Friday, June 02, 2006

A Library Job That Would Suck

One of my adoring readers from the North Star State sent this job on to me. Thanks!

I'm posting this as a library job that would suck--if you were allowed to apply for it!

The Minneapolis Community & Technical College Library is looking for a library technician.

"Principal responsibilities will include overseeing evening circulation student workers, interlibrary loans, and the library reserve and media collection."

That sounds like it has all the prerequsites for a library job that sucks.

"This is a full-time, twelve-month unlimited position with benefits."

Unlimited, indeed! Sounds pretty limited to me!

"Salary ranges from $13.17 - $18.31 per hour."

If you got that top figure, you'd probably make more than the poor sucker who takes that library job in Oregon, so this also has the look of a library job that sucks.

The ad is linked to the jobs page of the College of Saint Catherine library program. It's actually called the MLIS Job Database. And what's so strange about that, you might ask? Read the final line of the ad: Candidates with a MLIS will not be considered.

What about an MLS? Or an MS-LIS? Are those banned, too? Or just the MLIS folks?

It's the first time a library degree ever made anyone overeducated for a job, that's for sure. We've come to a pretty pass indeed when library school graduates won't even be considered for work in a library. Good jobs are hard to come by, and now we can't even apply for the jobs that suck! Soon there won't be any jobs left.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Sure, it could be considered a good sign that the MCTC library considers this unprofessional work. But denying work to MLIS-degreee holders! There must be a good reason for this, and I think I know what it is.

My heart reaches out to an oppressed group-- the poor losers who are just dying to work at the MCTC and yet can't get those really good professional jobs there. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of people with library degrees who want desparately to work at a cool place like the Minnepolis Community & Technical College! And the Annoyed Librarian's one of 'em, baby! That's why they have to restrict their search.

But how many positions like that are there? How many extremely lucky librarians could possibly get to work there? About 6, by my count. Six lucky people get to call themselves MCTC "library faculty," as opposed to the lowly "library technician."

So you see the problem. Hundreds of people with library degrees want desparately to work at the MCTC Library. Only 6 "library faculty" spots, and those privileged people ain't goin' nowhere! So obviously the only option is to apply to be a "library technician" in the faint hope of barely being allowed to bask in the glory that is the MCTC.

And now even that hope is dashed on the cruel rocks of fate.

But there's still hope, baby, so shut off the gas and get your head out of the oven! You know what you need to do: Lie! Don't tell those heartless folks at the MCTC about your ALA-Accredited MLS! Erase it from your resume!

And then maybe you, too, will be allowed to enter the hallowed halls of the Minneapolis Community & Technical College Library.

I'd think about applying myself and trying to sneak by them with a revised resume, but with my wit, charm, erudition, and good looks, nobody would believe I'm not a professional librarian.


Anonymous said...

Woot! This is wonderfully beautiful stuff. Keep it up. My colleague and I were just discussing this position under the context of 'jobs that suck' the other day. She claims not to have sent it though. Hmmmm.

Annoyed Librarian said...

Maybe I am your colleague! The Annoyed Librarian is ubiquitous!

Norma said...

Is it even legal to announce that certain degrees can't apply? Keep it up.

I know a nanny who is making $39,000 a year (50 hr week) and is quitting to go to library school. I doubt she'll make as much.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those lucky six library faculty at MCTC, and I am quite blog posting about the library technician job at MCTC.

The reason why we stated that no person with an MLIS should apply is because the job is for a library technician position. We don't employee professional librarians for library technician positions for three reasons.

1. It is not fair to the people who have the appropriate qualifications to be a library technician to have to compete with someone with an MLIS. If the writer had looked more closely, she/he might have noticed that we offer an A.S. in Library Information Technology degree program at MCTC. So we are a bit sensitive about hiring people for positions with the appropriate qualifications.

2. It is bad for the long term health of the library profession to hire people with graduate degrees in library science/studies for non-professional positions.

3. Professional librarians at MCTC and at all the 2-year colleges in Minnesota are faculty (and I mean regular faculty.) This is hugely important for the library and students because it allows librarians to be active in leadership positions on campus and translates into better support for student learning. I have been the chair of the college Academic Council for seven years. The library faculty teach in the Library Information Technology program, we also offer three liberal arts classes as part of the transfer curriculum, and have a required freshman information literacy class for all liberal arts transfer students. All of this only happened because MCTC librarians are regular faculty. There are a number of 2-year colleges in the MnSCU system where the president has tried to get rid of the library faculty and hire professional librarians as technicians. Some of the colleges have gotten away with this for a while, but our state faculty union has grieved the issue. We don’t plan to have that happen at MCTC.

