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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A Cloud of Cover Letters

   September 19th, 2012 Brian Herzog

This week we started the first round of interviews for my library's Head of Reader Services position. Which means, I've been reading a lot of resumes and cover letters lately.

Since we advertised for someone who is really into books and reading, many of the cover letters included more colorful adjectives than usual: passionate, voluminous, enthusiastic, voracious.

That got me thinking about mean cover letter word distribution, so I ran the text from the 26 leading cover letters we received through Wordle. I removed any identifying information (current/previous employers, phone numbers, emails, urls, etc), and Wordle also removes some words, and the resulting cloud is interesting:

Cover letter Wordle cloud

View the large size to see some of the smaller words, but overall, a lot of the most common words were what we were hoping to see ("love" ranked well).

Here's something else in this process I found interesting: This is the first time (for me) that every single resume was submitted electronically. They were all sent to the Library Director, who then forwarded them to those of us doing the interviewing.

To keep them organized, I created a "Jobs" folder in my inbox:

Emailed applications in my Jobs folder

The red boxes cover peoples name, but looking at the contents of this folder really shows how alike and "just part of the crowd" applicants can seem. From now on, I will always include my name in the subject line when I submit a resume.



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Networking Tips for New Librarians

   September 12th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Hello my name is EXPERT badgeI thought this fit nicely with the job ad post from last week. A little while ago, a reader emailed me with this question:

I'm a recent MLIS graduate, and just moved to a new state. I was wondering if you could give me some job hunting tips? It's such a specific area, and well... there are really no jobs available that I'm qualified for (manager, coordinator, etc). How do I start the hunt and get my name out there? Do I visit libraries and drop off a resume? I know networking is huge in the library wold, I just don't know how to start.

I am certainly no expert, but I did come up with some ideas:

  • definitely find your state's online job boards and watch those. Also, if you're in a region or consortium or something, get signed up for their email listservs, as jobs are often posted on those too
  • I don't think it's a bad idea to drop your resume off to local libraries, but most of them probably can't hire anyone until there is an opening - so a lot of it might be a waiting game. But introducing yourself, telling them what you're interested in, certainly can't hurt - so long as you know there's not much they can do until a position opens up
  • Sometimes libraries will hire you just as a sub, and will call when they need someone to fill in for the regular staff. It's not steady in the least, but is a way to get your foot in the door and build your reputation
  • In the meantime, I would highly suggest volunteering at libraries - it's a good way to meet people and show them what you can do, as well as stay involved in the field. Volunteers are kind of a double-edged sword for libraries - on the one hand it's free labor which is great, but on the other hand it usually takes twice (or more) as much work to supervise volunteers as it does staff. So sometimes, libraries are reluctant to take on new volunteers (or just might not have anything for you to do), but it's good to let them know you can handle more sophisticated special projects (leading a book group or storytime, recataloging a section, working on the website) - but shelf-reading is always beneficial too
    • You can also suggest projects more in the community than in the library - like setting up a community events calendar, volunteer opportunities website, community Facebook page, local information wiki, or something like that - a role the library can play in the community, but might not already be doing. Just make sure something like this is sustainable after you leave, otherwise they might be reluctant to start it
    • Another volunteer opportunity is with other local groups doing things similar to the library - the local historical society, town hall, museum, whatever - if you can volunteer there and spin that into some kind of liaison-with-the-library or library-related project, it could bring you into contact with the right people. Also, push yourself outside your comfort zone - if you're a public librarian, remember to look at school libraries, universities, special libraries, corporate libraries, etc, for volunteer opportunities
  • Part-time or assistant jobs aren't bad while you're waiting for something more permanent to open up. Be honest with them in that you're looking for more, because it can be a pain to hire someone, train them, and then they leave a few months later for a better job
  • If you can, go to regional or national library conferences. Probably the more local the better when it comes to networking, and they'll also be cheaper too
  • Check out what the state library offers as far as training classes, and if you have any special skills (like really good with WordPress or Facebook or something), offer to give classes of your own (either to local libraries or through the state, or at the library for patrons to attend)
  • You could also always try to become a library trustee - that could be interesting

Taking that first step is tough. If anyone has any advice I missed, please post in the comments - thanks. And good luck to all the job seekers out there.



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Great Job Opening: Head of Reader Services

   September 5th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Recommended Reads signThere are two job openings at my library right now: Head of Reader Services and Circulation Desk Manager.

The Circ Desk Manager will do all the circ staff scheduling, work at the desk, but also manage ILL, book club kits, museum passes, and hopefully be the lead on our Evergreen ILS.

