Analyzing the Academic Library Job Pool


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  • Lindy can say hi and introduce us.
  • Lindy
  • Alright, so we thought we’d play a little game before diving in to get warmed up.As Lindy said, the research we did tried to measure or quantify the types of skills and experiences that LIS graduates are bringing to the table as they apply for academic library jobs in an effort to determine which of those skills and experiences made the most difference in whether or not a recent graduate landed a job right out of school.In that vein, we thought we’d play a little game of “Who would you hire?”Everyone should have received one of these [hold up Candidate A/Candidate B] worksheet.On the next few slides we’re going to present you with a choice of two candidates, both of whom are recent graduates from their respective LIS schools, but both of whom have with different skillsets and experiences. You tell us which of them you’d rather hire for a librarian position at your academic library academic library position at your library.If you like Candidate A, indicate this by…If you like Candidate B, indicate that by…Alright! Let’s get started.
  • So, we’re starting out with an easy one.On the left, we have Candidate A, the blue candidate, who HAS HAD internships and relevant coursework.And on the right, we have Candidate B, the green candidate, who HASN’T.OK, which one do you like?[pause]
  • Let’s make it a little more difficult…On the left, we have Candidate A, another blue candidate, who HAS HAD previous work experience in libraries, but who HAS NOT HAD much service involvement in state or national professional organizations.And on the right, we have Candidate B, the orange candidate, who, conversely, HAS NOT HAD previous work experience in libraries, but who HAS HAD service involvement in state or national professional organizations.OK, which one do you like?[pause][discuss]
  • OK, this time…On the left, we have Candidate A, the light purple candidate, for whom librarianship is a SECOND career, that is, they’ve worked in some other profession before, but who HAS NOT HAD internships and relevant coursework while in graduate school.And on the right, we have Candidate B, the dark purple candidate, for whom librarianship is a FIRST career, so they’re probably on the younger side, but who HAS participated in internships and relevant coursework while in graduate school.OK, which one do you like?[pause][discuss]
  • Here, we have Candidate A, the green candidate, who HAS DONE committee work, but who HAS NOT published, and Candidate B, who HAS NOT DONE committee work, but who HAS published.Which one do you like?[pause][discuss]
  • Finally, we have Candidate A, the green candidate, who went got his MLS online, but it was from an LIS school ranked in the top 10 according to the US News & World Report, and Candidate B, the yellow candidate, who went to school face-to-face, but did their program at a lower ranked, but still ALA accredited school. Which one do you like?[pause][discuss]So, we know that this game was a little silly, and obviously, we know that search committees don’t judge candidates on single issues. These are examples, however, of the types of skills and experiences we tried to measure in our research. In fact, they’re just a few of the many “hard” skills we tried to quantify.
  • Ashley
  • All hired at GVSU within a couple months of one anotherSimilar in some respectsDifferent in other respectsBottom line: LIS students have limited time to participate in extra activities. Which experiences had the most impact?MAX:Unrelated job experienceAcademic library internshipsMiddle (low) of the road library school rankTraining in digital librarianshipNot limited geographicallyLikes the feel of booksDreams of being in the male calendar for librariansLINDY:Previous career in educationAcademic library employmentInternship with database vendorMiddle-of-the-road library school rankLimited geographicallyLikes reading, sometimes wears a bunASHLEY:Academic library employment AND internshipPublic library practicumTop rated library schoolUndergraduate archives/library experiencesNot limitedLikes the smell of old booksLikes “getting lost in the stacks”
  • Ashley
  • You can’t specialize.Search committees are looking for soft skills that are not based on previous work experience. (We can refer back to this when talk about how people successful getting jobs and not are similar).Looking for creative, collaborative, flexible, and innovative risk takers (Harralson).In the book: How to Stay Afloat in the Academic Library Job Pool book, the ACRL’s Discussion Group of Personnel Officers “agreed that previous library experience was an important requisite for an entry level position. The majority also indicated that the experience should be in an academic library.” Flexibility is viewed as a positive attribute as many librarian roles are rapidly changing. LIS students should consider ensuring their graduate school curriculum is well-rounded and does not have too narrow a focus. They want librarians who are creative, proactive, risk takers, innovators, independent yet collaborative, lifelong learners, and visionaries (Harralson 58). In a 2008 survey of faculty search committee members, over 90% of the 243 survey respondents said potential fit is very or extremely important (Wang 84)
  • Remember methods are next – be general
  • Lindy
  • Mention scope of research and format
  • Professional Effectiveness: CourseworkEmploymentInternship/PracticumVolunteerStudy AbroadTechnology:Electives CompetencyScholarship:Conference AttendanceWorkshops and seminarsIndependent studyPublicationConference Participation (papers, presentations and poster sessions)Grant WritingAdditional degreesService:Join associationsStudent groupsCommittee workVolunteerFundraisingPrevious Careers:What career(s)Amount of time spentPerceptions on whether or not it helped land a library job
  • So, let’s talk about results.I’m quickly going to go through some of our preliminary results before Ashley goes through some of our more in-depth analysis of our data.Keep in mind that we asked about many other skills and experiences that we’re not going to be discussing here, as we are limiting our discussion only to the most significant results. We’ll leave some time at the end for you to ask us about anything else you’d like to know.We thought this would be interesting for you all especially, since the types of skillsets and experiences I’m about to discuss are the types of skillsets and experiences you can expect recent graduates who are applying for jobs at your academic library to have.
