Take some time to attend state or local conferences, which often offer reduced rates for students. Take some of the issues you are researching during library school, and work them into an article for publication. Participate on relevant e-mail lists; add substantive comments to the discussion rather than just asking questions. In this case, how do we prepare ourselves? Those who are proactive from the beginning will find the field most welcoming post-graduation. This is particularly true if your grad school experience inspires you to want to teach other MLS students, if you are in a tenure-track position at a large research institution where a PhD would put you on more equal ground with other faculty, or if you eventually are aiming for the directorship of a large institution.
I think the changes that need to be made can only be made from within, especially within library schools. I want to teach the courses and skills that I think librarians of today need and make sure that young, bright graduates are motivated to be librarians. Take time also to research the specific PhD you wish to earn, whether it be in library science, information science and technology, a subject-specific doctorate, or in a related discipline: What will make you most marketable, and what best matches your interests?
As with the MLS, programs will vary widely in focus; some are more research- and philosophy-based, while others deliberately tie research to real-world issues. As a younger librarian, you have the luxury of having plenty of time to work in the field and go back later to earn the doctorate. First, returning students will be a bit older and, thus, more easily seen as future peers. Secondly, since nonadjunct LIS faculty generally have their own doctorates, the process of getting the PhD makes doctoral students part of their club in a way earning the MLS does not.
New forms of doctoral programs aim to address the shortage of incoming public library and school media specialists to teach a new generation of public library and school media students. The University of North Texas, for example, recently began offering an IMLS-funded experimental PhD program in library science that combines on-campus study with online and independent work.
These types of PhDs are in their infancy, so this is a trend that Surviving Library School may bear watching if you have interest in earning yours in the future. Be aware, though, of arguments that nontraditional programs lack the ability to enculturate doctoral students sufficiently into the academy, to allow for evaluation of their teaching abilities, to allow them to partake of related coursework from other departments, or to allow them to share research in-person with other students and professors.
Such concerns may make it more difficult to find employment after earning a virtual—or partially virtual—doctorate than with an online MLS, especially if your goal is to teach in an LIS program. When you take the time to identify your goals and what you need to do to achieve them, you can maximize all of your educational experiences. Endnotes 1. John N. See also the sidebar interview with Ria Newhouse in Chapter 9. While this work may seem routine at the reference desk, many librarians forget to apply this training when they begin job-hunting.
Laura Saunders1 ALA and other organizations continue to project a looming librarian shortage, especially at the management level, due to anticipated retirements over the next 10 to 15 years. See Chapter 1 for some statistics. However, everescalating reports of job cuts, the de-professionalization of positions, library closures, and ever-increasing budget pressures seem to indicate otherwise—especially in the short term. As more and more new graduates enter a tight entry-level market each year, the stress of the initial job hunt can cause some NextGen librarians to harbor unproductive bitterness about the profession as a whole, toward professional associations, or toward those of their colleagues who seem to be having an easier time gaining employment.
While this reaction is understandable, job-hunting NextGens need to learn to separate their personal experiences from their outlook on the profession as a whole. Although the number of respondents fluctuates, given the schools and grads that choose to participate, their reports seem to show a small but visible drop in the percentage of recent grads reporting permanent professional employment between and See more on this in Chapter I think there is a very subtle, yet very real, apprehensiveness about hiring younger librarians.
While a successful job hunt can owe more to catching the right opportunity at the right time, having the right connections, or sheer persistence than Surviving the Job Hunt to any magic formula, there are steps you can take both to maximize your odds and to ease the stress of the process. Most entail getting involved, getting connected, and giving back to the profession: You truly reap what you sow. What follows is a mixture of both general and NextGen-specific ideas for surviving the job hunt and increasing the odds of success, particularly during the hunt for that first entry-level position.
Where to Look Many librarians job hunting in those parts of the U. Some newer librarians report being told that search committees receive upward of resumes for decently paying entry-level positions in desirable locations or at prestigious institutions. If you are still in school, start your search six months or more before graduating; academic libraries, in particular, are notorious for taking months to complete a search, partially due to complex affirmativeaction and EEO requirements.
