Tag Archives: Job Hunting

Hiatus and comeback!

11 Feb

As my regular readers have noticed, I’ve taken a little hiatus from my blog. This essentially corresponded to the time I left my position as the director of the Tracadie-Sheila Public Library in New Brunswick last September. I was extremely proud of the work I did at the Tracadie-Sheila Public Library and my decision to leave my position was bitter-sweet. On the bitter side, I was leaving an incredible library full of wonderful people to whom I’d grown extremely attached (patrons, staff, volunteers, library board members). I was also sad to leave behind projects that I cared passionately about such as our new library building project and our continuous efforts to create new and rewarding community partnerships. However, on the bright side, my decision to leave was based on a very happy development in my personal life (my engagement) and so part of me was definitely excited to relocate to Toronto.

Since I needed to relocate to Toronto, I got back into the full-swing of applying for library positions. This was a difficult period because I am definitely a perfectionist when it comes to applications and every time that I spent hours toiling over an application only to never even get an interview, it was like I’d lost a small piece of myself. After a few months, people said that it was because I hadn’t yet found the “right job for me”. In the end, this turned out to be true as at the end of August once “the right job for me” was posted it took me only 2 weeks total to send in my application, be contacted for an interview, have an interview, and be offered the position.

I now work for a Francophone school board where I am in charge of the libraries in two schools (a K-6 school and a middle school). This is a fantastic job because I have always been passionate about children’s librarianship. Being in a school library allows me to do story-time, teach information literacy, provide reader advisory and research and order books that kids will get excited to read.

Each Canadian province has different standards for what qualifications are needed for working in school libraries. In Ontario, most school boards have teacher-librarians in their schools; this position requires a teaching degree paired with a few courses in librarianship. When I went for my interview, I was told that my school board has not had teacher-librarians for over a decade, now all of the school libraries are run by library technicians. A part of me has issues with calling myself a library technician even though it is officially my job title. Having obtained a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, I tend to say that I’m a professional librarian who works in a school library (I was told by a friend not to say that I am a School Librarian because technically I’m not). Rather than feel limited by my job title, I use my professional knowledge and skills everyday to strive to ensure that I am creating the most positive library experience possible for these kids. Most of the kids at my schools are from recent immigrant families to Canada. The parents are often struggling to make a life for their family in Toronto and do not have the money to buy books nor do they visit regularly the public library with their children. Consequently, the library experience that I provide for these kids becomes their only exposure to libraries. I am very motivated by my goal to help kids discover a passion for reading that will translate into a life-long pursuit of learning whether they attend post-secondary education or not.

Last week, I attended the Saturday sessions of the OLA (Ontario Library Association) Super Conference in Toronto. This experience was extremely positive and encouraged me to get back into blogging because I realized how much amazing knowledge librarians share when they get together. The biblioblogosphere is an incredible place and I want to get back into the swing of things! (That and my dad kept asking me when I was going to post something new).

I have always been grateful to everyone who comments on my blog posts. So what do you think of the importance of job titles? How would you feel about taking on a non-professional position as long as you got to do something you love?

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McGill SIS graduates dominate the job market!

13 Jul

Reading library news from the United States can be flat-out depressing. Despite awesome stories of libraries working to better serve the public, one cannot ignore the incessant news of budget cuts and library closures. I have read one too many blogs and subsequent comments that lament the lack of career opportunities for librarians especially recent graduates. Since I know tons of grads who were able to find librarian jobs with relative ease in Canada, I wondered how different the job market must be on the American side of the border. Yet, last year I had many American classmates who found awesome library jobs in the U.S.A. quickly after graduating and in two cases, people had job offers before they had even technically graduated in April.

Well, now a friend of mine and fellow SIS grad 2010 who moved back home to the States after graduation has just announced that he has been offered the position of Library Director at a public library in Maine. I am so proud of him! Way to go Luke! McGill grads dominate the job market even in the U.S.A!

