Tag Archives: library residencies

Author’s Corner: Residencies Revisited: Reflections on Library Residency Programs from the Past and Present.

Welcome back to Author’s Corner! This series features excerpts or guest posts from authors of books about LIS careers. In this installment, we hear from Preethi Gorecki and Arielle Petrovich, who edited Residencies Revisited: Reflections on Library Residency Programs from the Past and Present.

In my own work with Hiring Librarians I have been interested – and hopeful – about the possibility of Residencies to improve two issues: the difficulty inexperienced librarians have getting their foot in the door and the lack of diversity in the profession. I am grateful to Gorecki and Petrovich for editing this volume, because this work provides nuance and tempering to these hopes. They illuminate the shortcomings, in both vision and practice, as well as the successes inherent in the residency system. In the post below, they provide excerpts from several sections, which should serve to illustrate the breadth of viewpoints included. It seems to me that this book would be a useful guide for folks who are considering becoming a resident, as well as for those who run or administer their own programs.

Gorecki, P. & Petrovich, A. (Eds.). (2022). Residencies Revisited: Reflections on Library Residency Programs from the Past and Present. Library Juice Press. 

When making the decision to apply for a library diversity residency program, it’s important to understand the benefits and the risks of accepting such a unique role within an academic library. Although library residency programs have been around for over three decades, many MLIS graduates lack knowledge about them–it can even be hard for the residents themselves to define these programs to others. Host institutions use different names for them (fellows, diversity residents, interns), structure them differently (rotational, assigned role, open structure), and have different motivations for establishing a residency program at their institution. With so little consistency, it’s difficult to know what the residency you apply for will actually look like until after you start. You may decide to take a leap of faith and hope for the best. 

Residencies Revisited: Reflections on Library Residency Programs from the Past and Presents is comprised of essays from former and current residents, resident scholars, and residency administrators that describe all the ways residency programs can be done right and how they can go wrong. We hope the insight these essays offer will enable you to make a fully-informed decision to participate in a residency program and to make the best choice for your professional growth.

In the section, Dear Program Administrators, we highlight the critiques and advice diversity residency participants have for the folks who run these programs. When we hear program administrators talk about their institutions’ respective diversity residency programs, we often hear that these programs are successful and that residents are thriving at these institutions. However, once you hear the perspectives of the residents, it becomes clear that many program administrators are not asking residents about their experiences, are not providing spaces where residents feel safe enough to provide honest feedback, or are ignoring the critical feedback that they do receive from residents.

Overall, I think that some conversations could have been more in-depth. I had one coworker who shared with me that they were happy that I was there and that it was important to have residencies, but they also alluded that they had taken a pay cut so that this position was possible. I assume they shared this so that I would feel grateful, but it only caused me to feel uncomfortable. In their effort to share how much they bought in, they stated something that was inappropriate. This demonstrates that even with great effort from the top down, there can be issues with the messaging and the types of conversations that are appropriate or perhaps inappropriate. Buy-in from your faculty/staff/students is invaluable in making sure that a resident has a smooth transition into their role. 

Excerpt from Chapter 5: “Ready or Not, Here We Come!: The Onboarding Experience of Library Residents in Diversity Residency Programs” by Alexandrea Glenn, Amanda M. Leftwich, and Jamia Williams

In the section, Reclaiming Our Time, we explore how residents can salvage their experiences when their residencies fall short. Although the onus to create a positive residency experience should be on everyone involved in the program, sometimes the responsibility falls more heavily on the resident.

All my experience up until then allowed me to be a competitive applicant when it came time to apply to more permanent positions. I fully believe that my in-depth experience with the first-year writing program and having some liaison librarian experience, allowed me to get the position I currently have. Obviously, this is due not only to my hard work but also to the support and encouragement of colleagues who wanted to see me succeed and who trusted I could take on more responsibilities. Having a plan written down and put in place allowed for my residency to not only take shape but also have productive and important tasks and goals. Having honest and open conversations with my residency coordinator/mentor was vital and my success was due to people who were organized and genuinely cared about my goals and interests. 

