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Career Workshops at ALA!

ALA Annual is right around the corner, and you know what that means…dinner and drinks on the library’s dime! Good times!

However, I know some of your libraries don’t consider conferences as an excuse for a great librarian booze up, so for you there’s also ALA-APA career guidance workshops! Good times!

You can’t say the ALA – Allied Professional Association isn’t doing its part to help you get better jobs, and these workshops look like they’ll provide some great advice to guide your career.

Beginning at the beginning, there’s something for the newbie. “Starting Out? Start with You: What Every New Librarian Needs to Know.” What you really need to know is that librarianship is often the field for those who have failed at everything else.

Starting out, you might also have the question, “Why Can’t I Get Any Interviews?” “In this session we will help you examine if your resume or your interview preparation is sabotaging your job search efforts!” You know this one will be exciting, because there’s an exclamation point!!

It’s probably true that some people are sabotaged by their resume or interview preparation, but having seen a lot of librarians interview over the years, I can also state with assurance that a lot of people are also sabotaged by incompetence, inexperience, and stupidity.

They’re also sabotaged by being unattractive, even by librarian standards. Ugliness might be the last bastion of legal discrimination. On the other hand, if laws against ugliness discrimination were passed, how many people would file lawsuits when they didn’t get jobs? We’re all happy to admit to being having a race or a gender, but few of us admit to being ugly.

There’s also fashion sabotage, but the ALA-APA has got your back covered, literally, with “Not So Extreme Makeovers.” “We hear so much about the negative stereotype of how library staff look and dress.” Yes, and we also walk around our libraries noticing how our colleagues are dressed. I hate to break it to you, it’s not a stereotype. But take this workshop, and not only will you dress better, but you’ll have a better “vibe.” Really. It says so right in the blurb.

This one might be the meanest of the bunch: “Getting Back Into the Game: Advice for the Laid-Off, Insecurely Employed, and Mid-Career Slump.” It doesn’t sound mean, does it? At least, not until you see this part: “Sponsored by ALA-APA. Conference Registration Required.”

So if you’re laid off or insecurely employed, plop down a few hundred dollars for registration, housing, and travel so you can attend this workshop and turn your life around! After all, they “want to talk about how to be reflective, courageous, motivated and well-prepared as you shift into the next phase of your career.” That sounds like it’ll be worth every penny.

Finally, if you can’t compete out in the tough old library world, if you’re sabotaged by your resume or your wardrobe, if you’re insecurely employed or slumping mid-career, there’s always “Careers in Federal Libraries.” “Did you know that the average annual salary for all librarians in the Federal Government in non-supervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions was $80,873 in 2007?” Why, no, I did not! Those government jobs sure are cushy! And I bet you can never get fired! The government could collapse around your ears and you’d still get a paycheck!

By the time you finish all these workshops, you’ll have a better resume, a sharper wardrobe, a slicker “vibe,” and hopefully a federal government job, all of which should be better for your career.



  1. ALA is doing a great job. Once again dinner and drinks on the library’s dime!!!!!

  2. So the workshop on library apparel will just show everyone more “stylish” holiday themed cardigans that one could wear?

  3. Man, I am working in the wrong library. Of course, what that Fed workshop does not tell you is that, even though 80K is the average, the starting salary for most if not all will be way below that. As for the academic librarian workshop, sure, the presenter may manage “he recruitment process for more than 400 library positions,” but I am sure he does not have openings at the moment (then again, how many academic libraries do have openings now?). And sometimes, you might not get an interview, and it is not your fault. With so many resumes being submitted, committees are pretty much looking at how to weed the number down, not add work by actually looking in much depth. Overall, it is a crappy market for librarianship and no amount of embellishing by ALA or other organization is going to fix that.

    And no, some of us do not get to go to ALA on our library’s dime. My library here at Backwater Rural Branch (BRB) U. is pretty much singing “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

  4. The starting salary for librarians, while well below $80,000, is around $46,000. Still very respectable.

  5. Doctor Brooks says:

    Here’s the real story: Library directors think they are saving money by no longer hiring newly minted Librarians. They are patting themselves on the back while they destroy the Library profession. All beginning Librarian jobs are gone, and the Library Directors go to ALA and tell each other that Librarians are no longer needed to work at the Library–and they can save money and look good by not hiring any of them. Sad but true.

