Tag Archives: Library science

Library School Career Center: LIU Palmer

Here is this week’s installment of the Library School Career Center feature, which is presented in partnership with the folks from the blog Hack Library School.  If you’re interested in library education, or in new ideas and the future of the profession, you should check it out.  


LIU Palmer 3

This interview is with Ellen Mehling, Director, Westchester Program and Internships, Palmer School of Library and Information Science, LIU Post.

Career Center Information

LIU Palmer 2

Who staffs the career center?

Career services (job hunting and career development) are provided by me [Ellen Mehling] for the Palmer School’s students and alumni. There is not an actual physical center; services are provided in various ways, online and face-to-face, one-on-one and in groups, for all Palmer School locations.

Are there “career experts” on staff? What are their credentials?

I’ve been an advisor on job hunting and career development for various groups including librarians/information professionals and library school students, for about eight years. I started in a former job, advising members of the general public and special populations who were seeking employment, and before long was being asked to teach workshops on the job search to other library professionals. In addition to my work at the Palmer School, I am Job Bank Manager and Career Development Consultant for the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

I’ve trained other librarians on assisting job hunting patrons, and have taught classes/workshops, moderated or spoken on panel discussions and conducted mock interviews and more, at various venues. I write regularly on job hunting/career topics for various sites, including METRO’s. I’ve served on hiring committees and have been a successful applicant myself in recent years too, so I’ve seen and experienced first-hand what works and what doesn’t.

Does the career center provide any of the following:

√ Resume/CV Review   √ Advice on writing cover letters
√  Interview Practice [mock interview]
√ General career advising
√  Other: Career Q&A on blog, webinars presentations/workshops (given by me), joint or guest presentations/workshops, recruiter visits, panel discussions, and full-day job hunting/career events. Some of these are open to students and graduates from other schools. I visit each of the Internship classes each semester to discuss resume writing. Palmer School students and alumni are also encouraged to make use of LIU’s Career Services in addition to the industry-specific career services provided by the School.

Do you provide in-person services?

√ Appointments
√ Speakers, or programs that present experts

Do you provide online services?

Website with resources    √  Blog   √ Webinars
√ Twitter: @LIUPalmerSchool
LinkedIn     √ Facebook
√ Other: Career / Job Hunting Q&A, “Kiosk” student listserv (anyone can subscribe to the listserv)

What do you think is the best way for students to use the career center?

Palmer School students and alumni contact me directly. Anyone can access the information on the blog and/or join the listserv or follow on Twitter, etc.

May alumni use career center resources?

Yes.

Are there any charges for services?

There is no charge.

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using the career center?

We are always delighted to hear that our graduates have found positions. Three recent hires among our alumni: Library Media Specialist in the Elmont School District, Archives Technician at the National Archives at New York City, and Archives Coordinator for NY at Cartier.

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

The job market is improving, but competition is still very strong, with many well-qualified applicants for each open position. Relevant skills and experience are necessary in addition to the degree, as are a strong network, patience, and a positive attitude. Students should start networking while they are still in school, and begin their job search before graduation.

LIU Palmer 1 March 5

Students’ Career Paths

Can you talk a little bit about the school’s approach to internships, practicums and/or volunteering?

A 120-hour internship is required for the Master’s degree students. It is usually done in the final semester. This benefits the students in a number of ways, including giving them experience to put on their resumes, and providing networking opportunities, both of which are crucial to job-hunting success. Students are encouraged throughout the program to get as much experience as they can, however they can, including volunteering, part-time jobs, project work etc.

Are there any notable graduates?

Bonnie Sauer at the National Archives at New York City
Caitlin McGurk at the Center for Cartoon Studies

LIU Palmer 4 March 5

Demographics

How many students in the library school?

Approximately 325.

What degree(s) do you offer?

MS in Library and Information Science
MS in Library and Information Science – School Library Media
PhD in Information Studies

Is it ALA accredited?

Yes.

What are the entrance requirements?

http://www.liu.edu/CWPost/Academics/Schools/CEIS/PSLIS/Graduate-Programs/MS-LIS/AdmisReq

When was the library school founded?

The Palmer School of Library and Information Science was established in 1959 on the LIU Post Campus of Long Island University. The Master of Science in Library Science was first accredited by the American Library Association in 1971. In 1992, the M.S. in Library Science was merged with the M.S. in Information Science and subsequently the name of the degree was changed to the M.S. in
Library and Information Science.

In 1995, the School began to offer the full accredited M.S. in Library and Information Science in Manhattan, and in 1997, the first class of students was admitted for the Doctor of Philosophy in Information Studies program.

Where are you?

√ Northeastern US

Where are you?

√ Urban area (NYC)
√ Suburban area (Long Island)

Anything else you’d like to share that’s unique about the school?

