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Aug 05 2011 Q: I am considering a career change and have been thinking about getting my MLS. What are the job prospects like for school librarians?

Posted by Editor on August 8, 2011

From Career Q&A with the Library Career People

Published by at 1:35 pm under career change,getting started,job satisfaction

Q: I am considering a career change and have been thinking about getting my MLS. I am wondering what the job prospects are like for school librarians. Also what is the day to day career like? What do librarians like the most about their jobs? What do they like the least? What kind of job satisfaction do they have? Thank you so much for any information you can provide.

SM:  Since neither Tiffany nor I are school librarians  (often called school library media specialists), we cannot give you firsthand advice on what it is like to be one. However, we are quite good at providing information that might be useful:


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Why You Didn’t Get An Interview

Posted by Editor on August 8, 2011

From the Free Range  Librarian, by K.G. Schneider

This is a bummer of a job market for librarians, and if you’re fresh out of library school you are probably crying in your beer, wondering why you didn’t get a degree in something practical and career-oriented, like medieval cookery.  But a few months back a newish librarian asked me in frustration why she was having a hard time getting interviews — let alone job offers — and we chatted back and forth on Facebook. Let me attempt to sum up what I shared.

The job market sucks. Did I mention the job market sucks? This will sound crass, but TJMS creates a buyers’ market for employers, including organizations that normally wouldn’t have access to seasoned candidates.

Employers seek a known quantity. This may sound hard–”give me a chance, I can do the job!” — but bringing in an employee (by far the most expensive resource in most organizations) must be done as carefully as possible, and this is even more true in a small organization. Someone with proven experience in the core responsibilities of the position, as well as general career experience, is going to have an edge over the give-me-a-chance crowd. The bottom line is the need of the institution. Plus, see above, TJMS.

Your c.v. and cover letter need work. In a bad economy, employers are deluged with c.v.s,  which in some organizations may be first filtered through a human-resources department who is helping the job-search team by excluding applicants who appear to not meet basic requirements. That’s two hurdles to get over. So your c.v. and cover letter need to directly answer the question: why are you highly qualified for this job?

This question is important not only for what you say, but how you say it. I recently found a c.v. on my hard drive I hadn’t looked at twice during a job search, and was startled to connect it to someone I know who is both highly skilled and highly underemployed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Q: What are some questions I can ask during an interview that will let my interviewers know what I’m all about?

Posted by Editor on June 15, 2011

Q: I just had a very frustrating interview.  It was for a job that I really wanted; a community college library in a rural area.  I was frustrated because the interview team only asked me about five questions (I can only remember three of them).  They didn’t ask me anything thing about the library services I would provide, or my philosophy.  These are the questions they asked:

  • I see you went to XXX College.  How did you end up in XXX State (where I’ve lived for the past 5 years)?
  • Would you mind helping out in other areas?
  • Why are you interested in this job?

Then they opened up questions on my end?  If I end up with this type of situation again what questions should I ask?  How do I let them know what I am all about?

SM: Every job interview is unique, and every search committee is looking for someone specific. And you may or may not be that person. It can be frustrating to have high expectations before an interview and then walk away from it feeling that maybe you could have done something differently, something more.

It is unfortunate that they asked you so few questions, but don’t read too much into it. They could have had most of their answers already from your phone interview (if you had one), from your resume, or from your cover letter. The interview, quite possibly, could just be a formality, to see how you would fit in. Other possibilities are: the interview team could have been burnt out on interviewing, or the person asking the questions could have been having a bad day [I got food poisoning once during an interview, when I was the chair of the search committee. I had to drive the candidate back to her hotel and I barely made it home. Not my best day.] You’ll never know what goes on behind the scenes, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Read the rest of this entry »

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New Roles for New Times: Digital Curation for Preservation, Published by ARL

Posted by Editor on March 17, 2011

Washington DC—The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published “Digital Curation for Preservation,” the first report in its new series, New Roles for New Times.

Authored by Tyler Walters and Katherine Skinner, the report looks at how libraries are developing new roles and services in the arena of digital curation for preservation. The authors consider a “promising set of new roles that libraries are currently carving out in the digital arena,” describing emerging strategies for libraries and librarians and highlighting collaborative approaches through a series of case studies of key programs and projects. They also provide helpful definitions and offer recommendations for libraries considering how best to make or expand their investments in digital curation. Issues and developments within and across the sciences and humanities are considered.

