06 April 2006

Where should I apply for a job as a librarian? Public, Special, TAFE or University library!

Quote of the week - Don't spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you have now was once among the things you only hoped for. (The Vatican Sayings, Epicurus)

Where should I apply for a job as a librarian?

Things to consider when you are applying for a job in a library, whether a special,
public, TAFE or University library:
A SWOT analysis while most often is conducted internal to the organisation, it would seem only sensible to look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of each sector in order to determine which one best suits your preferences. Perhaps you have worked a number of years in other industries and are now a qualified librarian. The following questions have been posed as a starting point. Consider marking each question with a S, W, O, or T when analysing a particular workplace. It would be a good idea to have these on hand when you interview for a job.

Geographical location - What is the cost of living in the town/city?
Do you see yourself enjoying the lifestyle?

What is the size and reputation of the organisation?
Are they quality accredited? Do they follow an industry Standard or Quality system?
What is the external collaboration and support status? i.e. other libraries
What is the internal collaboration and support? organisational culture and senior management support
Is there a Union which represents this sector?

FUNCTIONS
What is the main function of the library?
Who are the primary clients?
Do you agree with the philosophy of this service and Client service charter?
Is this where you see yourself in 5 years time?

BUILDING & SPACE
What is the space and building like?
How old is the building?
Is it acceptable to work in?
What is the flooring and window covering like? Is this important to you?
Are there offices available for professional staff?
Are OHS requirements adhered to with spacing of desks?
Is the office area right beside a noisy machinery plant room?
How often is the air-conditioning maintained and cleaned?
Do you have your own phone and desk?
Is the staff room pleasant?

FUNDING
Are there sufficient to build core collection of both print and electronic resource provision?
Is the funding Federal or State?
Has there been any budget cuts in this sector or organisation?
Are there external funding mechanisms in place? i.e Friends of the Library, Government grants, etc.

TECHNOLOGY
What level of technological expertise is required of a librarian?
Which types of technology are used in the organisation, i.e. IBM or Apple Mac system, Windows XP,
photocopying facilities card operated machines, log file printing,
reader/scanners for vision impaired,
CD-ROMS, DVD's?
Are there sufficient on-site OPACS?
Are there training facilities available?
Is there a self checkout machine?
Does the organisation have systems staff on site?
Does the organisation have a web master?
Do they implement 'accessibility' issues in the web site? {Users with disabilities}
Does the organisation have a web presence?
Are the users able to access the library catalogue from home?
Is there a range of electronic databases available?
What innovations is the library involved in? i.e. Blogs, Podcasts, RSS or Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard.

STAFFING AND STAFF EXPERTISE
What is the 'organisational structure'?
Is it a single person library? Could you work in 'isolation', or would you prefer to have immediate support from colleagues?
Do the staff in management positions have some form of management Degree or formal leadership training?
Are they qualified to do the job? Look for those who have completed a management Degree or other accredited leadership training.
Check out the qualifications listed beside the names of people you are considering working under or with.
Are job descriptions available for all staff members with clear lines of responsibility?
Is the remuneration consistent with awards applicable within the Industry serviced by the library?
Are staffing levels sufficient to provide an efficient service?
Does the organisation have a high staff turnover rate? This may indicate a problem with management styles or excessive workloads.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Is there a formal 'performance review' and 'staff development' process? What is it and how is it used? - Ask this question at interview
Does each professional staff member receive equal opportunity for professional staff development training such as conferences, workshops, etc. i.e. 1 conference per staff member per year, or 1 workshop per staff member per year. Is the immediate supervisor responsible for soliciting requests or is this a 'central, equitable process' whereby a 'committee' approves staff requests for training?
Is higher education study leave supported by this organisation?

PAY RATES & STAFF RECOGNITION
What is the rate of pay for librarians?
Is it consistent with Industry or Award rates? Have a look at the ALIA pay rates. Are staff recognised by the organisation for achievements?
Is higher duties paid to staff who are requested to perform duties for section managers for leave periods?
Do staff look happy? Do they seem tired and harassed?

Lastly, happy job hunting. There are wonderful innovative leaders out there!

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