on the interview, not on the technology.
If the candidate is from out of the province, it is important that they not only try to gain some understanding about our organization before the interview, but also try to familiarize themselves with the structure of public library services in Alberta in general.
The basics for interview preparation remain the same, no matter what your geographic location: do your homework and show in the interview that you have taken the time to learn as much as you can about our organization, its context and the position for which you are applying.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
J. McRee Elrod
In the case of SLC, location is totally irrelevant, since our cataloguers work from home. It is important to have a bank willing to accept deposits of out of country checks without a large fee.

I know of a case where an American applying for a Canadian job failed to mention that as a result of marrying a Canadian, he was immigrating. He was not considered since the employer did not wish to deal with the increasing difficulties of immigration.

It would be wise to mention, I think, a willingness to move, and to be interviewed by Skype prior to the move.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Nicola FranklinAs a recruiter one of the things I find frustrating is that my clients can sometimes put their own convenience above their search for the best candidate for the job.  Given two equally qualified, experienced, etc applicants, they will almost always chose to interview the one who already lives locally to the one from further away who says they are willing to relocate.This statement is generally (although not exclusively) more true in the private sector, and less so in the public/government sector (where their equal opportunity guidelines may insist that they interview all applicants who meet a certain minimum standard, irrespective of where they are located).I guess this selection makes it easier to arrange interviews, avoids the need to pay expenses (or explain why they don’t do this), and there is also the thought of someone asking for relocation expenses and/or not being immediately available to start.  Hiring a new member of staff is generally a risky process (a lot is invested in time and money in the initial search, and then in induction and training, and in lost productivity until the new person gets up to speed), and employers always worry that a new hire won’t stay long enough to ‘pay back’ that investment.  Anything that reduces that risk or avoids risk factors is something hirers are generally keen on, therefore.If you are applying for jobs located outside reasonable commuting distance (that could be anything from 30 miles away to out of State or in a different country), then you need to reduce or avoid these perceived problems as much as possible.  Include information in your application pack or cover letter to reassure hirers,  For example, tell them you have relatives locally you can move in with immediately, while you look for somewhere to live.  Tell them you have Skype and are open to having a video interview as a first stage.
State up front that you are keen to relocate to the area at your own expense (and preferably that you know people there).  Employers are always worried that someone who moved just for the job may find it too lonely without friends and family, and leave again quickly.Don’t forget to include all the usual information to demonstrate what a great match you are to all the essential (and as many desirable as possible) characteristics they have put in the job specification.  Most employers will only go to the lengths of arranging telephone or skype interviews or calling someone to travel a long distance for a candidate they are sure is a pretty good fit on paper.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
Laurie PhillipsWe are academic, tenure-track, faculty, so we intentionally do national searches and geographic location has little or no bearing at all. In our most recent search, we Skype-interviewed someone who was out of the country and, if it had come to an on-campus interview, we would have had a discussion with the provost’s office about it. We pay all of the expenses for candidates to visit campus and the university pays a good portion of the hiree’s moving expenses.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar &amp; Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
Marleah AugustineWith part-time staff, it is not as much of a concern unless we hire university students who plan to go home for extended periods. For full-time positions, we are always willing to consider applicants who plan to move to our area but are not currently here. Phone interviews are the norm in that situation, although we LOVE seeing an applicant travel here for an in-person interview. It’s much easier to get an idea of who the applicant is in person.
As for tips, do as much research about the area as you can. Show that you’ve looked into what the library offers. Of course this goes for anyone applying, but when you’re in the area you tend to learn a lot by osmosis; when you’re at a distance, it takes a bit more work to do that.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
We do not, generally, pay for relocation, so the location of the applicant doesn’t matter to us, if the applicant doesn’t expect to be reimbursed for moving expenses.
– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP
Marge Loch-WoutersWe do national searches for our open positions with the understanding that if the candidate moves forward to a final four-five interview, we cannot help with the cost of a trip (wish we could, but we can’t). We have hired a number of out-of-state; out-of-region candidates. I do always look to make sure throughout the process that they understand that while this is an amazing opportunity professionally, it is in a location that is slightly isolated (2-3 hours to a large metropolitan area) – and it’s WI so it is likely to be cold and snowy and dark for significant chunks of the year. Many candidates, in their cover letter, make the case why they want to move into our area (family; want to be in the Midwest; love nature and the outdoors) that give us clues to the fact that they can happily work here and reach their potential.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Dusty Snipes GresThe most important question for an out-of-area candidate is, “How much do you want the job?” It is important to bear in the mind that most libraries are operating with limited and reduced budgets.  Travel and moving reimbursements are usually the first to go the way of cuts. Most libraries are well aware of the expense of looking for a job and offer alternatives: telephone interviews, web cast interviews, Skype, and similar tools. But – sooner or later – there will be the need for a face-to-face interview and there may be a good chance that the applicant will have to pay some or part of the travel.