Be sure to state your projected date of graduation when applying, to show that you will have your degree in hand before starting a given job. It pays to understand the role that geography plays in your job hunt. Some states or urban areas seem more desirable to many, attracting more job seekers; some have two or more library schools churning out a new crop of grads each year; some face budget crises that affect funding for public libraries, school media centers, and higher education.
Take cost of living into account when considering relocating; a salary that looks fantastic in Helena may not play well in Manhattan, especially when factoring in housing costs. Campuses with a library school sometimes refrain from hiring their own graduates, preferring to diversify the applicant pool—so, if you go to school in a town where your university is the major library employer, you may need to move post-graduation. While the best resources for individuals will vary depending on your geographical location and area of specialty, there are a number of sites that will be useful to anyone.
Realize that sites that merely mirror ads in print journals will be skewed toward upper-level positions for which institutions are willing to pay for ad insertion; local sites and those posting ads for free will be more inclusive.
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An RSS feed is available for new jobs. Also subscribe to specialized e-mail lists in your area of interest, which often contain specialized postings. Supplement this by bookmarking job banks in your geographical location or area of specialty. Also look at online listings from specialized journals such as The Chronicle of Higher Education chronicle. See if you can arrange a phone interview for the first round, or if they will otherwise accommodate distant applicants. While many librarians later move successfully between types of library or specialty, a number of institutions do place a premium on similar experience.
Be aware of this if you have specific long-term career goals; beware of being pigeonholed. Other job-hunting assistance such as that from associations and conferences is covered in Chapter 7. How to Stand Out To find gainful and relatively lucrative employment, you need to find ways to stand out among tens—or hundreds—of applicants. According to search committee veterans, this may not be as difficult as it seems. In a July NEWLIB-L post, for example, Eastern Illinois University Charleston Librarian and Associate Professor Sarah Johnson notes that around 80 percent of the resumes sent to search committees she served on in her previous position were never pursued further, for reasons varying from poorly written cover letters full of grammar or spelling errors, to cover letters that failed to target a specific position, to those that simply cut-and-pasted information from the ad without discussing how the applicant could meet these criteria.
You cannot guarantee yourself an interview every place you apply, but you can keep your application from missing that first cut every place you apply. When institutions know they will receive piles of resumes for a decently paying job in a popular area, they have the luxury of being more ruthless in their requirements and in weeding the stack of applications; you need to be more proactive in ensuring yours makes the cut.
Another problem new grads especially younger new grads lacking library work experience face is the perception by hiring committees that they are less prepared for their careers than were previous generations.
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It feels as though the burden is being shifted to practitioners to provide much more library education than in the past. I feel that I was judged on appearance, rather than experience. Making the effort to show what you bring to a given position is especially important when your experiences and expertise relate to, but do not exactly match, the list of required qualifications for the job: Be prepared to show how they qualify you.
If you are switching specialties or types of library, show directly how your skills transfer; take the time to put them in language that will be familiar to those doing the hiring. Showing your qualifications starts with writing your cover letter. Too many librarians—especially those looking for their first jobs—fail to take the time to tailor their cover letter to the specific positions they are applying for.
The NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide
They instead use a standard letter, and sometimes even forget to change the salutation! Too few let their personality and achievements shine through. Too few let potential employers know what they can do for their institution, and how their personality, skill set, and experience fit the bill. Too few make it clear that they want this job, they are excited about this institution, and not just out to take any job as a librarian. Beyond simply paying attention to the basics and writing an effective resume and cover letter, younger librarians can stand out by tapping into their next generation energy and enthusiasm.
When we have convinced ourselves that we are the right person for a job, we stand a much better chance of convincing others. When we believe in what we have to offer, we can convey that to hiring managers. When we believe in our own strengths and have a passion for a particular aspect of the field, we can let that excitement shine through.
Some sample interview questions and tips can be found online at www. Think in advance about questions you are likely to encounter, and have some stock answers prepared. Situational questions, for example, usually focus on qualities like leadership or problemsolving—think of an example of a previous situation where you have displayed each of these qualities, and be prepared to talk about it.
