Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Do Experience and Talent not Count?

There was a curious comment on the blog last week that I thought I’d address. In the post on leaving the profession, I had speculated that “There are other library jobs out there, and people with good skills and lots of experience have a much better shot of getting those jobs.”

If people disagree that’s fine with me. What I found curious was what I took to be the nature of the disagreement. Here’s the comment:

This does not apply to all parts of the country; good jobs of ANY kind are still few and far between in many places. Where do you get this rosy data about librarian jobs? And from my experience, good skills and experience do not always play a role as many employers are looking for the cheapest hires possible. Maybe a little insulated in academia, huh?

The first part of the comment I don’t think counts. Saying other jobs are out there doesn’t mean those other jobs are right around the corner from where you live. I’ve long maintained that a lack of geographic mobility means you’re harming your chance at getting a job. Still, there are jobs out there.

Rosy data? You’ve got me there. I have no data, rosy or otherwise, although I do see job ads, and there are definitely library jobs available.

Cheapest possible hires? Yeah, you’ve got me there, too. I think I’ve even written about that, but it would be too much trouble to find the post(s). But yes, I agree that there are libraries who will hire the cheapest over the best, or at least not hire the best if the salary demand is more than the library is willing or able to pay.

The really curious part was the suggestion that I’m “maybe a little insulated in academia.” I’m not quite sure what that means.

Does it mean that academic libraries are somehow “insulated” from something? The library profession? Other kinds of libraries?

They’re certainly not insulated from budget pressures, hiring problems, organizational chaos, incompetence, or any other sort of problems you’d find in other kinds of libraries.

The examples I’ve seen of hiring the cheapest over the best have all occurred in academic libraries. On the other hand, the norm that I’ve seen is hiring the best available candidate, although sometimes the best available candidate is just too expensive.

Plus academic libraries bring some unique headaches like “publish or perish” for a lot of librarians.

So are we to interpret the comment to imply that public libraries, for example, are more prone to all of the problems of libraries in general than academic libraries?

Or, and here’s what I think the comment is getting at, that good skills and experience don’t count for much, or for as much, as they do in academic libraries?

If that’s true, and I do repeat if because I don’t have any experience with this, then it’s surprising that every talented public librarian with an escape route to another profession or kind of library doesn’t bolt immediately.

So is it true that public libraries in general don’t consider talent, skill, and experience when hiring librarians? Do they really just take the cheapest person they can find? Could a profession really sustain itself with that kind of approach to hiring?



  1. This post raises all kinds of questions. Does the best candidate always have an MLS? I think not. The MLS is more a sign of perseverance and a functional body chemistry…especially online degrees. Does the best candidate always have library experience? I think not. Experience in business is often a better qualifier for some library jobs. How about membership in ALA? I’d rather have someone with membership in the League of Cities and Towns for a public library job? It all depends on the job and the human qualities you think you need to fill that job. Too often hiring is hamstrung by inflexible HR bots.

    • Captain Librarian says:

      I have to say that ten years ago, I felt exactly the same way about the MLS, but I’ve come to consider it necessary. Maybe it’s just the environments I’ve worked in personally, but I find a definite difference in the approach and job philosophy between MLS and non-MLS staff. There is something to be said for having the academic and philosophical background to view the “big picture” professionally, while still attending to the day to day duties, and that comes, not always, but most often, with an MLS I think.

    • But the MLS can constrict your thinking. The library profession is bounded by strict norms. Those norms are inculcated in library school. Now with online education it is more difficult than ever to challenge those norms.

    • Captain Librarian says:

      I’d argue that if someone is prone to having their thinking restricted by a degree program, it isn’t a problem with the degree, but the thinker. Still, I think the broad based background knowledge of information organization, human search strategies, and the overall mores and mentality of the profession is valuable. (Basically all the things I most thought were pointless while I was actually in the program).

    • “But the MLS can constrict your thinking. The library profession is bounded by strict norms. Those norms are inculcated in library school.”

