October 20, 2007 4:25 PM   Subscribe

Should I accept this job?

I've been offered a part-time librarian position at a special education school for junior high and high school kids with behavior and emotional disorders. I've worked as a library assistant there for about seven months (not continuously), being hired to help overhaul and set up the school library. They sometimes have had a full-time teaching librarian, and otherwise have hired a traveling consultant who was my immediate supervisor.

Though I don't have an MLS, I've done everything that a full-time librarian would do to maintain the collection, including entering new items in the computer catalog, processing new books, shelving, inventory, weeding out unsuitable books, etc. But I don't have experience teaching the students, and it isn't clear that I'm being hired to teach them. I don't have a degree or any experience in special ed.

Should I accept this job? I would prefer library work elsewhere, as this school is a depressing place to work in, and the full-time librarians seem to last as long as teachers of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. Furthermore, they'll probably be looking for a full-timer, though they haven't said so.

The students are mostly minority, and I am white / Asian. I can see that this might be a problem. I don't think of myself as racist, but I would like to avoid possible conflict. Of course my parents are afraid that someone will go VT/Columbine one day (it is a place where the students are searched as they arrive for the day).

I am also looking at law library assistant positions, which are more what I would like to do, but I don't know if I'll get any offers. If I take the school job for now, I feel bad because either I am stuck with it or because nobody (neither the school nor myself) is committed to it.
posted by bad grammar to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a recipe for for a totally miserable experience, unless you relish the challenge that special education students will offer. The technical side of library management will be swamped by the demands of student-teacher interaction and so it will be a job involving lots of behaviour management/modification. That the school is not committed to it should seal it.

Of course, all of that bends to your need for a job.
posted by Neiltupper at 4:35 PM on October 20, 2007

Getting any library job without an MLS is extraordinarly difficult, and believe me, I'm not saying this to be mean. Librarians defend that degree fiercely. Have you thought of trying a

On the negative side: shouldn't this school be helping to prepare you for the environment? I know a lot of great people who love working in special ed. But they are working in well run programs, not dumping grounds. This place doesn't seem great on staff development. Can they really be trusted to take care of children, and gulp, making sure they're not armed.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:56 PM on October 20, 2007

In 5 paragraphs you gave 0 reasons why you should accept it and about 9 unique reasons for why you don't want to.

Should I accept this job?
Not unless you really, really need it now.
posted by whatzit at 5:00 PM on October 20, 2007

gesamtkunstwerk is wrong. There are a great many jobs one can get in a library without the MLS. Cataloging, circulation and IT are all jobs that are usually done by paraprofessionals. I have an MLS, but I spent a good 10 years working in libraries before I got it.

That said, I'd skip out on this job too. You will probably be miserable.
posted by the dief at 5:09 PM on October 20, 2007

Well...I used to be in a similar situation. When I graduated from college I got offered a job in the Special Ed department at a high school in an economically depressed area where none of my students would be the same race as me and there was always the possibility of violence. I took the job intending to quit at semester, but as I got to know the students it turned out that I loved it. And yes, every day my kids come through metal detectors and x-ray machines too. You might really enjoy it once you get to know the kids. takes a certain type of person to do this job. And you have been doing it, a little, and apparently you hate it. I'd do yourself - and the kids, since they can sense when you're phoning it in - a favor and look for other work. Hopefully you'll find something more suited to your interests.

Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 6:47 PM on October 20, 2007

You already know the answer to this. You've been there for seven months, you know what it's like, and you know what your comfort level is as regards this setting.

If you need the income and can deal with those parts of the school that bother you, then take the job, but be honest with them as to how long you might stay.

If you don't need the income, then it is pretty clear that, at this point you aren't drawn to working with this population of students and probably shouldn't take the job.
posted by HuronBob at 7:08 PM on October 20, 2007

it isn't clear that I'm being hired to teach them

I'm always wary of any potential job that does not have a pretty specific job description. If you take it, you might want to hash out exactly what you are being hired for.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:18 PM on October 20, 2007

i think you answered your own question. just because you're offered a job doesn't mean you have to take it. others will come along, ones that don't make you want to cry every day.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:42 PM on October 20, 2007

No, you shouldn't. Use this as an opportunity to start looking elsewhere for a job. There are many places where you could work in a library (yes even without an MLS, as the dief says) where you would be happier. Having not much of a job description and very little enthusiam for the work is a bad combination, and all of us who work in libraries know that the world doesn't need another set-upon librarian giving poor service. Find a place to work where you can be happy, that happiness will show and it will make you into a good librarian
posted by jessamyn at 9:21 PM on October 20, 2007

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