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California is the Future

They say California is the future. If California is the future of librarianship, we’re all in trouble, because it seems to be California that produces the most Library Jobs that Suck, like this one.

I haven’t done many Library Jobs that Suck posts since moving to LJ, the main reason being that, despite the recession that began just about the same time (correlation does not imply causation!), I’ve seen fewer job ads for Library Jobs that Suck.

But the ad above meets almost all the criteria for an Library Job that Sucks:

  • It requires an accredited MLS or equivalent
  • It’s part-time
  • It isn’t really a job

The only thing it doesn’t require is experience. Here we go:

Job Posting Title: Librarian Adjunct Pool

The Los Rios Community College District is seeking a pool of qualified applicants for possible temporary part-time teaching assignments. These positions are filled on an as needed basis and are on-going recruitments. Assignments may include day, evening and weekend courses.

If you’re a librarian in Sacramento, CA hungry for a job, then dive into this refreshing pool! When your library school told you they were “preparing you for a career,” this is what they meant, because nothing says professional career like “possible temporary part-time.”

The minimum qualifications are tough, too. Not the MLS or equivalent, because we all know that’s a breeze. But you also need a “ sensitivity to and understanding of the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, disability, and ethnic backgrounds of community college students.”

Could anyone really understanding of all the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of community college students in California? I don’t know how many cultural and ethnic backgrounds there are, but unless this is a job for a cultural anthropologist or something I don’t see it happening. Maybe it’s enough to be sensitive and understand that community college students have ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I think I could do that.

I know it’s just the chance of a possibility of a temporary job for low pay and no benefits, but the great thing is that if you get that temporary job, the duties are pretty light.

Responsibilities. The faculty member shall be responsible for the following: maintaining thorough and up-to-date knowledge in his/her regular field; maintaining standards of professional conduct and ethics appropriate to the professional position.

So basically it’s a job where you sit around reading professional literature, taking webinars or whatever, and being nice to people. Even I could do that, especially if the position is temporary.

It’s kind of amusing that such a sucky non-existent position really requires maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of your regular field. We know with adjunct teaching positions like this that the last thing people have time for is keeping up with their fields. They’re too busy teaching six courses a semester to do that.

Schools that really want people to maintain their professional knowledge pay them a living wage. Schools that don’t are just pretending they care.

Which makes this job even better, because if the school doesn’t really care it would eliminate the need to sit around the library reading tedious professional literature. All one would have to do is maintain the standards of professional conduct and ethics appropriate to the position.

Since the position is only a potential temporary position with low pay and no benefits, I’d say the standard of professional conduct would be pretty low, which means you wouldn’t even have to be nice to people.

This non-job job is looking better and better. Maybe the future’s not so bad after all.

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Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    But AL! This position is helping you gain the valuable on-the-job experience needed to transition to a full-time library position that does pay a living wage! You must’ve forgotten that everyone is expected to pay their dues working on part-time slave wages with no benefits for one to five years before they’re let into the club.

  2. spencer says:

    If california is the future of anything, we’re all in BIG trouble.

  3. MightyKasey says:

    AL, you need to step outside the Library Box and get the big picture. The big money in California has just been sucked up by the Anaheim Angels to pay Albert Pujols $250 million to play baseball for 10 years. California is the future and glamor sports are California! Our priorities lead our economic and spiritual slide. It’s depressing!

  4. Margaret says:

    I’ve applied (hopefully) for those. Living south of LA there is a total dearth of library positions of any time. By now I would be happy with a circ job.

  5. library_yeti says:

    And which state is “the promised land” for MLIS-holding job-seekers? Is the practice of hiring temporary pools of adjuncts particular only to CA?

  6. Paigers says:

    Ha! Funnily enough, I just told my (non-librarian) friend not 15 minutes ago that we should start looking for jobs in LA…only to discover that today’s AL column deals with the same topic! *laughing through tears*

  7. Kris Smith says:

    Usually temporary “as needed” positions aren’t as fly-by-night as you think they are. Some of these can last for years. I would know. I was a temp “as needed” page for four years and for four more years as a temp exempt library assistant, so you can pay for school while you’re working. And the system had scholarships which was nice. My friend got eighty percent of her tuition paid for. So there are perks. It does sound like a floater position. For example you would get calls like this, “Someone called in sick on the Saturday before Christmas, could you come in? Oh and you are the only one in there except a page who started the week before. Good luck, Temp Librarian!” You have to be flexible to get this job and yes, you have to be nice.