To download the free report, please visit:

Some of this intriguing document is below:

In the 21st century, ARL libraries are increasingly exploring and adopting a range of new roles in serving research institutions, researchers, scholars, and students, making the time ripe for ARL to organize a new report cluster focusing on key new roles. The New Roles for New Times series will identify and delineate emerging roles and present research on early experiences among member libraries in developing the roles and delivering services. Each report will describe an emerging role, articulating the audience affected by the new role and the benefits various constituencies experience as a result of the new role. The reports will highlight existing work, report authors’ findings, and offer analysis of trends, best practices, and key issues.

The New Roles for New Times report, “Digital Curation for Preservation,” explores how research libraries are attempting to add value in the chain of events that produce new research knowledge and information. Digital curation refers to the actions people take to maintain and add value to digital information over its lifecycle, including the processes used when creating digital content. Digital preservation focuses on the “series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary.” In this report, we highlight the intersection of these actions, specifically focusing on how digital curation must facilitate the preservation of our shared digital memory…

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Understanding what you want from your job

Posted by Editor on February 10, 2011

From JobsJournal

The difference between a career and a job is fairly obviously; a job is something you go to every day to earn a pay check and nothing more. You may enjoy your job to a certain extent but the fact is you will probably be happier somewhere else.

A career is something you have built over the course of a lifetime. Doctors don’t have jobs they have careers. A job is working at the local fast food place (not that there is anything wrong with that) but a career takes many years of schooling and preparation. Those professionals who have started their careers rarely seem regretful that they choose that particular profession as well.

If you are stuck in a job you despise (many of us are) then what are you doing to get out of it? If your answer is nothing then you might work the majority of your life in a job you hate and will regret it the rest of your life. For example, let us say that you are a mid-level employee who has worked at your current job for several years. Do you plan on staying at that mid-level position for the next 5-10 years? Or do you plan on moving up to a managerial position? If you are truly unsatisfied with your position, if not now, then in the near future look to change where you stand in the company.

Having a plan on where you want to be in your career over the next 5 years should keep you motivated to do well and achieve great success. Punching the clock daily with no enthusiasm and verve for life is like a slow, painful death. You have a right to be happy and receive a certain level of satisfaction from your job, just like you have the right to be happy and satisfied with your personal life. If you approach your job like a relationship, then you might come to realize that your job(or relationship) isn’t working for you and a change is needed immediately.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Placements & Salaries 2010: The Lucky Few – in LJ

Posted by Editor on October 20, 2010

By Leah L. White, Oct 15, 2010

Photo ©Glenn Kaupert, 2009

I remember reading my first Placements & Salaries issue of LJ. I was a recent graduate, and the economy had officially hit an all-time low. The Chicago sheriff was making headlines for refusing to kick renters out of foreclosed apartments, and gas prices were soaring. I looked at the cover and realized that with my salary I couldn’t balance student loan payments and gas for the commute to my first job. I also felt concern about my mostly unemployed friends.

How much has changed since then? The past two years have brought all sorts of things to me personally, including difficult job searches. So the survey of 2009 graduates (see p. 22) reflects and confirms things that I know to be true, not from data and statistics but from rejection letters and underemployment. Ah, those pesky placements. Isn’t that really just another way to say “finding a job”? Those three little words impact our day-to-day lives so intensely. Placements seem to be the hardest part of becoming a librarian these days. You apply for jobs, knowing that you are just one of possibly 200 other qualified new librarians.

Breaking into the library world has never been a walk in the park. “Doing time” as a clerk, shelving, or simply working part-time is par for the course in this profession. But as a great man once sang, “The times, they are a-changin’.” There is a drastic increase in the number of degreed librarians taking paraprofessional positions, simply because they need a full-time job with benefits. Also, there are more temporary positions being filled with librarians wishing and hoping for the position to be made permanent. It is a daunting reality, and we all deal with it in our own ways. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mark your calendars for Oct 18 in the evening, Dean Heidorn to be in Phoenix

Posted by Editor on September 22, 2010

Bryan has accepted our invitation  to visit our meeting on Monday, October, 18, 5:30 pm! Please plan to attend and bring questions, concerns, your enthusiasm, and even friends and colleagues with an interest in our profession! We will be at the College of Medicine, Phoenix, in room 1252, next to the library. The library is at the corner of 5th Street and Van Buren.  (More details and a traffic update will be sent as the date of the session approaches.) A link to the campus map is at the bottom of this post.

