Job Title to Solve My Woes
March 14, 2012 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Job Title Help: What would you call me? I'm a reference librarian who does teen programming and teach computer classes at a library. Director and I can't agree on what my official title is.

Of course, there is more to this story. I applied to be the "Youth Services Librarian", a new position, that replaced a Technology Librarian at a small rural library. Fresh out of my MLS and eager to please, I happily accepted an office attached to our Technology Lab that reads "TECHNOLOGY LIBRARIAN." I've been here for 9 months and run into a lot of issues. I am constantly told that "[Person in Tech Librarian position who left] used to do this for me" and I am not sure how to handle it. My director has signed a contract with a local IT consulting business and they come and fix our computers and take care of everything Tech related. Staff still come to me with computer issues so I contact our IT guys. Now I am basically a receptionist for all computer issues which I pass along to the IT people. Not an ideal set up.

I have approached my director about this both in a casual and formal sense. I have explained that I am happy to teach computer classes, but I don't think that using me to change everyone's printer ink is the best way to go about things. I've talked about the difference between an IT Technician and Technology Librarian but it still doesn't seem to click. Not to mention that I don't have the training necessary to be an IT technician (and I didn't apply for an IT position).

Anyway, this came to a head the other day when I mentioned that I still don't have business cards. My director suggested that my title be Youth Services and Mobile Technologies Librarian. I'd like a title that best reflects my responsibilities that I can use to help when explaining my role to other staff.

Here is a rundown of what I do:
General Reference Desk hours (day, night and weekend shifts)
Teen book collection development
Teen programming (crafts, video games, book clubs, SAT prep, etc.)
E-reader/E-Book workshops
Computer classes for seniors
Website redesign and maintenance
Social media stuff - Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I'd like to come up with a title that describes what I do but I can't seem to find one that properly fits the bill. Normally I would say that Youth Services and Technology Librarian would be appropriate, but as I mentioned before, they seem to equate Technology Librarian with IT Technician. They fail to see how the Technology Librarian is the liaison between our patrons/community and technology, not the person that you go to when you have a virus on your computer.

I should note that this small rural library is staffed by, surprise, technophobes, who proudly describe themselves as dinosaurs when it comes to computers. To give you an example of the level of comfort the staff has with technology, we have had two laser printers die this month because the toner cartridges were replaces without removing the plastic strips. Two separate full time librarians (half of our professional staff) did this on two separate occasions! So the fact that I can attach files to an email, use Dreamweaver, etc. make me a Technology goddess here. But that's not a good thing. For example, this morning I was told by the director, "OUR SERVER IS DOWN, YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO RESTART THE SERVER?" No, sorry. I am great with personal computers but I am not a network administrator.

Any ideas? Have you been in a similar situation where a position was eliminated and you were hired in a new title but people still expected you to do the other job as well?

[P.S. I hope this post doesn't make it sound like I'm not willing to help people if they need help, but as most librarians, I have a full plate. We pay our IT consultants $800 a month (don't get me started) to take care of everything. While I could Google and read forums to fix most of our issues, I think it is best left to the people we hired to do it.]
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think a title change is likely to stop people from coming to you with their busted printer problems. At a small rural library, there may not be an employee who's better at addressing such problems than you are. If there's no time to do that extra stuff then you may have to simply stop doing it. Because, again, I doubt a title change will help much.

Youth Services & Technology Librarian doesn't sound bad. I don't know what the "Mobile" part refers to.
posted by jon1270 at 3:48 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you worked in my library, based on your list of things you do, you would be an Adult and Teen Services Librarian.

Pretty much everywhere you go, if you've graduated from library school in the last decade, you're expected to be the tech person.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:56 PM on March 14, 2012

I agree a job title is not solving the problem. Reality is, you were hired to do both the old and new jobs, you just weren't told that upfront. You could just refuse ALL tech requests (maybe send the person to the director?), but that may put your job in jeopardy unless the director supports you (and do you feel you a good enough judge of their character that you can trust them not to throw you under the bus?). At least by being the technology receptionist you are looked at as a problem-solver, rather than a problem creator (not fair, but if you don't help that is how most staff would view you). What about creating a business plan for why you need a part-time technician to supervise that would cost about $800/month and save x amount of dollars?

