“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.”
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.
LJ reached out to academic and public library directors and other thought leaders nationwide to find out what new skills they expect to need in librarians in the next 20 years. The 11 listed below emerged as the essentials. Not complete departures, rather they build on trends already in evidence.
Roles for librarians in today’s public, academic, and special libraries keep shifting. The changes, however, aren’t always about technology, as these five new jobs demonstrate.
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.
SLJ’s 2013 job satisfaction survey reveals widespread happiness among librarians, but challenges persist.
Before deciding librarianship is right for you, make sure you understand what today’s librarians do all day. If you want quiet and lots of time to read, think again. Today’s libraries are full of collegial, and sometimes even downright noisy, collaboration, creation, and community activities, and are as much about technology as print on paper.
Modern librarians need to be comfortable and conversant with technology, be willing and able to speak in public, and possess people skills and a commitment to lifelong learning, as the profession and the expertise necessary for success are constantly changing.
As the general economy continues its slow climb out of recession, this past year offered ongoing unemployment and stiff competition for jobs, especially for school library media specialists and reference librarians. However, despite erroneous media reports that library and information science (LIS) is a dying field, there were numerous bright spots and unprecedented gains, ranging from positive salary growth to increased numbers of placements in agencies outside of library environments, and an exciting array of descriptors available to students seeking work inside the LIS field and elsewhere. This year more than 2100 LIS graduates responded to LJ’s annual Placements & Salaries survey, representing 34.7% of the 2011 graduating class from the 41 participating programs.
Specifics related to type of agency and job responsibility likewise offer other images and measures of professional achievement.