  6. If you want the 46k librarin job, you first have to work in the pit for ten years on a part time schedule, at about 8 to 10 dollars an hour; if you’re lucky you’ll pull in between 18k and 25k a year by the end of your stint. I looked into it, I considered myself lucky if I found librarian positions starting at round 32.5k that I could apply for. And those were all mainly in elementary and secondary education.

    You must remember that 46k is an average just as much as 80k is an average, and in truth a couple jobs on the upper end counteract many jobs on the lower end – the data that would be far more meaningful at this point would be the median and the mode of the data – the middle value, and the most recurrent values.

    The fact of the matter is, you’re holding a Masters Degree. You’re fighting for jobs that pay less than McDonalds. So at this point, you would have been better off going off and flipping burgers right out of high school instead of going to colelge. For starters, you would now have 4-8 years of real world work experience of which 2-6 might be real Management experience.

    For other matters, you would also relate more with the people who own businesses and are in the mode of hiring people – or at least, look more like what they are looking for.

    They don’t want college people – they aspire to someday finish college themselves, but a degree holder is no where near low enough on the totem pole to qualify for their positions – You’re overqualified for what you can do, and underqualified for what you’re degreed to do! Furthermore, these employers were once McDonalds workers themselves – that’s how they worked when they were young, they didn’t do college! So they have a connection with the laborers they will not have with college people.
    They automatically assume that since you have a big shiny degree, you must know everything, and hence, you appear stupid for the obvious or arrogant for simply admitting your accomplishments. You’re dead in the water…

    Yeah, you can call it Cynical. But I have now found my federal job. It’s not entirely cushy, but at the end of the day it pays far better than most library positions do…Sure, the wage payout isn’t that great, but when you figure in the housing allowance, the food allowance, the clothing allowance, the money for my spouse [if I had one], the educational benefits that can go to me, my spouse or my kids, and the full health plan [NOT insurance!] I am now enrolled in, not to mention all the other little benefits…it’s a nice stack. And when I leave this job, I’ll have 4-20 years of the kind of experience they want in librarians…and library directors! HA. But by then who knows what I’ll be doing, because I doubt I’ll be able to hold still in a building all day after what I do now!

    Hey AL, do you think that “Getting Back Into the Game: Advice for the Laid-Off, Insecurely Employed, and Mid-Career Slump” session is a “Here’s some nice resources you may use to apply for SS, unemployment, disability etc, as shown to us by our very own library patrons, to use in the building where you used to work!” or a “Thanks for your service; Good luck with your aspirations; Here’s some other career options to consider: now get out! [but we’ll make you feel really good so the door doesn’t hurt so bad when it slams on you!]”

  7. I can’t read this blog any longer. The font size is just too small for this old librarian — keeping the yung uns back. My first full-rime library job (1986) paid me just under 11,000/year with no benifits. I now make in the mid 70’s. You gotta be willing to put in your time and pay your dues. My mentor told me way back when … “If I you want to get rich, choose another profession.”

    At least I’m still working.

    [AL: Just hit Cntl+ to make the font as large as you want.]

  8. “The font size is just too small for this old librarian”

    You can set the Internet browser to display text larger.

    Speaking of ALA careers, did you all see what Susan Pieper said about a career at the ALA Council?

  9. Dr. Brooks says:

    Susan Pieper: how many Librarians are employed at your County Library?

  10. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    The few library-types I’ve known who got heavily involved with ALA or state library associations didn’t tend to be stellar examples of librarianship – rather unimpressive all around in my opinion. That would be why I have mostly ignored ALA and our state association these 30 years.

  11. @SafeLibraries

    You’re really stretching for a reason to advertise.

  12. @Raynor

    No, Raynor, I really wrote with a computer comment, just as someone else did, though I said something different. When I realized it, I did add the info from Susan Pieper, but it was not really a stretch. It is directly on point, though in the limited setting of a stint on ALA Council that only about 181 librarians hold at any one time. Susan Pieper even gives suggestions on such a career from an insider’s point of view. I felt her point of view on career tips, even if limited, was worthy of linking here, particularly given the audience.

    The “stretch” comes into play when you, Raynor, write here solely about me and not the subject matter at hand. Someone who does that is sometimes called a troll. And I won’t feed the troll further.

  13. DaughterOfMillWorker says:

    I’m a federal librarian and can assure you that it is indeed a cushy, well-paid job.

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