Notes from the Career Paths for New Librarians panel discussion

Last spring, SJSU SLIS, the Orange County chapter of REFORMA, SJSU LISSTEN, and the California Librarians Black Caucus sponsored a panel discussion entitled Career Paths for New Librarians. Since the session was so informative, I thought I’d transcribe my notes here before I forget what the panelists were talking about.

Career Paths for New Librarians
Panel discussion held April 11, 2010 at California State University Fullerton

Susan Berumen (Orange County Archives)
Susan received an MA in History before getting her MLIS. If you have an interest in archives, do the MARA track. Take as many archives classes as possible, including preservation. Look for jobs on USAJobs, listservs such as SAA, AMIA, and Lone Rangers (??? I don’t know if I heard her right), and apply during your last term of library school. Very important that you do an internship. Resume tips: address organization’s needs. Do research about the institution. Be positive. Don’t be modest. Think about what you can do instead of what you can’t do. Reflect your interests in your resume.

Yolanda Moreno (Director – Orange Public Library)
Yolanda has a background in mathematics, but says any background will serve you well in public librarianship. Take a budgeting class if possible. You must like to work with people. Start looking for a job immediately, and volunteer or intern during school. Public library employers look for library experience and good decision-making skills. Tailor your skills to employers’ needs, be passionate, ask questions. Public library jobs are available online.

Rosalind Goddard (LA City College Library) [I think she is the director of the library. She’s listed as Associate Professor of Library and Information Science on the LACC faculty website]
Community colleges have a similar mission to public libraries. Minimum qualifications: MLIS, knowledge of systems, web design, technology skills, background in an academic discipline [I’m guessing that a BA will suffice], knowledge of Microsoft Office. Librarians at CCs are non-instructional faculty. Must be aware of campus hierarchies. Skills: must like people, be able to adapt, embrace diversity, listen effectively, have patience, be a problem solver and team player. Career strategy: set goals, become familiar with college structures (http://faccc.org/), internship experience, read about CC environments. Job market is tough for CCs, Look at California CC registry (https://www.cccregistry.org/jobs/index.aspx), classifieds, Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/section/Home/5), CC district websites. Be flexible. What they look for in resumes: experience in community college, database skills, research [probably among other things]. Interview: committee interview, reference interview, and instructional demonstration. Listen well, answer questions well, relax. CCs do not require you to publish, but if you do, it’s a plus!

Susan Luevano (Librarian, CSU Long Beach)
CSUs are known for their information literacy programs. Salary for Senior Assistant (1 yr contract) = $56k-$70k [!!!], Associate = $64k-$89k, Full Librarian =$100k. MLIS is necessary. They only hire from ALA accredited. Apply last year of library school, must graduate by appointment date. Diversity is a plus. Information literacy background a plus. Knowledge of collection development is important. Librarians must research, publish, present at conferences, be involved with professional organizations. Must have subject specialty but also be a generalist. Must have instructional experience. Letter of application must address every single job qualification/requirement. Writing sample. Interview process: multiple interviews in one day. Instructional presentation, Q&A, attend social events (lunch, dinner, meet & greet). Study website, visit campus, ask questions, watch reference interactions. Talk about information literacy trends & research agenda. Take instruction classes. Teach. Apply to internships. Dress for success. Join CARL (http://www.carl-acrl.org/). Sample questions: What are you reading? Do you have a research background? How do you deal with a difficult patron? How do you make a difficult decision?

General advice: Work on a special project, get involved on a committee, publish something. Both the e-portfolio and thesis options are valuable to libraries because it demonstrates burgeoning expertise.

You can watch the webcast of the event here (go to Student Resources –> Career Resources –> Careers Path [sic] Workshop (Fullerton Campus – 10 April 2010)).

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