Monday, April 17, 2006


Introducing MPOW! In a few short weeks, I will be the new Youth Services Librarian at the San Carlos branch of the San Mateo County Library. Youth means children in this case (though technically, I'm a "Public Services Librarian," so really it's babies and seniors and everybody in between).

I was hired a while ago, but I wanted to wait until I had the official piece of paper before saying anything publicly. End-of-semester chaos was quickly replaced by packing-up-everything-I-own chaos, so I'm a bit late with the news. And in case you were wondering, this is the interview where I showed up 20 minutes late. I love these people already. Not to mention, I get to work with the Librarian In Black!

If I weren't so distracted by carefully wrapping my dishes in paper and forwarding my mail, I'd be really really excited.

I suppose I should have all sorts of thoughtful comments reflecting on my experiences of the past two years, but quite frankly, my brain shut off after my last class. I went right from indexing to a shift at the agriculture library, and I think I was the most useless accessory at the reference desk that afternoon. When a student came up to the desk and asked, "Can you help me?" the only honest answer would have been, "Nope. Sorry."

So, allow me a brief hiatus, and stay tuned...

call for submissions

I'm done with interviews for the next little while (at least as an interviewee), but if you'd like to share, send me the questions you get asked and I'm happy to post them. Just a few guidelines...

Include the relevant details, minus the specifics (I'll take out names and places if you don't):
  • Type of position

  • Type of library (public, university, college, corporate, non profit, etc.)

  • Size (small, medium, large)

  • Setting (urban, suburban, rural)

  • Phone or in person?

  • How long did it last? (estimates are okay)

  • Number of people on the panel (job titles/roles are great if you have them)

  • If you can't remember all the questions, let me know how many were asked in total

If you include commentary:
  • Keep it brief.

  • No complaining.

  • If you're critical, make sure it's constructive criticism.

  • When in doubt, ask yourself: would other people care?

  • Focus on stuff that might help other people.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Salary negotiations

I firmly believe that it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to do our part to improve library staff salaries by taking a cue from Oliver and asking for a bit more, please. You're in the best position to do this at the time a job offer is made. This requires keeping your wits about you. It's easy to get so excited by a job offer that you just say yes right away. I suggest you always take a couple of days to think it over. It's okay to ask how long you have to decide.

If you make up your mind to ask for more money in advance, it's a lot easier to follow through. And you should always ask for more. You're worth it. But be prepared to articulate why.

If you have more than one job offer, use that as leverage. Call attention to your past experience, and if you don't have any experience, point out your unique qualities and explain how you're utterly fabulous.

If there's no budging on salary, what else is negotiable? More vacation? Money for conferences? Moving expenses?

(here's a tip: Sometimes it's easier to steel yourself up for this sort of interaction if you know it's coming. If you're expecting a call about a job offer, I totally recommend screening your calls. That way, you can call back an hour or two later when you're prepared. It puts you in control of the situation a bit more and gives you time to get your game face on.)

Being savvy when it comes to negotiating salary is part and parcel of the skills you need to be a good librarian. If you can't advocate for yourself, how can you advocate for your organization? That said, being savvy doesn't mean being unreasonable. Know when to push for a little more, but also acknowledge when it's time to concede, compromise, or back off.