      Absolutely. Just a few months ago, for example, some student in an MLS program in Kansas wrote about … me. Naturally, I was the bad guy. She wrote a lot about me, but not once did she contact me to see for herself. Had she done that, she might not have regurgitated the library school dogma.

    • So, Dan if someone doesn’t agree with you they are brainwashed? It couldn’t be because they don’t agree with you? They have to be influenced by the “powers that be”. You would be that egocentric.

    • @Me, please stay civil.

    • Many librarians are second career librarians (I’m one, and there were plenty of people on their second and third career in my MLS program.) I’d agree with Captain Librarian, it is the thinker, not the degree.

    • What was uncivil about my comment? Stating that you made a very egocentric comment? Calling you out for saying a student (whom you’ve never spoken too) was “regurgitating library school dogma”, insinuating that this student can’t think for themselves and come to their own conclusions?

    • Clara Strom says:

      I am REALLY getting tired of all of the negative comments about online degrees. I got my B.A. the “traditional” way and I got my MLIS online. I worked harder getting my Master’s online, which I fully expected because many of the professors felt they had to prove that an online degree is as good as a traditional one. I AM the best person for the job. I am passionate about my job and I see plenty of people who went to “traditional” library school who are lazy, incompetent “librarians” because they don’t care. Since you are so confident that the degrees are just window dressing, the next time you go to the doctor how about telling him you don’t need someone with a degree just ask him to give you “the best person for the job”. It could be a nurse who doesn’t have the money to go to medical school. I think you get the picture.

    • Degrees don’t constrict your thinking, especially a degree like the MLIS that comes later in life for most people. I found that at library school most people come into library school with a certain mind frame (yes, mostly liberal) and they use the philosophy of it to support whatever they believe in. Just like beauty is in the mind of the beholder so is information. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen information warped (the anti-vaccine campaigns anyone) to support someones beliefs.

  2. Yes, of course I was also a bit taken aback by your idea that the “best” is always the one hired. Please, wake up and understand that if you do not have the details to prove your point you could be misleading other readers. Nepotism still exists. HR persons doing hiring in library systems are sometimes not trained in HR and therein lies another problem. In my experience I have seen workers move up through the ranks in public libraries to become supervisors without receiving any formal training while another individual moved on to postgraduate studies and still cannot get a job with a public library. it is not all rosy as you would have some of us believe. This is not a personal attack on you but some facts to ponder.

    • Annoyed Librarian says:

      I have been accused of taking too rosy a view of the library job situation. This has got to be a first.

    • Now Annoyed Librarian is REALLY annoyed!

    • bflolibrarian says:

      And I would also add that HR professionals are not only untrained at times, but hired to cut talented staff off at the knees if they that staff is aggressive about advocating for anything other than keeping the budget under control and taxes low. We are seeing a trend of hiring management side labor lawyers as HR administrators who are most definitely not focused on librarianship, education or the “public good.”

    • Captain Librarian says:

      I’ve been in public libraries for some time, and I’ve noticed that as wages and raises decrease (or at best, fail to increase) during the current economic troubles, the quality of staffing has definitely gone down, in my local area anyway. Rather than trying to find ways to attract qualified candidates, many local public libraries seem to have responded to the economic crisis by hiring anyone willing to take a part time, low paying job, or else by downgrading degreed positions to non-degreed ones, when possible. In other words, they’d like to have talented staff, but will happily hire a houseplant if it will work for ten bucks an hour with no benefits.

  3. There are many very talented people who are underemployed or only employed in a career track loosely tied to librarianship. For many two income families geographic flexibility is simply not an option, which has been stated many times before. Often people don’t mention critical issues like visitation right for divorced parents, or caring for elderly parents. For those either underemployed, or who have essentially created their own job in the private sector a clock starts ticking. Either practitioners leave for better pay and environment, or advance in the private sector growing farther and farther from librarianship. The sad thing is, is that many would stick around for meager full time salaries. However the benefit may ultimately lie in leaving the field, or leaving the field in a de facto manner. With advancement increasingly difficult perhaps the brightest will be the quickest to leave the field.

