Monday, December 11, 2006

Exciting Opportunity in the Granite State

Here's an exciting opportunity for someone who wants to move to New Hampshire for no money and scan stuff. You probably haven't seen this, either, because they're avoiding the "Library Jobs that Suck" limelight by not posting to one of the standard job ad sites and trying to evade the penetrating gaze of the Annoyed Librarian by posting on listservs I don't read. The Nashua Public Library in Nashua, NH is looking for the following:

"Digitization Project Internship (Unpaid)

Scan hundreds of historical photographs and other documents
Prepare TIFF, JPG and thumbnail images
Assign metadata, (using Dublin Core framework)
House photographs in archival quality containers, label sleeves and folders
Prepare a finding aid

* Flexible scheduling
* Training provided if necessary
* Digitization project experience preferred
* Familiarity with any digital library software program is a plus.
* Detail oriented a must!"

This ad was sent in by an attentive reader, who had the following to say:

"Here's a job that sucks. Internships are supposed to be a learning experience, but it doesn't appear there is much to learn here (except if you're interested in old photos of Nashua, New Hampshire) There is no pay. You have to move to freezing New Hampshire in the winter.

I think they should pay somebody to do this work. And I think it is insulting that they prefer to have an intern who already has "Digitization Project Experience" - so if you already have experience doing digitization projects, you qualify to work as an "intern" for no pay.

What do you think?"

Well, I think this is a job that sucks, though I'm not officially categorizing it as a Library Job That Sucks, since it's technically an internship and it makes no mention of requiring an MLS. I reserve that category for jobs like this that do require an MLS. I do wonder though many non-MLS people know how to assign metadata "using a Dublin Core framework." Heck, I don't know how to do that, and I have an MLS. Obviously they want to good digital archivist, and are willing to pay bottom dollar to get one by calling this an "internship." Some internships seem very worthwhile (like the one at Michigan, for example), but internship can often be translated as "doing a lot of grunt work for free." The main question to ask is, is the internship really designed to educate the internee, or simply to get the grunt work done for free?

This is the sort of thing Leslie Burger's "Library Corps" of unpaid retired librarians should take on! There probably aren't a lot of retired librarians in Nashua, NH who are also digital archivists, but they could learn. Also, the director might try to do a little fund raising. Our tax money is often wasted on projects even less important and less directed to the common good than digitizing some old pictures of New Hampshire, so maybe a federal grant's the answer.

I'm trying to figure out who's supposed to take this job. As far as I can tell, it's not advertised on the library's website, and the only online presence I found was in an archive for a archives listserv. If I read my email right, the person who sent this on to me got it through a listserv for librarians, and not just in New Hampshire. So they're posting this ad nationally on listservs, and apparently they do think some poor soul would be willing to move to New Hampshire to take an "internship" scanning photos. It is interesting that they prefer someone with experience. Don't we all! If only they were willing to pay for it. This is the sort of thing a library school student might do to gain experience, but there aren't any library schools in New Hampshire. I suppose someone could trek the fifty miles from Boston, but why bother.

I especially like the promise of "flexible scheduling." I guess if you're not paying anyone, you can't complain if they don't want to punch your clock. "No, I'm sorry, since you showed up 4 hours late, we're docking your nonexistent pay!" No, beggars can't be choosers.

And consider this one: "Familiarity with any digital library software program is a plus." A plus! Because you're obviously going to need an edge over the hundreds of applicants who'll apply for this job! (Or should I call it a "job." No, it's an internship.) Oh, and "detail oriented a must!" It wouldn't be a library "job" ad without an exclamation point!

Maybe I'm just deluded though, and these are the sorts of exciting opportunities library school graduates are dying for. So put those valuable digital archiving skills to work in the Granite State. Tell 'em the AL sent you, and as a bonus you'll get to eat the leftovers in the staff refrigerator at the end of each week.


Amused Librarian said...

I knew I should have picked up some digitization project experience when I was in library school. Now I'll never get to see what's in the Nashua Public Library's refrigerator. This, I consider to be a great loss.

Privateer6 said...

Ok I have mixed emotions on internships. I do not like not having to pay to work, which is what an unpaid internship is as you pay tuition for the credit hours AND all the expenses of going to work: i.e. gas, lunch, time, etc. However you do gain experience and contacts. While a paid internship is best, sometimes that is not an option.

I did an unpaid internship for my MLS becasue of family reasons and I had a very good experience. Everything I learned in my archiving classes I had to use, including the preservation class.

Personally I think they are listing the intership on a national forum so that someone attending school out-of-state may apply for it.

anon7 said...

It sounds to me like what they really asked for was a temp, but the city HR department said they couldn't afford one, so they changed "temp" to "intern" and crossed their fingers.

I already have a year of public library experience, but I think if I decide to try to break into academic library work, I might have to do an unpaid internship. It appears that most or all of the paid non-MLS jobs at my local university (the one that I can walk to) go to work-study students.

Matthew said...

I know all the important digits, 1 & 0. Is there skiing in this New Hampshire of which you speak. Is that near Greenland?

anon7 said...

Ah, then you understand that there are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Norma said...

This is why I don't volunteer in libraries.

Anonymous said...

Well 'Amused Librarian' the refrigerator @ NPL is stocked with amazingly tasty treats that you'll never get to experience. Bummer.

cranky archivist said...

This post provoked such genuine feelings of angst in me that I instantly developed a throbby stress headache. I'm better now that I've applied some Head On (apply directly to the forehead!) though, so I feel free to comment.

I'm a library-archives hybrid with considerable digital project experience and I am coincidentally job hunting right now. I missed this particular ad, but have been dismayed at the number of similar postings I've found all around the country. I worked on a project very similar to this one 4 years ago before I even went to library school, and made almost $13/hour. It was a lot of mind-numbing assembly-line type of work, and while it was good experience, I can't imagine not getting compensated for it in some way.

I'm not against unpaid interships or practicums--I've done a few. But I've always been TAUGHT something new--a professional skill like processing, appraising, or cataloging. This ad definitely makes it sound like they want someone who can not only hit the ground running, but who can perhaps even prescribe standards or procedures for them to follow.

The current job market for new archivists (even ones with digital skillz) is pretty dismal. I'd been warned that most gigs open to entry level people would be limited to "project archivist" jobs (short term/grant-funded) or internships (poorly paid/unpaid). Most of the project jobs I've been finding lately though have a duration of a year or less. I could move just about anywhere for a 2 or 3 year project, but I wouldn't consider anything less. If I were single and had parents who could support me, then sure. But uprooting your whole life for something so short lived seems ludicrous. I suppose these options are better than this unpaid Nashua gig though, as you would at least get paid for your 6 months of work, even with an uncompensated move.

Let's hope that the Nashua folks find someone local to fill this job. Maybe a college student who has an interest in library/archives, could take it for credit. That's how I got my first digital project job in college. Or maybe they'll find a digital archivist with a trust fund.