January 20th, 2016 Brian Herzog
My library's long-time Assistant Director retired at the end of last year, and I am taking over that role. This means two things:
- My library is hiring a Head of Reference - if you're interested, check it out. It's fun.
- Second, since I'll no longer be a reference desk librarian, this blog will certainly change.
For whatever it's worth, I'm going to try to keep writing new posts here whenever I come across something people might find interesting. My desk hours are going to change drastically, so the Reference Question of the Week posts will be less frequent. Which is too bad, but we'll see what happens. I've done almost one of those a week for over nine years - wow.
I'm a little nervous about change. I'm sure things will be fine after all the transition, but not spending most of my time covering a service desk will certainly be an adjustment.
But really, if you're interested in being Chelmsford's new reference librarian, send in your resume. It's a nice place to work.
September 24th, 2014 Brian Herzog
My 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 email@example.com.
Tags: career, job, jobs, libraries, Library, listing, merrimack valley library consortium, mvlc, position, posting, public
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:
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:
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.
September 12th, 2012 Brian Herzog
I 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.
September 5th, 2012 Brian Herzog
There 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).
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:
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.