Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Granite State Opportunity

Before I say anything else, I just want to say that I love my readers, cranky critics and all. For those of you who read the AL through a feed reader and never check the comments, I can only say you don't know what you're missing. A blog post is a small, frail thing, but the vigorous discussion it might provoke can change or enlighten a mind.

Okay, now it's time to stop being so sappy and talk about library jobs that suck.

I haven't posted an official Library Job that Sucks in a long time, and I haven't even mentioned a sucky job in almost a year. I went back and checked, and the last one was December of last year, and it was in New Hampshire of all places. Now I'm returning to the scene of the crime. You'd think a state with no income tax wouldn't be so annoying.

The official Library Jobs that Suck category is restricted to jobs that REALLY suck, that suck way more than most library jobs. The library jobs that suck the most are the ones that are temporary and that don't really exist. If you're advertising to build a "pool" of candidates that might get some temporary "professional" library work, then you're advertising for a library job that sucks and you should be ashamed of yourself. And there are sucky library jobs that won't make the list, like the one in the ad a kind reader sent in for this library in upstate New York looking for a public library director for $18-20,000 a year. Maybe the cost of living is cheap, but considering they want an MLS and expect the person to work for a living, it sucks.

This ad seems like it's for a library job that sucks, once more in the Granite State. The Lane Memorial Library in Hampton, NH is looking for a library director. No, that's not quite accurate. They're looking for a temporary library director, to serve for 2-6 months (without benefits, of course). Who the hell looks for a temporary library director? What is the problem here? Is the library director off on maternity leave or something? Can't they get by for a brief period without a director, or with an interim director? Presumably they don't have a director now, because the job starts immediately. Isn't that motivation enough to hire a permanent director? This is advertised nationally, but something tells me it's for an internal candidate. Who else would apply for this position?

Though this might be temporary, the duties aren't light. Here are some of the duties:

"o Develop and maintain the library’s strategic plan, outlining immediate and long range goals, together with the Library’s Board of Trustees."

And how exactly is someone there for 2-6 months going to set any long range goals?

"o Responsible for recommending and writing needed policies and procedures, which incorporate library best practice. Implement adopted policies."

How many policies and procedures to they hope to get out of this temporary person? Don't they think the permanent person, if they ever stoop to hiring one, will just change them anyway?

"o Responsible for all staff supervision and supervision of department heads. Will oversee Interviewing, recommending for hire, training, scheduling, and evaluating all library staff."

Oh, yeah, lots of interviewing and training will be going on, I'm sure. With this sort of temporary commitment to the library, why would anyone else apply? And I bet a temp director could put off those evaluations indefinitely.

"o Prepare and propose to Trustees the annual operating budget for the Library. Administer the accepted budget."

And be quick about it, because you don't have long.

"o Prepare financial and narrative reports for distribution at monthly Board meetings."

Fortunately you'll only have to do this 2-6 times.

"o Write grant proposals and pursue other fundraising opportunities to actualize library goals."

Sure, write the proposal, but you won't be around to get the grant. And it's a good thing fundraising doesn't take any time and you don't have to cultivate donors or anything. Two months should do it.

"o Determine community interests and develop responsive new programs and services, incorporating new technologies to enhance service delivery whenever possible."

You'll be expected to determine community interests the first day, then develop some programs the next.

"o Oversee library public relations, including writing press releases, outreach, and marketing services."

If the library is only interested in hiring temp directors, maybe they shouldn't relate to the public very much.

"o Participate in daily library functions (circulation, reference, etc.), as needed."

When you're not working with donors or servicing the library board.

And for a very short temp position, they sure don't want much. The only qualifications are "a Master’s Degree in Library Science from an ALA accredited college or university and five to seven years of professional library experience, with three years in an administrative capacity, ... a thorough knowledge of municipal government and applicable RSA’s, modern library principles and best practices; experience with teambuilding and human resource management; the ability to recruit, train, and motivate staff for optimal public service delivery; a strong understanding of information technology and its application in public libraries; the ability to demonstrate courtesy and tact in all interactions with community members; the ability to develop and manage budgets; the ability to work effectively with town employees, the Friends, the Board of Trustees, and other elected town officials; and have good communication, public relations, and presentation skills."

That doesn't seem like much to ask for a 2-6 month temporary position with no benefits. Sign me up, baby! I bet librarians with those qualifications are just lining up outside this library begging for interviews.

They claim to offer a "Competitive Salary, commensurate with Experience." I just bet it'll be competitive-- with all the other temporary library director positions in New Hampshire. The ad says "Starting as soon as possible." They don't want you for long, but they want you to start soon, so it seems obvious that consideration of their employees isn't something you'll find there. Good luck on the application. If you tell them the AL sent you, your application moves to the top of the queue. Based on this ad, if anyone at all worthwhile applies, their application just might be the queue.

Oh, and have a happy Thanksgiving. I'll be giving thanks and gobbling turkey and all that sort of stuff, and I hope you will be, too.


Saisquoi said...

Ah, yes, the opportunities abound up here in the Granite State. The honor of working in NH should be enough for any self respecting librarian. That's part of the reason I took my MLS to EBSCO. At least they give me benefits.

Anonymous said...

Maybe their director is taking a few months off to take a Dreamweaver class. Their web site absolutely sucks!!

Anonymous said...

"Their web site absolutely sucks!!"

That's probably another responsibility of the temp director that they forgot to mention.

Obviously they recycled the job description of the real director and were too lazy to edit it. One has to wonder what the real story is. Watch the local news. Maybe in a couple of months there will be a story about how the library director and the mayor ran off together with the town's treasury.

Anonymous said...

Obviously they recycled the job description of the real director and were too lazy to edit it.