The Palmer School of Library and Information Science is one of the most distinguished schools of library and information science in the country. With three program locations throughout the New York metropolitan area as well as online and blended courses, the Palmer School offers a broad portfolio of degree and advanced certificate programs taught by a faculty of distinguished scholars, researchers and hands-on practitioners. We prepare our students for careers for a digital world and help them skillfully harness the way information is preserved, valued and delivered to every facet of society.

Aside from the internship requirement, the Palmer School is known for personalized one-on-one advisement and support throughout the time students are in the program. This continues even beyond graduation with the services available to alumni. The three campuses are LIU Post and LIU Brentwood on Long Island and in Manhattan at NYU’s Bobst Library. There is also a Dual Degree (Master’s) program, offered at the Manhattan location.


Brianna Marshall

This interview was conducted by Brianna Marshall, who is a second year dual-degree Master of Library Science and Master of Information Science student at Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science. She is Managing Editor for Hack Library School and a 2012-2013 HASTAC scholar. Learn more about Brianna through her blog and portfolio or by following her on Twitter @notsosternlib

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Filed under City/town, Library School Career Center, MLIS Students, Northeastern US, Urban area

Library School Career Center: Drexel University iSchool

Here is this week’s installment of the Library School Career Center feature, which is presented in partnership with the folks from the blog Hack Library School.  If you’re interested in library education, or in new ideas and the future of the profession, you should check it out.  


Jennifer Lally

 

This interview is with Jennifer Lally, Event & Career Services Manager, Drexel University, The iSchool, College of Information Science & Technology. Jennifer Lally plans all the events for the college and manages a jobs page on the iSchool’s website, where she posts weekly full-time and part-time jobs that pertain to iSchool students.  Jennifer works with employers interested in hiring iSchool students, by setting up information sessions, webinars and field trips.  She also works with student groups helping them plan events.

Career Center Information

Who staffs the career center?  Please talk a little about how it is managed and run.

We do not have a “career center” per se; I am the only person in the iSchool’s office that deals with career services.  Drexel University as a whole has the Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC) where career services are offered to ALL Drexel students.  Each college is assigned someone from the SCDC to work with our students.  The iSchool at Drexel’s key feature is the job board we keep where any jobs received are sent to an email address where they are then opened and posted onto our website.  If students have career services questions, they stop in, call or email me.  I field the questions they have and decide which department they should speak to.  I am basically the liaison to all career services questions, I field the questions and then send them to the appropriate department/person.

We want the students to understand the resources we have available so we include a few career services slides in our mandatory online/on-campus orientation presentation in the beginning of each quarter.  We have a weekly e-newsletter, “The iSchool Weekly Digest” where announcements are sent out every Tuesday and we also have an announcements section in Blackboard Learn where I can post upcoming information sessions, networking events, internships, etc.  We have Graduate Peer Mentors who are available to speak to prospective and new library science students.  The Alumni Association also manages an Alumni Peer Mentoring Program, so students can sign up and find a mentor.  Students may schedule appointments with Ken Bohrer, Graduate co-op coordinator at the SCDC to talk about career questions, resume and cover letter review.  I also help the student chapters advertise the events they plan, which consist of information sessions, field trips, webinars, tours, networking events, resume review events.

Are there “career experts” on staff?  What are their credentials?

We have faculty mentors and we list on our website their specialty areas so students can contact them with questions.

Does the career center provide any of the following:

(If I do not directly provide this service, a department on campus does)

√ Job Listings   √ Resume/CV Review   √ Help writing cover letters
√ Literature/articles   √ Interview Practice   √ General career coaching
√ Networking events (virtual or in-person)
√ Other: We participate and help promote events sponsored by the student groups of professional library associations.

Do you provide in-person services?

√ Appointments (Ken Bohrer does at the SCDC)
√ Speakers, or programs that present experts
√ Mixers or other networking events
√ Job Fairs (*The SCDC hosts 2 big career fairs a year one in October and one in April and I have an event every year after the October career fair inviting all employers who hire iSchool students and invite them to a private reception where students can speak to them one on one.)
√ Drop-in career center:  Students can stop in anytime from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Do you provide online services?

(If I do not personally do it, the Marketing team promotes on Facebook and Twitter; The student groups have webcasted events, I advertise in the e-newsletter)
√ Website with resources
√ Webinars   √ Podcasts   √ Twitter: @ischoolatDrexel
√ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ischoolatdrexel   √ Newsletter
√ Other: Blackboard announcements section.

What do you think is the best way for students to use the career center?

To read the weekly e-newsletter that goes out every week, to join a student group and keep an eye on the iSchools job board.

May alumni use career center resources?

Yes, the jobs website is open to the public, so anyone can view it.  They can also contact the Career Services Office in the Department of Alumni Relations.

Are there any charges for services?  

No

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using the career center?

Students that pay attention to the announcements and job board and become involved in the student groups are more likely to get an internship and gain the experience they need to get a job after graduation.

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

No

iSchool Alumni GardenDrexel iSchool: Bridge MagazineApril 25, 2011

Students’ Career Paths

Can you share any statistics about employment rates after graduation?