  4. Underemployed in DC area says:

    There is a growing number of issues in getting hired that are a problem.For instance, many jobs are downgrading to Assistantships where they used to be Librarian jobs. Or many formerly FT jobs are now Part time. For many of us who have been working in libraries for years now (15 yrs in my case), we can’t seem to break into the full time gigs in a Public Librarianship role. I am stuck in Circulation. My area which has a lot more Public Library jobs than many areas, but this means that those who can move, do move…to my area. It is frustrating.

    Advancement at this point has become nearly imposssible. I just got my MLS last year. And while I have been a part of this system for 7 years, those who are willing to move have more years of “Professional Librarian Experience” (as the job ads from my system read) and are therefore, “better hires”. I keep getting told that sometimes you just have to “take a part time job”. However, for me a single woman living alone, I need to have the benefits that working full time in circulation provides.

    While this situation isn’t necessarily common for everyone, the glut of librarians from all areas has created problems for ALL trying to get hired. Anyone working Full time in the job of their choice may be qualified to give job information, but this “rosy news” is that much harder to swallow by those who are trying their hardest to get hired and have both the degree and years of experience.

    Oh and BTW, changing geographic areas is a lot harder than it seems. As, more applications come in from all over in my system, other places won’t hire you if they have residency restrictions, (Boston and Wisconsin I’m looking at you) or if your post code is so far away that despite the fact that you would pay your own moving expenses, you are less likely to work out in the long run according to thier HR data.

    • Your last paragraph is what has me worried. I moved 3000 miles away to get a professional librarian job straight out of graduate school. Now that professional experience has been gained and I meet the requirements of most jobs I would like to apply for back home I feel that the fact that I’m so far away is a deterrent for libraries to consider hiring me due to the costs of bringing me in for an onsite interview or assuming that I would ask for/require moving expenses.

  5. Degree doesn’t equal job, degree equals better chances.

  6. The only thing that I can take from the “academia is insulated” comment is maybe a smaller degree of nepotism? It’s only anecdotal but I think that has some truth to it. Smaller public libraries in particular have more relaxed requirements in terms of needing an MLIS, etc. so people can more easily promote someone internally they like instead of hiring an external candidate.

    Academic libraries in my experience (due to extremely convoluted hiring processes) are a little more stringent on years of experience, certain degrees, etc. Especially because a universities HR department has to be so particular about it with teaching faculty. Have they published, have a PhD, teaching experience, etc. It’s essentially another layer that candidates need to get through that most public libraries (large systems with city or county wide HR excluded) don’t require.

  7. Anonymous Hiring Manager says:

    I am a hiring manager, or perhaps a manager who hires, for a public library system. While I have applied and interview for Academic library jobs a long, long time ago, I really can’t speak for what they do. As this is an interesting topic, let me shed some light on some of the assumptions here:

    Nepotism – I don’t think you all are using the word here correctly. I, as I imagine most public administrators, are forbidden to hire relatives. If you are using the word to imply that libraries like to hire from within, then yes that’s true.

    Why? A number of reasons. For instance, my library system helps pay for schooling. When someone graduates they represent a considerable investment for us by the time they get a MLIS. We don’t encourage people to get an MLIS that we don’t feel will be a good fit for us.

    Also, while I am always amazed that internal candidates (I’ll include people who volunteer for us) seem to think the interview or application is where they “make it” or “break it”. No – your interview is taking place whenever you show up at work. If you excel, we notice. If you screw up, we remember. Don’t assume that just because you have your MLIS that somehow means you get the job or that a miraculous interview will somehow erase an impression that has been built up over years like barnacles to a boat.

    My suggestion to people who are inside a library system and are continually passed over for position after position – take a hint. They obviously don’t think that having you in a full librarian job works for them. Your best bet is to apply elsewhere.

    External applicants tend to fall for a fatal flaw during interviews. They talk about themselves in a way that is either not relevant to the job, the library or perhaps is even adverse to what we need. I am not going to hire someone that wants to move back home, doesn’t know a thing about our library system and has no experience or enthusiasm for a job they’ve never held.

