Tag Archives: Special collections

Personal Professional Websites: Allie “Book Historia” Alvis

Allie Alvis is a book historian, and rare book cataloguer at DC antiquarian bookseller Typer Punch Matrix. They are the former special collections reference librarian of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, and hold masters degrees in book history and information management from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow. They are passionate about bibliographic communication, and maintain popular social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (among others) as Book Historia.

What is your site’s URL?

https://www.bookhistoria.com/

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To act as a hybrid dynamic CV and central point of contact, with a place for miscellaneous pieces of writing not published elsewhere

Are you actively looking for work? 

√ Yes, for speaking gigs

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

Yes! I’ve received a number of media inquiries and speaking opportunities through the “contact” portion of my website, and orders for book supports through my links. 

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Resume or CV

√ Descriptions or list of services you provide

√ Blog about professional topics

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations

√ References, testimonials and/or press

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Email

√ Contact Form 

√ Twitter 

√ Instagram 

√ TikTok

√ Tumblr

√ YouTube 

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last month 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

Generally whenever I give a new presentation or get new press, or get around to writing a blog post; frequency depends on how often those things occur

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ Squarespace 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ Other: $144/year

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ Yes 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes 

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ Other: Depends on if I post a new blog; 0-50 if no new posts, 51-250 if I’m promoting a post on social media

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All!

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

Since I’m kind of a bibliographic “public figure,” there’s not much on my website that isn’t on my various social media presences, so I don’t feel any less comfortable having info there

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

That’s a hard one – I’m able to have an (I think) attractive website because I’m not *so* early career that I can afford to pay for it. If you don’t have the money to spend, Tumblr or WordPress can be a sort-of alternative.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

I’ve been thinking about good web design since I had a LiveJournal back in 2002, so I’m a bit picky! But there are lots of nice templates out there that you can use as-is with very little additional work.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Rare Book Cataloguer

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Other: Rare book seller, formerly (and likely future) special collections library

If you work for someone besides yourself, does that organization have rules about what you can share on your personal site?

√ Yes 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Eastern US  

Anything else you’d like to say, to me or to the readers?

This is a cool project, good luck! 🙂


Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website (kind of an awkward phrase) that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

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Filed under Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Personal Professional Websites

I Make Sure That I Qualify, First and Foremost

This is a repost of a survey originally posted January 7, 2013.  A follow-up interview will be posted shortly.

EDITED 6/13/2013: This interviewee has asked that I change her non-anonymous interview to anonymous.

This interview is with  a recent graduate, who is currently working part time scanning materials and doing reference work, among other things, for an academic library. This person has been job hunting for six months to a year, looking in academic libraries, archives, special libraries, and museums at the following levels: Entry level and Requiring at least two years of experience. Here is how this new grad describes her internship/volunteering experience:

I did a little volunteering at my current part time job before I was hired on. I live in a rural area and the other libraries in the area don’t take volunteers anymore so I’m very limited in terms of internship/volunteer experience.

Although currently in a city/town in the Western US, this person is willing to move anywhere. 

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

1) That I qualify. There are a lot of mis-leading job titles out there.

2) What kind of duties will I be performing. At this point, I’m not really picky and will do almost anything in the archival field that I qualify for.

3) Location. I would love to stay on the west coast but I’m not picky and will apply for most anything. I’m trying to stay away from the East coast just because there are a lot more library schools out there.

Where do you look for open positions?

I have a whole bundle of RSS fields that someone posted in my school’s fb group. It covers  both library and archival positions

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

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I make sure that I qualify first and foremost for most the qualities they’re looking for. Then if I feel I can write a good cover letter to put that all in, I do. Then I tailor my resume. Once that’s all good I either send it to the email address listed or I go through the application process. Which to be honest, with some companies is so damn repetitive to what I have listed on my resume! Its such a waste of time. I usually spend about 2 hours on average.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

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

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

Be honest. If I’m going to be doing just a bunch of processing, say that! For the most part, the employers I’ve talked to have been honest and upfront about what the job will entail but there have been a few who have not and it has been frustrating

Also don’t list a bunch of qualifications that may or may not be what you want. It’s really disheartening to see a job that I could potentially be good at, only to see they want some crazy expectations like major coding when the job description doesn’t really lend itself to being that.

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

Don’t be repetitive! If you ask us to upload our resume and cover letter, don’t ask us to retype that information in an application field!

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Unfortunately, a lot of it is networking and knowing the right people.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Special, Western US

I Make Sure That I Qualify, First and Foremost

EDITED 6/13/2013: This interviewee has asked that I change her non-anonymous interview to anonymous.

This interview is with  a recent graduate, who is currently working part time scanning materials and doing reference work, among other things, for an academic library. This person has been job hunting for six months to a year, looking in academic libraries, archives, special libraries, and museums at the following levels: Entry level and Requiring at least two years of experience. Here is how this new grad describes her internship/volunteering experience:

I did a little volunteering at my current part time job before I was hired on. I live in a rural area and the other libraries in the area don’t take volunteers anymore so I’m very limited in terms of internship/volunteer experience.

Although currently in a city/town in the Western US, this person is willing to move anywhere. 

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

1) That I qualify. There are a lot of mis-leading job titles out there.

2) What kind of duties will I be performing. At this point, I’m not really picky and will do almost anything in the archival field that I qualify for.

3) Location. I would love to stay on the west coast but I’m not picky and will apply for most anything. I’m trying to stay away from the East coast just because there are a lot more library schools out there.

Where do you look for open positions?