A big part of standing out involves cultivating the ability to translate any existing experience into library terms. Some younger librarians make the mistake of leaving previous nonlibrary jobs or school experience off their resumes, when in fact even the most basic retail, customer service, or management positions build many of the same skill sets needed by librarians. Emphasize in your cover letters and in interviews any experience dealing with the public, with difficult situations and people, with budgets or technology or marketing.
Explain how the experience you have had student teaching, doing on-the-job training in a nonlibrary environment, or volunteer tutoring qualifies you to do bibliographic instruction or conduct public computer classes. Explain how the knowledge you gained in preparing a large class project, thesis, or paper relates directly to the requirements of a position. Show how your experience with one software package is comparable to experience with the one used at your target library; talk about how your committee work in any organization has built your teamwork skills.
Show how your project management, event planning, supervisory, or other leadership experience transfers into an environment where many libraries are seeking leaders and mid-level supervisors and managers. In an academic interview, be prepared to talk about your future research interests, even if you are as yet unpublished; you can branch out here from work you did in library school or into an area of personal interest.
When helping patrons find information, we pretend expertise—or quickly acquire a veneer of it—all the time. This is a transferable skill; use it when boning up on an institution before your job interviews. Check out its Web site, read any application material a committee sends you, arrive early for interviews and take a walk around, and find out what you can from your network of contacts.
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Keep in mind also that many libraries find themselves in desperate need of technologically savvy staff to serve ever-more demanding and tech-savvy patrons. Younger librarians who grew up with technology often have, or can Surviving the Job Hunt assume, a natural comfort level with it. They can parlay that into positions if they are willing to play up their expertise—or their perceived expertise.
Those who self-consciously reject the techno-stereotype and decide to embrace their inner Luddite should be aware that this will seldom be an advantage on the job market. Look also at job descriptions and see where else your age can be an advantage: Does the position require working with teens? You are close to their issues, and may more easily relate to them, create programs for them, do collection development for them, and get to know them. Does the position involve readers advisory? Libraries that do hire younger librarians often are looking specifically for an infusion of new blood and new ideas; why not capitalize on that need?
Be aware that you can often play up a combination of experience. Work part time? Count it toward the years of required experience for a position. Had an internship or an assistantship during grad school? That is, of course, experience. Many tend to throw that laundry list out there to see what they get in response, so show them how the experience and skills you do have will serve them just as well.
Keep your resume or curriculum vitae CV current. An online portfolio works well for this purpose, as you can keep an ongoing record of projects, employment, professional development activities, and publications, and then pick out the pertinent bits to create targeted resumes when applying for positions. For a nice summary of the differences between a resume and CV and a discussion of how to write and structure a CV, see ucblibraries. If you are as professionally active as you should be, you will soon need two pages. Employers no longer expect resumes to be quite that brief, especially when so many are received electronically.
Never remove important qualifications to make your resume fit on one page; never use a tiny font or mess with margins, which can make your resume and you, by extension seem cluttered and disorganized. This allows you to more easily target your resume and interviews to specific types of positions. Think carefully about who to use as references. Look for people who can give a realistic picture of your skills, strengths, and abilities, rather than for name recognition.
You can use co-workers, professors, and mentors, especially if you do not wish to tell your current supervisor you are job hunting, or if this is your first library job hunt and you lack on-the-job references. This is another reason to build networks see Chapter 7. Also be willing to serve as a reference for others as you progress in your career; give back, and keep the cycle going.
Starting Small Be willing to start small and to be flexible in your requirements. Making sacrifices at the beginning can help you get your foot in the door; your first job—or second job—is not necessarily forever. Think about where you want to be in five years, rather than where you ideally want to be right now. As a next generation librarian, you have the time and luxury to do so. Think about what you are willing to accept, and where you are willing to compromise. Is geographical location paramount?
Is getting your foot in the door in a particular type of library a priority? What is more important to you: a good working environment or a high salary? What is the minimum salary you can live on? What is the minimum salary you can live on in a different geographical location? How important do you consider institution-supported professional development to be?
Is it important to you to work with other younger librarians? Do you prefer a larger institution or a smaller one? Do you prefer more structure or less? Would you feel more comfortable working under a contract, or in an employment at-will environment? How do you feel about being part of a union?