So you see, this is not an attempt to keep MLIS people out of our library. It is an issue of justice for people who do not wish to get a graduate library degree but who want to work in libraries. It is an issue of helping keep the profession strong. And it is an issue of being smart politically on campus and looking out for the long term interests of our students and the library.

Also, just so you know, almost everyone at the MCTC library stays a very long time because it is a great place to work. The most recent library technician retired after 30 years, two of our other library technicians have been at the library for over 5 years, and the person who just left did so because she has a minor in library science and got hired as an entry level librarian at a public library in the Twin Cities and is heading back to graduate school in library science.

So I am sorry that you are annoyed, but you really should get over it. Also, if you bothered to check, the salary range for the library technician position is on the high end of the national average. It also comes with immediate vestige in a retirement plan, health care, and 13 days of vacation, which goes up in increments up to 25 days after 15 years. Also, there is no library director to deal with. MCTC has no library administration. The library is run by all ten of us (6 librarians, and 4 library technicians). And you should also notice the staff ratio, which is the opposite of most libraries. One of the reasons that the MCTC library has more librarians than library technicians is because we are clear about the different roles played by library faculty and staff. Library faculty teach, do collection development, reference, and work with other faculty to help them teach and assess information literacy. We also devote 15% of our annual acquisitions budget to alternative press material, which is just one more thing that makes the MCTC library a unique and great place to work. Personally I would be happy to have an apprentice system in librarianship, but such is not the case, and our institutional structure is such that pay and other compensation is different for library faculty and staff. We have a work environment more equal and empowering than most, but there is still a division between professional librarians and paraprofessionals.

Oh yes, just one final thing. I started work in libraries as a paraprofessional who oversaw a circulation department at a small academic library. It was pretty good work. But I was not happy when I had to compete for a paraprofessional position against someone with a graduate library degree. I eventually went on to get my MLIS. So, I and my librarian colleagues make no apologies for not hiring professional librarians for paraprofessional positions. Librarians are over qualified for a paraprofessional position and they usually quit as soon as they can get a professional job. We tend to prefer people who really want to work at MCTC for a longer time, and we want to make sure people with the appropriate education, training and experience do not have to compete for jobs against people who are only applying for the job because they cannot find a professional level library job. We are happy to consider all library school graduates for professional positions, just not paraprofessional positions. And I have no idea how or why our job posting got placed on the St. Catherine Library School job board.

Tom Eland, MCTC Library Faculty Member
Chair, Information Studies Department

Annoyed Librarian said...

I find fodder here for many future "Dear Annoyed Librarian" columns. Thanks for sharing!

2007 MLIS graduate said...

Tom, I want to thank you for your thoughtful, logical response to AL's comments regarding MCTC library tech jobs. If not for your detailed retort, I may have been inclined to accept AL's declaration as the whole truth and nothing but the truth (esp since I don't have the time to research and read all perspectives on the topic). Though AL appears ready to undermine your sincere attempt to set the record straight, even she will likely think over the info you presented, then use it to her greatest perceived benefit, as will we all. Thanks again, Tom.

Annoyed Librarian said...

"even she will likely think over the info you presented, then use it to her greatest perceived benefit."

Highly unlikely.

Though I assume you're kidding. If you were ever tempted to accept the AL's delcaration as the whole truth on anything, then you must be either joking or insane.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Does one really need a masters degree to be a librarian?

Misfiled Librarian said...

I know I am coming late to this but as a job searcher who will take any job in a library in my area, stay, and seek promotion when it is available, I take offense at everything Tom said. I should not be excluded from a job pool because my qualifications are better than anyone else's. That's nonsense. I went to library school so I could get back into the game after some time in another profession. To be excluded becasue I spent a great deal of time and money trying to make myself more employable is infuriating.If your primary motivation is to be "fair" to applicants who did not make the same effort I did, you are not acting in your library's own best interest. Meanwhile librarians are starving. Sleep well, Tom.

Anonymous said...

But, Misfiled, would you really want to work with someone who said our state union is "grieving" it?