So you’ve got an interview for a library job…

June 1, 2012

Congratulations! You’ve got an interview for a library-job! Here are 5 ideas to float around as you prepare for your interview. Please share others, too! Also – check out several of the job-search related posts on Hack Library School.

  1. Be Yourself. Dress nicely but yet wear something you’re comfortable wearing.
  2. Ask questions. Ask about the history of the library, the community, the future plans for the library, etc. Employers like to see curiosity and excitement. They won’t think you’re stepping out of line – you’re interviewing them, too!
  3. If you’re heading into a public library, brush up on a few books from different genres. You never know when you might find yourself eating lunch or having coffee with a few patrons. They’ll be oh-so-excited (not to mention impressed) that you have read something they’ve loved!
  4. If you’re coming straight out of graduation from your MLIS or a related-degree, remember that we use jargon. If you’re being interviewed by the library board or even members of a city council, they don’t always understand that jargon. Use it wisely – again – we’re aiming to impress rather than overwhelm and confuse.
  5. Get to know the library and its community before your interview. Do some research – explore their website/catalog/Facebook. Find out as much as you can! (This will also help you formulate some questions to ask them.)

This post was inspired by a couple of amazingly intelligent librarians who recently interviewed and received job offers to some GREAT libraries! Great work! These libraries will be so thankful you accepted the positions!


Job Hunting Tips for MLIS Graduates

November 30, 2010

I listened to a webinar done by LLAMA (Library Leadership and Management Association) a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d post some of my notes in case they are helpful for anyone else.

Webinar: Job Hunting for the Recent or Future MLS Graduate
November 18, 2010
— presenter was Brian Keith — HR at University of Florida Libraries

When starting your job search:

  • Know what your salary requirements are. If you can’t afford to live off of what the job will pay, it isn’t the job for you. But it’s also wise to remember that what you’re paid will be based on your education and experience. There are a couple of surveys that could help you figure out your salary requirements — ARL Salary Survey, ALA Salary Survey for both public and academic libraries. 
  • It is tough to know how many applications to send out. The better they’re done, the more complete they are and therefore the more time you spend on them, the fewer you need to send out. However, if you can compose a well-crafted cover letter that can have minor adjustments for future job applications, you are saving yourself time. But make sure you make all the necessary adjustments. Don’t apply to a job at the Green Library and give them a letter addressed to the Yellow Library. 

The application itself:

  • CV vs Resume
    • Both are acceptable; pay attention to what the job description requires.
    • CV is usually for academic professions and can be as long and detailed as is necessary.
    • Resume is for business professions and is usually 1-2 pages.
  • Cover Letter
    • Develop and deliver your message early in the cover letter. This is your chance to shine!
    • Look back at the job description and highlight the required and preferred qualifications listed. Focus on your strongest qualifications.
    • Explain your interests or your career path or personal goals. Explain why it would be a good move for both you and the organization. 
    • If your experience isn’t library-related, explain why it is still relevant and how it improved your suitability for the job. (This can also include education and volunteer experiences)
    • This should be well-written, proofread and be 1-1.5 pages. 
  • References
    • Choose your references wisely. If the application is looking for someone with supervisory experience, your reference should be someone who knows about your skills in this area. 
    • Prepare your references by sending them an updated version of your CV or Resume, a copy of the job description and your cover letter.
  • If links and reports and other information are included in the job application or other emails you receive after being selected for an interview, know what that information says. The organization is handing you the answers to interview questions and you will be able to get a better grasp of the organization if you’re aware of it early.

The interview:

  • Be able to answer: “Why do you want this job?”
  • Show engagement, enthusiasm and leadership in librarianship
  • Remember that search committees are not necessarily skilled recruiters. You may have to ask them questions if you the questions you were asked do not cover everything you have to say. 
  • Ask questions during your interview:
    • Why is this position available?
    • What do you like best about working with this organization?
    • What are the expectations for this position?
    • What are the opportunities for advancement?
    • What are stakeholders in this organization looking for?

Those are my notes. Any additional ideas or tips?

Other helpful blog posts:

How Social Media Can Help With Your Long Distance Job Search

The Name Game

November 8, 2010

When I began my MLIS education, I took a class that had to do with Information Behavior. The behavior people use when interacting with information or the lackthereof. It could have been a fascinating class had we all not suffered from severe information overload and an instructor lacking skills to instruct. Ask if you want more details.