Maybe, but I had a temp job once where I was expected to catch up on in two weeks what the person I was filling for hadn't done in over a year. This looks like a chance for someone to pass on the crap for someone else to finish.

But given that so many library positions require supervisory experience but so few library jobs actually offer it (certainly before you reach department head) the New Hampshire job is likely, sadly, to be appealing to job seekers.

Dances With Books said...

Good grief, that really is a job that sucks. Those people definitely have no shame, so clearly we need to ridicule them and expose them as much as possible. What do you mean 2-6 months without benefits? I don't even think an internal candidate would go for that. I'd definitely be watching the local news too. That job just does not sound right.

Anonymous said...

Call me the cynical librarian, but the NH job sounds like one of those ads they write with a specific candidate in mind. They probably have an temporary opening, someone ready to fill it, but they have to advertise the position. How do you insure that the select person gets the job and there is no competition for it? Write the job description for them specifically. After missing out on over five jobs for this type of hiring behavior, you get to get a nose for this kind of writing.

Anonymous said...

I grew up very near Middleburgh (NY), and while it is a rural, poor area, that salary is still low. Despite what some individuals would contend, I'm not sure there is any truly "cheap" place to live in New York in which that salary would provide a sustainable existence (and would be acceptable to someone with an advanced degree and the corresponding debt). My mother also grew up in the area, and was dumbfounded by the salary attached to this position when I told her about it. Unfortunately this is just one of those cases in which the funding is simply not there to support a professional position.

Anonymous said...

AH, the New Hampshire mindset! And these are the people who demand first crack at deciding who will be the candidates for President of the United States.

Makes one wonder, doesn't it?

Farkas is Willin' said...

...there is also the little detail that NH in Winter is like the North Pole. Better bring the woolies, especially if you are living in that abandoned shipping container (with that salary) out on interstate 93. Even the Old Man on the Mountain split from that situation.

Arlene said...

If the director at the NY library is making sub $20K, imagine what the staff is making!

skeptical thomas said...

Oh well, the job could have sucked even more. There's space for improvement.
At least they don't prefer someone with an advanced subject degree. For example, in sociology - socio-economics dynamics in rural NH, factors involved and their global implications. That would make a great dissertation.

il library student said...

The current director began medical leave on June 29. Currently, the longtime assistant director of the library is the acting director.

I culled this from the library board's meeting minutes. Frankly, looking at the times they start the meetings and the times they adjourn, I wouldn't want to work there. There is really no reason a library board meeting should take three plus hours - unless, of course, they are handling something really controversial.

However, perusing the minutes, I saw nothing of controversy. And the minutes are really bad. If a meeting lasts four hours (see the first August 2007 minutes) I think there would be more than one page of skimpy minutes.

AL said...

Excellent sleuthing. It still sounds like an odd job, though. Wouldn't it just be easier to have an acting director and hire a temp person for other duties?

Kevin Musgrove said...

Our library management team meetings take a minimum of three hours and never get past item three on the agenda ("minutes of last meeting").

On the one hand it's frustrating for those of us needing decisions off them. On the other hand, at least they're out of harm's way.

Anonymous said...

Meredith Farkas is up in Vermont, right? That's next to New Hampshire, no?

I wonder if we could get her to apply for the NH position. Then blog about the experience for the rest of us.

skeptical thomas said...

Not a big fan of MF, still, I find that little nasty comment unjustified. Love her, hate her, perhaps it's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

Whether it sucks or not depends on the salary, no? For, say, $150k-$175k for six months, it wouldn't suck so much, I think. Not that I suspect that's what they would like to pay, but if a number of qualified people apply and demand a real director's salary plus compensation for the perqs not offered, they'll get the message. What sucks is not the job but the fact that probably, someone will take it for far less than they should.

Anonymous said...

Hi, AL,
Do you read Library Hotline? Check out the Nov. 19 issue which reports a new program by the New Jersey State Library intended to get ideas for invigorating public library service in the state.
One of the ideas the program's 25-member panel came up with during a brainstorming session was construction of new library buildings to include "pods" as "safe havens" for autistic kids and their families. The NJ State Library website has fuller details.

We had a laugh over that, for sure. The State Librarian also noted in the article she was looking for reality-based ideas (as opposed to that other kind based on non-reality).
Jersey is currently in danger of losing money next year needed to fund databases used by public libraries. One we use is an on-line phone book - probably the least esoteric and the only one of the bunch with practical value for our users.
I wonder if the pod program is an attempt to distract attention from SL's failure to rally support for database funding? In fairness, a while back they polled libraries state-wide on which db's were used and how much they were used.

Thanks, Feldspar

Deb said...

Most public institutions - libraries or universities have to follow certain guidelines when filling positions even if temporary positions. If you were a librarian qualified for this position living in or near that town and found out there was an opportunity available and it wasn't advertised, you'd be madder than a wet hen.

webbygrl said...

So glad you posted AL. Now I have fodder for my resume so I can apply for the position. I just graduated with my MLS so I'm perfect!

She thinks she's Carrie Nation said...

Sounds like someone is waiting for a relative to graduate from library school to me!

Anonymous said...

You missed one:

They need a cataloger who is also an archivist, and it's just for nights and weekends. Oh, and you should be able to do bibliographic instruction, too. Don't even dream about tenure, though.

tanner said...

The post about the public library job in NH was intriguing, both because I work in NH (in an academic library) and I know the director of this library. I ran into her at a conference in October and now I recall her saying that she was on leave. The cost of living would be high in this oceanside town, so I expect that the salary is pretty high.

webbygrl said...

Somebody explain this to me. How is it I can't even THINK about applying for a job as a librarian with an "MLS from an ALA accredited institution" but this "institution" can hire a library DIRECTOR with a bachelor's degree? And then they have the nads to pay said Director just $6.75 an hour?

I bet you get what you pay for.