About Bryan:

P. Bryan Heidorn began his new job as SIRLS Director October 2009.

Prior to coming to the UA, Heidorn was a faculty member of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For the last two years he also served as a program manager of the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the National Science Foundation.

His areas of research include natural language processing, text mining for metadata and information retrieval, particularly in biodiversity literature, and museum informatics.

“With a long list of grant and contract awards and a strong list of publications in both librarianship and information science, Heidorn is well-poised to lead SIRLS in educating the next generation of librarians and information professionals,” said Tom Wilding, a professor who served as interim director of the school.

Heidorn was drawn to the school because of its faculty and innovative programs. “Knowledge River was certainly one of the largest and most interesting initiatives for me,” said Heidorn. “Another exciting program is the digital curation program – DigIn.”PBCMap10-2010

Heidorn, who was active in digital data policy issues at the University of Illinois and at the National Science Foundation, believes there are continued opportunities for the school in the field of digital curation, especially with the growing amount of large data sets, such as those created by genomics and earth sensors.

“Traditionally, library schools have dealt with paper documents, but increasingly scientists rely on data from other scientists,” Heidorn said. “This data is being generated at a rapid rate that far outstrips our ability to index, access and store it.

“It is the role of libraries and library researchers to organize and provide access to society’s knowledge,” Heidorn said. “We need to develop new data curation standards, including new metadata standards, as well as data management and preservation methods. We must then educate the library community about the use of these methods.”

Digital archives is another area that Heidorn would like to expand as an area of study.

“One of the big problems that libraries have to solve is how we are going to provide access to materials over the long haul,” said Heidorn. “Formats expire at a very great rate.

“How do you take a heterogeneous set of materials, provide pointers and access to them, and refresh them. It’s a big challenge.”

Heidorn is optimistic about the opportunities for those choosing to enter the information resources and library science field.

“The information revolution is creating a good number of jobs, and we can be sure that the information industry is going to continue to grow and expand,” Heidorn said.

The School of Information Resources and Library Science is also well-positioned to help library professionals who want to refresh their skills. It is the only library school in Arizona and one of only five accredited library schools in the western U.S., and is a leader in distance education, providing many online classes.

“Under professor Heidorn’s leadership, I know SIRLS will continue to be on the cutting edge of the library and information field and provide students with the skills necessary to thrive in today’s marketplace,” said Beth Mitchneck, interim dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “In addition, his focus is not only on the unique programs at SIRLS, but also on the connections that the school can foster, both across campus and with our off-campus constituencies.”   


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Q: I would like to know what other jobs and industries I could use my Library (Support Staff) Diploma in, besides libraries. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Posted by Editor on September 9, 2010

Goes for MLS Grads, too!

Published by tiffany at 3:02 pm under career change, job seeking

Q: I would like to know what other jobs and industries I could use my Library Support Staff Diploma in, besides libraries.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

A: I guess a lot would depend on where and when you received your diploma, and the coursework you took toward the degree.  In looking at the ALA-APA Library Support Staff Certification program online ( there seems to be several areas of study that could transfer to other jobs and industries.  In a January 2010 press release, ALA introduced the program: “This new certification program will help library support staff achieve recognition for current and new skills and abilities, as well as increase access to continuing education opportunities.” (  The certification requires three courses of study (Foundations of Library Service; Communication and Teamwork; and Technology), plus three electives (ranging from Access Services to Youth Services).

Additionally, in an appeal to Library Administrators to support the certification program, ALA-APA’s webpage states that:

“Research shows that LSS certified in a rigorous certification program:

  • have more self confidence in their own ability
  • believe they provide better service to the public
  • better understand how the entire library operates
  • are more willing to accept responsibility
  • work better on the library team”  (

If you take all of this information and try to apply it to another job or field of employment, there are several areas that I believe would transfer well.  First, two of the required courses are relevant to just about any workplace today: Teamwork and Communication, and Technology.  Second, if the research is supported, a confident employee who works better on teams and is willing to accept more responsibility is appealing to any employer.  I would recommend that you explore new areas that include service, technology and teamwork.  Look for positions that are exciting and of interest to you, and think broadly about how your skills, experience, and credentials would apply.