That's all well and good, but just look at the description for the Head of Readers Services:

Do you love answering that age-old question "Can you recommend a good book?" When you sit on an airplane do you find yourself giving unsolicited reading advice to the person beside you? Do you always have a book in your car for emergencies? Are you up on the latest reading devices, social media, book blogs, websites? Do you love to talk about books, write about books, listen to books? Did you go to library school because you love to read?

How about that?

Our Head of Circulation is leaving, and instead of just hiring a straight up replacement for her, we decided to split the position to create two jobs (because the work was more than one person could handle anyway). This new Head of Readers Services will focus completely on encouraging and supporting the use of our entire collection (books, audiobooks, DVDs, etc), through social media, programs, desk coverage, a personal shopper-like reading suggestion service, and anything else we can do.

We're accepting resumes now, so check out the job listing. The Circulation Desk Manager hasn't been posted yet, but should be soon on the Massachusetts Library Job Board. General employment information is also on our website (and I still like my unofficial rules for resumes, too).



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Reference Question of the Week – 9/4/11

   September 10th, 2011 Brian Herzog

This week's question is one we get asked many times a day - it's not difficult at all, but this time had a sort of heart-wrenching twist.

A woman in her early twenties walked up to the desk. Very politely, and with a little hesitation, she asked:

I just printed something for my school, but I don't know where to pick it up. Can you please help me?

For public printing in my library, we use Envisionware's LPT:One, which works well for us. All the print jobs from our public computers go to a central print release station, where patrons pay for their job before it actually gets printed. So that patrons know which print job is theirs, when they print they get prompted to name their job:

Envisionware Print Box

Once a patron goes through this once, they understand how it works. But the first time isn't totally intuitive, so we do get asked for help in printing frequently.

My personal rule is this: if someone asks me where they pick up their print job, I take that to mean they've never printed here before, so I go with them over to the print station and walk them through the steps to pay for and release their print job.

That's what I did in this case, and while walking over to the printer, I asked the patron if she had entered a name for her job. She replied,

Well, a little box asked me to name my job, so I typed in "waitress."

I don't know why this struck me as so sweet and sad - maybe her innocence and naivety, maybe the idea of someone working their way through college. Maybe I'm just getting sentimental in my old age. She didn't mean anything by it though, so when we got to the print station, I showed her how to select the job named "waitress" and print it out. She thanked me and left.



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Job Opening for Evergreen Library Support Technician

   August 2nd, 2011 Brian Herzog

MVLC-EvergreenBack in May, my library's consortium migrated our catalog to Evergreen. Since then, it became clear that we need more staff to support Evergreen, because using an open source catalog is a great deal more work than supporting vendor software.

As a result, the position description (below and at the MBLC) was posted last week, and I encourage anyone interested to apply. Don't let the "temporary" part fool you - there is so much work that there'll be plenty to last beyond the 9 month initial period. And although not strictly required, I think the more tech and database skills the better. The job will primarily be the front-line support and liaison person between libraries and Evergreen developers, but anyone who can contribute to development is greatly appreciated.

And also, a bit of a warning: the MVLC underestimated what it would take to support an open-source catalog. With open source, we're in charge of everything, not just the data - as a result, our list of problems to fix, features to add, and just things to figure out grows daily. Whoever accepts this position will have no shortage of things to do.

Customer Service Technician

The Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC), a group of 35 public libraries in NE Massachusetts, is looking for a service-oriented individual with excellent trouble-shooting, interpersonal, and communication skills. This is a temporary (approx. 9 month) position that will focus on providing customer support to member library staff for the library catalog and online applications. As part of the network support team this person will be the primary helpdesk contact involving the reception, organization, and resolution of problems, and actively contribute to the growing knowledge base. This person will also have significant responsibility for the design and configuration of the public catalog and network Web sites and provide support for database and third-party products that integrate with the library system.There is potential for this to become a permanent position.

Required

  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Proven customer service orientation
  • At least two years technical experience with automated systems or databases
  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS and other Web services tools
  • Substantial knowledge of PC environment
  • Excellent oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills

Desired

  • Library experience desired
  • Understanding of User Interface design
  • Database design (SQL)
  • Linux experience
  • Program languages such as Perl, Python, etc.

Salary: $22.17/hr

Please forward cover letter and resume to:
Lawrence Rungren
Executive Director
Merrimack Valley Library Consortium
1600 Osgood Street
North Andover, MA 01845

or lrungren@mvlc.org



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