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.
Most group interviews are really panel sessions—two or more interviewers meet with one candidate at a time. The other, scarier type of group interview is the multicandidate interview. Two or more candidates gather in one room, and hiring managers expect them to make small talk, work in teams, and take turns answering questions.
Writing employee job descriptions is one of the most challenging projects for library managers. Well-written job descriptions attract the right candidates, guide the decisions of those doing the hiring, and help employees understand their responsibilities—factors that are increasing in importance as technology causes significant shifts in roles and expectations for library professionals. Crafting job descriptions in a union environment can add an extra layer of complexity.
Former New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was named president and CEO of Queens Library (QL) on March 1. Walcott, a native of Queens, was selected by the board after a six-month national search. He succeeds Bridget Quinn-Carey, who has served as interim president and CEO since former QL president Thomas W. Galante was placed on administrative leave and then fired in December 2014 for alleged misconduct and mismanagement of library funds. Quinn-Carey will return to her prior role as QL executive vice president and COO. Assuming Walcott’s appointment is approved by the New York State Department of Education (DOE), he will assume his duties at QL on March 14. Although he is not a librarian, Walcott’s career has been devoted to education and social services, serving high-level administrative roles in New York City’s government and community organizations.
President Barack Obama announced on February 24 his intent to nominate Carla D. Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) in Baltimore and 1995 LJ Librarian of the Year, as Librarian of Congress. In addition to leading EPFL since 1993, Hayden served as president of the American Library Association (ALA) from 2003–04 and has been on the National Library and Museum Services Board, which advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), since 2010. Hayden was also a member of the 2010 steering committee that guided the formation of the Digital Public Library of American (DPLA).
Brett Bonfield stepped into the role of director at the Princeton Public Library (PPL), NJ, on January 19. He succeeds former PPL director Leslie Burger, who announced her retirement in July 2015 after 16 years at the library’s helm. Bonfield, a 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker, served as director of the Collingswood Public Library, NJ, from 2008 through 2015; chaired the American Library Association (ALA) Future Perfect Presidential Task Force from 2010 to 2011, and cofounded the influential online journal of librarianship In the Library with the Lead Pipe—he is now an editor emeritus. LJ spoke with Bonfield shortly after he began work at Princeton to talk about fundraising, blogging, PPL’s 2Reimagine second floor renovation campaign, and what it’s like when everyone knows where you live—both literally and metaphorically.
In Fall 2015, the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) strategy team gained two codirectors, David Giles and Story Bellows—urban innovators with strong backgrounds in government policy. Giles joined the library as chief strategy officer in November 2015, after serving as research director at New York’s Center for an Urban Future (CUF), which in 2014 published Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries, a report examining the physical and economic challenges facing the buildings that make up New York City’s three library systems. In his new role, he will provide strategic leadership around program development, partnerships, advocacy, and capital planning, among other aspects of BPL’s mission. Leading the strategy team with Giles is Bellows, who became BPL’s chief innovation and performance officer in October. Before arriving in Brooklyn, Bellows cofounded and directed the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Philadelphia, an in-house research and development lab aimed at supporting innovative approaches to civic problem solving.