Surviving the Job Hunt Prioritize your list; there will always be tradeoffs. If salary is your main concern, for example, you may need to relocate, enter an area of librarianship that is of less personal interest, accept increased bureaucracy in a larger and richer institution, or investigate alternative careers. If gaining experience is your main concern, a small, rural library where you are expected to pitch in in every department may be a great resume and skill builder—with tradeoffs in terms of geography depending on your preference and salary.
Thinking about these questions before and while applying can help you sort out the jobs appropriate to you. If your list of potential positions comes up empty, you are probably being too particular; look again and examine your priorities more carefully. Be willing to apply for positions that are decidedly not your dream job; after a year or two, you can take your experience out the door and move on to more targeted opportunities.
Look at these beginning positions as stepping stones along the way; start planning out your career path now. Find more on planning career paths in Chapter 5. Sheer odds mean that the more resumes you send out, the better your chances of landing an interview. New candidates in many fields need to take less desirable positions in order to get their foot in the door; we are not unique in this respect.
Many PhDs end up working three part-time adjunct positions to piece together a pitiful salary—despite what they were told a few years back about the potential in the academic job market, as long-tenured professors were supposed to begin to retire. Some end up moving up, and some end up choosing another career. But remember, you gain experience, wherever you start out. Also, be willing to work part-time jobs at the beginning. This is obviously easier said than done, especially with the U. Is it better, though, to work part-time in the field, or not to work in the field at all?
Take one of these volunteer or part-time positions to gain experience, while also working at a full-time job with health benefits outside the field. Some libraries will hire pre-MLS part-time workers into librarian positions, with a salary bump upon completion of the degree, so look for these types of jobs even while you are still in school. When applying for geographically remote positions, realize that most libraries will not pay relocation costs, and most will not even pay for travel to interviews. The larger and more well-funded the library, the better your odds, but this is still no guarantee.
Outline in your cover letter your reasons for relocating; the more specific, the better. If you are relocating, it is appropriate to ask about relocation assistance during your interview. Another alternative is taking a temporary position or working with a library employment agency. If you are not hired on, though, you nonetheless have gained some experience for your resume and built up a bank of experiences to talk about on interviews.
Some agencies will provide perks like health insurance to long-term or full-time employees; some do not, or instead specialize in temporary, short-term placements. Check with each for specific policies. You can find a list of agencies at www. In some cases, taking a post-graduation paraprofessional position to gain experience can be appropriate. Libraries may even hire new grads for paraprofessional positions to get the benefit of their education without having to pay professional wages—which is a double-edged sword.
While this can help you get your foot in the door, it can also contribute to the devaluing of the degree and alienate non-MLS paraprofessionals who are going through their own job search struggles. If you choose to go this route, be able to highlight the advantages your education and professional commitment can bring to the position. Working as a paraprofessional can show that you are dedicated to the field, and again, gives you fodder for future interviews and for your resume.
Act as professionally as possible in any position, recognizing the importance of your work to the institution. Take advantage of professional development opportunities; keep active, even if you are not using all of your MLS skills in your particular job. Some employers are reluctant to hire grads in non-MLS positions because of a probably justified perception that they will leave for a higher-paying professional job at the first opportunity.
Libraries, though, do often advertise professional or full-time Surviving the Job Hunt positions internally before posting them to the outside world; a paraprofessional, part-time, or volunteer job can help you get your foot in the door. Realize that new grads and less-experienced NextGens in many areas of the country are competing directly for positions with more experienced librarians with five or fewer years in the job market, many of whom are willing to move into desirable entry-level positions from their current entrylevel positions in order to increase their current salary or potential for advancement.
Emulate their strategy, and find a creative way to make that less desirable, lower paying entry-level job work so that you, too, can move on with experience under your belt. Once you have experience, you can also begin applying for the upper-level positions that libraries are having a hard time filling because of the lack of more experienced applicants or of applicants willing to take on increased responsibilities.
For more on moving up, see Chapter 5. What to Watch Out For Institutional environment is as important, if not more so, as a particular type of position, and you may have to try out more than one job to find your perfect fit. There are, however, some universally applicable warning signs that you should watch out for.
Another reason to keep an eye on the job ads far out from actually applying for positions is to get a sense of who is advertising. Long unexplained delays in responding to your application or getting back to you after an interview can also point to poor organization or excessive bureaucracy. The pat advice is that, in an interview, you are interviewing an organization as much as they are interviewing you, ensuring the right fit for everyone.