Excerpt from Chapter 7: “It’s Never Really Goodbye in Library Land: Self-reflection of My Residency Experience” by Quetzalli Barrientos

In the section, Life After Residency, we examine the long-term impact residency programs have on a librarian’s career and explore their efficacy. Their longevity may imply that residency programs are successful initiatives, but very little data has been gathered to support that. When we look past the appearance of success and ask former residents how residency programs prepare and position them for a career, we found some significant pitfalls.

On paper, my residency experience could be made to seem like a success story: I entered an ARL library as a diversity resident, served as an interim department head during my residency, moved to a full-time, tenure-track department head position, and eventually earned tenure and was promoted. However, the complex and painful reality is that I spent 14 years, 7 months, and 30 days existing as a second-class citizen at an institution where I experienced disturbing levels of verbal abuse, mobbing, bullying, pay inequity, and a host of other dehumanizing behaviors.  I experienced things no one should encounter in a workplace …I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge all the ways working at an ARL Library afforded me opportunities to make sustaining connections that preserved me… Without these external relationships, I doubt I could have earned tenure while working in an openly hostile environment and I seriously doubt I would still be a librarian.

Excerpt from Chapter 13: “Everyone Else Contributes and You Contribute Nothing” by Pambanisha Whaley

In the section, Looking Towards the Future, we look at what can be done to improve resident experiences. The precarious nature of library residency programs is something to deeply consider. Some programs make it clear from the beginning that there is no promise of a permanent librarian position at the end of the program and a growing number of programs are only for one year. What are residents sacrificing to pursue a residency opportunity? How can we make those sacrifices worthwhile?

Rather than diversifying the workforce in a permanent, meaningful way, residencies place early-career librarians in a precarious position. Turn the residency down and perhaps you do not get another chance, especially with large, esteemed institutions that will help bolster your CV. Accept the residency and you gain valuable experience, but you are contingent labor and may find yourself spending much of your residency worried about what happens if you have to relocate to a new city, sometimes many states away from family, and find yourself unemployed in two or three years. This is the tightrope I walk today. I enjoyed my residency and it was rewarding both personally and professionally… Knowing what I know now, I believe I would do it again, but I would be more strategic about how I did it. 

Excerpt from Chapter 21: “Privileged Position: My Journey into Second-Career Librarianship” by Theresa Arias

Preethi Gorecki 

is the Communications Librarian at MacEwan University. In 2018, she started her career in librarianship as a Library Faculty Diversity Fellow at Grand Valley State University. Preethi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Concordia University in Montréal, Québec, Canada and a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. Her research focuses primarily on diversifying librarianship and academia.

Arielle Petrovich

earned her MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in 2017. She began her career as a Librarian-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame. Arielle is currently the College Archivist at Beloit College.

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Job Hunter’s Web Guide: ACRL RIG (Revisited)

In 2013, as part of the Job Hunter’s Web Guide series, I ran a profile of ACRL’s Residency Interest Group. I’m happy to be able to provide an update to that post. RIG is still doing great work to support opportunities for new librarians to gain work experience. I’m impressed with the mutual support provided by this community! The update was provided by Jessica Dai, ACRL RIG Convener, 2021-2022, Kalani Adolpho, ACRL RIG Incoming Convener, 2021-2022, and Sheila García Mazari, ACRL RIG Outgoing Convener, 2021-2022.

Please note RIG’s upcoming webinar – this Thursday:

What’s Next? Starting the Job Search for Resident Librarians, July 14th, 2022 at 1p ET/12p CT/11a MT/10a PT. Registration is required. 

What is RIG? Please give us your elevator speech!

The Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Residency Interest Group (RIG) provides a platform for current and former resident librarians and other interested parties to share their experiences, engage in service and research, and learn about the availability of library residency opportunities. We work to implement a Resident-Centered Framework (RCF) which has three principles: to center the residents’ perspective and honor their experience, uphold the resident as the primary audience and beneficiary, and commit to transparency. Read more about the RCF in the Diversity Residency Toolkit.

When was RIG started? Why was it started?