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The Best Advice On Finding A Librarian Job (from around the Web) posted on LIS News

Posted by Editor on August 17, 2010

August 10, 2010 – 9:17am — Blake in LIS News

on reading cover letters and resumes from Laura Crossett. She lists 6+ great ideas she’s come up with after reading 40+ applications for a single position. She also adds “make one additional plug for social networking in general and for the Library Society of the World in particular. There are several LSW FriendFeed room denizens who are starting library school and/or new jobs, and I know they’ve gotten a lot of help from the people who hang out there. We’d be more than happy to help you, too.” Laura also hit Cover Letters last year.

Over at Swiss Army Librarian Brian Herzog has Notes on Reading Resumes. He lists 15 ideas from reading over 50 resumes for a single position.

On Information Wants To Be Free Meredith Farkas has some DO’s and DONT’s listed on Tips for library job applicants in a tight market

The gang over at In The Library With The Lead Pipe has a great collection of DONT’S: What Not to Do When Applying for Library Jobs. “This group post is our way of pulling together our collective experiences as both interviewees and interviewers and offering up some practical advice to our readers. ”

Read more :

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Q: Will it damage my career to remain in my current job as a library paraprofessional even though I have the MLIS?

Posted by Editor on August 10, 2010

Q: I recently discovered your excellent website (Career Q&A With the Library Career People) and hoped you might be able to answer my career related question:

Will it damage my career to remain in my current job as a library paraprofessional even though I have the MLIS? I earned it a year and a half ago while working in my current job. I’ve decided I want to stay where I am for the next few years because my employer provides excellent family benefits (e.g., on-site daycare) that no other libraries in the area provide. Obviously I would prefer to be a professional librarian, but overall I’m very happy with my situation. However, I worry whether it will look bad to future employers that I stayed on as a paraprofessional for years after getting my degree; and whether my degree will be considered outdated by the time I’m ready to move on from here. I am making the most of my position by writing for publication, serving on committees, volunteering for different activities to broaden my horizons, etc. Is there anything else I should be doing for “damage control”? Am I making too much of this? Any advice would be appreciated.

A: We are both mothers and can attest to the importance of having good childcare and excellent family benefits. Working parents, at some point or another, have to balance not only their own schedules and careers, but they also have to make important (and often difficult) decisions about childcare and family finances. And that inevitably leads to the dreaded familial “s” word: sacrifice.

Normally we would advise people who have their library degrees to not stay in paraprofessional positions unless they are actively searching for profesional librarian positions. You are right to be a bit nervous about your current job situation affecting your future job prospects because, well, it might. It’s not so much that potential employers might view your degree as “outdated,” more likely they will view your skills and experience as not being on the level of those working in professional librarian roles, and they also might question your drive and motivation if you are content to stay in a non-librarian role for so long after receiving your MLIS.

But, we completely understand that everyone’s situation is different and our advice should not be prescribed universally. It seems like you have done your research on possible workplaces in your area (and their childcare options), you are not geographically mobile, and you have already made up your mind to stay where you are for a few years. This is perfectly fine and the most important thing is that you are happy. Happy with your decision and happy with your current work environment. Not everyone can say that, so count yourself lucky.

As for damage control, it sounds like you are already doing it by taking on extra commitments and duties and writing for publication. You are definitely making the most of your current situation and gaining professional-level experience along the way. Keep this up and when the time comes to apply for librarian positions, you will need to: a.) address why you chose to stay in a paraprofessional position in your cover letter, and b.) highlight your professional work/activities/committees/publications/etc. in your resume.

In the mean time, keep up your skills, show initiative in your current job by volunteering to take on new projects and new technologies, maintain connections with the library community in your area, attend classes and programs, and continue to build your professional portfolio.

We hope that this advice has given you some justification for your situation and some much needed reassurance that your future job prospects have not been ruined… because, as parents, we all need some of that.

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