I am more than willing to spend the time and effort on the preliminaries, and to offer what financial assistance the library can afford,  if I know that the person is willing to pay all or part to come for the interview. I am more than willing to offer the position to someone who is prepared to move. I do need to know there is commitment. And, part of the commitment is knowing whether the candidate really understands the area. Several times we have had final interviews where the person really didn’t know what rural meant, until he drove through miles of farm land and saw no malls or shopping centers. That was the deal breaker and not on our side.

Looking for a job is frustrating and time-consuming. Now, more than ever, the candidate needs to be open-minded about where the job is and what the job entails. The smaller the library the broader the job description. Bear in mind that the hiring library is also frequently in a position where the library desperately needs help, has a very limited budget, a limited time-frame to fill the position, and locally a limited or nonexistent candidate pool. Willingness to travel and willingness to move and expand horizons may get you a job.

– Dusty Gres, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System

Sue HillIn an ideal world I would only hire staff who live within easy walking distance or a short bus ride from our office.  However life is not that simple.

A reality check is essential for both the hirer and the applicant at all stages of the process.

As a recruitment agency I would advise candidates to think carefully about the ramifications of a move before making their application.  It is disappointing for both the hirer and the candidate if a job is offered and then rejected because it did not make sense to make that move.  Equally a long commute can be disruptive to your personal life affecting family relationships and friendships too.  Life in a new city can be lonely. There should be more to life than work and a very long commute although there are times when it is necessary.

When making your application you need to show that you are prepared to move.  I often advise using the address of a friend or family member in the city where the job is located as some hirers have a policy of not looking at applicants who live outside a certain mileage range. If you say you already live there it may mean you won’t get travel expenses when you are invited to interview so you could just indicate that you have accommodation pre-arranged at that address.  If a clear plan to move is indicated within the application then as a hirer I would take that candidate more seriously than one who said ‘I am prepared to move anywhere.’  Invariably those who say that are not.

If planning a move or a long commute then you will need to give careful thought to the effect that either of these may have on your nearest and dearest.  Child or dependent care need to be considered as does the career of your partner.  Not all jobs are replicated globally and so you may need to research the possibilities of appropriate work for them in the new location.  Another consideration is property rental and purchase costs.  These often vary between cities and you need to be sure that you can afford to live in the new location. An alternative is to work Monday to Friday and return home on the weekends.  That can mean two sets of living expenses as well as the travel costs so it makes sense to take a sound look at the economics and the availability of Monday to Friday bed and board.

For more senior roles relocation expenses are sometimes offered by the hirer.  If these are essential to your ability to make a move then you should clarify their availability at the outset of the application process.  If you are planning to move abroad be realistic about your language skills.  Perhaps the working language of the company is English, but when you need a plumber at 2:00 am you can be sure you will need to speak the local language!

