How to stand out when applying for an academic library job (opinion)


When you’ve got ever utilized for an instructional librarian place and gotten nowhere, you may need puzzled why. I grew up in an instructional household, had a robust mentor in library faculty and nonetheless didn’t perceive absolutely what a hiring committee can be on the lookout for after I utilized for my first librarian place. Now that I’ve served on a number of hiring committees, I’m providing you with a peek behind the scenes.

What are you able to, the applicant, do to face out? Do it is advisable have all of the required {qualifications} plus all the popular ones? Simply as instructing school members could depart their doctoral packages feeling unprepared to enter a university classroom, many newly minted grasp’s in library science graduates could not have discovered concerning the educational job search.

After I lately taught a category at a neighborhood graduate program, I created a module centered on that search. I taught my college students easy methods to create a matrix utilizing the said {qualifications} of the job commercial, as a result of that’s what hiring committees use to create their screening instruments. This text will stroll you thru that course of and supply ideas for fulfillment, utilizing a job advert for a college library place at a prime analysis college as a case examine.

Assembly Necessities

Whatever the job, it’s best to fastidiously learn your complete commercial, together with the boilerplate assertion concerning the college, the library and their respective missions. You’d be shocked what number of candidates check with the mistaken college, and whereas that gaffe won’t at all times exclude them, it exhibits a scarcity of consideration to element.

Even earlier than you create your matrix, just remember to meet all of the required {qualifications}. The one potential for wiggle room is perhaps that our positions usually require you to have your M.L.S. diploma in hand earlier than the beginning date however not essentially upon utility for the job. In any other case, if you’re missing any required {qualifications}, it’s a waste of your time—and the committee’s—so that you can apply.

The job advert that I’ll use as a case examine is for a analysis librarian for music and performing arts. One of many required {qualifications} is “dedication to ongoing skilled improvement,” so if I have been making use of for the place, I’d first think about what the library is on the lookout for.

What I perceive is the library desires a candidate who’s going to stay energetic in skilled organizations, such because the Music Library Affiliation, by attending annual conferences and/or serving on committees. You possibly can display that in your utility by itemizing skilled affiliations in your CV and elaborating within the cowl letter. For instance, you may say that you’ve been a member of the Music Library Affiliation for 5 years, have attended nationwide and regional conferences, and have served on numerous committees.

One other required qualification is “familiarity with the instruments and strategies of digital scholarship.” Familiarity isn’t the identical as “demonstrated expertise,” so you don’t want to be an professional right here. A solution to handle that requirement can be to say that you’re aware of discovering aids utilizing encoded archival description, or you know the way to assist patrons browse digital collections which can be in contentDM, a digital asset administration software program bundle, or different repositories. You have to be particular and trustworthy.

One other requirement is the “skill to thrive in a extremely collaborative, team-based group.” Even when your solely expertise was in graduate faculty, you may cite group initiatives and touch upon profitable methods that you simply employed there. For instance, if you’re finest at protecting teammates on observe and on schedule, you may point out that.

Upon getting gone by way of all of the required {qualifications} and decided that you simply meet them, make sure each single one is in your CV and/or in your cowl letter. Some candidates write their letters within the order that the {qualifications} are written, which is nice for the hiring committee however not crucial. Simply be sure that the committee doesn’t should hunt round for that info.

Protecting Most popular {Qualifications}

Now you may evaluation the popular {qualifications}, which—as their title suggests—offers you an edge over candidates who merely meet the necessities. This place has a most popular qualification of “working information of overseas languages (French or German most popular).” The hiring committee isn’t going to check you on a overseas language, so you may point out the extent in your CV (elementary, intermediate, superior, native fluent), together with any certificates or assessments, if relevant.

One other most popular qualification is “familiarity with scholarly communication and mental property points,” and once more discover the phrase “familiarity.” You possibly can describe any courses from graduate faculty or skilled expertise, reminiscent of any work with an institutional repository, open-access databases or journals, or cited reference looking out.