  8. CA Librarian says:

    This job isn’t as sucky as it seems at first glance. Yes, it’s part-time, just like any adjunct, but the pay is decent. I work in a CA community college and if I’m interpreting their pay scale correctly, they pay about $40 an hour for a newbie MLS-degreed librarian. Our job description for adjuncts reads the same way (as does most CA community colleges I suspect) but in practice, we primarily hire adjuncts for set shifts at the reference desk and on-call only as needed. It’s a permanent gig until they move on or unless they do a bad job (like most adjunct faculty). It’s a good way to break into academic librarianship and get experience while you’re waiting for your big break in a crowded market.

    • Kim says:

      I’m curious how many people get into the field in this way? When I graduated in 2006, I wanted to avoid a non job like this one because I thought it would make it harder and possibly impossible to land the type of high level job I have now. But I was lucky because I graduated in ’06. The people I went to school with who graduated when I did mostly found jobs if they gained significant experience before graduation, or if they had unique skills.

      Jobs that fall to the low caliber to fill the AL Jobs that Suck list used to be listed pretty frequently, but I haven’t seen too many of them lately either. To me this job fills the Jobs that Suck category, or at least it would have a few years ago.

    • CA Librarian says:

      More than you might think, I’d guess. The job market in CA is extremely crowded. There are two library schools and one of those is online. There are a large number of graduates each year and many of those are not willing to leave CA. The community colleges pay really well so there’s a lot of competition to get those jobs. Academic experience, even at the adjunct level, helps a lot. Plus, you make connections with a lot of librarians and if you do good, you can parlay that into a full-time gig. I think the key part of your post is your last sentence. If you didn’t get experience before you graduated or have unique skills, a job like this is a good way to get your foot in the door.

    • Andrew says:

      Kim – I graduated right as the Great Recession was getting into full swing and a part-time gig ended up being my ticket into the field. It didn’t pay well and there were no benefits, but it gave me the job experience that was needed to get my resume noticed at other jobs. After I’d been at the part time gig for a little over a year I went from no response to applications to fielding several job offers at the same time.

      The problem is that a lot of people don’t have the ability to work without benefits or for less than a living wage. For people who don’t have a good support structure it’s definitely a job that sucks, but if you do have a safety net they’re a good foot in the door.

  9. Joyce says:

    This is the type of job that is more out there for the librarian of today. Not a surprise to me. Often you also need to left 50 to 100 lbs and be outgoing!!!! I can imagine than stacking up books that have been preweighted and ordering the interviewee to “lift that barge”. How about recent jobs for an 8 hour a week job that includes be available for all shifts. I’m sure we can all live on those wages.

    • Sharon says:

      I’ve never had to move a ton of books during an interview process. It could be quite comical, though, especially if you had to do it while keeping a smile on your face and making sure that you don’t bump into any patrons! :)

      I have had tests to make sure that I know how to put books in order using various classifications (Dewey, LC, etc.)

      And in my various interviews, I did have to assure them that I could meet all of the physical aspect requirements. I’m sure that all of that is done so that you can’t turn around and sue them if you have to move a cart or box of books around!

  10. spencer says:

    This job should be more upfront. it’s for librarians who became stay at home moms/dads and are bored now that their kid has started kindergarten.

    • Kris Smith says:

      LOL. You just described me! Where was this job again? Oh wait, my last muffin has two more years to go before kindergarten. Might have to wait a little longer. :)

  11. Stephanie says:

    Actually stay-at-home-moms with kindergarten age children are about the *least* likely to be able to suddenly run off to work; there’s pickup and dropoff, after school, weekends, etc., and many kindergartens are just in the mornings. I had a job like that when I was still in library school. My boss (actually she wasn’t my boss but acted like it) would freak out if I did something like use one of the coffee cups in the cupboard instead of bringing in my own. It paid about $15/hour and I had to run several programs a week working only 17 hours/week. I quit when she asked me to make myself available evenings and weekends as well (still working 17 hours a week, which would’ve meant lots of driving back and forth).
    But hey, I did get some good experience, the kids were adorable, and now I have a job managing a technical library. So nyaaah to my former non-boss.