In 2008, ACRL amended their bylaws allowing for communities to be created within ACRL that had a specific area of focus but that weren’t represented by Discussion Groups or Sections. They called these Interest Groups. The Residency Interest Group was the very first Interest Group to be formed by ACRL in order to support residents, residency coordinators, and institutions that host residencies. Over the last few years, the audience for RIG has shifted to primarily support current and former residents.

While the number of residents rose substantially when ACRL’s Diversity Alliance launched, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on funding structures, we have seen several universities either end their residencies or choose not to hire a new cohort of residents. Therefore, most individuals currently involved in RIG are former residents, although we are starting to see more residency positions open and we’re hoping to see an uptick of current residents within our membership. 

Who runs RIG?

RIG is completely volunteer-run and is part of ACRL’s interest group structure. ACRL, in turn, is a division within the American Library Association (ALA). For the past year (2021-2022), RIG’s leadership team consisted of Jessica Dai as Convener, Kalani Adolpho as Incoming Convener, and Sheila García Mazari as Outgoing Convener. This structure enables the Incoming Convener to learn on the job for a year before assuming the Convener role, while the Outgoing Convener provides institutional knowledge. For the next year, we are excited to work with our new Incoming Convener, Mallary Rawls. Additionally, we have talented team leaders who organize our teams, which include New Members and Mentorship, Programs and Proposals, Social Media and Web Communications, Assessment, and the Diversity Residencies SubGroup.

RIG leadership changes every year, with each member of the leadership team signing up for three years to allow for continuity. Each year, a call for nominees is sent out for a new potential incoming convener. The roles of Incoming Convener, Convener, and Outgoing Convener are the only roles that require an ALA/ACRL membership. 

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

Being a career expert is out of scope of what we do. Generally we tap into the wide variety of expertise from our members and are a peer network of support, particularly for folks looking to start a residency experience or for folks searching for their next role upon the conclusion of their residency. 

Who is your target audience?

Though our audience includes LIS students looking for their first library position and job seeking is one function of our group, our primary audience in recent years has shifted to current library residents and fellows. ACRL RIG aims to be a virtual community for and by library residents who are looking to connect with each other, as well as learn more about and improve library residencies. 

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?

Folks are free to explore the website and learn about current residents as well as recent work completed by the RIG teams such as the Diversity Residency Toolkit, created by the subgroup on Diversity Residencies. RIG accepts volunteers to serve on one of our teams on an ongoing basis, and as we receive them, we also publish job postings for both residencies and early-career librarians. We do not post everyday, but folks can feel free to consult the site as needed. 

Does your site provide:

√ Job Listings 

√ Answers to reader questions 

√ Interviews

√ Articles/literature 

√ Links 

√ Research 

√ Event Information

What requirements do you have for job listings on your site (e.g. must include salary)?

This has been an ongoing discussion for us over the last few years as we’ve seen increases and decreases in the number of residency positions. First and foremost, we require job postings to include salary information as part of our commitment to the RCF’s principle of transparency. Salary transparency can be especially important for job seekers who may be considering relocating for a term limited position. Additionally, if the position is a diversity residency position, salary transparency can help job seekers identify whether the institution has committed to the ACRL Diversity Alliance’s principle to “provide a salary for the resident commensurate with the salaries of equivalent entry-level library professionals.”

Rather than reposting a job link, we ask that individuals share the job posting copy as they want it to appear on our website. Since we’re volunteer run, we do not have the bandwidth to write or rewrite copy for our postings. If you would like us to post on our Twitter profile, please provide the required character count.

Finally, we prioritize postings of residencies and/or early career positions since our target audience includes LIS students and recent graduates, as well as resident librarians. We may accept postings that require extensive prior experience on a case-by-case basis. 

Should readers also look for you on social media? 

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Do you charge for anything on your site?

No, the RIG website is free to access. There are no paywalls.

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

Our site is as much a resource as it is a community. Back in 2020, residents worked to write an open letter to library administrators asking them to continue to support residency positions during a time of budget cuts, hiring freezes, and an ongoing health crisis. Over 300 people signed onto this letter and anecdotally we are aware that some institutions extended their residencies an additional year so that residents could obtain the full benefits of their experience and to allow them to enter a more active job market. This was work created in conjunction with residents both affiliated and not affiliated with RIG. Though this doesn’t directly impact job seekers, we’re proud of the advocacy role that RIG has fulfilled in directly supporting library residents.

