Q&A: How do I move from a public library to an academic library with no academic library experience?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Read more…

Career Transitions for Librarians : 5 Questions with Ray Pun and Davis Erin Anderson [INALJ]

by Naomi House, MLIS

career-transitions-for-librarians-inalj

In this post, I interviewed the co-editors of Career Transitions for Librarians and asked them 5 questions about the book!

 

  1. Tell us about yourselves and your new book, Career Transitions for Librarians: Proven Strategies for Moving to Another Type of Library !

Ray Pun: Thanks for inviting us to speak about our new book! We are excited to be sharing what we think would be helpful to INALJ readers!

So I’m the first year student success librarian in Fresno State in California. I thought about this project in 2014 when I was writing a blog post for ACRL on career transitions. At that time I made a move from NYPL to NYU Shanghai and I thought this was an interesting transition; many colleagues asked how I did it and I tried outlining it in the blog with some tips. I started speaking to more and more library professionals and seeing how many used to work in corporate, public, school and academic libraries and I thought this would be a great story to tell. There has not been much literature about career transitions in our field and it’s time there should be one!

 

Davis: I work for a wonderful non-profit that’s a hub for librarians, archivists, and museums where we focus on the nexus all kinds of different library types. Read more…