It’s nice to make use of nonlibrary experiences to deal with {qualifications}, so long as they’re related. If it is advisable display that you may work nicely with patrons of all stripes, as an illustration, then you may cite retail work so long as you even have library-specific expertise as a complement.

No matter you’re addressing in your letter, be as particular as doable. The concept is to place your self within the place of the hiring committee. The quicker they’ll test off the containers within the matrix of necessities, the quicker they’ll transfer you to the primary spherical: the cellphone interview.

Upon getting lined the necessities and most popular {qualifications}, see in case you can naturally point out your real curiosity within the college and the library. Don’t make up a motive why you have an interest, and preserve it skilled. Even if you’re making use of for a place at, say, the College of California, Los Angeles, since you need to learn to surf, don’t say that. The quilt letter is a superb place—and actually the one place—the place you may discuss your pleasure about a facet like the scholar physique or school analysis on the establishment.

For instance, my college has a big inhabitants of deaf college students, so if a candidate is aware of ASL, that may be a good thing to say. We even have many first-generation faculty college students, and it’s useful for the hiring committee to know if a candidate has expertise working with that scholar inhabitants or desires to self-disclose that they have been the primary of their household to go to school. You need to think about the specifics of the college and the library so it’s clear to the committee that you’re not utilizing a generic utility.

Reference Letters

Again to the job advert: it asks for contact info for 3 references. Some libraries would require letters of reference, however you shouldn’t ship them unsolicited. Additionally, your references must be librarians or professors, not library assistants or paraprofessionals—particularly if you’re making use of for a tenure-track school place—as a result of a library assistant or paraprofessional will not be aware of among the nuances. Ideally, your references can have supervised or mentored you, but when crucial, you may ask a peer. All references should have the ability to remark knowledgably, particularly and positively about your work. You also needs to make it possible for they write their letters in methods which can be tailor-made to the place you’re making use of for and never generic letters of assist.

As a courtesy, ask somebody earlier than itemizing them as a reference, and provides them the job advert and your CV to assist them put together. It’s nice if references can’t touch upon each single facet of a specific job, however you need to set them up for fulfillment. As well as, let your references know once they is perhaps contacted.

Cellphone Interviews

After you’re contacted for a cellphone interview, pull up your matrix and brainstorm doable interview questions. Despite the fact that you may have clearly met the required {qualifications}—in any other case, you wouldn’t have landed an interview—you’ll nonetheless be questioned about not less than a few of them. Based mostly on the job advert, you is perhaps requested about your dedication to skilled improvement, as an illustration. The popular {qualifications} are additionally truthful recreation, so be prepared to speak truthfully about any of them. The interviewers may ask you concerning the place typically (not simply the {qualifications}), so be sure to are nicely acquainted with your complete job description.

Convey inquiries to ask; it you don’t have any, it indicators to the committee that you’re neither within the place nor the college or library. Should you have no idea what to ask, listed below are some solutions:

  • What sort of assist does the library present by way of skilled improvement?
  • For tenure-track positions, does the library have particular tips for tenure and promotion, and what are the expectations for scholarly publications?
  • What’s your favourite facet about working on the college or library?

Except for questions straight related to the said {qualifications}, a hiring committee usually asks questions reminiscent of:

  • Situation: Give an instance of a difficult patron interplay. What occurred, how did you resolve the difficulty and what was the result?
  • Evaluation: How do you identify if an info literacy session/library workshop/instruction session was profitable?
  • Scholarly analysis: What are your analysis pursuits? Do you may have focused journals?
  • Values: What does variety imply to you?

Whereas there isn’t any one proper solution to apply for an instructional librarian place, you may be more likely to achieve success if you’re intentional and take the time to match your background and expertise to a particular place. By placing your self within the footwear of the hiring committee, you may have a much better likelihood of touchdown the job.

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