    That last part – enthusiasm – is crucial. Make me think that you are even remotely excited about the job and you are easily beating out 80 percent of your competition. Librarians especially seem to think it’s OK to walk into an interview looking either bored stiff or stiff as a board. Smile, ask questions, be nice. Know the answer to this question – why are you the best person for this job? If you don’t, I can tell within the first 5 minutes.

    Good luck.

    • I guess nepotism isn’t the right word here. Although in smaller public libraries relatives of current employees are hired (I’ve witnessed it first hand) . I’m not using the word just to imply that libraries like to promote from within. Although, that is part of it, it has more to do with promoting from within when said person doesn’t meet the requirements of the job posting.

  8. Mary Jo says:

    When you expect one thing, and you get something less, disappointment is inevitable – the view less than rosy. The library blogosphere is rampant with complaints lately about the unrosiness of it all. This view of library employment is often accompanied by faulty logic (I have a library degree, so I should be able to get a job as a librarian… I didn’t learn anything in my MLS, so the MLS is worthless… If a library has a choice between hiring me without experience and another librarian with experience, they should choose me…).

    Libraries are businesses with hiring decisions that encompass budgets, retention expectations, succession needs, past hiring experience (what has worked and what hasn’t), organizational structure, strategic planning, future economic forecasting, and accountability. Of course there are things that could be better – some degree programs are better than others, some employment practices are better than others. That will always be true, as it is true in every industry. Right now, there are more people earning library degrees than there are library job openings – it’s an employer’s market.

    For a would-be librarian or an underemployed librarian, the trick may be to first accept that things are as they are. Rosiness is relevant to your expectations. Then if you want full employment as a librarian, treat it as the ultimate reference question – find that combination of information that has allowed other librarians to succeed where you have not. Ask questions of people who have succeeded and people who do hiring – while an HR person may not be able to say directly why they did not choose you, they can offer you suggestions for improving your application/resume/cover letter/ interview, and they may be able to say why they chose the person who was hired (over you). It helps to be open to the idea that in the process, you might discover things about yourself or libraries or other industries that lead you in new directions.

    • I appreciate what you are saying here, except for one point. When applicants who did not get the position ask for feedback on the interview/resume/ coverletter… they often do not receive feedback other than a general, we thought this person was a better fit. Many employers, libraries or otherwise will not give feedback because of negative experiences (applicants arguing among others).

    • C, you are probably right, but of the hundreds of applications I have processed in HR, only one applicant has ever come back to me for advice, and I gave it. Any time a library student asks for an informational interview, I will happily give it, but that rarely happens. I am always impressed by people who want to know what we want in an employee.

    • In my experience, even asking HR for advice won’t help much. I’ve been looking for a full-time job in librarianship for about two years now while working part-time, and around year one I started to think I must be doing something wrong. So I asked the employers who turned me down if there was anything I could do to improve as a candidate.

      The answer: “Nothing. You’re smart, you’re friendly, you’re perfect–we’re hiring someone else.”

      They pass me over because the opening was a “phantom job,” advertised for X weeks to comply with hiring policies when they really intended to promote from within. They pass me over because I had to work in web development to pay the bills, and web development doesn’t look relevant to librarianship. They pass me over because someone else is local, someone else is good friends with the manager, someone else picked a different major in college.

      I continue to ask, but the answer is always, always, “nothing.” I can’t help being young. I can’t give my MLS back to SLIS, and I think another degree would only push me further into the corner. I’m more than willing to relocate, but there’s nowhere to relocate *to* because all of the postings ask for professional experience, and my years as a part-timer count for peanuts.

      In other words, I have no control. I know exactly why others have succeeded while I have not–they were born before I was. And there’s not a darned thing I can do about it.