– Sue Hill, Managing Director, Sue Hill Recruitment

Melanie LightbodyWe don’t discriminate against out-of-area applicants. That said, my personal experience is that the more the person is tied to the area the more likely they are to work out as a candidate as well as an employee. The last two times that we’ve called out-of-area candidates for our professional positions there was about an 65% chance they’d either turn the interview down immediately or bow out later.

Recently, I hired an out-of-area candidate who worked for about three months before heading back to their home area.

Here is my tip: Use that cover letter to give a sentence or two with very specific reasons you are interested in the particular job for which you’re applying.

I have also seen candidates successfully use personal reasons to show interest. In these cases though the candidates were highly qualified for the positions they were seeking.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. 

If you’re interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

And thanks to YOU for reading! 

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware That jaups in luggies; But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer Gie her a Comment!

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Filed under Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Public Services/Reference

Further Questions: How important is knowledge of specific tools?

Here’s penultimate question in a series of six from the reader who asked when candidates shouldn’t applyif current employment status matters, how the initial selection of candidate works, and for some cover letter hooks that worked. This week I asked people who hire librarians:

As archivists and librarians, the tools we learn are a bit of a crapshoot. How important is that an applicant have previous knowledge in the specific tools or system that your library uses? Is it very important, we will not consider an applicant without that experience/ideal, but we will consider someone with training as a substitute (example: took EAD course but did not use EAD in a job), it’s more important that someone is willing to learn new technology and tools (perhaps demonstrated by the other tools they already know), or something else entirely?
Petra MauerhoffGenerally, we are more interested in how you can move forward with us. How adaptable are you in learning new tools? How flexible are you in helping us find more efficient and effective work flows?
Having experience with the same ILS or other tools we use helps, because we know it will cut down some of the required training and we like having someone with experience who might bring a different perspective. However, it is not a must and we have hired people whose experience was with completely different tools and have found their background and experience brought valuable contributions to our work environment.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundWhen I’m hiring a librarian I assume they are coming with a basic knowledge of library research tools. I often ask them to list 10 tools they would include in their reference collection if they could only work from those 10 tools. Personally I don’t have 10 favorite tools, but I’d like to see if they can go through Dewey and give me an encyclopedia, dictionary, atlas, almanac, or even the Internet and some favorite websites or search engines as a basic tools. I’m amazed at how often a candidate cannot name 3 tools. This certainly is not a deal breaker question for me because I know people are nervous at interviews, but it can provide an interesting peek into their thought process.

I am interested in know if they are familiar with any library automation systems. It doesn’t have to be our system (Polaris), but learning an automation system from scratch is a bit of a training hurdle. If they can use one system, they can easily learn another. If they aren’t even aware of library automation software that would be a problem. In terms of software, I want people to be familiar with the basic Microsoft programs and a web management tool, like Joomla. In our library the website is managed by a team so it wouldn’t be the responsibility of one person, but if they have the concept of how a website is built and managed that is a good sign to me.

I’m assuming that most Librarian I candidates are coming with a common core of knowledge. I’m much more concerned about their customer service, team work, leadership, problem solving and creative skills. We can teach someone to go to a specific resource that they aren’t familiar with, but it is very tough to teach someone to smile and be welcoming to each and every customer when that is not his or her natural outlook on library service.

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

Melanie LightbodyIt depends on the the tool. If you’re applying for a cataloging job you need to be familiar with cataloging rules (AACR, RDA etc). If you are applying for a reference position, it is more important that you understand a systematic approach to reference work than it is to know the intricacies of any one tool. The question would be how much of the position you are applying for includes usage of a specific tool. As a rule of thumb, I favor a broader knowledge of systems over specific tool knowledge. My experience is those who understand the bigger picture do better day to day at their job. And yes, demonstrated willingness to learn would give weight to your app.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