Library Journal 2012 Placements & Salaries results.

Can you talk a little bit about the school’s approach to internships, practicums and/or volunteering?  

We post all internships, practicums and volunteer projects on our job board and will highlight specific ones in our weekly e-newsletter.  We encourage students to take the practicum after they have 24 credits to help build their job portfolio and to become involved if they do not have any prior library experiences.

Does the school have a stated approach or policy on helping students to find careers?

No

Does the school have any relationships with organizations that offer fellowships or other post-graduate opportunities?

Yes, we received announcements like these from faculty members and staff on the student services team.

Rush Building at Night

Demographics

How many students in the library school?

We have 470 students currently enrolled in the library science program this winter quarter.

What degree(s) do you offer?

www.ischool.drexel.edu/PS/GraduatePrograms

Is it ALA accredited?

Yes

What are the entrance requirements?

www.ischool.drexel.edu/PS/GraduatePrograms/Admissions

When was the library school founded?

1892

Where are you?

√ Northeastern US

Where are you?

√ City/town


Brianna Marshall

This interview was conducted by Brianna Marshall is a second year dual-degree Master of Library Science and Master of Information Science student at Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science. She is Managing Editor for Hack Library School and a 2012-2013 HASTAC scholar. Learn more about Brianna through her blog and portfolio or by following her on Twitter @notsosternlib

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Filed under City/town, Library School Career Center, MLIS Students, Northeastern US, Web/Computer Services

Researcher’s Corner: Comparative Employability of ALA and CILIP Accredited Degrees

Let’s think internationally today.  Dana Hamlin (née Goblaskas) wrote a wonderful article for the Library Student Journal (hey students, why not try to get that term paper published?), entitled:

Assessing the Transferability of Library and Information Science (LIS) Degrees Accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Library Student Journal, 2012, Feb.

Ms. Hamlin was kind enough to summarize some of her key points here for us today.  I think it’s a fascinating topic.  As the world gets smaller, and new grads are encouraged to move in order to find work, it becomes more useful to understand the way degrees are really perceived.  Library Student Journal is open-access, so if you want to read more you should be able to click above and get the full text of her in-depth original article.


The Backstory

When I was first considering library school, I had my heart set on a program in London. As a lifelong Anglophile this seemed like the perfect choice, and I was excited about what networking opportunities and possible jobs might come about from my attending school in the UK. Knowing that the ALA accredits library schools in the US, I did some research to see if the UK had something similar and came across CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. CILIP’s webpage about overseas qualifications explained that, due to a reciprocal agreement, libraries in the UK recognize ALA-accredited degrees, and that Master’s degrees accredited by CILIP are similarly recognized in the US. I figured I was sorted until a nagging feeling made me check ALA’s website, and sure enough there was no mention of any reciprocal agreement. Instead, ALA just recommends that holders of international LIS degrees have their credentials checked by an independent agency.

This discrepancy made me think twice about going to library school overseas, since I didn’t want to risk being considered under-qualified in the US if I couldn’t get a job in the UK. I ended up getting my MLS here in the States, but the quandary of cross-Atlantic credentials stayed in my mind. When it came time to think of a topic for my final research project in library school, I decided to look into how transferable LIS degrees from either side of the Atlantic (including Canada, since the ALA accredits seven programs there) really are.

Methodology

First, I compared the core competencies of librarianship as defined by each accrediting body, as well as the core curricula from all ALA– and CILIP– accredited programs, in order to determine the similarity of the knowledge base expected of LIS graduates in the US, Canada, and the UK. The latter step involved collecting data about required courses or modules from the websites of every accredited (as of August 2011) LIS program listed by ALA and CILIP.

Second, I developed and distributed two surveys. One was geared toward LIS graduates of ALA- and CILIP-accredited programs, and the second was intended for library employers in the US, UK, and Canada. Through these surveys I hoped to find out a) a rough percentage of how many LIS graduates were able to successfully use their credentials to gain employment overseas, b) how happy – or unhappy – managers were with any international hires they had made, and c) what, if any, knowledge gaps existed between graduates of ALA-accredited programs and those with CILIP-accredited degrees.

Comparison Findings

A comparison of the core competencies of ALA and CILIP showed that the two organizations hold very similar expectations for graduates of their accredited programs. Though presented in two visually distinct ways and employing slightly different language, ALA’s Core Competencies and CILIP‘s Body of Professional Knowledge (BPK) outlined essentially the same knowledge base that is expected of new members of the profession. The only major difference was that the ALA expects LIS graduates to have knowledge of the history of librarianship; the BPK did not address this topic.

Note: In the year-and-a-half since I completed this research project, CILIP has updated their BPK to a new model called the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB), which can be viewed here. This new PKSB lays out CILIP’s core competencies in a more direct and specific manner than the BPK did, but apart from a few additions, the competencies appear to be fundamentally the same.