If you are looking elsewhere for work, the technology part of the job title carries a lot more cachet than teen does.
posted by saucysault at 4:09 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ah! This is exactly what I did in my last position (except replace "Teen" with "Adult"). I called myself the Reference and Adult Programming Librarian. It didn't encompass all of my duties, but that's what my resume is for. It was also a small rural library. That sort of thing is probably par for the course at such places.
posted by sugarbomb at 4:12 PM on March 14, 2012

Could you start telling people to contact the IT consulting company directly with their problems? Cut yourself out of the picture as much as possible. Ideally, you could turn helping people with their personal computers and printer issues and stuff into something you do as a *favor*, not as part of your job. Turn your first response to a person asking for help with something that is not your job into "Have you tried calling Tom at Xyz IT services?"
posted by MadamM at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

No job title is going to solve your woes. You are the most technically adept person in your office. You are the defacto IT person. This is how offices work.

You do not have a job title problem; you have a systems problem. I would suggest you set up a Google form for logging IT issues; make one copy go to the IT contractors and one copy go to the person's entered email address. Put a shortcut on every employee's desktop. Put a sticker with the IT Guys number on every employee's monitor. Look dim and suggest people call when there's a problem you don't want to deal with.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:04 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hmmm, you sound like a Community Programming Librarian to me? Or is there another person who does, like, adult book clubs and stuff?

Not for nothing, but it isn't the worst thing in the world to be seen as a person with crucial, unique skills in areas that flummox every other employee.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:26 PM on March 14, 2012

My director suggested that my title be Youth Services and Mobile Technologies Librarian.

Based on your description, this does sound like the most accurate job title. Actually, it sounds like both an accurate job title and an attempt to give you a title with a little 'Library 2.0' cachet. That's not a bad thing! Mobile technologies is a bit vague but the social media and especially website redesign indicate that you've got some of the techy stuff going on and that should be represented in your title, yes. It's important for the next job.

Agreed with others that you sound like a part-Systems librarian who's doing Desktop Support and not happy about it (our Systems librarian had to train us all for weeks that he did web stuff, our IT guy did tech support and that was in-house!).

Do acknowledge the reality of what rabbitrabbit said ("Pretty much everywhere you go, if you've graduated from library school in the last decade, you're expected to be the tech person.") because omigod it is so true! My boss called me in her office the other day and asked me how to set up multiple home pages again, because she forgot how. Not my job! I did it anyway because a) that's how things get done and she'll be the one doing something for me next time (explaining the meanings of the symbols in the Reader's Guide for Periodical Literature, it turns out) and b) you won't win any friends by turning down every request for help you get.

Yes, you need to set up a formal workflow that gives the jobs to the IT people you hired but you should let go of some of the minor things and just do them so they're done right (I'm thinking of the busted printers you mentioned here). I would suggest working with your boss, maybe by going back to him/her with some ideas (as suggested above) and asking if setting those up would work so you can in turn concentrate on your other duties.
posted by librarylis at 6:38 PM on March 14, 2012

Title change doesn't fix this. Choose whatever title you like, get business cards made. Next to your stack of business cards, get a stack of business cards for the $800 IT technicians. Every time someone comes into your office and asks how to eject a thumb drive, say (in a bright, helpful, and friendly way) "I've got just the people for you." Pick up one of their cards, hand it over.

Rinse, repeat.
posted by arnicae at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Pick the job title that works best on your resume for future goals; the job title won't make a difference in your coworkers' expectations. At our library you'd be a Reference and Teen Librarian, or maybe Teen and Technology Librarian.
posted by songs about trains at 6:53 PM on March 14, 2012

Short answer? I would call you "Awesome."

Long answer? Adding on to what others have posted, it doesn't take a library degree to raise users/patrons' expectations of what librarians do. We are all expected to be technically proficient as well as knowledgeable about books. I believe this is because we traditionally supply answers and support research, whether from books, other media or the internets.
posted by Lynsey at 12:11 PM on March 15, 2012

Information Facilitator.
posted by gonzo_ID at 7:39 AM on April 6, 2012

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