Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Library Interview Tips

Do your research:
  1. Know what the institution is about, its goals and history.  During the question and answer period it’s good to be able to talk about specifics. Be aware of recent awards and upcoming events. 
  2. Show some forethought, even if it's just a page position.  When asked if you have questions, ask about something that is coming up in the pipeline for them.  Scan the news, their website and their fliers; many institutions strive to convey their triumphs to their patron base.
Take inventory of yourself:
  1. Don't just play up your library skills and knowledge.  Even if you haven't finished your certificate there are other skills you could relate that could be applicable to the position.
  2. How do your previous experiences relate to this library and its functions?  Before the interview think of your current skills and successes at work, then relate them to the library you will be interviewing for.
  3. To expand on the first two points, what other skills do you have: phone skills, handling money, handling difficult people?  These are some skills that may come into use for a position that simply lists job duties as shelving and clerical work.
Sell yourself:
  1. Be yourself. Put your best foot forward to be someone the interviewer would want to work with.
  2. Dress a level above what you see in the workplace.  Some libraries have a relaxed dress code for work. You may see librarians and technical staff in jeans and t-shirts.  But for the interview dress it up a little to show a level of professionalism.
  3. Greet everyone professionally, that "patron" you ignore standing at the desk could be your future boss.  In the excitement and nervousness of a pending job interview it's easy to have tunnel vision, focusing on what you've prepared to say and what questions might come up, but be friendly and open to those around you.  You never know whose input may count when they sit down to decide between candidates.

Here are a few web pages for review.  Some of these tips are for librarian positions, but they will help you stand out from other candidates.

Also check out this previous PCC Lib Tech Blog post regarding interviews:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

National Library Week: April 8 - 12th, 2012

Almost every day there is something to do to celebrate National Library Week sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA). This year's theme is "You belong @ your library."

Today is National Library Workers Day. One can go to the National Library Workers Day website to recognize a library worker of their choice from any type of library.

Are you a Twitter fan? If so, you can tweet your six word library story of why you belong at the library by using this tag #nlw6words. Stories will be compiled and judged You have till Wednesday, April 11th to participate. You can also follow National Library Week at #nlw12 on Twitter and on Facebook.

Wednesday is also National Bookmobile Day. Thursday is Support Teen Literature Day.

If you happen to be on campus, then check out the Rotunda display at the Shatford Library celebrating National Library Week. There are new READ posters with assorted library staff, campus staff and students. In addition, check out the most current happenings dealing with banned books in Arizona. There are also boards set up where you can write what your favorite book is. Currently, one of my most favorite books is "The Time Traveler's Wife" which is a fictional story about a time traveling librarian who works at the Newbery Library in Chicago and his relationship with his wife which is told from both points of view. Feel free to post a comment of what your favorite book is and why.

Conference website:

Early Bird Registration is open:
ALA Student Member** (All Access 6/22-6/26. Excludes Preconferences and Ticketed Events).

** Join online:
Student membership: $33; Library Support Staff membership: $46.
Early Bird student Registration (by May 13): $95; Advance (by June 14): $120; Daily Fees (Paid onsite only): $92 .

ALA Annual Conference attendance tips from YALSA:
5 Ways to Return Triumphant

[NOTE: these are also useful tips for job applicants!]

From YALSA Blog: Direct link to post:
reposted from From: [calix] "Jane Gov" <>

With only three short months until the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, we hope you’ve taken advantage of Early Bird Registration ($215 for YALSA members until May 13) and marked your calendars for June 21 – 26.

With all of the great programs and events offered by YALSA at the conference, you’re going to soak up a fantastic amount of new and exciting information.
Coming back from ALA Annual, it is typical to be overloaded with two things:
ARCs and ideas.

Conference presentations are inspiring, and the exhibit hall always a place of dreams, but as with anything, the devil is in the details. Here are five tips for making the most of your ALA Annual experience once you return to your library.

