or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Job Opportunity: MVLC Assistant Executive Director

   September 24th, 2014 Brian Herzog

Merrimack Valley Library Consortium logoMy library is a part of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium, and the consortium is looking for a new Assistant Executive Director. It's a great job - details below and on the state library jobs website.

Duties/Description:

The Assistant Executive Director has a unique opportunity to effect a positive change on the consortiums user support operations. This will have a profound impact on the consortiums relations with its member library community As the go-to person for the Executive Director he or she will think creatively to solve problems while coordinating all day to day user services operations, training workshops, and other user support programs. The Assistant Executive Director consults with member library staff and consortia user groups to determine how well their automation needs are being met. The Assistant Executive Director collaborates with the Executive Director, MVLC user groups, and the MVLC Executive Committee in the development and implementation of long and short range strategic plans. The Assistant Executive Director will act in the place of the Executive Director in the absence of same.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Will assume duties of the Executive Director in absence of same in overseeing daily operations and assigned duties.
  • Supervises help desk staff and cataloging staff. Directs and oversees technology services staff in all activities related to customer support operations.
  • Designs and evaluates consortia wide staff training and documentation for new and existing technologies (Integrated Library System, eContent, Internet services, etc.). Designs and evaluates training documentation for member libraries to use with patrons.
  • Provides direct consultation and troubleshooting to library staff relative to their use of the automation systems.
  • Collaborates with the Executive Director, Assistant Director for Technology Services, and appropriate member library user groups in the analysis, evaluation, implementation, configuration, and selection of automation products and services that benefit member libraries.
  • Oversight, selection, and management of the consortiums trouble ticketing system. Provides the Executive Director and appropriate committees coherent statistics related to the ticketing system.
  • Designs and publishes public relations articles and the network's newsletter. Updates MVLC Membership Directory. Develops and maintains MVLC's public and internal web sites and wikis.
  • Attends appropriate committee meetings and serves as liaison for network staff and member libraries for all user applications.
  • Advises and assists in the planning and implementation of grant proposals.
  • Ensures that the consortium staff is providing effective communication and quality customer service to member libraries. Effectively cooperates and communicates with fellow coworkers, vendors, and patrons.
  • Responsible for consortia wide development of eContent collections. Provides member libraries with detailed evaluation, documentation, training, and statistics for shared eContent Collections.
  • Performs other relevant duties as assigned; may include some night and weekend duties.

Work Environment:

General office environment with air conditioning and fluorescent lighting. Requires operation of vehicle to attend off site meetings. The noise level in the work environment is low. Moderate levels of stress may occur.

Physical Demands:

May spend extended periods at workstations performing tasks requiring eye-hand coordination, finger dexterity, and extensive keyboarding and viewing of computer screens. Requires ability to access, input, and retrieve information from a computer. Answer telephones and maintain multiple files. Periods of standing may be required during training sessions. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Qualifications:

  • ALA accredited MLS
  • Three to five years public service and automation experience, including supervisory and administrative Excellent oral, written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Proven customer service orientation
  • Positive attitude and flexibility
  • Knowledge of PC environment
  • Public library experience desirable

Salary: $66,924 - $88,780, in ten steps

Closing Date: Until Filled

Send: Email a resume, cover letter, and the name, address E-mail address, and telephone number of three professional references to egraham@mvlc.org.



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Reference Question of the Week – 10/19/08

   October 25th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Jobs listings on Craigslist websiteBefore I get into this week's reference question, I want to point out that this is my 100th Reference Question of the Week - that's almost two years of weekly reference questions. My, my, doesn't the time just fly when you are giving patrons directions to the bathrooms?

In honor of such a momentous event, I thought I'd share one of the reference questions I just dread. I get variants of this question occasionally, but last week all the components came together in a perfect storm of reference question difficulty:

Patron: I've never used a computer before, so can you help me find a job on craigslist?

Sigh. For non-reference librarians, here's why this simple request is especially hard:

  1. Almost any kind of job-related request can be difficult
  2. Most of the job resources available in the library are online, so having no computer experience is automatically a setback
  3. Craigslist? It is certainly a valid job search tool, but there are other places I'd be more comfortable starting off a computer novice (she never did tell me how she got referred to craigslist)

Lots of people would jump on a question like this and consider it a golden teaching moment. Which I tried to do, but I was alone on a busy Thursday morning and I didn't have the amount of uninterrupted time it would take to teach the patron to use a mouse and then educate her enough about the internet and craigslist to find a job safely.

But happily, she was a fast learner, and really took to the mouse and using the browser. Since she asked for craigslists, I showed her how to get there and use it, and while doing so also told her about other job search websites she could try. We also have a handout for career resources, and pretty soon she sent me away so she could look on her own.

She left before I could talk to her again, but she stayed at least forty-five minutes on the computer. Which is not bad for a first timer. Even if nothing from her first search pans out, I hope at least she knows the library is a resource for job searching.

More About Online Job Searching
Something I've been noticing for awhile is that it seems that online job applications are becoming more and more complex. Lots of large companies are requiring applicants to fill out an online application instead of providing a resume.

The problem with this is, from my and the patron's point of view, many patrons have trouble with the website or application form itself. Some get so frustrated that they quit halfway through, cursing the company for not just taking their resume. I wonder if companies are doing this intentionally, because filling out these applications requires a certain level of computer skills, and so it weed out anyone who isn't computer savvy enough to finish it.

I've helped a few people complete what even I thought was a difficult form, and I wonder if I'm really helping them or not. If the job really does require that level of computer skill, and I spend a half an hour basically filling out the form for them, are they just wasting their time on a job they don't have a hope of getting?

Because of this need (and especially in the current economic climate), my library lately has been partnering with the local career center to hold series of job search workshops. These range from updating resumes to online searching to interviewing to networking to reentering the work force. They've been well attended, and all the library has had to do is provide the space - people from the Lowell Career Center plan and run the programs.

I feel like we can never do enough for patrons looking for jobs, but that this is one of the key roles a library plays in the community.



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