    • Tamara, I am just now finishing up my degree, and I was fortunate to have a part time job already, (2 actually). I had hopes that I would be offered a full time position when the next opening arose, but I am now having to move across the U.S for my husbands job. I have seen the same problems as you have, and have even had several patrons who have asked me for information, not like what they have heard, and moved to the next “older” librarian. Others have said that there is no way I could be a librarian, “you must still be working on your bachelor’s right?” I have a very young face and I feel that this will hold me back in this field.

  9. First I would like to say that, despite calling her out as insulated, I think AL is one of the best librarian writers out there.

    That being said, “insulated” was based on what sounded (and sounds) to me to be a naïve view of the job picture. I think that tenured librarians ensconced in academic institutions may have it better on some levels than those of us working in decimated public libraries, and may not be aware of how fractured the profession and job opportunities are in some places. It does appear that things are still better in academia as far as choosing the “best” candidate as opposed to the cheapest or most closely related friend or relative, though I do hear from my academic colleagues that things are sliding there as well, that subject specialists are becoming a thing of the past, people are overstretched, etc.

    I completely agree that if one is willing and able to be mobile, the job picture in our field does expand considerably.

    I’m sure there are some great public libraries out there and any mobile librarian who is dedicated to public work should seek out those institutions. That is not always possible however, and though I can attest to a very low bar being set in in some places, it still may be worth staying the course as public librarian if the level of commitment to public education and public service can be maintained without becoming too demoralized by the “acceptance” of poor leadership saddled with shrinking budgets.

  10. I don’t really think AL is “insulated”. I think she is spot on in several ways. I do not think that her view is particularly rosy at all. We all know the job market sucks, we know that sometimes you do not have much of a choice in moving to another area, or taking a full time job in circulation/other fields; people need to eat, they have family/ other reasons for being unable to move etc. We also know that being able to move to another area, and perhaps accepting less pay for a few years can help secure a job, as well as working both a full time and a part time position?

    I work in both an academic and public library, both libraries are struggling, and the truth of the matter is, most people hire the best possible fit for their library, and sometimes “close enough is good enough”. If saving money on a person with less experience is able to save the library enough money to get new technology, expand their collection, and so on, then they need to do whats right for their patrons. Sometimes that means sacrificing some things. As long as the new hire is able to do the job, why should they hire the rather more expensive librarian?

  11. Here is the real deal: do not expect a library job for at least 6 months post graduation UNLESS you have real work experience in a library. So many people I know are whining about not having their dream job but the only experience they have is one internship. If you are in grad school get a job as a reference assistant at the circ desk or even as a shelver. Impress your boss. Get a job where you can A) do some circulation development B) answer some reference questions or C) work at the circ desk. Yes you may have to go part time but here is the truth: once you have one part time job at a library you can get another one easier. Libraries are unfortunately very heirarchal. That means you have to work your way up. I knew I wanted to be a librarian at age 14 and by the time I was 24 I had my dream job — but I worked for years as a shelver and as library assistants. I could walk into the interview as a “new grad” but with experience. Even with all my experience it takes me at least 6 months to get a job when switching from one library to another.

    • Not everyone is lucky enough to know what they want to do at 14. Even with “library experience” you can still be qualified for a job and not get hired. There are so many factors that do into hiring decisions, and many of them are subjective. The hiring manager (and usually the team) has to like you. You can be qualified, but if the hiring manager doesn’t like you, for whatever reason, you won’t get hired.

      As an HR person in a library, I can tell you that the most experienced person does not always get the job. First of all, to even get to the first step in the hiring process, someone has to consider that you are appropriate for an interview. With tons of applications coming in for every advertised position, there is rarely an instance when only one person with experience is applying. As mentioned earlier, geographic location is a huge factor. I live in an area with several MLS programs within a few hours commuting distance. Twice or three times a years, all those schools are turning out new grads, and that doesn’t include the number of students that live in the area that are attending a distance program in another area or state. I’ve got hiring managers that don’t consider circulation experience sufficient to do anything but work at the circ desk. If an applicant has tons of circulation experience and wants to move to reference or cataloging or another area in the library, that applicant won’t be considered for the position UNLESS the applicant is known to the hiring manager. It’s not fair, it’s not a good professional practice, but that it how it works in my library. (I work in an academic library.) In my metro area, we can afford to be extra selective about hiring. I don’t agree with in in all instances, but the hiring managers call the shots, not HR. (People, please stop blaming HR as the reason you didn’t get a job.) No decent HR person would force a hire onto a manager that didn’t want to hire him or her-what a recipe for disaster.