I have a whole bundle of RSS fields that someone posted in my school’s fb group. It covers  both library and archival positions

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

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I make sure that I qualify first and foremost for most the qualities they’re looking for. Then if I feel I can write a good cover letter to put that all in, I do. Then I tailor my resume. Once that’s all good I either send it to the email address listed or I go through the application process. Which to be honest, with some companies is so damn repetitive to what I have listed on my resume! Its such a waste of time. I usually spend about 2 hours on average.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

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

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

Be honest. If I’m going to be doing just a bunch of processing, say that! For the most part, the employers I’ve talked to have been honest and upfront about what the job will entail but there have been a few who have not and it has been frustrating

Also don’t list a bunch of qualifications that may or may not be what you want. It’s really disheartening to see a job that I could potentially be good at, only to see they want some crazy expectations like major coding when the job description doesn’t really lend itself to being that.

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

Don’t be repetitive! If you ask us to upload our resume and cover letter, don’t ask us to retype that information in an application field!

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Unfortunately, a lot of it is networking and knowing the right people.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

1 Comment

Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Special, Western US

Researcher’s Corner: Education, Training and Recruitment of Special Collections Librarians

This post presents research by Kelli Hansen. As in Eamon Tewell’s research on jobs for Academic librarians, you’ll see that she finds that entry-level positions are scarce.  However, she also identifies characteristics and skills that candidates can cultivate to improve their chances, and I’m intrigued by her findings about the increasingly multi-disciplinary nature of these jobs.  I hope you enjoy this post, because I’m very proud to be able to share it with you.


This project started as a student paper in Michael Laird’s class on Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Texas at Austin in spring 2009.  Some of our readings raised questions about employers’ expectations of new special collections librarians.  I was preparing to start my job search at the time, and I wondered whether some of the answers could be found in position advertisements.  Here’s what I found out.

Methodology

For the purposes of this study, I was only interested in job ads for entry-level special collections librarians.  It was difficult to define entry-level because very few job advertisements suitable for recent graduates openly represent themselves as such.  Unexpectedly, it was also difficult to define special collections and even librarian.

In the end, my criteria for including advertisements were as follows:

  1. One year of experience or less; or, length of experience not specified; and
  2. No supervisory duties over other professionals; and
  3. Position assigned to special collections or rare books (with at least 50% of job duties in one of those areas); and
  4. Title and requirements that reflect training in librarianship (as opposed to training in archives, conservation, museum studies, or digitization).

I did not keep track of a total population of job advertisements because I did not intend to estimate the percentage of jobs available to new graduates.  I only wanted a snapshot of the skills and experience employers were looking for in entry-level applicants, and the responsibilities and environments recent graduates could expect in their first positions.

I had a hard time locating advertisements, primarily because of the ephemeral nature of online postings. Eighty-eight position announcements, culled from various print and electronic sources from 2004 to 2009, fit my criteria and were included in the study.

Findings

After I collected all of the advertisements, I broke down statistics for features like salary, professional status, geographic location, and institution type.  I found that the largest number of positions was in the Northeast.  The median salary was $40,000, and academic or research environments made up the overwhelming majority.  Over 75 percent required a single master’s degree – either the MLS or a master’s degree in a subject area.  About 30 percent of the advertisements specified that another advanced degree, in addition to the library degree, was preferred.  Almost half of the advertisements required the candidate to have some experience (of an unspecified amount), and over seventy percent of the advertisements stated that experience of some sort was preferred.

In order to measure more subjective requirements, I also did some basic text analysis on the qualifications sections for common keywords, which I classified into broad categories based on the white paper Competencies for Special Collections Professionals.   In the qualifications, keywords varied widely.  The most common single keywords were history, cataloging, and technology.  The competencies with the highest frequencies were Teaching and Research and Public Service, followed closely by Cataloging and Processing and Information Technology.

When I analyzed the duties sections of the advertisements in the same way, there was much less variation.  The most frequent single keywords for duties were reference and research.  The category with the highest frequency was Teaching and Research, appearing in 73 percent of advertisements.  However, the following categories all appeared in 72 percent of the advertisements: Management and Administration, Promotion and Outreach, and Public Service.  Cataloging and Processing was represented in 70 percent of advertisements.

Conclusions

To summarize very briefly, I reached some of the following conclusions:

  1.  Entry-level positions in special collections are scarce, and they aren’t so entry-level.  Like many library jobs, there’s an overwhelming preference for candidates with some prior experience.  Nearly a third of hiring institutions also prefer candidates with additional graduate education.  These facts indicate a very competitive job market.
  2. The job advertisements reflect overlap among libraries, archives, and museums.  There has been much talk about library-archive-museum convergence over the past decade, and the job announcements confirm that idea.  It may be useful for job seekers to cultivate skills and experience in all three areas.
  3. Institutions seem to be looking for candidates who are both generalists and specialists.  Most of the skills mentioned in the advertisements – reference, research support, instruction, cataloging – apply to librarians of all stripes.  However, the position responsibilities and requirements suggest that aspiring special collections librarians need to combine comprehensive library skills with specialized knowledge of subject areas and materials.

The Future

The full version of this research was published in RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage in September 2011.  I only touched on the surface with this article, and there’s still a lot to find out about hiring and training librarians in this field.  Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.


Kelli Bruce Hansen earned her MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2010, and her MA in art history from the University of Missouri in 2003. Currently, she’s a librarian in the department of Special Collections and Rare Books at the University of Missouri Libraries, where she focuses on instruction, outreach, and reference. She can be contacted at hansenkb@missouri.edu.

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Filed under Archives, Northeastern US, Researcher's Corner