On the first day, we talked about what to call those people that go into the library. Are they patrons? Are they users? Are they customers? Are they students? What are they? We did not arrive at an answer that day. Now, a year later we were introduced to a new term: civilians. Are they civilians? I still don’t know…

Patrons — this word seems old-fashioned to me. It has good intentions — as patron is defined as someone who is supporting an institution, but that term just doesn’t sound right when it comes out of my mouth.
Users — this sounds like I’m describing someone who uses drugs, but it is the word I use most often because the people who walk into the library or log into the library web site** are indeed USING it.
Customers — well, we aren’t really selling anything at a library, so the word ‘customer’ (someone who buys goods and services) is kind of off-putting.
Students — yes, everyone is a student of life. However, overuse of the term may lead to confusion — and for libraries that have homework help for students (elementary, middle or high school), it could be even more complex.
Civilians — I associate this word with someone who is not in the military. When I looked it up, I found another definition: “anyone regarded by members of a profession, interest group, society, etc., as not belonging; nonprofessional; outsider” from I would hope that libraries do not consider the people who USE them to be not belonging or outsiders. That term just seems to describe the opposite of how libraries serve their communities.

**And, what about the people who access the library without going through the doors? They use the web site and download e-books or audio books and IM chat with the librarians. What are they called? I call them users. Should they be called something else?

So, I usually say user to describe someone who is using the library. It seems most appropriate, and if people give me an uncomfortable look (as in — the did you call someone a “user”?! look), I restate it by saying “library-user” to make my point clear. Because I do believe that anyone who enters the library (physically or virtually) is USING it. Some people spend more time actively searching and gathering the information they need. Others are more passive and pick up a book being held for them. It doesn’t matter — the libraries are being used by their communities. 

One more question to think about. I’ll write about this in another post soon. What do we call people who don’t come to the (physical or virtual) library? 

Other terms people mentioned when I asked on Twitter:
community member

#HackLibSchool and You

October 22, 2010

This post is a Shared Item I plan to post on a discussion board for my class — LIS 560 — Instructional and Training Strategies for Information Professionals. I figured I’d post it up here, too.
We’ve talked about Information Literacy and now we’ve seen some spectacular examples of tools and live lessons. I would like to supplement all of this with a collaborative tool designed by and for MLIS and MLS students. This tool — in essence — is attempting to assist us with our information needs!

This tool is called #HackLibSchool. If you’ve heard of Hacking The Academy (a crowdsourced digital book created in May 2010), this is something similar, but for US — MLIS students!

Here’s the long and short of it all —
It was an idea developed by Micah Vandegrift — here’s his web site — he’s a current MLIS student, too.
The objective is to fill the information gap that MLIS and MLS students find between their classes and “real life libraries”.

— So, now for the “extra info” —
Take a look at this blog post explaining #HackLibSchool. It’s an informative, stimulating post — not too long, either. Also, here is the link to the Google Document that is open for anyone and everyone to edit and add to. This past week, a wiki was created to begin organization on the doc. You can go to the wiki, but not all of the information is transferred there, yet. I encourage you to take a look at the blog post before diving into the Google Doc.

So, now that you’ve taken a look at this new collaborative tool, share your thoughts. What do you think about this as a way to provide resources for MLIS students? What kind of information that is already provided is valuable to you? What would you do different? What other resources or information would you like to see added? What did (or would) you add?

Want to see the tweets about this? Look at #libraryschool and #HackLibSchool on Twitter. There are conversations for everyone’s interests.

[please let me know if any of these links break]

Online Discussion Forums

October 6, 2010

I’m new to online discussion forums; however, this quarter, all of my classes require my participation in discussion using the boards every week. I’m used to participating in the classroom, but I haven’t mastered discussing online.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why do people write so much? You wouldn’t have time to say a 5-paragraph-essay if you were speaking in a discussion in class, so why write that much while in conversation on a discussion board? Really? Then, we all have to go and read everyone’s “essays” to find out what the thread is about before we can respond to it.

1. Read the discussion.
2. State A [singular, one, uno] point in 5-7 sentences at the most.
3. Read the discussion.

If you still have more to say, repeat these steps.
It will make everyone happy — because they will have more time to sleep at night.

Maybe they’ll even have time to bake pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to share when you’re in the same classroom.

Can anyone give me some insight as to ways of being successful in online classroom discussion forums?

 This is where I studied all afternoon. It was a gorgeous day in Seattle.

One Down – Five to Go

January 3, 2010

I’ve completed one sixth of my MLIS degree and I feel successful, confident and excited for my new classes.
Here’s a quick list of the top 5 events of my first quarter:

1. Getting experience communicating and participating in an online class.
2. Google — watching it explode along with the explosion of information and learning that it is my job to attempt to maintain organization of this explosion. EXCITING!
3. Meeting people who share similar goals as I do — in their careers and in their lives
4. Being given a position at a campus library — in the acquisitions division!
5. Gaining an insight into something-LIS-related that I am not interested in… while I know studying information behavior is imperative to LIS, it isn’t something I’m dying to get into. Knowing this leads me to the idea that I will find another aspect of LIS that I will enjoy oh so much more.

A line from a reading early in the past quarter that has continued to stick with me:
“In this sense there is no final answer that will end information seeking – it is the project of a lifetime” — Donald Case

Bring on the second quarter!

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