      Libraries have varying hiring practices-the reason why someone was not selected for a position doesn’t reason that person will be rejected for another position at another library. I’m not trying to find the cheapest person I can pay; that doesn’t serve my organization well for numerous reasons. That being said, I’ve got a salary budget, and I also have to be concerned with salary equity issues. If these days of ever declining budgets and little or no raises, many people are getting paid the salary they think they should.

    • Very good point, one 2 month internship will get you no where, and there are always libraries looking for volunteers. Volunteering is better experience than nothing, and I can say that having had one part time position definitely opened up the way for my second part time position!

  12. James White says:

    I’ve been seeing more and more technology jobs here in Australia specifically cite that they want “digital natives” as applicants. It doesn’t seem to matter that study after study shows that young people don’t have magical technology powers – there are more and more jobs which specifically ask for “digital natives”.

    I was at training the other day and was told that if there was any feature of Microsoft Outlook I didn’t understand I should “Just ask any colleague who is Generation Y.” I mentioned this to my generation Y colleague, and she was horrified. She’s quite happy to be an assistant children’s librarian, thanks.

    So, no, experiencei s marked down in some library jobs, because experience comes with age, and people really like the idea that young people have a magical connection to technology. IMO, it’s because if this is true, then people can never say to them “You could do it too, if you were interested in your own time. or did inservice training.” You can’t be blamed for not being magical.

    • Sarah K says:

      That’s interesting–does Australia have laws about age discrimination in the workplace? If so, the requirement that a candidate be a “digital native” might run afoul of that.

    • Exactly what I thought of when I read that Sarah. The definition from Oxford: “a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age”

      Seems to me like they are inviting a lawsuit. As to James’ point, when you say technology jobs do you mean in libraries? Technology jobs outside of libraries are a whole different animal. They prefer younger cheaper workers more than experienced workers. Coding is coding. If you can program fluently in Java, C++, etc. they don’t usually care if you’ve been doing it for 5 years or 25 years.

    • James White says:

      @Sarah, @Me

      Oh, it’s illegal. In Australia the only permitted age discrimination is training wages for those under 25. They do it anyway.

      I do mean libraries. I’m not saying everyone does them, but I’m saying I regularly see ads which ask specifically for digital natives.

    • I have had much the same experience with this. The director at my internship directs computer questions my way because after all, I am young, I must have all the answers when it comes to technology!

    • miss.smith says:

      I considered moving to Australia but the salary ceiling for sponsorship has pushed me out. I would have to be on a library management salary to get sponsored. I should have thought about it a few years ago when the salary was lower.

  13. @Penny
    Yes, not everyone knows what they want at 14. And yes, not all librarians with the most experience get hired. You do have to be likable. I am fortunately likeable and have effectively networked. However my bigger point is that you cannot be “likable” to libraries if you don’t have a positive network of references. How do you get those glowing references? You work hard at whatever job you can find in a library. You work your connections. Do your research and strategize how to get that job.

  14. @A-you are certainly on the mark that connections help. But I think that many people looking for a job (especially a full time job that pays decently and includes benefits) would say that doing your research and strategizing are simply not enough. There are not enough full-time open positions to accommodate all the job seekers looking for work. There are those seeking employment who could use help with the resume and interviewing skills. However, there are numerous job seekers that have an excellent resume and excellent interviewing skills. Sometimes luck is a bigger factor than people realize.

