Readers of the old AL might remember the occasional “library jobs that suck” posts. I haven’t done much of that since moving to LJ, which was two years ago this month, by the way. Partly, it’s because I changed the blog up some, and partly it’s because I was seeing fewer “library jobs that suck.” That’s all changing, and they’re coming back.
Now, wait a minute! some of you might be saying. I’m a librarian, and my job sucks! True. I’m sure your job does suck.
But for those of you who never knew or don’t remember, true Annoyed Librarian Library Jobs that Suck had to meet specific requirements. They had to be either part-time or nonexistent (think applicant “pools”) which would limit their pay and benefits, and they had to require an MLS and professional experience. Many library jobs suck, but the ones that want professional librarians with experience for exploitative work with low pay and no benefits suck the most.
Well, I finally found one for you, so all you unemployed librarians can apply for it. This Librarian Substitute position is the suckiest job I’ve seen in a long time. They even advertise it at the ALA jobsite, because I’m sure it has national appeal.
Let’s take a look at it. First, the pay. “$23.61 – $32.45, No Guaranteed Hours.” The upper limit would be approaching a livable wage for professional work, if it were full time employment. But this isn’t even guaranteed employment. It’s part-time and potentially no time.
This position may substitute up to 19 hours per week and no more than 69 hours per month at the Clinton, Coupeville, Freeland, Langley, and Oak Harbor community libraries to cover regular staff absences and may require mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends. Willingness to work widely varying hours (sometimes on short notice) at any of the locations listed is essential. To ensure maximum flexibility, an individual in this position may not hold another Sno-Isle position concurrently.
Last post, I urged job seekers to see themselves as others saw them. Now I’m encouraging libraries to do the same. What does this description tell us? First, there’s no way the librarian is going to have a decent life. Even if the substitute got 19 hours a week every week, those hours are going to be spread out over several libraries and every potential time slot on every day. That means more commuting and a more erratic life. That that maximum number of hours is likely the benefits cap, so the substitute will have a harried life with no health benefits.
The library also expects the substitute to be free every day and every night. It wants “maximum flexibility.” What this tells me is that whoever is unfortunate to have to take this job is guaranteed no hours and no respect as well. It might as well add this: “Sno-Isle will have absolutely no concern or respect for the person in this position or their quality of life. We just want a cog for the machine.”
And what will this person be expected to do?
- Provide and assist customers with general reader’s advisory, reference services, and usage of library facilities and services
- Explain and demonstrate procedures and methods for bibliographic and reference searches
- Maintain and develop reference materials and sources
- Plan and present children’s programming
So just about everything, which means nothing is going to be done very well. The “librarian substitute” will be giving storytime to toddlers one day at one library and answering adult reference questions two days later at another library, if the substitute even has any hours.
The requirements aren’t minimal, either.
Requires competent knowledge of library materials; Library District policies and procedures; integrated library computer system; materials selection process; reader’s advisory; bibliographic search techniques, and reference tools.
Requires the ability to use a bar code reader, computer equipment, Internet and standard office equipment; speak, understand and write English clearly and concisely; conduct reference interviews; work cooperatively and maintain favorable relations with the public and co-workers.
Requires a Master’s degree in Library Information Science from an ALA-accredited college or university, plus two years experience as a professional level librarian and have or be able to obtain a Washington State Librarian certificate.
Requires the willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the library with little in return.
Okay, I made that last one up, but it fits in well enough. Basically, this library system wants someone to have mastered everything about every public service librarian’s job at every library and also be willing to work for peanuts under exploitative conditions. They really should be ashamed of themselves.
That this job requires an MLS and professional experience is laughable, when it’s very clear that this position is to be the lowest of the low, the least respected and most expendable position in the library. The library certainly isn’t going to treat this person as a professional, and yet they expect to hire one. They claim to want a professional librarian, but their pay and working conditions are more suitable for a bored housewife who needs a little pin money.
This job should go unfilled, because no professional librarians should lower themselves to even apply for it. On the other hand, there’s this unemployed librarian in the UK looking for some library work. It seems like the perfect match.