Q: How do I know if I am ready to commit to an MLS program?

Q: How do I know if I am ready to commit to an MLS program?

Q: I have been considering a library or archives career for many years now; during college, I had a brief internship at the Smithsonian in digitizing archival photography, plus I spent a year working the reserves and circulation desk at our university library. I loved both experiences (although different) and have always been a huge supporter of public libraries. I am now considering a career change after six years working in Silicon Valley in online community management, a job I started immediately upon graduation. I feel my experience would greatly benefit a local library, but I am not sure if I should dedicate myself to an MLIS degree yet. The good thing is: if I do decide to get my MLIS, I live in the same city as an ALA-accredited university.  What advice do you have for someone like me who has gotten my feet wet but is afraid to jump in?

CNW: Let’s see: you have been thinking about working in libraries for years, you love the work experiences you have had, but something is holding you back from committing to librarianship. That is very reasonable. An MLIS is an expensive investment to make if you aren’t sure you want to make a career of working in libraries. A career change, on the other hand,  is generally reversible.

Start by looking for job opportunities with your local public and academic libraries. Public libraries in particular often have community-oriented roles. You may find your path to career satisfaction bypasses the MLIS, at least for now. Be realistic in your expectations. Jobs usually require an MLS, and the salaries may be substantially lower than what you are accustomed to. If you find a job that is a good fit, you will probably find that an MLIS is required for advancement at some point in  your career. You will then know whether the investment is worth it. You may decide that supporting libraries with a Silicon Valley salary is a better way to fit for you, and that is a perfectly fine outcome as well.

As you look for job openings, you will want to network with professional librarian groups and request informational interviews. You can also consider auditing some MLIS classes at your local university to see if you’re interested in the theory as well as the practical aspects of library work. In the meantime, be honest with yourself about what is really holding you back from committing to a profession that you profess to love. That nagging feeling won’t magically disappear if it goes unacknowledged.

Q: How much responsibility is too much?

Q: How much responsibility is too much?

Q: I am currently employed as a librarian trainee in an Institution of Accountancy with Bachelor Degree level of Library science. My problem is we were given some certificate and diploma courses to teach and those courses are not from the Library science field. They are mainly in Information Science. It has been hard for me to accept this kind of responsibility. Please help me.

My second question: is it possible for my position to teach and at the same time attending other responsibilities in the library i.e cataloging, shelving, etc.?

CNW: Your situation sounds quite unusual. While it is always good to stretch your capabilities, it must be overwhelming to be asked to take on more responsibility than is appropriate. It is not clear whether you hold a BA or MA in Library Science or whether you are taking courses at the same institution where you are working. Regardless of the specifics, if you feel pressured to teach courses that are out of your area of expertise you need to address the issue proactively.

Calmly discuss your discomfort with the arrangement with your managers. If it is an issue of needing support, be specific in what you ask for. You could try asking for reduced responsibilities in cataloging or shelving, for example, to accommodate the extra workload. If the problem is that you are not qualified to teach Information Science diploma and certificate coursework, state this. While there is considerable crossover between the disciplines of Library & Information Science, both you and the school have an obligation to provide a quality education to the students. Engage your colleagues in a frank discussion of the problem.

Regarding your second question: it depends. Many librarians balance part-time and full-time work, including teaching roles. However, librarian trainees are typically early-career. It would not generally be appropriate for a librarian trainee to be teaching college-level classes. Diploma and certificate programs might be okay, but you need to feel that you have mastered the content before you’re expected to teach it to others. It doesn’t appear that you feel comfortable with the arrangement, so you need to find a way to modify it. If you still feel pressured to teach courses beyond your expertise, start looking for another job.



Q: How easy is it to move between different types of libraries?

Q: How easy is it to move between different types of libraries?

Q: How easy is it to move between different types of libraries? I’m a full-time elementary school librarian and an adjunct reference librarian at a community college. I’m moving May and I’d really like to try for an academic library, but I’m nervous that my experience won’t align with minimum qualifications for academic librarians.

CNW: Since you have already worked in an academic library as an adjunct, and you already have full-time experience as a librarian, I think you would be an appealing candidate for many academic librarian roles. The key in your case will be to articulate how your skills align with the minimum qualifications. For example, if you acquired Skill X in a setting other than an academic library, state clearly and simply why this is relevant in your cover letter. Focus on transferable skills more than where you gained the experience.

If you haven’t already been applying for jobs in the new location, start now. Academic libraries can take months to respond to job applicants. Some have a hiring “season” in the early part of the year. Those jobs may already be well into the interview process, so pay attention to any deadlines you see posted in the job descriptions. The only thing you will accomplish by applying to jobs that are past the deadlines is to waste your time. Also keep in mind that the academic library market is competitive, so it may take you some time to find a good opportunity. It might be a good idea to keep an eye on the school and public library job markets in case the academic route doesn’t work out.

Be patient and confident in your skills and experience, and you should be able to find work in your preferred field with time.

