“We are all walking stories, so it’s vital that as librarians, we learn the art of listening to story…” says Irvin, an assistant professor in the library and information science program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. “[We need to be] willing to share our own stories so that we best relate to patrons, communities, and stakeholders.”
How do we find that perfect hire? A recent email from Kit Stephenson, head of reference and adult services at Bozeman Public Library, MT, got me thinking: “I am trying to find the best questions to find a full-stack employee. A couple of attributes I require are compassion, team player, and thrives on change. I want someone to be a conduit, connector, and a discoverer.” That call back to Stacking the Deck raised this question: How do we find a well-rounded person amid a virtual pile of résumés and cover letters? Please consider the following as part of your potential discovery sets for future interviews.
Most academic librarians stepping into a position can model their work on that of their predecessors. But not Thomas Padilla. On his appointment in April as the first humanities data curator at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Library (and the first in the entire University of California system), Padilla has had to draw on a number of different disciplines to shape his role of working with data throughout its life cycle, creating a support plan for digital humanities researchers, and providing research data consultation.
On April 11, Tony Ageh became New York Public Library’s (NYPL) chief digital officer, responsible for developing strategy for the ongoing digital transformation of the institution, which includes making its collections and services as accessible as possible both locally and globally. Ageh most recently held a variety of leadership positions at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London, beginning in 2002. There he created and implemented the BBC iPlayer, an Internet television and radio streaming service, which has delivered over 10 billion programs to British users, and acted as controller of the BBC’s Archive Strategy, partnering with such organizations as the British Library and the Open Data Institute on the Digital Public Space, an open access approach to learning and cultural resources.
While serving as a library trustee is no longer the exclusive domain of retirees, or even those in late or midcareer, only the board of the Cornelius Public Library, OR, can boast a chair who is still thinking about her SAT scores. Sixteen-year-old Mariana Ramirez Godinez (pictured), a junior and honor student at Glencoe High School, where she plays violin and sings in Una Voz, the Hillsboro School District’s 35-member mariachi band, was unanimously elected chair of the 11-member Cornelius Library Advisory Board in December; she has been a board member since spring 2015, a volunteer for the past three years, and a fan of the library since she moved to Cornelius from Mexico ten years ago.
It’s easy to find advice on how to mentor a Millennial, but what if you are a Millennial, and you are the mentor? It’s bound to start happening. As of 2015, Millennials make up the largest proportion of the workforce. The oldest members of that generation are turning 34 and moving into management positions. Those of us who have moved into management have had help, and we should send the ladder back down.
Later this year Andrew Jackson, executive director of the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center in Corona, Queens, will be leaving the position he has held since 1980 to write and teach. A Queens native, Jackson grew up in East Elmhurst, receiving a degree in Business Administration from York College at the City University of New York and his MLS from Queens College. Stepping into the role will be Mikisha Morris, who has spent the majority of her career in nonprofit and public education administration in Philadelphia. Morris recently earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership, focusing on the use of cultural arts programs to serve urban communities.
Innovation Catalyst Librarian, Wikipedian in Residence, Director of Knowledge Curation and Innovation. These are just three of the job titles emerging in libraries that indicate the dynamism of the field. They point to libraries as a destination for talent seeking a great place to develop a career while making a contribution. Long misunderstood in the popular psyche as a haven of employment for those who just love to read, libraries are complex service organizations with opportunities to get paid to do good work for a lifetime. As they have evolved, so have the particular jobs available, and now is an exceptionally interesting time to think of the library as the place to dedicate the bulk of one’s waking hours. Along the way, libraries are looking more and more like the innovative employer every community should have humming at its core.
As this quartet of essays attest, from today’s groundbreaking titles to tomorrow’s essential skills, what it means to be a working librarian is expanding. This can drive changing job descriptions—sometimes a ticklish process to negotiate with unions but successful if embarked upon with a collaborative attitude. To get those new, improved positions, learn to navigate one of the trickiest aspects of the hunt: the group interview.