Although the core competencies are very similar, a divergence occurs between what classes are required (as of August 2011) in ALA-accredited programs and those accredited by CILIP:

ALA v CILIP figure1

ALA- and CILIP-accredited programs also differed in whether or not they required field experience/internships and dissertations/research projects:

ALA v. CILIP figure2

From the data shown in the figure above, it can be presumed that CILIP-accredited programs place significantly greater emphasis on practical experience in the field than programs accredited by the ALA do. In fact, nearly half (46.67%) of CILIP-accredited programs require that applicants have previous related work experience before they can be admitted. Thus it can be argued that graduates of CILIP-accredited programs enter the job market with more hands-on knowledge of the field. However, since the previous work experience of graduates with ALA credentials is unknown and therefore not included in the data, this argument is not thoroughly supported.

Another assumption from the data in the figure above is that CILIP-accredited programs are more academically rigorous than those accredited by the ALA, since 100% of Master’s-level programs in the UK require dissertations of 15,000 words or more. It is noteworthy to mention that students in CILIP-accredited programs who do not complete a dissertation still graduate with what is called a Postgraduate Diploma, or PG Dip, and are still considered by CILIP to be professionally qualified. The PG Dip is not recognized by the ALA as equivalent to an ALA-accredited Master’s degree, even though graduates of most ALA-accredited Master’s programs are not required to complete a dissertation and are therefore earning the CILIP equivalent of a PG Dip.

Survey Findings

From the data gathered in the survey geared toward employers, it can be inferred that employers who hire employees with foreign credentials tend to be satisfied with the speed with which those employees adjust to working overseas, and no major gaps seem to exist in core areas of the professional knowledge base. However, the data from this survey may be biased due to the low number of respondents (13), and unequal representation of employers from varying types of libraries or the countries represented.

The data gathered in the second survey geared toward LIS graduates suggests that graduates of ALA-accredited programs are more successful at acquiring jobs overseas in the UK than CILIP-accredited graduates are in the US or Canada; roughly 81% of respondents with ALA credentials who applied for library jobs in the UK reported being successful, compared to approximately 35% of respondents with CILIP credentials who applied for jobs in the US or Canada. However, according to the data, this assumption is not due to the issue of foreign credentialing.

While conducting these surveys, I also received some interesting comments via email. Three self-identified American citizens wrote to tell me about how they had earned LIS degrees in the UK, only to return to the US and find that libraries would not hire them due to their CILIP credentials. One commented that library administrators told him that “non-ALA degrees would not even be considered, regardless of [the] reciprocity which CILIP currently claims.” Another respondent, who identified herself as a lecturer at one of the CILIP-accredited programs in the UK, shared that a few American graduates of the program had told her that they were denied employment upon returning to the States. In contrast, two respondents with non-CILIP credentials shared that they were able to find professional jobs in the UK without any difficulty. Thus, although not reflected in the statistical survey data, it is clear that foreign credentialing is indeed an issue when it comes to professional LIS employment in the US.

Conclusion

I drew three conclusions from this study: 1) ALA and CILIP expect roughly the same of their LIS graduates, since their core competencies are so similar; 2) required courses in both ALA- and CILIP-accredited courses differ, but neither side of the Atlantic shows a greater deficiency in covering the core competencies than the other; and 3) most ALA-accredited Master’s degrees are effectively the equivalent of CILIP-accredited PG Dips, and graduates of CILIP-accredited programs are more likely to have more practical experience in the field.

If those conclusions are true, then why has it been so difficult for graduates of CILIP programs to have their credentials recognized in the US and Canada? The ALA claims to celebrate diversity, and “promotes the exchange of professional information, techniques and knowledge, as well as personnel and literature between and among libraries and individuals throughout the world” (American Library Association, 2011b, para. 1). Wouldn’t working alongside library professionals who earned their degrees from around the world be a great way to do just that?

Michael Dowling wrote in 2007 that the ALA has changed its policies to be more accommodating of foreign credentials, but that the organization hasn’t communicated this change well enough to human resource departments. However, most of the comments I received about CILIP credentials being denied in the US indicated that this problem has continued since 2007. If the ALA has indeed changed its policies, it doesn’t seem to be communicating them any better. I, for one, would like to see this question of transferability addressed more clearly by the ALA and CILIP, in hopes that more LIS students don’t complete a year or more of study and hard work only to find that their degree is effectively worthless in the country where they’d like to work.


Dana HamlinDana Hamlin (Goblaskas) is an archives collections associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She earned her MLS at Southern Connecticut State University in August 2011, and can be contacted at dgoblask@mit.edu

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Filed under Guest Posts, library research, Researcher's Corner, UK

Library School Career Center: University of Illinois

Here is this week’s installment of the Library School Career Center feature, which is presented in partnership with the folks from the blog Hack Library School.  If you’re interested in library education, or in new ideas and the future of the profession, you should check it out.  


