Friday, May 06, 2005

landing that first job

Alec, thanks so much for your detailed description of what an academic library job interview is like. Though mine was nearly twenty years ago (gack!) I had a similar experience: a packed, exhausting couple of days that left me totally energized. An interview is a good time for the people hiring you to get to know you - but also for you to get to know them, and the environment you might be working in. So ask questions, not just about the library but the community it serves and the place the library holds in it .

When I first read that Library Journal story I started to post it here - then paused. It's a real downer! So first, I talked it over with some other librarians for a reality check. Is it that tough? It's an interesting conversation that I want to get back to, but here's my take for now:

There's a movement afoot to recruit new librarians. Good! We want you! To establish this as a social issue worth people's attention, a little anxiety is put into the mix. My God!! We'll have a world without librarians!!! They're all doddering ancients who are about to kick off !!! Quick, run to library school and save the world - and of course you'll have your pick of jobs.


The fact is, you can get a good job (well, scratch the Jag XK from your wish list, not that good) but not without effort. A couple things you should bear in mind:

ONE: limiting yourself to a particular locale will make finding the right job difficult. Be adventurous. Look for a place that's right for you, but don't limit yourself by city or state. This isn't a date, folks, it's a commitment.

TWO: Any real-world library experience you can offer (an internship, working as a student employee while an undergraduate, field work that involves you in doing research in a real library, even volunteering) will help. And remember, whatever job you apply for, you're not the only applicant. So putting your best foot forward is key.

I worry the profession has oversold its message a bit. The reality is jobs in libraries are not going to fall in your lap. But if you love the work and use your brains and are willing to make some effort to find the right match - there will be a place at the table for you.


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