  • Just a reminder, for this section, I’m talking about the results of the 167 out of 240 total participants who wanted to get an academic librarian job, but may or may not have actually received an academic library job.
  • FIRST, we asked questions related to PROFESSIONIAL EFFECTIVENESS. That is, those skills that have to do with the actual job of an academic librarian.One of the specific experiences we asked about was ACADEMIC LIBRARY COURSEWORK.As you can see, a VAST MAJORITY, or 88.1% of respondents had done ACADEMIC LIBRARY COURSEWORK.
  • In that same PROFESSIONAL EFFECTIVENESS category, we also asked about previous employment in an academic library.A majority, or 69.7% of respondents, HAD BEEN previous employed in an academic library in some way, including as staff or paraprofessionals.
  • Again, in the PROFESSIONAL EFFECTIVENESS CATEGORY, we asked about whether or not respondents had done internships or practicums in academic libraries. 56.8%, a slight majority, had.
  • So, the NEXT TWO SLIDES talk about other types of experience graduate may have had, and for these, we didn’t limit our answer choices to experiences related specifically to academic libraries, but instead asked about libraries in general. 61.5% had done volunteer work in some library (academic, public, special, &c.) to gain professional experience.
  • This is a number I’m a little disappointed in, as I personally hoped it would be higher, but just 4.5% had done some sort of study abroad experience.
  • We also asked questions about technological competency.This was sort of a hard question to ask, since people can mean so many different things when they talk about technology. We decided in the end to just have people self-identify whether they were Very Competent, Competent, Somewhat Competent, or Not Very Competent. So yes, we realize this isn’t hard science.We also asked people to indicate whether they learned those skills formally, through some sort of coursework, or informally, whether on their own or otherwise.Interestingly,71% of respondents rated themselves as being either “Competent” or “Very Competent” with regard to technological competency.
  • We also asked folks what sort of professional development type opportunities they had taken advantage of while in school. Choices were:Conference attendance, Workshops and seminars, Independent study, Publications, Conference participation, Grant writing and Additional degreesOut of those choices, the most significant response was 72.6%. There are folks that had attended workshops and seminars.
  • Next, we asked folks what experiences they had in the SERVICE category. Specifically, we gave them the following choices:Join associations, Student groups, Committee work, Volunteer, FundraisingOf those, 81.3% had joined associations, which was the most significant response.
  • We also asked people whether or not librarianship was their first CAREER. We hoped by using the word career we could distinguish between those recent graduates who had previously worked in a different profession and those that simply had a different job.It was almost split down the middle, but for 51.9% of people, librarianship was actually a 2nd career.
  • Right after that, we asked folks who answered yes to librarianship being their second career to input their first career as free text.This is a visualization of the top 50 answers. It’s sort of interesting that you can find folks with:A lot of education backgroundsSome library staff/paraprofessional backgroundsAnd others with more diverse backgrounds, like law, technology, publishing, management and music.
  • We asked them how many years they had worked in their previous career, to get a sense of how far into their life’s trajectory they had gone before switching.Our choices were:1-2, 3-5, 6-10, 11-20, Greater than 20Most significantly, 38.9% had worked in their career for 3-5 years before switching.