Roy Brooks

This interview is with Roy Brooks, LIS Career Specialist at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library & Information Science. He earned his M.A. in Library & Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Career Center Information

Who staffs the career center?  Please talk a little about how it is managed and run?

At Illinois GSLIS, career services are coordinated by Roy Brooks, the LIS Career Specialist. The Career Specialist helps students figure out where they want to go professionally and how to get there.

Roy collaborates with faculty, staff, alumni, and other friends of the GSLIS program to deliver a full suite of services and programming that helps students and alumni through their career development process. Assistance can range from exploring career options to identifying deep experiential learning opportunities to salary negotiation, and beyond. GSLIS has a talented alumni base and making connections between students and alums is a primary strategy in affording students the opportunity to receive career advice from active practicing professionals in their interest areas.

Students also have access to services offered by the campus Career Center and Graduate College Career Services – both in-person and virtually and subsequently alumni have access to the University of Illinois Alumni Career Center.

Are there “career experts” on staff?  What are their credentials?

Roy Brooks has a wide range of experience working in both public and academic libraries as well as a masters degree in Library and Information Science. GSLIS also has a strong faculty, staff and alumni base that contributes to the career advising services.

Does the career center provide any of the following:

√ Job Listings   √ Resume/CV Review   √ Help writing cover letters
√ Literature/articles   √ General Career coaching   √ Networking events  (virtual or in-person)
√  Other (Please Specify): Students are also able to take advantage of the GSLIS Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. With ASB, GSLIS staff assists students in finding one-week placements at libraries and other information service settings during Spring Break. These experiential learning opportunities are very valuable when exploring career opportunities and building a professional network.

Do you provide in-person services?

√ Appointments   √ Speakers, or programs that present experts
√ Mixers or other networking events
√ Drop-in career center: As long as Roy is in his office, generally 9-5.

Do you provide online services?

√ Website with resources   √ Webinars   √ Twitter: @GSLIScareers 
√ LinkedIn
√ Other: Pinterest (new)

The careers website is in the middle of an overhaul — http://www.lis.illinois.edu/careers/explorecareers

Check back soon to see the new and improved GSLIS careers site!

Everything available to on-campus students is also available to online students. Students can call/skype or chat (GSLIScareers@gmail.com) with the Career Specialist by appointment or by “drop-in.” Evening/weekend appointments are also available for those students working full time or with busy schedules. Programs/workshops/speakers are available online and often recorded.

What do you think is the best way for students to use the career center?

Start early! It is never too early in the program to start career planning – identifying career options, learning about job search strategies, practicing application writing and interviewing techniques, getting help with networking, navigating professional organizations etc. Everyone will need help or guidance with some aspect of career development and should check in with the Career Specialist to talk about their goals in order to identify where the school may be able to help them.

May alumni use career center resources?

Yes! All resources and services are available to alums.

Are there any charges for services?

No charge!

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

Advice for job seekers: Work hard! Start early. Network. Be flexible where possible. Become involved in student and professional organizations. Find a mentor. Obtain hands on experience. Ask for help! Stay motivated and poised. Stay organized in your job search. Build your “brand.” Ask for more help!

University of Illinois Graduate School

Students’ Career Paths

Can you share any statistics about employment rates after graduation?

We survey recent graduates about their job seeking experience. The vast majority find positions shortly after graduation, but rates vary depending on geographic scope and area of specialization.

Can you talk a little bit about the school’s approach to internships, practicums and/or volunteering?

We recognize the importance of gaining hands on experience that complements a student’s academic program and highly encourage students to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. The GSLIS Practicum Coordinator works with students to identify and secure experiences.

Does the school have a stated approach or policy on helping students to find careers?

We aim to provide the most comprehensive services possible. If you need help, we will find a way to help you – even if that is outside of our advertised suite of services. We understand that you come to our program seeking a rewarding career and we want to do all we can to help you realize your goals.

Are there any notable graduates?

Too many to list!

Demographics

How many students in the library school?

665 students in the MS program

What degree(s) do you offer?

MS LIS, CAS LIS, PhD LIS

More on Programs of Study: http://www.lis.illinois.edu/academics/programs

Is it ALA accredited?

Yes.

What are the entrance requirements?

Bachelors degree, 3.0/4.0 in the last two years of undergrad study, resume, essays, three letters of reference.

More details at: http://www.lis.illinois.edu/admissions/requirements/ms

When was the library school founded?

1893

Where are you?

√ Midwestern US

Where are you?

√ City/town

Anything else you’d like to share that’s unique about the school?

Our programs include the longest running LIS doctoral program, an award winning online education program, LEEP, and robust continuing education opportunities. Our students benefit from ample engagement with the vast resources of the University of Illinois library.


Nicole HelregelThis interview was conducted by Nicole Helregel, a second-year master’s student at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library & Information Science. She works as a graduate assistant at the Funk ACES Library She hopes to one day become a reference or outreach librarian at an academic library. Find her on twitter (@nhelregel) and follow her blog here.