My heart honestly goes out to the countless librarians who have lost their jobs due to budget cuts and library closures. Yet reading all the bitter comments regarding the lack of jobs, I can’t help but wonder how much having a negative attitude has influenced these librarians’ ability to secure an awesome position. Something to think about for all you die-hard pessimists…

Anyways, good luck to everyone who is currently in search of a job. For those of you presently in library school or for those contemplating studying library and information studies, do not let all these reports mislead or discourage you. There are awesome jobs awaiting you after graduation, you just have to work for them and maintain a positive attitude. So congratulations to all the members of class 2010 who are prime examples of how realistic it is to find a librarian position so soon after graduation.

Meet Biblioblond, soon-to-be Library Director!

5 Mar

As many of my friends and fellow students already know, last week I accepted the position of interim Library Director at Tracadie-Sheila Public Library in New Brunswick. This excites me for so many reasons. For certain, having a job already secured before graduation is a huge relief. I am someone who likes to have a plan and when faced with uncertainty I can get a bit stressed. So even if the plan is to move to a far-away small town in a province that I have only driven through once on my way to P.E.I., where I will know no one and will have huge responsibilities that I may or may not be prepared for, well at least it’s a plan. I am especially excited because of the position itself. In the end, I called and canceled the two other interviews that I had scheduled for last week. The opportunity to become a library director straight out of library school is thrilling. The interview panel was impressed by my previous experience and I responded to their interview questions to the best of my ability, but it is still overwhelming that they saw potential in me for this position! Since the library is small, I will get to touch on all aspects of librarianship like programming services, collection development, reference, circulation, and library systems as well as being responsible for promoting the library in the community and reporting to the library board. I must admit that the prospect of being a library director excites me so much that I lay awake at night thinking about ideas for cool programming and what my future patrons’ interests will be. I have started to look more seriously through McGill Library ‘s collection for books that will hopefully help me better prepare myself for the challenges ahead such as A Short-cut to Marketing the Library by Zuzana Helinsky. I acknowledge that I cannot learn everything there is to know about being a library director from a book and that is why I cannot wait to get started! Please stay posted for more details!

Interview Time!

23 Feb

Last year, when I was still but a lowly first year MLIS student, I watched with keen interest as a few of my friends in second year succeeded to secure interesting library jobs before their last semester of the MLIS program was even finished. This year, it is (I’m keeping my fingers crossed) going to be my turn. For the past year, I have been checking out job postings through Library Job ListServs as well as consulting the websites of various professional associations to see what type of positions are posted and how often. It has been very valuable for me to get a sense for what type of job market is available for recent MLIS graduates and the qualifications required for various advertised positions. In January, I started to see a few positions that really interested me and although I only finish my MLIS in April, I hoped that it wouldn’t be too soon to start applying. In order to revamp my C.V., I made an appointment with a consultant at the McGill Career Planning Service Center. Although, I was disappointed by her general lack of knowledge regarding the variety of career opportunities for this degree, she did provide me with basic formatting tips to create a more eye-catching C.V. I also had a friend and my professional partner from the CLA Student Chapter’s Professional Partnering Program read my C.V. and my cover letters to give me concrete feedback on whether they were well written and of potential interest to future employers. I am happy to say that the hard work I put into job applications has paid off and I have been offered three interviews for different positions.

Yesterday morning, I experienced for the first time an hour long phone interview. Phone interviews are difficult because you cannot read the body language of the people who are interviewing you. You cannot tell if they are smiling or scowling at your answers! Because I had no visual cues, once I finished giving an answer that I thought was of an appropriate length, I asked them to confirm if I had provided them with enough details. I did not do this for every question because that might have come across as insecure, however, sometimes I felt that I needed a verbal confirmation that my answer had not been off-track from the type of answer they were looking for!

My phone interview was fairly straight forward. They asked me typical questions about my experience “Name a time when you had a conflict with a supervisor and how did you deal with it?” as well as hypothetical questions of how I would deal with certain situations, ex. “A patron complains to you regarding a certain book that they feel is inappropriate for a public library. What would you do?”. This type of questioning does not bother me; I thank my mom for signing me up for acting classes when I was young because having a background in Improv acting really helps you learn how to think on your feet during an interview! However, interviews are not always that straight forward. In the past, I had an interview where I needed to write beforehand a 3 page paper on the Google Book Library Project, I’ve had to write a test with both short-answer and a longer essay question, and I know that it is common for librarians to prepare in advance a short presentation on an assigned topic. All of these additional requirements can add stress to an already stressful situation! I’ve already been warned that I will need to write a test for Friday’s interview so we’ll see how that goes… but I’m really interested in the job I was interviewed for yesterday so I hope that I hear back from them soon!