  • Finally, we asked whether they felt that their previous career(s) helped them land a library job?62.1% said yes, it did. Which is interesting, considering the diverse backgrounds of some of the candidates.
  • Ashley
  • How do we reconcile “How long did it take after graduation to find a job?” with the fact that all respondents supposedly found a job upon graduation??
  • There actually weren’t too many statistically significant differences between the people who did and didn’t get jobs upon graduation. We therefore conclude that soft skills are important, just like the literature said when we did our lit review. They started applying at about the same time and to similar numbers of jobs. Coursework taken didn’t seem to matter. So, while there are some things you can do to increase your odds like getting work experience, we also realize how important personality and a collegial attitude are.
  • Lindy
  • Lindy
  • 4 respondents encouraged committees to look for applicants who went the extra mile to gain practical experience
  • 9 respondents thought committees should be more open-minded about the difficulty of gaining academic library work experience
  • 9 respondents encouraged committees to look for the value of non-library work experience
  • 7 respondents thought committees should focus on a candidates potential and ability to learn
  • 12 encouraged committees to value the importance of personality and enthusiasm
  • 3 mentioned the value of technology skills
  • 2 mentioned giving consideration to older candidates
  • 8 respondents asked for more clarity and honesty
  • 6 respondents suggested changes to the interviewing process
  • 6 respondents requested a re-evaluation of position requirements
  • Ashley
  • Ashley
  • Analyzing the Academic Library Job Pool

    1. 1. ANALYZING THEACADEMIC LIBRARYJOB POOLWhat Recent LIS Graduates Are Bringing tothe TableAshley Rosener, Max Eckard& Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra
    2. 2. Outline1. Who Would You Hire?2. Literature Review3. Methods4. Survey Results5. Analysis of Findings6. Advice for Search Committees
    4. 4. Candidate AWITH internships andrelevant courseworkCandidate BWITHOUT internships andrelevant coursework
    5. 5. Candidate A• WITH previous workexperience in a library• WITHOUT involvement instate or nationalprofessional organizationsCandidate B• WITHOUT previous workexperience in a library• WITH involvement in stateor national professionalorganizations
    6. 6. Candidate A• Librarianship as SECONDcareer• WITHOUT internshipsand relevant courseworkCandidate B• Librarianship as FIRSTcareer• WITH internships andrelevant coursework
    7. 7. Candidate A• WITH committee work• HAS NOT publishedCandidate B• WITHOUT committeework• HAS published
    8. 8. Candidate A• ONLINE program• TOP 10 LIS SchoolRankingCandidate B• IN-PERSON program• LOW LIS School Ranking
    9. 9. WHY
    10. 10. LIT REVIEW
    11. 11. Background Research• Job Application / Job Market Analysis• Asking for broader range of skills• Fewer entry-level jobs and more applicants• Search Committee Point of View• Soft skills• In a 2008 survey of faculty search committeemembers, over 90% of the 243 survey respondents saidpotential fit is very or extremely important (Wang).
    12. 12. Our Research• Looks at• Current data from our survey• A recent graduate‟s perspective• Trends in LIS students‟ graduate school involvement• Correlations between student involvement in graduate school andsuccess in finding a job
    13. 13. METHODS
    14. 14. 24016785Recent LIS Graduates33Institutions2011Mean Graduation YearSurvey Methodologyamongthem…North CarolinaCentralUniversityDominicanUniversityUniversity ofIllinois atUrbana-Champaign
    15. 15. We asked them about…ProfessionalEffectivenessTechnologicalCompetencyScholarshipServicePrevious career(s)Other work/lifeexperiences
    16. 16. RESULTS
    17. 17. out of 240
    18. 18. Academic Library Coursework
    19. 19. Academic Library Employment
    20. 20. Academic LibraryInternship/Practicum
    21. 21. Volunteer Work
    22. 22. Study Abroad Experience
    23. 23. Technological competency
    24. 24. Workshops and seminars
    25. 25. Join Associations
    26. 26. Librarianship as a second career
    27. 27. Please describe your previous career(s).