 

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Filed under City/town, Library School Career Center, Midwestern US, MLIS Students

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!  

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

Library School Career Center: San Jose State University

Here is this week’s installment of the Library School Career Center feature, which is presented in partnership with the folks from the blog Hack Library School.  If you’re interested in library education, or in new ideas and the future of the profession, you should check it out.  I’m particularly interested in this one because SJSU is my alma mater, and I know first hand that our career center is an excellent resource.  


This interview is with Jill Klees, Career Consultant/Employment Specialist in the Career Center at San Jose State University. Jill has worked in the career coaching field for over 15 years in both academic and corporate environments. She directly supports the School of Library & Information Science as well as the College of Engineering and Department of Computer Science. Jill is highly skilled in resume writing and helping her clients determine their unique talents and strengths. She holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University and a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavioral from the University of San Francisco. Previous to her role at SJSU, Jill gained extensive experience working in start-up, non-profit and technology-based industries providing career-related resources within the Silicon Valley marketplace. As you might expect, SJSU SLIS’ extensive library-specific Career Development Resources are available online.

SJSU career center homepage

Career Center Information

Who staffs the career center? Please talk a little about how it is managed and run.

Our School, in collaboration with the San Jose State University Career Center, develops and manages career resources and services for our graduate students, alumni, and the Library and Information Science (LIS) community. Career Counselor Jill Klees is our School’s Career Center liaison, and she works closely with SJSU SLIS faculty member Jane Fisher in developing career resources that are customized to the library and information science field.

We have an entire section of our website (http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/career-development) that is dedicated to career development. Students can access tools to help them pinpoint their career direction. They can view resume and cover letter directions and samples. They can get tips for conducting a successful job search, including how to use social media in their job search. They can learn how to create a career e-portfolio for sharing with future employers. The website has a wealth of valuable information about careers, and all the career resources are freely available to the public.

Our students also have access to SpartaJobs, which is an active list of job openings. They can contact us for individualized career guidance, such as resume and cover letter assistance. We meet with students – typically this is done virtually – to provide career guidance as well as very specific suggestions for improving resumes and tailoring cover letters.

We also send a monthly e-newsletter to students and alumni that includes job search tips, hot jobs, and career resources. Employers contact our Career Center looking for information professionals to fill open positions. We include these exciting job opportunities in the newsletter – sometimes they haven’t yet been advertised to the public.

We facilitate virtual career development workshops on a variety of career topics, and we offer bi-monthly virtual Career Colloquia featuring industry professionals who share tips, resources, and ideas for employment in the LIS field. For example, we recently, produced an employer meet-and-greet that featured the hiring managers at Credo Reference. Students were able to ask questions and learn what this employer, in particular, looks for in applicants. All workshops and colloquia are held online via web conferencing, allowing for real-time interaction. They are also recorded and available on-demand as webcasts and podcasts. Our Career Colloquia are open to the public for free.

Are there “career experts” on staff? What are their credentials?

Yes, both Jill Klees and Jane Fisher have a solid background in career development.

Jill is a career expert with over 15 years of experience in the career development field. She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and is certified to administer numerous career assessment tools.

Jane has worked in the LIS field for more than 30 years. She has been a part of the industry as it has evolved, giving her a unique perspective on how to be successful in the field and conduct a job search.

Does the career center provide any of the following:

√ Job Listings – Job listing sites and other job search resources are freely available on our School’s website. These resources are open to everyone. Students also have access to SpartaJobs, the San Jose State University campus job and internship database.

 √ Resume/CV Review, writing cover letters – The SLIS Career Development website has information and examples for effective resumes, CVs and cover letters. Both Jill Klees and Jane Fisher are available to critique final draft versions of each of these documents and provide detailed feedback to students.

√ Literature/articles – Yes, the SLIS Career Development website provides links to many relevant articles, job sites, blog posts, and journals.

 √ Interview Practice – Interviewing tips and strategies, including practice questions, are available on the SLIS Career Development website. There is also a link to an online mock interviewing tool free to SJSU students called Perfect Interview where students can record themselves practicing an interview. Jill Klees also offers mock phone interview practice as part of her services for SLIS students.

√  Networking events (virtual or in-person) – Our School understands the critical role networking plays in career development. We provide numerous opportunities for networking:

  1. Student chapters: All new MLIS students receive a complimentary one-year membership in their preferred professional association, including the American Library Association, Special Libraries Association, American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T), and ARMA International. Students also benefit from the opportunity to participate in our School’s active professional association student chapters. Students interact with their peers and professional leaders through virtual networking events, workshops, and conferences, as well as blogs and online discussion forums. Our student chapters have won numerous awards recognizing their excellence and their innovative approach to serving online students, including the 2009 and 2010 ALA and the 2012 ASIS&T Student Chapter of the Year. Current SLIS students can also join the combined student and alumni group, SLISConnect.

