I am close to being done with my first week of work at Champlain College. From people that I have talked to, this is going to be a very busy year. The incoming class is far bigger than any before it, and the new Core starts which includes information literacy as a strong component. This adds up to a lot more instruction for librarians. This will be a challenge, but one I think I will be up to. Though I’ll have to get used to doing instruction again after not having to do any the whole summer.
I am also very excited to start implementing some of my own ideas. I would like to make some video tutorials, and similar tools after I do some teaching and talk with people about how they should look. Hopefully this would take some strain off the teaching librarians. Moreover, I have a number of ideas to improve the website. My overriding goal is to make the library and its services more user friendly. Many library services are not even close to being intutive. Users struggle through using our tools to find information. We have to make the experience easier and more enjoyble, not a chore. I hate seeing users getting frustrated and shutting down when they run into problems (such as no results in a database or catalog search…Google at least gives them something). So, I am going to do what I can to allow users to have a pleasant successful research experience.
I have finally arrived in Vermont after driving over a thousand miles. It was actually not too bad of a drive. I stopped a couple of places (with WIFI of course) and never once ran into any traffic or inclement weather. It was almost too good to be true. The Adirondacks were beautiful, and I was able to take a ferry accross Lake Champlain. It seemed that driving would be the best option. It got my car, some stuff and me out there, but it also a fulcrum for my transition. With every passing mile I kept thinking more about what my new job would entail and what I would make it into. I left my library school life behind and ventured towards my professional career.
It was sad leaving things and places and people that I had grown to know and love for something completely different, but I realize that that is going to be the nature of my new job. I will have to be constantly changing, doing things different ways, and abandoning old comfortable methods of doing things for something that will work better or make more sense. This is the nature of library work as well as the nature of the world. You do something some way for a while and start getting comfortable… then everything changes. You have to do it differently. A man works in a factory maufacturing SUV’s and suddenly people realize the model of getting cheap gas no longer works. The job is gone. The person now has to learn a new skill and reshape who he is. Things do not stay the same way for long. A key virtue for this day and age is flexibility.
I had about half a dozen interviews over the past few months. I got very good at answering questions but also asking questions. There are a wealth of good resources that give you lists of interview questions. But there is also something that is just as important as answering questions well: asking the interviewers good questions. Questions for your interviewers show that you are interested and not a dullard. They also give you an opportunity to find out more about the job, the city, the environment or anything else you want to know. I have composed a list from my notes at various interviews.
- Why is this position open?
- What do you like best about working here?
- If you could change one thing about the library or institution X, what would it be (They like this one)?
- How hard is it to try out new ideas?
- How do you support your employees in their professional development?
- Describe the atmosphere of the library? (i.e. relationships between librarians, faculty, staff, students)
- What are some of the main challenges facing the library or institution X?
- What are the patrons like (try to meet some)?
- What is the faculty’s view of the library?
- What are your goals for this position?
- How much instruction do you do?
- What do you do for fun in this area?
- What is the campus atmosphere like (events, recreation, interactions)?
- What status do librarians have (faculty, staff, etc.) and what does that entail?
These are just a few examples and a lot of them have to do with public service, academic libraries. Many are pretty general though and are ones that kept popping up in my head as good things to know. They can be applied to a number of other positions as well. In addition to these, remember to ask questions specific to the position and things that you simply want to know about.
You are going to be asked if you have any questions for them multiple times. Don’t sit there with a blank look on your face and say, “Umm, I can’t think of any.” Be prepared.