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October 24, 2007 11:09 AM   Subscribe

I have a Masters in Library Science. I received it a year and a bit back. In that time, I have been applying for a job in the public library sector as a reference librarian. I am not getting anywhere though I am following professional protocol in regards to a sound cover letter and solid resume. I got a 3.6 GPA in the program which is decent but not perfect. Decent, though. I have recently been broadening my search to places outside of my home state of Indiana (and Indianapolis). If you have any recommendations for the best job site areas to review on a regular basis, I am interested.

I am $43,000 in debt with deferrment and working two jobs right now so am really trying to make things better. I am wondering if I need more tech experience...though I have a working knowledge of search engines and databases. I do admit that my skills are going stale after the year of working and not being in class using what I have learned. I am wondering if I need to go further in debt to take some web-related tech classes to make me friendly for the 21st century. I appreciate any and all responses. Also, feel free to email directly as my email is listed in my profile. Thank you all for your time and have a wonderful week.
posted by snap_dragon to Education (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I would definitely check out Its a job search aggregate.

Do you use firefox? If so I would suggest going to, and then typing in whatever you think best suits your job search. Perform the search. Now, copy the the url and then right click somewhere on the top of the New Bookmark. Enter the url and pertinent info and now you have a really quick and easy way to check for new jobs every morning.

The way I did mine I made a search for different geographic areas and thus had a bookmark for my New Mexico search, one for my Oregon search etc.
posted by ian1977 at 11:20 AM on October 24, 2007

You can even use indeed with an RSS reader to get results slightly quicker.
posted by drezdn at 11:23 AM on October 24, 2007

You probably already know about, right?
posted by box at 11:29 AM on October 24, 2007

I think getting a first library job can be tough, especially if you have been limiting yourself to a specific geographic area. Do any of the public libraries around you call on substitute reference librarians from time to time? Getting yourself on the sub list at a public library can be one way to get people to know you, when a full time job is open they might be more likely to hire you. One of the public libraries where I live seems to hire most permanent positions from people who've substituted in the past.
posted by gnat at 11:44 AM on October 24, 2007 is handy if you're looking for University/College jobs.
posted by wheat at 11:48 AM on October 24, 2007

Yeah, definitely expand your scope. Searching for a library job around where there is a library school can be hellish. is good, as is -- seconding both of those!

Did you have any experience working in libraries before you went to library school? In my own experience, that counts for *tons*. Just going to school isn't enough.
posted by the dief at 12:14 PM on October 24, 2007

USA jobs. I live in Washington, D.C. and the government is always hiring. I used to temp in this field and there are tons and tons of libraries in government agencies.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:41 PM on October 24, 2007

It can been hard to break into the library world since so many jobs are filled through networking. I agree you need to expand outside of the library school area, too much competition. have you considered Canada? Several recent hires at my public library have been from the States. Another route some people take into a ref librarian job is through paraprofessional/library technician jobs and then moving up when there is an opening. Upgrading your technical skills would be great, it amazes me how much IT work is being done by people with their MLIS.

Two Canadian job-boards are The Partnership and FIS.
posted by saucysault at 12:54 PM on October 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

Had the same problem when I got my MLIS. It's tough, but keep trying! Your grades are fine, BTW.

Seconding the flexibility idea-- be ready to move to where the jobs are. From my (and every librarian's I know) experience, your chances are proportional to the distance from the nearest town with a library school.

Also seconding the experience advice. Get a job as a page or circ worker if you have to. My loan company was very cool about letting me defer before I was employed as an actual librarian. It's about networking-- get to know people inside libraries. Volunteer if you can.

As for actual job postings-- the ones listed here are good. Many schools' LIS departments will let you join their job listservs too-- try emailing your old department and others to look into this.
posted by Rykey at 12:55 PM on October 24, 2007

Oh yeah, one more thing:

It's been my experience that most job openings are filled by people with a very specific skill (or skill set). The only reason I got my job, for instance, was that I studied film as an undergrad, and my public library was looking for a reference librarian who could also order DVDs. I didn't find this out until I was interviewed.

So while going back for tech classes is a good idea, it might be just as good to identify your most highly developed specific skills and experience. Make sure your cover letter / resume reflects them.
posted by Rykey at 12:59 PM on October 24, 2007

Also, there are ways to keep up on your skills while you're not employed -- besides volunteering, which is always good, you could try doing things like installing Koha or Evergreen, and boy howdy, wouldn't it be cool to say in an interview "Yeah, I've installed an ILS."
posted by the dief at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2007

On the networking tip, find out if your undergraduate or graduate school as an an alumni center that keeps a directory of grads who agree who to be contacted. You may luck out. My undergrad school does and in the directory was the manager of Harold Washington Public Library (the head library for the Chicago Public Library System). I did an informational interview with her when I was considering library school a few years back.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:13 PM on October 24, 2007

Have you looked at archivist jobs?
posted by pluckysparrow at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2007

Does your school offer job placement? I got my LIS at the same time you did, and although I'd found employment on my own, my school had a center to help place graduated librarians. Also, if you still have your access to your school's online databases and they get the Chronicle of Higher Education, you can search their lob listings. If not, many public libraries carry this journal, and job listings are in there, too.

Since you mentioned that you'd consider moving, another idea is to check out Federal Jobs, a publication put out by the US government. US Government librarians are in demand all over the world. If you decide you want to go to a specific location, check out the web site for that state's library association. Often, they list available jobs.

Other sites:
Library Job Postings
American Library Association JobLIST

Librarians love listservs. I know that the PUBLIB listserv receives several messages a week detailing available positions all over the country. I was an ALA spectrum scholar, and I'm always getting emails listing open positions all over the country. Most of them are not specifically targeted toward minority librarians, and if you're interested, I can forward them to you. My email address is in my profile.
posted by LiliaNic at 1:46 PM on October 24, 2007

Are you getting interviews? For me the interview was and still is the hardest part. The job I am in now I got because of my interview. I know there was at least one other person who on paper was much more qualified. But I charmed the search committee (didn't lie) and got the job. Often it can come down to personality - can we work with this person

I practiced quite a bit for interviews, thinking of possible questions and how best to answer to show the skills that I had to offer as well as show my personality.

Good luck.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:55 PM on October 24, 2007

Send me an email, snap_dragon - my mom works for the Kenyon College library (asst. to the director), and I'd be happy to get your resume directly to the person in charge.
posted by Liosliath at 1:57 PM on October 24, 2007

Colleges have libraries and K-12 schools have Media Centers that usually require librarian skills. Some schools will require you to get certified with the DOE (Department of Education), but the good news is with a MLS you will make a higher starting wage and it is usually a 10 month contract meaning you get a nice summer break just like the teachers do.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:39 PM on October 24, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone of you who took time to give me such helpful responses. I will indeed look into the suggested sights and take the common sense advice into account. You don't (or maybe do) realize how much this information helps.

thanks again, MetaFriends!
posted by snap_dragon at 10:19 PM on October 24, 2007

I received my MLS three years ago and I was never able to land a job in a library, public or academic (though I was more interested in the latter).

My best advice would be: Be willing to relocate. And be willing to think outside the public library box, i.e. maybe think about corporate librarianship (I know, I know..).

Right now I'm working for a private investigator as the head researcher. It's pretty interesting work, but I never thought this is where I would end up.

Also... I know many librarians who started out volunteering at their current place of employment. That was never an option for me personally due to finances, but if it works for you DO IT.

Good luck!
posted by bacall423 at 9:19 AM on November 2, 2007

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