  2. Professional Conferences: SJSU SLIS participates in professional conferences and meetings held all over the U.S., Canada, and internationally. We host networking receptions at many conferences, and our students and alumni are always welcomed. It’s a great way to reconnect with colleagues and make new contacts.  A list of upcoming conferences we plan to participate in can be found on our website.  

  3. Internships: Student interns gain real-world experience for building their resumes and make new contacts with potential future employers. SJSU SLIS students have the option to complete an on-site internship located near their home. Or they can complete a virtual internship, where they interact with a host organization that may be located nearby or across the continent. Our expansive internship program gives students the opportunity to engage in exciting learning opportunities that fit their career aspirations, regardless of where they live. We offer more than 200 virtual and physical internship opportunities each semester.

  4. Career Colloquia: Our Career Colloquia feature guest speakers, who include information professionals and hiring managers from a variety of professional settings.  They discuss their work, the skills and experiences required to pursue a similar career pathway, and recruitment opportunities. If students have questions, they are often able to contact speakers directly by email and phone.

  5. Student Assistantships: Many SLIS students work as student assistants, helping SJSU SLIS faculty and staff while gaining hands-on experience with research and professional projects. Student assistantship opportunities vary each semester. Student assistantships are paid part-time positions.

Do you provide in-person services?

√  Appointments – In-person appointments are available. Since our School is 100% online, most appointments are conducted via email, web conferencing, phone, and instant message. If students or alumni live close to campus, they can choose an in-person, on-campus appointment.

√  Speakers, or programs that present experts –Our Career Colloquia series is held fully online, and all sessions are recorded and made available on the SLIS website.

√   Mixers or other networking events- Many of our student chapters host in-person social gatherings/mixers and set up tours of their local libraries. Our School also hosts networking receptions at professional conferences where current students can mingle with alumni, faculty, and friends of SLIS.

√  Drop-in career center – Jill Klees is available for drop-in consulting for students who are close to the San Jose campus and the SJSU Career Center.

Do you provide online services?

SJSU SLIS offers a wealth of online career development resources and services. These resources include self-assessment quizzes to help you pinpoint your career direction, résumé workshops, job search tips and strategies, job listings, and career guidance. All of our career resources are freely available 24/7 on our website: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/career-development

√  Website with resources – updated regularly

√  Blog – new posts once month

√   Webinars – monthly Career Colloquia and Career Workshops

√  Podcasts – Career Colloquia are made available as podcasts and webcasts for access after the live program.

√  Twitter – We live tweet during our Career Colloquia. We also share career-related article links and job search tips.

√   LinkedIn – We post upcoming SJSU SLIS career events to LinkedIn library and information science discussion groups such as LIS Career Options, Job Skills for Future Librarians, and Librarianship Job Search.

√   Facebook – We share career-related article links and job search tips on our SJSU SLIS Facebook page.

√  Newsletter – emailed monthly to all students.

√  Other – We have a board on Pinterest dedicated to careers. Follow our “Explore Career Paths” board.

What do you think is the best way for students to use the career center?

We recommend that students use our career development resources and services “early and often”. By that we mean that students should think about and focus on their professional career paths throughout their time in our graduate program. Don’t wait until you are graduating. Begin in your first semester by exploring the career development site, and using the tools to help determine how your course choices can help you pursue your future career ambitions. Learn how to conduct informational interviews and to network while you are in school. Take advantage of opportunities to increase your understanding of traditional and non-traditional work settings where you can use skills learned at SLIS. We encourage students to use the resources and to contact us if they need help, have questions, or just want to learn more about the possible career paths open to SLIS graduates. We want students to be successful!

 May alumni use career center resources?

Alumni may freely use all of the resources publicly available on the website and participate in all Career Colloquia. SJSU SLIS is also offering one-year free paid memberships in the SJSU Career Center for all graduating students.

Are there any charges for services?

The SLIS Career Development resources, all Career Colloquia, and recordings of career workshops are freely available on the website. The SpartaJobs database and individual career consulting and materials review is free to current SLIS students.

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using the career center?

We receive emails from students who credit our career resources for helping them land professional jobs. Our students are also very enthusiastic about our career development web pages. Here are a few quotes from students:

  • “This site is so incredible!”
  • “This is by far one of the best, if not the best, resources for students that I have seen.”
  • “I would recommend to anyone in need of career advice, not just SLIS students.”
  • “The information is tailored to SLIS making it a one stop guide.”

To learn more about how our career development resources have helped SLIS students find jobs, we invite you to read about Sarah Naumann, who credits our School’s career resources for helping her land a job as a reference librarian.  You can also read about Sam Leif, who consulted with our Career Counselor and used our career resources to land a job as a librarian at an academic library just two months after earning her MLIS degree at our School.

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

In addition to our career development resources, the MLIS curriculum is constantly evaluated and updated to align with today’s job market and emerging trends in the library and information science field. As a Spring 2012 graduate put it, “I entered the job market with usable skills.”

