Career advice | Professional development | Librarianship
By April Witteveen | June 28, 2018
Voices of experience on switching roles or types of libraries
The term librarian embraces many kinds of jobs, and often the first place someone lands isn’t the perfect fit. Browsing the classifieds can turn up postings that pique a library worker’s interest but may be in another type of library from the one where they’re currently employed, or the job description may comprise a different skill set. These librarians we spoke with have all made a midstream jump, and they share their insight on what it took to move into a new branch of the field.
Preparing for the Shift
As someone who’s made the change from metadata librarian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to high school librarian with Fairfax County Schools, Springfield, VA, Lisa Koch recommends first taking time for self-reflection. “What is it about your past position that you liked? What are you looking for in your new position? What can you do now to connect your present position to the future?” While the fundamentals of librarianship will inform job descriptions across the field, she notes that there can also be “important differences” that deserve consideration. Addressing gaps in knowledge or experience through volunteering, part-time work, and professional development will be worth the time. “You will have a better sense of potential concerns your [future] employer may have and identify potential areas of growth,” says Koch. Read more…
FROM HIGHER ED TO HIGH SCHOOL Former University of California, Santa Barbara metadata librarian Lisa Koch (ctr.), now a high school librarian for Fairfax County Schools, VA, in the library with the “amazing” teachers of Robert E. Lee H.S., Springfield
Research | Reference | Libraries | Open Access
by Jake Orlowitz | Nov 15, 2017 | Medium
Investigating solutions for frustrated scholars, nonprofits, independent learners, and the rest of us.
The world of publishing is evolving frantically, while it remains frustratingly fragmented and prohibitively expensive for many. If you’re a student who just left your academic library behind only to discover you are now locked out of the stacks; a startup researching water usage in Africa and keep hitting paywalls; a local nonprofit that studies social change activism, but all the latest papers cost $30 per read… This article is for you. Read more…
Advocacy | Intellectual Freedom | Humanitarian Aid
The LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund supports librarians who are facing financial difficulty due to discrimination or because they have taken a stand in support of intellectual freedom. In this video, trustees describe the fund, and why it’s needed. (2008)
Career advice | Professional Development | Mentoring
by Ellen Mehling | January 11, 2018
Q: When I attended library school a decade ago, it was with the intention of working in a public library, but I got drawn into corporate work as a metadata specialist. The work was interesting, the salary was good, and I had loans to pay off. Mission accomplished, I’d like to get back to my original intention. However, I’ve advanced far enough in my corporate career that I suspect my resume is a turn-off for most library hiring managers and have gained little traction in my applications. I’ve considered deeply the step back in pay and seniority I’d have to take, and I’m willing. What can I do to make myself a more attractive candidate?
A: I’d start by examining a large number of public library job postings that interest you, and compare your existing skills and experience to what employers are requesting. Consider which public library-related skills and experience are conveyed clearly by your resume, which ones will need some explanation from you, and which you don’t yet have.
For the ones that require explanation, remember that you are competing for jobs with others that clearly have the experience the employers want and you’ll have to convince the reader of your application documents to contact you for an interview – connect the dots for the hiring manager, make it very clear how your past experience and existing skills would translate or transfer to the new venue. Hiring managers may be skeptical about your suitability based on your past experience; you’ll have to overcome that and be very persuasive in your cover letter in order to get a chance to interview, and be able to explain clearly why you feel you’re a strong candidate in the interview. Read more…
Library careers | Academic libraries | Career Advice
by Susanne Markgren | January 23, 2018
Q: I need your advice. I have nine years experience in public libraries. I completed my Library Science Degree while working full time. It has been a year since my graduation and I am itching to work in academic libraries. Before library school, I always thought I would end up working in public libraries, however since I have been exposed to all the available options — that has changed.
I enjoy working in public libraries but want to explore academic libraries and I think it is a better fit for my skills. For the past year I have been applying to academic institutions for entry level positions but to date have received no call backs. How do I move from a public library to an academic library with no academic library experience, because most academic vacancies require at least one year experience in an academic environment. Any advice on how I can make myself more employable without having the necessary working experience would be most appreciated.
A: This is a common question, and moving from one type of library to another can be a difficult maneuver, but isn’t impossible. And advice about switching from one type of library to another can be helpful, no matter what type of library. As Ellen said in a previous Q&A, “You’ll need a compelling answer to the question ‘Why are you seeking to make the switch from A to B?’”
Here are a few (other) suggestions:
- Revise your application materials. Look at academic librarian resumes to see how they are formatted and organized. Use the job description to emphasize the aspects of your experience and skills to best match the top job requirements — in both your resume and cover letter.
- Don’t hide the elephant in the room, use your public library experience to your advantage, to make you a unique candidate. Mention in your cover letter how your years working in public libraries will make you an excellent academic librarian – and use examples. Do you work with diverse populations, or a specific ethnic group? Do you have experience with programming, teaching, reference work, access services, systems, collection development? Do you work with high school students? Do you have unique customer service or language expertise? Be specific in your language and the tools you’ve used in your work.
Conferences | Networking | Career advice
Conferences provide excellent business opportunities if you know how to network effectively. At a conference with dozens or hundreds of people, it’s difficult to know where to start. Go in with the intention of making several meaningful connections instead of trying to meet every person or impress the big names. When you leave the conference, you’ll have a list of people with whom you can continue building strong business relationships.
Have concrete goals in mind. You can’t talk to everyone at a conference, so it’s a good idea to go in knowing what you want to get out of it. Do you hope to find an “in” that will eventually lead to a job offer? Do you want to garner more business for your company? Perhaps you simply want to meet people in your line of work and foster a deeper connection with others in your industry.
- Your goals will influence which panels you attend and which people you seek to meet. Instead of just going with the flow, plan out your time so you’re utilizing each hour to work toward your goals.
- Remember that you’ll be more successful if you’re open to other people’s pitches instead of just trying to push your own agenda on people. Getting to know people is a good goal in and of itself, since it leads to long-term relationships that just don’t happen if you’re tossing out as many business cards as possible without taking time to have real conversations.
Leadership | Librarians | Professional development | Continuing education
by Steven Bell | October 26, 2017
Telling library leaders that leadership is a constant process of learning is good advice but of minimal help to busy leaders with little time for learning, whether formal or informal. That is why a commitment to a growth mindset may be a leader’s best strategy for continuous improvement.
A foundational premise of Leading From the Library is that good leadership results from a commitment to constant learning. Whether you think leaders are born or made, the job involves a degree of complexity that requires constant attention to progress and adaptation to a rapidly changing workplace. This column has explored multiple vehicles for leadership education, from leadership development programs to studying lessons of great (and flawed) leaders. I hope that Leading From the Library is one of your go-to resources for learning about leadership, but there are dozens of good leadership blogs, newsletters, and Twitter feeds at your disposal. That there are so many good but competing resources points to the big challenge: Where do leaders find the time to develop their leadership skills and how do they develop a smart strategy for keeping up, one that allows for maximum learning in minimal time? The best are able to rigorously motivate themselves to pursue continuous learning despite time and distraction obstacles. Read more…