Ikea Job Interview Comic

Advice on how to get a part-time job while completing a MLIS

16 Jan

You asked me for advice on how to find a part-time job in libraries while completing an MLIS and here it is! I discussed in a previous blog post How Valuable is Library Experience to MLIS student? the advantages of gaining important experience while still in school. I hope the advice from that post along with the tips listed here will be useful for those of you confident enough to take on both studies and a job. Good luck!

Talk to people about your job search

This may seem extremely self-explanatory but I cannot emphasize the importance of discussing your job search with other people. This begins with other students in your classes who perhaps already have a part-time job and know that their boss is looking to hire more staff. This also includes your professors who might need students as research assistants or know of other job possibilities. Even though working as a research assistant is not specific library experience, it will demonstrate that you have strong research skills, which looks great on a librarian’s C.V.!

Talk about your passions

If you are passionate about a particular area of librarianship, let people know! If you can establish your reputation as being an expert in an area then people will want to tell you about available positions that would interest to you. This is how I got my job at the Montreal Children’s Library last year. I am so obsessed with children’s literature and everyone in my program knew that about me from almost Day 1 of the program. When a paid part-time position at the Children’s Library was advertised, I had several people email me with the information encouraging me to apply for the job saying that it sounded perfect for me.

Subscribe to Job ListServs

McGill’s School of Information Studies has an extremely active Job ListServ for students and graduates. Every week I receive emails regarding job postings for libraries looking to hire. Although most of these postings are for full-time positions for which I am not yet eligible, from time to time, we do receive part-time job postings that are suitable for students. Some people wait until they are closer to graduating before subscribing to the Job ListServ because they figure that the job postings are all addressed to candidates who already have obtained their MLIS, This is a mistake because in the meantime they are missing out on part-time postings that would provide them with valuable experience.

Get Involved

Employers are impressed with students who are involved in extra-curricular activities. Getting involved in various associations and the planning of events also allows you to meet a larger circle of professionals who could become valuable contacts. My job at Westmount Public Library is a perfect example of how getting involved is the best way to impress employers and find a job. Last year, I applied for a part-time position at the library and although I thought I’d put together a convincing cover letter and professional-looking C.V., I lost hope when I didn’t get called for an interview even after I performed a “friendly follow-up call”. However, things changed in my favour when I co-organized Web 2.You 2009, a conference on the implications of Web 2.0 technologies in libraries, and the entire professional staff of Westmount attended the event. My boss remembered my application and at lunch time asked me to sit down and talk with her. Although I had an official interview afterward, I know that our lunch time discussion at the conference was the real interview and that I impressed my boss by being having organized of such a successful event.

Attend Job talks and Career Fairs

The most obvious place to find a job is at a Career Fair. However, it is not as easy as it seems. You must know how to talk to the right people and to be able to sell yourself a necessary asset to their library. Last year, at the McGill Career Fair very few of the libraries there actually had vacant positions to fill, but if you managed to impress the right person, it was well worth the exhausting afternoon of going around introducing yourself to everyone you met. It was at the Career Fair last March that I met Maya, a liaison librarian from McGill’s Education Library, and we talked about my previous experience working with teachers. Although there was no open position at the Education Library at the time, she thought that I would be a great addition to their team and I was hired on in September to work at the Reference Desk.

Never be afraid to sell yourself

If you want to be hired, people need to know what you have accomplished in the past as well as your strong qualities. Even if you are by nature a humble person, learn to speak up about your strengths! In this economy it is unlikely that anyone simply hand you a job on a silver platter. You will have to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the position, so learn to speak with confidence about why you should be hired!

Good luck, I hope this is useful!