1. Know Your Library System
A program that worked beautifully for a rural library that serves a population of 3,000 might need tweaking for your suburban, six-branch systems that serves 30,000. If possible, either during or right after the conference, think of ways to adapt the idea. Going to your supervisor or manager with a way to make the idea/program work for the community you serve, rather than “this worked at Library X!” will increase the likelihood of it happening.

2. Know Your Library’s Hierarchy
What is the management style of your library or library system? Good or bad, most places have a chain of command that should be followed. Jumping a person (or two, or three) makes it less likely that the new Summer Reading Program you’re dying to try will happen. Be respectful of the hierarchy. If your system requires you to inform your immediate supervisor, so that she or he can inform the next person up, and so on, follow every step– even if the Director of your system knows you personally.

3. Know Your Library Community
Implementing a Spanish story time is not going to go over well if the population you serve is predominantly Japanese. However, adapting the idea (see suggestion #1) for your Japanese community could go over very well.

4. Keep Contact Information
Most presenters and vendors are more than happy to give out their contact information. If you’re having trouble getting people get on board with your idea, or you need more information about a product/service/database that you think your library must have, use that contact. Ask the presenter if they have advice, ask the vendor for statistics, take them back to the appropriate channels, and be prepared to do it all again.

5. Be Persistent
The most important thing is to not give up. Follow through with ideas. It may be that your supervisor is happy to implement a new hold shelf method the day after you get back, and it may be that your Summer Reading theme won’t be used for years. Keep at it. You’re adaptable, you know your system, you know your community, and you have all those contacts to make things a success, and you can make it happen.

And in a few years, after you present your brilliant program at ALA, you might get a phone call or an email from another librarian, asking you how you got it done.

See you in Anaheim!

--Posted by YALSA Local Arrangements Committee 2012

**"Student members of ALA are enrolled in MLS/MLIS, NCATE and LTA programs. They are studying to be public, academic, school and special librarians. Some are furthering their studies with post-degree certifications while others are pursuing terminal degrees like doctoral programs. All are eligible for our discounted Student membership dues and each are invited to participate fully in ALA membership during their studies. Student members, whether full- or part- time, are also given the best rates for conference registration – often at discounts as high as 75% off.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Dealing with the Difficult

A short while back I gained my first library job, and while it’s been quite taxing after my original job, I find it suits my desires. Many of the patrons who visit the library are knowledgeable in the sense that they know what they are looking for or know whom to ask to find said item. Though there have been a few patrons who have come in looking for things the library does not provide.

One such patron happened upon my work area while I was in the middle of training with my supervisor. Said patron walked up to us and asked a question of us that in no uncertain terms the library could answer or even attempt to do so. However this patron was adamant that the question be answered to satisfaction.

I took a breath and asked a cautious question of my own. I did not want to brush this patron off, but did not also want to inflame their anger either. I wanted to diffuse a little of the stress I had heard in the original question. Unsatisfied the patron left the library. Belatedly I came to understand I could have handled this situation much better. But it was handled tactfully at the time.

My own personal strategy varies depending on the issue and the patron, but can be summed up as:

1. Take a breath.

  • A few heartbeats are enough to collect your thoughts and form what you wish to say. When taken by surprise it can feel natural to want to immediately say something, but take a moment to form the right response in your head.

2. Answer the question.

  • Refer to your library’s policy or procedures regarding this issue. Don’t attempt to deflect or walk around the patron’s query or statement, this may just make the patron more stressed or angry than they already are.

3. Rely upon coworkers and supervisors.

  • Unless you work alone rely upon those who have more experience than you. It also helps to have another person to help to diffuse a charged situation.

In addition I would like to refer you to this excellent article dealing with problem patrons entitled Problem Situations, Not Problem Patrons, by Steven Slavick.

For a bullet point list please check out MLA2010: Black Belt Librarians: Dealing with Difficult Patrons, by Brian Herzog. Especially the section titled “How to (safely) approach a stranger and get them to comply with policy.”

OCLC WebJunction also has a free recorded Webinar called Dealing with the Difficult Patrons. You can access the recording here. The webinar is about an hour long, but well worth it! For those of you who work alone there is a good part at the 40:56 time mark that deals with your specific situation.