  12. teetop says:

    Adjunct Librarian jobs at community colleges in California are great jobs, you simply could not be more wrong. There’s enough fight for them already that I probably shouldn’t hip you to it, but it’s true. If one such job is the only source of income for your household, that’s a problem. But they are great weekly gigs for additional income. As a previous poster mentioned, the floor for adjunct pay is about $40 an hour–some pay over $50. You are always front and center at reference or leading a classroom orieintation, but the pay is comensurate.

    Also, bear in mind, these aren’t usually ‘on call’ jobs; usually a schedule is set at the beginning of the semester. So you know going in that you will work, say, 5-9 every Tuesday night from mid August until the week before Christmas. You can pretty easily weave that into whatever the rest of your comitments are.

    I think you are mistaking this for an entry level job. It isn’t that. It’s a gig for professionals, like, say a CPA who also teaches an accounting class in his spare time.

  13. teetop says:

    Based on the ad, it looks like the job pays either $41 or possibly $54 an hour. So even one shift a week would mean $700-1000 a month during the semester.

  14. Techserving You says:

    AL, usually I am right with you on the “jobs that suck” front, as well as most of the other issues you write about. But, I don’t agree that this job is in the same category as those other jobs that suck. I didn’t read all of the previous comments, but at a glance, it seems that some others are viewing this the way I do.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with libraries and educational institutions creating pools of substitutes and temps. I could see (and have seen) employed full-time librarians who have flexibility in their schedules (as do many academic librarians) applying for this. It could be a good way to supplement one’s income, and might even provide experience which enhances one’s resume. Such an applicant would already be staying up on the goings-on in his or her field. I don’t imagine they are expecting applicants who otherwise wouldn’t, for their own purposes, be staying abreast of changes in their field, to be doing so just for this position.

    This is not the same as a minimum wage low-level no-benefits librarian position which expects applicants to have extensive credentials (usually beyond the MLS) and to be on call at all times, to work with no notice (which basically precludes them from holding other jobs.)

  15. Techserving You says:

    I have to point out, regarding Joyce’s comment – there are now many things which MUST, legally, be included in job postings. Specific physical aspects of the job are one such thing. Many library positions, including professional library positions, require lifting the occasional box of books, whether a new shipment, or something being moved. It is extremely common for librarian job postings to specify that one needs to be able to lift 25 pounds, or 50 pounds. There is no test of interviewees, but they must be made aware of the requirements.

    And Joyce, please, get a life. I really don’t know why you busy yourself with trolling this professional blog when you’re not in the profession. I graduated from my MLIS program in 2007, after significant paraprofessional experience (at excellent universities, and with no trouble finding paraprofessional jobs which themselves pay a living wage) and I have had a series of good jobs. In trying to find just the right atmosphere and location in which to settle, I have worked in three separate professional positions (starting my third just last month, 4.5 years after graduating, so my stints haven’t been quite as short as it seems.) I have never had any trouble finding good, full-time employment with benefits. There are jobs for those who have experience. And, experience is not hard to come by. But those who graduate with an MLS/MLIS with minimal experience who believe they *deserve* a professional job immediately will be disappointed. They may also have to move. As in other fields, some states have more jobs than others.

    Finally, I think some people need to look at the actual job posting to which AL links, not just AL’s post. It is for temporary teaching positions. Again, while they may accept some unemployed new grads, I think this is more geared towards professionals.

  16. Emily says:

    It is my understanding – having seen many job postings from California community colleges – that most academic jobs in from community colleges in California are required to include a statement to the effect of “Have sensitivity to and understanding of the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, disability, and ethnic backgrounds of community college students.”

    This is required whether or not this “minimum qualification” actually related to the work the candidate will do in the position. Usually the candidate demonstrates this sensitivity and understanding during the application process via a short essay or statement about working with diverse populations.

    Before one nitpicks this requirement, s/he may want to think about job postings and the context from which they typically originate – job postings are often based on a standard template created by the institution’s HR dept. in order to comply with a number of institutional, state and federal employment and hiring regulations.