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Monday, July 18, 2016

Pleasant Valley Sunday*: What constitutes an entry-level position to the American Library Association?

Wow. Just Wow.

I'm spending my Monday morning catching up on email, and applying for jobs (yes, still in the library field). I checked my usual places--I Need a Library Job, state library associations near me (and not near me), and the old stalwart, the American Library Association.  I've had my beefs with them in the past, mostly about the exhorbitant cost of membership and attending conferences--not to mention the folly that is their "Emerging Leaders" program--but nothing prepared me for this morning.

I was on their JobList page, searching possibilities near me (I'm in SE Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia).  I've been applying for jobs that required experience for the most part because most ads want it in some form--"professional", "library", sometimes "customer service", or my personal favorite, "progressive responsibility", whatever the hell that means. For some reason I decided to take a different path.  Since I'm relatively new to the field, I searched using the terms "entry level" and "academic library", letting the chips fall where they may in terms of location.

I was amazed to discover that there was one opening in the entire ALA world, a social sciences/education librarian post at the University of Oregon. An outstanding institution of higher learning, in a wonderful area of the United States, but a little too far to move the family on short notice.

Undaunted, I changed the search to "Public Library" and "entry level".


"Government Library" and "entry level"


"School Library" and "entry level"


"Library Cooperative/System" and "Entry Level"


"Museums" and "Entry Level"


"Special Library/Corporate" and "Entry Level"


Are you getting the picture yet?

Are you getting the picture, ALA?

What does "Entry Level" mean in the ALA? Anything at all? When more and more job postings ask for professional experience, meaning they won't count paraprofessional or volunteer work towards that number of years, where does one ACQUIRE "professional" experience?  Does a candidate have to rely on an HR person or library director slipping up and giving the professional title to someone not yet qualified? Why doesn't the ALA make such specifications?

The term "25 years old with 30 years experience" never rang so true as it does in the rarefied world of Library and Information Science. What do you say in your defense, ALA?

*--Carole King, Gerry Goffin for The Monkees. First released as a single with Last Train to Clarksville, 1967.
Pleasant Valley Sunday
Current CV for Daniel John De Kok Sr.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

And So It Goes*


I'm interviewing at the local upscale chain grocer on Tuesday.  I hope it goes better than the one with McCaffrey's HR department.

I have no idea where they'll place me.  I have a background in cooking, cookbooks, housewares.  I'd love to be doing prepared foods, but without the culinary arts shingle, that's not likely.  Even if I'm a produce clerk, that would be preferable to sitting home doing nothing waiting for the phone to ring/email to arrive.

I can't believe the way things have gone for me in the library world  Aaron Copland was right--"People want what they know or something just like it".  For a field that's 80% female, they sure are reluctant to hire strong men (sound familiar?).  The ALA's program for encouraging "diversity", Emerging Leaders, is, in my opinion, a big flop.  80% or more of the candidates are female, most of those women are white, and most of them come from pre-selected groups who "sponsor" places in the program. It's pathetically amusing to see the ALA try to trumpet itself as a progressive, modern, even edgy (think librarians with tattoos) organization.  Marian Paroo fit the visual mold, but she was a far more complex character then people gave her credit for.

Billy Joel, Storm Front, 1989.

UPDATE: No Soap. No Groceries, Deli, or Gourmet Cheese, either.
And So It Goes