Q: How does an indexer with experience abroad find appropriate jobs in the U.S.?

Q: How does an indexer with experience abroad find appropriate jobs in the U.S.?

Q: I have worked for 4 years in an outsourced job where we used to provide indexing services including Metadata and Abstraction in accordance with customer’s guidelines. The articles were indexed in client’s site (CMS site) where I used to copy the title, pagination, author. etc but the main work was to find keywords to those articles which was done according to client specifications. I have done articles of various subjects.

Currently I am in U.S. and looking out for jobs. Are above mentioned kind of jobs or related to it available here? If yes what should be the exact word for searching it? Are these jobs advertised on LinkedIn or other job portal sites? Is work from home option available? If no, could you please guide me in getting help for the same?

I appreciate your help and thanks in advance.

CNW: Indexing jobs such as you describe do indeed exist in U.S. The H.W. Wilson Company employed indexers until quite recently; however, like many publishers, I understand that they have mostly moved their operations overseas in recent years. Other companies you might look to for similar jobs include OCLC, EBSCO, Proquest and LexisNexis. You will find a terrific response from a real-life work-at-home indexer in a comment on this blog from 2013 .

Such jobs generally lend themselves to working from home, but whether or not a specific employer permits those arrangements is probably a case-by-case basis. You can probably find a work at home arrangement if you are flexible in your approach and willing to negotiate with potential employers.

LinkedIn is an excellent source for job postings. You can also look for jobs on local job notice sites, on Indeed.com, and professional library organizations’ websites. Search terms like “indexer,” “indexing,” “cataloging,” etc. would all return matches.

I also encourage you to think broadly about your indexing and abstracting skills. Your experience would be a solid foundation for a cataloger, for example. If you are in need of a job immediately, there are temporary agencies that specialize in the library field where you could gain experience in the U.S. that may help your job prospects.

This Year, Try Writing a Career Mission Statement

This Year, Try Writing a Career Mission Statement

Q: How many readers out there have already fallen off one or more of their New Year’s resolutions?

CNW: I confess that this year I’ve already fallen off my resolutions – for example, getting this blog post out sooner. Inspired by a recent New York Times article, I am abandoning any remaining resolutions in favor of writing a personal mission statement. A personal mission statement is supposed to get at the “why” of change instead of focusing on the “what.” By identifying the reasons behind the changes you want to make, so the theory goes, you are more likely to stick with the program.

This makes intuitive sense to me. It is all too easy to experience a setback and never get back on track because you’ve already failed, right? There is also value in publishing your goals to the world as a means of keeping yourself accountable. So here goes:

2014 for me was all about my kids. But with my youngest now seven months old, it is time to refocus on my career. In 2015  I want to progress in my career by taking on new challenges at work. There is always so much to do that finding the time to identify and work on the areas of greatest impact can be a challenge. I resolve to give myself the space to develop those impact areas in 2015.

It has been some time since I’ve done any speaking or presenting outside of my organization, so I have accepted a role speaking on a panel at the upcoming Special Libraries Association conference in Boston. My ambition is to make that a positive experience and seek out additional speaking roles in the second half of the year.

Similarly, it has also been some time since I have published. My career move into knowledge management coincided with the arrival of my children and the commensurate shortage of time. Now it is time to start participating more deeply in the professional conversation through publication. That also means reading more professional literature.

Related to writing, I also want to nurture my creative side. Writing fiction has been a lifelong goal. It’s past time to get serious, so in 2015 I’ll be looking for ways to nurture myself in addition to my family.

And here are my LCP colleagues’ personal mission statements for further inspiration:

Susanne’s Personal Mission Statement:

 In 2015, I aim to seek out and discover new opportunities and collaborations on topics that are relevant to my role in electronic resources and collections. I want to narrow the scope of my professional development efforts and concentrate on more specific concepts, tools, and solutions. I want to learn from others who are in similar roles in different institutions, and to immerse myself into a (new) community of like-minded professionals. I want to feel engaged and challenged.

In an attempt to conquer chaos and doubt and to maintain my concentration, I intend to focus on my physical and mental well-being with the help of yoga and meditation. I want to slow myself down, and just breathe. In and out, in and out.

I will write more, because this is the activity that feeds my soul. I will commit to the practice of it, and to forming groups that support and nurture the writing life. And then I want to publish, to send my stuff out into the world and see what happens, in a concentrated effort to be more open to rejection and criticism, for the small possibility of success.

Tiffany’s Personal Mission Statement:

In 2015, I will accomplish great things.  I want to look back on this year and feel a sense of pride and contentment with what was accomplished and how my work affected the work and lives of others.  To achieve this, I will identify my priorities and put my effort there.  I will focus my work to what’s important and align my efforts with my endeavors.  I will try to reduce the number of email I send in the hopes it will reduce the number I receive.