It’s also very important for students to think broadly and keep an open mind when job searching. The MLIS skillset is transferable to a wide range of organizations and industries. SJSU SLIS graduates work at medical facilities, law firms, public libraries, academic libraries, high-tech companies, schools, and more. Their business cards carry titles such as Information Architect, Usability Analyst, Librarian, and Web Technologist – just to name a few exciting job titles.

SJSU Career Center

Students’ Career Paths

Can you share any statistics about employment rates after graduation?

We recently conducted a survey asking our recent graduates about their employment status after graduation. Eighty-six percent of the Spring 2012 graduating class who responded to the survey are working either full time or part time. Of those who reported they had a job, 96% got their job less than 6 months after graduating. Only a small percentage took longer than 6 months to find a job. This is due to a recovering economy and the diversity of the SLIS curriculum, which prepares students for opportunities in a variety of information environments. More information: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/about-slis/mlis-program-performance#alumni

Can you talk a little bit about the school’s approach to internships, practicums and/or volunteering?

While internships are not required, we strongly encourage all students to take advantage of their time at SLIS by registering for one (or more) of the approximately 200 physical and virtual internships offered each semester.  Even if you are currently working in an information center or library, doing an internship in a different work environment provides you with new experience and information – and allows you to “test” or “practice” working in a new environment without much risk. Many graduates have stated that internships were the most valuable part of their master’s education, because internships lead to expanded professional networks and also often provide the critical lead to that first job.

Does the school have a stated approach or policy on helping students to find careers?

Our approach is to provide excellent career resources and services to our students, and to encourage students to take advantage of those resources “early and often” during their graduate program.

We believe it is an integral part of our School’s mission to provide relevant and comprehensive career resources, and our School supports these resources by assigning faculty and staff to develop and maintain them. While we strongly encourage students to make use of our career resources and services, it is a student’s individual choice whether or not to use the career resources.

Does the school have any relationships with organizations that offer fellowships or other post-graduate opportunities?

Not at this time.

Are there any notable graduates?

Our School’s alumni are recognized leaders in our profession.  To learn more about some of their accomplishments, we encourage you to:

  • Read about our alumni who have been recognized as Library Journal Movers & Shakers
  • Read about the career successes of some of our alumni
  • Read about our alumni who have received awards from our School (click on any name to read about a past award recipient).
  • Read about our alumni who are making a difference in our profession, by browsing stories about our alumni in our Community Profiles

SJSU career center logo

Demographics

How many students in the library school?

All of our students are online students, who may live across town or on the other side of the globe, providing a diversity of perspectives that enrich each student’s learning journey.  We have approximately 2,000 students, who live in 47 U.S. states and nearly 20 countries. For more information regarding our students, check out our MLIS Student Profile web page: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/mlis-student-profiles

What degree(s) do you offer?

The San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science offers two fully online master’s degrees, a fully online certificate program, and a doctoral program:

SJSU SLIS is a recognized leader in online learning and is a member of the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) and Quality Matters. In 2012, the School’s online programs received a score in the exemplary range according to the Sloan-C Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Education Programs.

Is it ALA accredited?

Our MLIS program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). The program has been continuously accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) since 1969. Our Teacher Librarianship program is also accredited by NCATE. In addition, San Jose State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

What are the entrance requirements?

Prospective students can apply for admission in the fall or spring semester. Please check our website for current application deadlines.

Admission Requirements:

  • A Bachelor’s degree from any regionally accredited institution in any discipline with an overall GPA of at least 3.0
  • A general understanding of computers and technology
  • The School requires that all students have computer access
  •  International Applicants must have a TOEFL score of 600 (paper version) or 250 (computer version) or 100 (Internet-based)

We do not require a GMAT or GRE test, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, or a résumé.

When was the library school founded?

The first Library Science course was taught at San Jose State University in 1928, and SJSU SLIS first started offering a graduate degree in Library Science in 1954. The MLIS program has been continuously accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) since 1969.

Where are you?

√  Other: Online

Where are you?

√  Other: Online

 Anything else you’d like to share that’s unique about the school?

All of our School’s resources are focused on supporting online students, including our career counseling, academic advising, and technology support team.

Our instructors use emerging technology in their MLIS courses to enrich student learning in our engaging and interactive online environment. They exchange ideas and perspectives with students via live web conferences, recorded audio lectures, screencasts, emails, online discussion forums, blogs, instant messaging, and social networks. The multimedia format enlivens the learning experience while introducing students to the same types of tools they’ll use in their future careers. 


Madeleine Mitchell

This interview was conducted by Madeleine Mitchell, who  is currently in her final semester San Jose State University’s School of Library Science. With a major job hunt quickly approaching, she can honestly say that the Career Center is one of the SLIS program’s best and most comprehensive resources, and she is very grateful to have access to it.

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Filed under Library School Career Center, MLIS Students, Web/Computer Services

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!  

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