  15. miss.smith says:

    I’m a cataloguer and these jobs are few and far between.I assume that places like to train people from within to take over these jobs. I’ve tried to leave librarianship and go into administrative work but there doesn’t seem to be much scope for that either. The salaries are very unattractive considering that a library assistant desk position is the same salary as an entry level office clerk. Perhaps we are too arrogant since our profession requires a degree and the clerk doesn’t. Although in my experience the clerks duties may be more onerous than the average library circulation desk duties, or at least those that are non management. When I had a temporary job working on a circulation desk I could have brought my friend who works in marketing and trained her up in the duties in about three hours so why should we be paid more than an office clerk? Should we be paid more because we require a degree? The free market valuation of library work is for the most part sadly correct.

    • Of course you could train someone in circulation in a day or a few hours, but you can’t exactly train someone in cataloging, reference, or collection development in a day. And yes, if you are requiring a degree then you should be compensated further to account for the price of said degree. I am not saying we should make a million bucks because we have a degree, but enough that we should be able to support ourselves, while still making payments on our students loans is not too much to ask for.

  16. miss.smith says:

    What’s the situation like in Canada? Do they have many library and information recruitment agencies?

    • miss.smith says:

      @c I suppose cataloging is different but even that library path is made to appear more complicated than it is in reality. I was drawing attention to entry level library positions. Should I get more money because I have a degree? I know a dozen librarians who are in the young age bracket but do not have a degree in librarianship yet are library assistants. (They got in before the economic crisis hit) I shouldn’t get paid more than them. For the most part the degree is a nonsense.

  17. I can agree with you to a certain extent, and I can say that I do not expect to get paid more working as a circulation assistant as I would a reference librarian, even though I have the degree. If you want the higher paid position, you have to earn it. Having the degree just makes it slightly easier. You work the part time position, and hope and pray a full time library position opens up and you are lucky enough to be hired.
    And can you clarify this sentence for me? “I know a dozen librarians who are in the young age bracket but do not have a degree in librarianship yet are library assistants.” How can they be librarians who do not have a degree and are employed as library assistants? If they do not have the degree and are employed as librarians then yes, one could argue they are librarians (although we all know that is a different debate entirely). However they can not be librarians without degrees and employed as a library assistant.

  18. says:

    After two years of looking for a professional library job, I think it’s time that I took issue with something the Annoyed Librarian keeps repeating and that I continuously find not be true. In this article she states (as in many others) that, ” I’ve long maintained that a lack of geographic mobility means you’re harming your chance at getting a job.”

    What she seems to be deliberately ignoring is the fact that some libraries see geographic mobility as a “symptom of desperation.” That is an exact quote from a phone interview I did with an academic library two years ago. Unfortunately, not having kids, not dragging along a significant other, not tying myself down with a mortgage, and being young and able to move anywhere in the USA is NOT always perceived as being wise, responsible, and ready to do what it takes to land a library job by all libraries.

    What is even more annoying is when you’re willing to cover the cost of your interview (plane ticket, hotel, meals, etc.) and the cost of relocating (even if it is to Guam or Alaska) and the university’s HR office lets it slip that your application was passed over because you didn’t live in the same state/territory.

    Even more disheartening is when a library places a job add on LibGig and specifically states that, “This employer requests that only candidates within 100 miles of Townson, MD apply to this job.” Here’s the link, if you think I’m making this up:

    I really wish the Annoyed Librarian would address this issue. As I’ve stated, I have nothing tying me down to the academic library I currently work in (as a staff member), and I’ve been willing to apply for locations as remote and rural as North Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska, yet, no one will hire me.

    • I can see that you have definitely had a hard time finding a position, and I will agree that I have seen more job descriptions asking for candidates within their own state, but the fact does remain that when you open a wider net, your are widening your chances of finding a position. However, there will also be some libraries that do not want candidates from different states/ territories, and there are some good reasons for that. I have seen many co workers move back to their home state because of homesickness, there does tend to be a culture difference, look at East Coast versus West Coast, major differences there. And there is the cost factor, even if you are willing to pay for the relocation/ interview expenses.

  19. I have found now that many librarian jobs require you to have a driver’s license from the state in which the Library in physically located making mobility difficult. On LibGig I have found that when you click the job listing it says, the employer requests candidates within 100 miles of the location you appear to not meet the category…

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