I will also learn to say no.  In an effort to align resources with priorities, I need to know what’s on my horizon and I will need to learn to not take on everything.  This includes in my personal life.  Despite my wishes, I am not infinitely limitless.  I am bound by the same 24-hour day as everyone else and I need to remember that.  I also need to remember to make time for me somewhere within those 24 hours–to put on my oxygen mask before helping others around me who my need assistance.

And lastly, I will be thankful for everything I have and everyone in my life.  As a student of Positive Psychology, I will spend a moment every day giving thanks, being appreciative and building an upward spiral of positivity.  For those who want to know more about Positive Psychology, I highly recommend the work of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson.  She is currently teaching an online course on the subject, which is another thing I’ve checked off my 2015 To Do List—I’m currently participating in my first MOOC.  Starting the year strong with small successes!

To much success in 2015!

Q: What transferable skills does a daycare worker bring to a library setting?

Q: What transferable skills does a daycare worker bring to a library setting?

Q: I’m 35, work at a daycare and feeling burned out. I am in the planning stage of finding a graduate school to obtain a MLIS degree. My question is, what would transferable skills look like for a person leaving a daycare environment to work in a library? I’m not very sure of the skills I acquired in the daycare setting would be acceptable.

CNW: The specific skills that might transfer to a library setting will depend upon the type of library you want to work in. For example, your background working with young children would make you a good candidate for a public library job doing children’s programming, a school librarian, or even as a liaison to libraries and schools in the publishing world. If you are truly feeling burned out, however, a library job involving children may not feel like enough of a career change.

Since you don’t say what area of librarianship you are specifically targeting, I suggest that you use your time in graduate school to explore your options. You may find that being a law librarian, to pick an example, is appealing because it is so different from the work you have been doing. In the Suggested Reading section below you’ll find a link to descriptions of different types of libraries. Look for opportunities to intern, volunteer or shadow people in different types of libraries. Tap into local professional librarian networks and request informational interviews. This will give you a sense of the kind of library work that would most appeal to you. It will also give you practical experience that you can list on a resume when you enter the job market with your freshly-minted MLIS degree.

Speaking as a mother with children in daycare, I’m convinced that my kids’ teachers must have advanced degrees in crisis management, communications and flexibility. When you are ready to begin interviewing, it will help you to think of specific instances where you had to demonstrate those skills (or other skills) and be prepared to speak about them. You will, of course, want to tailor your examples to the specific opportunity you’re applying for.

Suggested Reading:

Career Change Q&A with Susanne Markgren, 3/14/2012

Career Change Q&A with Tiffany Allen, 12/15/2011

American Library Association, Types of Libraries.

Q: Are there work-from-home opportunities for copy catalogers?

Q: Are there work-from-home opportunities for copy catalogers?

Q: I have worked in libraries for 30 years. I have worked as a copy cataloger for about 20 years at a university. Are there any work at home jobs in that area?

CNW: The short answer is yes: there are many kinds of work-from-home opportunities for librarians. Cataloging is an area that can be home-based, especially if you are cataloging digital materials.

To find opportunities, you’ll need to think broadly about alternative ways you might use your copy cataloging skills. You will also have to broaden your search beyond the usual library list serves to include sources like Indeed.com and LinkedIn, as well as any local job sources for your geographic area. Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Ed will be more targeted to your background and experience. Library vendors like OCLC are much more likely to offer work from home options than universities, although every situation is different.

I recommend approaching your current employer about the possibility of working remotely. It can be difficult to approach a supervisor with a request for an arrangement, but there are things you can do to frame your request effectively, including:

    Brush up on your negotiation skills before you make the ask
    Frame your request in terms of benefits to the employer. For example, you can research statistics on employee productivity and satisfaction to show why this could be good for the library. See the Suggested reading below for some articles to get started.
    Listen actively to any concerns your employer may express
    Keep the door open for further discussion, even if the first answer is no
    Suggest a trial period to try out the arrangement before either side commits to a long-term arrangement

Be honest about any personal reasons for making the request. If it is related to a health issue or a need to care for a family member, that can influence how your request is heard and received. It is also worth heeding LCP commenter Renee Young’s helpful advice:

I work for NoveList, an online Readers’ Advisory database primarily marketed to public and school libraries…. Although my position requires me to work on-site, a similar position could easily lend itself to working from home. Some of the considerations that I, as a supervisor, have, when considering requests to work from home, include the employee’s dedicated workspace and internet connection as well as the possible distractions they might face. Not to mention that working from home requires an inordinate amount of concentration and self-discipline and is not for everyone. If you are seeking a position that allows you to work from home, having these issues worked out in advance would make your case much more appealing to your potential employers.

Suggested resources:

Yes, Flexible Hours Ease Stress. But Is Everyone on Board?” Phyllis Korkki, The New York Times, 8/23/2014

Where do I look for home-based cataloging jobs?” Carrie Netzer Wajda, The Library Career People Website, 8/4/2013

Location, Location, Location,” The New York Times, 3/2/2013

Pros and Cons of Working at Home,” CareerBuilder.com, 4/17/2009

Q & A with Tiffany, 10/17/2011