Do not be afraid to ask tough questions; do not be afraid to let your personality shine through. You can do this while remaining professional; committees and interviewers often welcome questions that show you have thought about their institution, can picture yourself working there, and are finding out what you need to know to succeed. If they do not enjoy the opportunity to talk about the institutional environment or library initiatives, this can be a warning sign in itself.
Does the library offer formal professional development or mentoring programs? How would you describe the interdepartmental cooperation in this institution? What type of orientation does the library provide to new employees? Alternatively, ask for details about specific initiatives you have seen announced in the literature, on their Web site, or that came up during the interview.
What do you see as its biggest challenges? How does the institution weigh scholarly activity and community involvement? What are the timelines, and what type of institutional support is offered? Do tenure requirements vary for librarians and teaching faculty? What percentage Surviving the Job Hunt of people typically achieve tenure? Ask a couple of questions along these lines, tailoring them to the job and type of institution. Your pre-interview research can help you think of other institution-specific ideas. Be careful, though, not to ask for information you were just given during the interview or that which is easily available online.
Be wary if, during or after an interview, you are not given opportunity to speak to library staff your potential new co-workers , are not given a tour, or if all contact with staff members is closely supervised. Look for signs of negativity: Do library staff seem to despise one another or their jobs? Look at staff workspaces; see if they are crowded together, if there are offices, and if the institution, its collections, or its staff areas seem to be outgrowing their space.
Find out if there is a union; ask if the union agreement is online or about what portions apply specifically to librarians. If you are interviewed by multiple people, do they snipe at each other? Is there a dead silence when an uncomfortable topic is brought up? Do they seem to get along, or is there constant underlying tension?
Do you get the sense that they are being honest with you? Do they seem organized and on the same page with their questions? Interviews will vary remarkably, depending on the type of institution and position. Those at smaller public libraries may be quite informal and one-onone. Many academic institutions make their interviews into a drawn-out, twoday affair involving multiple meals; you will likely be required to give a sample presentation or instruction session. Large public libraries may require all applicants to take a civil service exam, considering and interviewing only those that come out with the top scores.
Some institutions will extend a job offer on the spot; others take weeks to decide among candidates. I began my position as the director of a small town library with a great deal of enthusiasm. I was putting all my skills, knowledge, and love of public service to use. I tried very hard to dismiss it as his quirky, and perhaps inappropriate, sense of humor. On some level, I knew something was very wrong, but I tried to dismiss it as part of getting used to a new place. At the end of my first week, the president of the board met with me, and I could no longer ignore the warning signs.
The board had not made any public announcement about the director retiring, in case things did not work out. It was quite obvious that the staff knew what was going on. It was quite obvious then that the staff knew before I did. What part do you think that your age played in the situation? What other factors contributed? I think my age played a significant role in the situation. My 25th birthday was also my second day on the job. I do not mean that in the sneering, condescending way it is often meant. However, there is no denying that, when facing my first professional position at the age of 25, I knew less than I do five years later.
Had I been older, I probably would have been taken more seriously as a professional. With more professional experience, some of the warnings would have been impossible to ignore or interpret differently. With more experience, I would have known better how to stand up for myself. Age was not the only factor. I simply did not fit their vision of the person they wanted in my position. The person who took my place was also fresh out of library school and no more qualified, but was older, married, and had children. A young, single, and rather nontraditional woman was simply not the person they wanted as their library director.
What advice would you have for other next generation librarians looking for their first professional position? Looking back, I know that I missed several warning signs. I had a gut feeling that this would not be a good fit for me. The president of the board did not sound enthusiastic when extending the job offer. In hindsight, the job offer seemed almost grudging. I was told that I would be evaluated quarterly, more often than usual, because I was so young.
At least one of my mentors told me this could work to my advantage because I would be able to correct any problems quickly.
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I do not doubt that this is true in some circumstances. However, the fact that I was being singled out because of my age showed that the board was ambivalent, at best, about my appointment. While I had no intention of going in to shake things up, it would be impossible for me to not change anything. I am not a clone of the person I was supposed to replace. The fact that a new person is in the position means that at least some change is inevitable. There were several other warnings once I moved to the town and started the job. No one in town knew the director was even thinking of retiring, let alone that a replacement had been hired.