Marleah AugustineI think that a willingness to learn is the most important thing. Experience with the exact same tech and tools is great, but experience with similar tools can be just as good. Knowing that someone took a course about a particular tool but doesn’t actively use it at least lets us know that they have been exposed to it and are aware of it. I will not discount someone just because they don’t know our specific systems and software, but it is helpful to know what the applicant has used and what they know.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Emilie SmartIt is unrealistic to expect every candidate to have experience on specific tools.  Not every library uses the same things to do the same work — ILS’s are different, databases, books…  Tool availability is often more budget-based than need-based.
I expect reference candidates to have experience doing some reference work.  They should know how to search a database, conduct a reference interview, create a spreadsheet, manipulate HTML code.  I don’t care if they are familiar with Sirsi or Innovative or if they’ve never used a Gale database because their previous library subscribed to EBSCO.  Using our available tools is part of our training process, so what tools they have experience with is less important than what kind of tools they have experience with.
– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library
J. McRee Elrod
Very important is knowledge is standards: ISBD, AACR2/RDA, MARC, LCC (and/or DDC), LCSH, probably OCLC, and in some situations NLM/MeSH and RVM.  It helps to have used a cataloguing software and an ILS, but considering their variety, experience with particular ones is less important.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Manya ShorrAt this point in my management career, I almost always put customer service skills above experience when it comes to hiring front line staff. We have too many people in our profession that don’t seem to want to work with the public and I feel like it is my duty to help turn that around. If someone is dedicated, curious, and willing to try I figure I can teach them anything. It is, however, difficult to teach anyone to be nice and welcoming. In other words, when you interview with me, please demonstrate that you are excited to work with the public. You can do this by smiling, maintaining eye contact, and answering the questions in an enthusiastic way. This doesn’t mean be maniacal, just act like you want the job. I’m willing to train and teach you!

– Manya Shorr, Senior Manager, Branch Services, Omaha Public Library

If a person is willing to learn new technology, doesn’t have a fear of it, or of constantly changing technology and other things in libraries, i.e can go with the flow—I would still consider or hire them if they didn’t have the exact type of technology or online systems my library uses. It is very helpful, and may make someone stand out, if they have worked in a library with the same online systems, and knows other technologies in the job description. But I believe that most people who are adept at using technology, enjoy it, and have no problem learning new technologies, can do so on the job. I guess the trick is convincing me as an employer, that the aforementioned “adeptness and willingness to learn” is indeed a trait of the applicant.

– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands

Marge Loch-WoutersThis is less important to us in Youth Services at our library – no doubt because we are on the slightly low-tech side. We feel that learning any specific tools and technology (beyond a basic familiarity with windows office suite; some digital toys like ipads or ereaders or social media) are part of training. We commit ourselves to our new hires to train them in this so knowing our ILS or specific hardware or software rarely plays a part in our decision.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Samantha Thompson-Franklin

I think it’s more important to show evidence of being willing to learn new tools and technologies, with specific examples of what you learned and how you used or applied it. Tools and technologies can come and go, and while it can be important to know certain tools, I think that one’s willingness and ability to learn new applications says a lot to a search committee.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. 

If you’re interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

And thanks to YOU for reading! Comment, Eileen, taloo rah

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Filed under Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, Public, Public Services/Reference, Special

Reader Polls: Job Offers and Men’s Neckties

Hi Readers!

Please help me answer two questions.

The other day my husband asked if anyone had written to me to say that Hiring Librarians helped them find work.  I’ve heard from a few people, but I wanted to ask the rest of you.  If you want to share more of your story, please feel free to do so in the comments!  Of course, if you’ve found a job, you may no longer be reading…

And of course our poor manbrarians have been asking for information on what to wear for interviews.  So I thought I could at least ask:

So thanks for reading, readers, and participating in these polls!  I hope if you were in the Frankenstorm, that you came through it ok. I hope that all your election wishes came true.

And finally, I hope your career is taking off!  The Library of Congress thinks that Librarian Job Growth is Exploding! Also, did you see the current issue of American Libraries?  It includes articles on job searching – check out the sidebar to see our name in a print source!

Anyway, take care!

Emily

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Filed under News and Administration, Op Ed, What Should Candidates Wear?