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

Please join us for a webinar hosted by RIG’s Programs and Proposal team titled What’s Next? Starting the Job Search for Resident Librarians set to take place July 14th, 2022 at 1p ET/12p CT/11a MT/10a PT. Registration is required.

This panel features Tarida Anantachai, Director of Inclusion & Talent Management at North Carolina State University Libraries, Sheila García Mazari, Professional Programs Liaison at Grand Valley State University, and Juliana Espinosa, Student Success Librarian at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, who are all former resident librarians with recent experience job searching and/or chairing job searches. The panel will be moderated by Alyse Jordan, Ed.D. Lamar University, Head of Research, Engagement & Learning at Lamar University. The conversation will touch on how to evaluate job ads and best prepare application materials for the job search process.

Thank you!

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Residency Run-Down: Penn State University Libraries Diversity Residency Program

I know a lot of you readers are new librarians or current students. And we all know it’s a tough market for emerging information professionals. It’s great to be able to share this interview with John Meier, Chair of the Diversity Committee and Science Librarian at Pennsylvania State University Library. In this interview, Mr. Meier describes the brand new Diversity Residency Program at Penn State, as well as what library students can do now to stand out in the job market, and why Penn State is a great place to learn about academic librarianship and research.

Can you give us a brief introduction to the Penn State University Libraries Diversity Residency Program?

Pattee LibrarySure. The Penn State University Libraries has been working on developing this residency program for a long time. Our Diversity Committee has been around for over 20 years and since Dean Barbara Dewey came to Penn State in 2010 things really started to happen. There are two residents in each biannual cohort who each rotate through a number of departments their first year and then pursue a research project in their second year. We have had great support from the University Administration including partially funding the program. That really shows how much Penn State values not only libraries but diversity.

Why was this program started? What makes it important to your organization?

We are looking to the future and feel that if we want our library staff to reflect the multicultural nature of our society we need to be part of building the next generation of professional librarians. While Penn State does not have a library school, we are one of the largest employers of librarians in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). We also have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in our services to the Penn State community and want to bolster our current successes. The University Libraries also wants to prepare the future leaders of the library profession and promote diversity in the next generation of library leaders.

What are the main job duties of residents – do they differ from those of “regular” librarians?

The main job duties of these residents will actually be very similar to all their librarian colleagues. During the first year of assignment, the residents will rotate through different departments as full members of those units. They will be librarians, not interns or graduate assistants, and perform similar duties and have similar responsibilities. The only real difference will be the additional support from the residency coordinator and library administration.

Are residents paid? Do they get any other special benefits?

These are paid, two year contract librarian positions with benefits. Each year they will also get a professional travel stipend to attend conferences and workshops.

What would you tell a potential applicants in order to convince them to apply for the program?

Knowledge CommonsOne of the highlights of the Penn State University Libraries is the high research productivity of our faculty librarians. The residents will benefit from a great amount of peer mentoring and the ability to build a supportive network of professional librarian colleagues. Penn State is also a very large library system, so the residents can pursue almost any aspect of academic librarianship here.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Candidates for our residency need to be recent graduates of an ALA accredited Masters program or an equivalent program. They also need to have the ability to advance our goals of diversity and inclusion. We are looking for the best overall candidates who will go on to be successful librarians and leaders in the profession.

What does the selection process entail? How does it differ from the regular job application process?

Our selection process follows our regular job application process.

Any tips for students? Is there anything they could do to improve their chances of winning a spot in your program?

Be active in the profession while you are a student in a library school program. Join student chapters of professional societies and take a leadership role. Identify an issue you care about and pursue it passionately. Think of every class and class project as a way to make your dreams of the future a reality.

When will the next residents be picked?

We should be announcing our new residents in July 2013.

Anything else you want to tell us about the program, or about job hunting in general?

Have a number of friends, current librarians, and professors read your cover letter and resume and incorporate as much of the feedback as you can. It can be tough to stand out in the current job market, so you need to make the effort to learn about each job.

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