Archives For academic libraries

circulation diagram with title

Even if you’re not actively job hunting, reading job ads is a great way to prepare for the next step in your career.

Job postings convey a whole lot of information: what you’d do on the job, the experience and knowledge the hiring manager wants in a candidate, and (ideally) a sense of the organization and working environment. You can also get a great feel for current trends in librarianship.

This Library Lost & Found series dissects job ads for library leadership positions. We analyze library job postings from the perspective of building your career. We’re also interested in how to write a great job description that will attract the best candidates.

Today I’m analyzing a job posting I found on ALA Joblist for a Library Director for Miles Community College in Miles City, Montana.

Title

Library Director is a refreshingly straightforward title. When I see “library” at a college, I can guess that they’ll have a substantial onsite book collection. When colleges have a “learning commons” or “information resource center” rather than a library, I wonder how much they depend on ILL for print materials.

Reporting Structure

The Library Director reports to the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Miles Community College. That’s a fairly high level for the library to sit; the Library Director is just two steps down from the college president!

This also reflects the small scale of the college, which reports enrollment of 390 students full-time equivalency (FTE) for Fall 2016.

The supervision exercised by the Library Director is defined as “Library Aides, Work Study Students.” As a candidate, I would be very curious about how many library aides there are, what level of employee they are, and how much the overall function of the library depends on work study students.

Job Duties

The first verb – indeed, the first word – in the responsibilities section is “lead”! This whole bullet point is worth quoting:

Lead the Library in responding to information management problems with technology-based solutions. (Internet, web pages, video technologies and other evolving futuristic technologies).

Way to go, MCC! This tells me that they want a library director who will help the library transform to meet the evolving information needs of current and future students.

There’s a fair amount of budgeting mentioned in the job responsibilities, including “effectively, ethically, and innovatively” managing the budget. The library director will need to get creative with the budget, but ethically creative!

As I scan down the job functions bullet points, I see responsibilities that range from broad (strategic planning, external partnerships) to narrow (cataloging and weeding). That reflects the relatively small scale of this library and organization – the person in this position would need to pitch in on the front lines regularly while also maintaining a long term vision.

Qualifications

This position requires an ALA-accredited Masters in library or information science. The posting also lists quite a lot of competencies. I like when organizations emphasize competencies (or knowledge, as the San Mateo Senior Librarian job posting phrased it) over prior experience. Competencies can be demonstrated in wider variety of ways than past job experience – through class work or volunteer experience, for instance.

I also deeply appreciate how the position spells out what they mean by each competency. For instance:

Delegation – Delegates work assignments; Matches the responsibility to the person; Sets expectations and monitors delegated activities.

A librarian interviewing for this position would want to prepare stories about times they had thoughtfully delegated tasks to a team and the successful results of those assignments as part of the whole project.

The competencies include a great range of leadership skills, from management to communication to strategic planning.

Salary

This job posting does not specify a salary range, which is disappointing. I’m a big fan of salary transparency, especially because salaries for the same job title can vary wildly across organizations. To be fair, Employers often want to reserve that information for optimal bargaining power after recruiting the best possible pool of candidates.

The national average salary for people with the title Library Director is $77,822, according to Glassdoor. Of course, that average includes people in high cost of living locations who have been in that position for a long time, and the person filling this position might be newly jumping to the director level.

My guess for this salary is based on the relatively small size of the library and the eminently affordable cost of living in Miles City (Craigslist shows a sweet 2 bedroom apartment with a garage for just $800!). I would guess that the salary would fall in the $40K range.

Overall

This Library Director job opportunity at Miles Community College would be a great fit for someone who is broadly familiar with all functions of a library and knows how to lead effectively in a tight-knit organization.

I love how well the job posting conveys the day to day responsibilities for this library director – and the potential challenges. The college administration seems to have a clear vision of how they want the library to evolve with the times, while being realistic about resource constraints in a small college. This would be great leadership position for a librarian with experience at a small academic library or a rural public library.


We have no connection with Miles Community College and no insider scoop on this job posting – but we’ll cross our fingers for you if you apply!

A core value of librarianship is that we have the ability and the responsibility to change society for the better. As the American Library Association puts it, librarians are responsible for “ameliorating or solving the critical problems of society.”

When we are faced with a critical problem like the heartbreaking pattern of unarmed young black men dying in altercations with law enforcement, what can librarians do to ameliorate this hurt?

In crisis situations, librarians can create an intentional community refuge. The Ferguson Public Library responded to community chaos in the wake of Michael Brown’s death by creating a safe space for all community members.

In addition to crisis situations, chronic inequality has an insidious effect on communities. Libraries can respond to chronic inequality as while as crisis situations. We can do this by sharing information, but more importantly, by actively speaking up for social justice.

Nicole Pagowsky and Niamh Wallace, librarians from the University of Arizona, shared a powerful message about librarians and social justice in this month’s College and Research Library News. Hundreds of miles away from Ferguson, these two librarians responded in their own library by creating a Ferguson resource LibGuide, which serves as a guide to information resources about Michael Brown’s death.

They express their belief that librarians have a responsibility to act in support of social justice:

“Positioning the library as anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-oppression helps us stay at the heart of the community, particularly in challenging times.”

Pagowsky and Wallace also remind us of Desmond Tutu’s words:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Leadership and librarianship both carry responsibilities for challenging injustice. I often feel unsure about how to address social injustice in my own spheres, both personally and professionally. Pagowsky and Wallace’s article reminded me that it can be as simple as trading neutrality for support, to endorse the message that black lives matter.

Check out the full article in C&RL News, the University of Arizona Ferguson LibGuide and other #BlackLivesMatter guides from Oakland Public Library, San Francisco Public Schools.