    28. 28. 3-5 years in previous career
    29. 29. Helpful previous careers
    31. 31. out of 167
    32. 32. Findings
    33. 33. Findings
    34. 34. Upon graduation, did youfind a library job?Academic Library Internship/ PracticumTotalNo YesYes 47 53 100No 35 14 49Total 82 67 149Upon graduation, did youfind a library job?Academic Library EmploymentTotalNo YesYes 29 71 100No 35 14 49Total 64 85 149Comparisons
    35. 35. Comparisons
    36. 36. Publications CountUpon graduation, did youfind a library job?Published while in graduateschoolYes 16No 1Total 17
    38. 38. Themes/codes69 respondents CandidateAbilitiesHiring ProcessJob Experience
    39. 39. Job Experience“Look for people who made an effort to get practicalexperience while they were in school.”
    40. 40. Job Experience“Make entry-level jobs available. New grads can have freshideas, be hard workers, but it can be very difficult to findentry-level positions. Most library positions ask forprevious experience and so how can a new grad getexperience if no one gives them a chance?”
    41. 41. Job Experience“Think outside the box with previous experience… I waslucky that someone on my committee pushed for me and Ihope that hiring committees… try to take the time toconsider why alternate experience might be valuable.”
    42. 42. Candidate Abilities“…don‟t worry about so much about the skill set coming in.Think instead about the best fit for your workplace andwho has the propensity to learn the necessary skills.”
    43. 43. Candidate Abilities“Worry less about concrete skills and experience, andmore about innate enthusiasm, intelligence andcuriosity. Anyone can learn to teach a class or use anILS, but you can‟t teach someone to be passionate abouttheir work.”
    44. 44. Candidate Abilities“Look for some facility with online services andresources. Even if the position is not a „technologylibrarian‟ position, you will want a candidate who is aquick study in new interfaces/technologies.”
    45. 45. Candidate Abilities“Please give extra consideration to older candidates.We are more stable and bring a wealth of experience toyour library.”
    46. 46. Hiring Process“Make job requirements clear and make them things youcan actually speak to in a job letter rather than vagueunmeasurable qualities. Don’t require two years ofexperience for what is really a beginning position; youdo have a responsibility to train new employees.”
    47. 47. Hiring Process“Do include an on-site visit as a part of the interviewprocess. Assign presentation topics ratherthan, „Whatever interests you about your field.‟ Considersplitting up the interview activities over two half days (e.g.afternoon of day 1 and morning of day 2) rather than a fullday.”
    48. 48. Hiring Process“Quit looking for purple squirrels or pink unicorns. Youwill not find people with 20 years experience, two mastersdegrees, fluency in three languages, and the ability toreprogram your entire computer system. If people could doall that, they would not be filling out your stupid onlineapplications—they would be working way over your headmaking more money than you are willing to pay.”
    49. 49. CONCLUSION
    50. 50. Recap• When searching for a librarian, you can expect recentgraduates to have:• various work experiences in an academic library• involvement in student, state, or national organizations• technological competence• started applying up to 7 months prior to graduation• Soft skills matter!• Individuals who found and did not find jobs were nearly identical• What did not appear to matter?• Program format• Enrollment status• # of jobs applied for• Coursework
    51. 51. Questions for Future Research• Did successful job applicants have job search coaching ortraining?• Do electronic portfolios and LinkedIn accounts help in thejob search?• In what types of academic libraries did people land jobs?
    52. 52. Sources• David M. Harralson MLS, PhD (2001): Recruitment in AcademicLibraries, College & Undergraduate Libraries, 8:1, 41-74.• Neely, Teresa Y. “Welcome to Library Land.” How to Stay Afloat in theAcademic Library Job Pool. Ed. Teresa Y. Neely. Chicago, IL:American Library Association Editions, 2011.• Singleton, Brett. “Entering Academic Librarianship: Tips for LibrarySchool Students.” College & Research Libraries News. Feb 2003, 84- 85.• Zhonghong Wang & Charles Guarria (2010): Unlocking the Mystery:What Academic Library Search Committees Look for infilling FacultyPositions, Technical Services Quarterly, 27:1, 66-86.
    53. 53. Q & A
    54. 54. Questions for you!• When did you get your MLS/MLIS?• Would you recommend someone to go into debt to gettheir degree?• Do your prefer candidates from online or in-persongraduate programs?• Does school ranking matter to you?• What do you look for in candidates?