I was introduced to only a few people while I was in the position. The people I met made it clear that they expected me to be just like the person I was replacing. The person I was replacing was in no hurry to teach me what I needed to know so he could retire. What do you think was key in your getting past that first experience and finding the right fit? I think it is important to recognize that something like this, especially if it is your first professional job, is not a small setback that can be easily overcome.
Know that overcoming something like this will take time, patience, and persistence. The first thing you need to do is decide how you will handle this in your job search. Will you put it on resumes and applications? When I asked for advice, I received a great deal of very good, but conflicting advice. Most said there was no ethical reason I should list the experience. People were equally divided on whether or not I should list it for practical reasons. There is no one right answer in this case. Do what feels comfortable for you and be consistent.
Know that you will always need to explain either the bad first job or the long job search in interviews. Know what your explanation is ahead of time. Anyone who tries to tell you luck does not play a role in the job hunt is kidding themselves. When I left school, I had stronger credentials, strong references, and the willingness to stick it out until I found the right fit.
I endured a full year of job searching, and certainly went through periods where I wondered if I would ever find a job. After a year, I finally found an institution that was looking for someone with my skills and personality. If you find yourself in a similar situation, accept the fact that it is unlikely you will ever fully understand what happened. I found the situation much easier to deal with and put in the past once I accepted that I will never have all the answers.
I did consult a lawyer about a possible discrimination lawsuit. Unfortunately, because library directors serve at the pleasure of the board, they could legally dismiss me for almost any reason. Proving discrimination when I had been on the job only three weeks would have been next to impossible. Aside from taking the miserable job in the first place, there are only two things I regret five years later.
I did not seek professional counseling, but I should have. My friends, family, and mentors really pulled together to help me get through this crisis. However, I think objective, professional advice either from a career counselor or from a therapist would have helped me approach the job hunt with more confidence.
As was said, the book is easy to read, which is both a strength and weakness. It is possible to read or scan it from cover to cover but also to just read the parts of interest. The weakness being that the author refers superficially to interesting American studies about the nextgens attitudes, thoughts about the profession, and statistics e.
- By Rachel Singer Gordon.
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Therefore, I would like to see a deeper analysis, a study of some of the material the author is using in this book. To summarize this book gives good tips about which Web sites are of interest and points out some of the issues facing the profession but I am not sure if this book actually adds anything to the discussion about the future challenges. Maybe it is just handy to have the discussion in general terms collected between the same covers.
Eklund P. Review of: Singer, R. The nextgen librarian's survival guide. Information Research , 11 4 , review no. Why Social Media Matters. Kitty Porterfield. The Frugal Librarian. Carol Smallwood. Gwen Meyer Gregory. Marketing Today's Academic Library. Brian Mathews. New Brand Leadership. Larry Light. Susan L. Meeting for Results Tool Kit. Richard M. Career Transitions for Librarians. Davis Erin Anderson. What Do Employers Want? A Guide for Library Science Students. Priscilla K. Inside, Outside, and Online.
Chrystie Hill. Bryce Nelson. Repositioning Reference. Lillian Rozaklis. Making the Most of Your Library Career. Lois Stickell. Big Data. Susan Jurow. Marketing Analytics. Mike Grigsby. Serving Online Customers. Donald A. Retain and Gain. Lisa Taylor. Managing in the Middle. Robert Farrell. Being Indispensable. Virginia A. Promoting Nonprofit Organizations. Ruth Ellen Kinzey. Fundamentals of Reference. Carolyn M. Tracy Brower. Information Science. David G. How to Thrive as a Solo Librarian. John J. Evolution, Complexity and Artificial Life.
Stefano Cagnoni. Teresa Y. Beyond Persuasion. Patricia J. Integrated Intellectual Asset Management. Steve Manton. Marketing Yourself to the Top Business Schools. Phil Carpenter. Patrick Vogel. No Canadian Experience, Eh? Daisy Wright. The Practical Library Trainer. Ruth C Carter. Up and Running.