Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Library Jobs That Suck #4

There's an exciting opportunity in Wisconsin for anyone who wants to work in a library with a demoralized staff and a director who likes to demote or drive off librarians.

Wouldn't you just love to apply to be the new Customer Services Lead Librarian at the Marathon County Public Library in lovely Wausau, Wisconsin? I knew you would. Doesn't this sound like a fantastic job:

"The Marathon County Public Library is seeking a highly qualified individual for the position of Customer Services Lead Librarian. This is a leadership position focusing on constantly improving the customer-library experience throughout the Library system. The ideal candidate advocates for [sic], researches, creates, develops, and executes innovative approaches, services, and products to meet diverse community and diverse customer needs using creativity and entrepreneurial leadership for the Library’s system. This position works directly with library staff to improve their customer service and responsiveness skills."

I only had to read through that advertisement once to say, "Wow! This job is HOT!" They're looking for highly qualified people. I'm highly qualified. They want people to service some customers. I'm great at servicing customers. That's how I paid my way through library school! And they have that great long sentence explaining everything the lucky candidate would get to do. The lucky candidate could advocate innovative approaches or execute innovative products, really just anything, as long as its "innovative." And all of us would probably like to work with that persnickety staff to improve their responsiveness skills. That staff must really suck if the library is advertising how unresponsive they are. Someone needs to go in and light a fire under their bottoms! Also, who wouldn't want to work for a library with a mission"to attract customers to discovery and fun through exploration and entertainment." Ooohh, ahhh, discovery and fun through exploration and entertainment! That sure beats this mission: "The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty." Because it's fun! And entertaining! And about servicing customers! Yay!!!

And it would also be fun to work in such a well known library. Oh sure, I know plenty of you work in well known libraries such as the New York Public or Widener or something. But how often do you get to opportunity to work in an increasingly nationally recognized public library in a small place in Wisconsin? Not often. But this library is famous, or at least it should be among librarians. See the news stories here, here, and of course here. Perhaps not everyone reads the Wausau Daily Herald (and why would you?), but everyone reads the AL, at least everyone who's reading this right now.

So if you want to work in a "customer service"-oriented job (and from what I hear every librarian should want to do that because that's what we're all about!), then go ahead and apply to the Marathon County Public Library. There you can work in an "innovative" environment where the director demotes librarians and cuts their pay and where whatever formerly professional staff are left will resent you until they can find other jobs. And when the last of them go, you can hire some even lower-paid and less competent people to take their place. Yay! And you can improve their "responsiveness skills." Yay!

This is like a dream job, isn't it? The deadline is March 24, so hurry up with that application! Tell 'em the AL sent you and your application goes to the top of the pile.

55 comments:

Lola said...

You have to wonder what librarian would apply for this position after all the negative publicity, perhaps one that does read or use the internet.

Anonymous said...

Or someone who needs a job.

I have held my nose many a time when I have dropped a letter and resume in the mail.

You know where it is going.

You know their rep.

You know you will hate working there.

But, you gotta eat

Lola said...

good point, the current economic crisis could lead to a flood of applications

Dances With Books said...

I can't believe they had the gall to advertise that position after the bad publicity. Then again, some people have no shame. And not sure if I would apply if I got desperate (I still have my dignity, and if the idea is just to eat, there are other jobs I can do and keep my dignity). In the end, I am betting the applicant pool would not be very high in quality, then again, they are pretty much aspiring to hiring trained monkeys (or just plain monkeys) anyways from the looks of it. What else is new?

AL said...

It doesn't pay very much and doesn't actually require an MLS, just equivalent experience, so they'll probably get lots of great applications from people turned down by the stores in the Wausau Center Mall.

a nonny-like moose said...

I don't think it would be a librarian, lola. Maybe a fresh-faced MLS graduate-to-be, but not anyone with one (or more) degrees.

A train wreck waiting to happen...

WDL said...

The show does have to go on, sadly. And the eating thing does have a ring of truth to it.

When I left my last position, I did not have work for 2.5 months. I was hired by an organization that didn't need a librarian until January 2nd. I died a little inside, but knew that I could survive on peanut butter & no-name jelly, mac & cheese, and tap water.

Did I lose 21 lbs? Yep. Could I afford to? Nope. Did I look like I survived the war? Yes, only I couldn't afford haircuts either, so I looked like a shaggy survivor. Am I in a happy place now? Yes. make that YES!

I know this isn't about me, but in a secret way, it really is. I feel for all those involved at MCPL, and I really hope the budget situation improves enough for them so that if cuts need to be made in the future, it will not touch the MLIS librarians. I can't say more, even though I am really chomping at the proverbial bit.

xo,
WDL

WDL said...

and one more comment, more than likely it will be a fresh faced, young MLIS. Wisconsin is a puppy mill of librarians. I'm sure someone will graduate from Madison or Milwaukee, and go back "home".... understanding & knowing Wausau are two strong components of survival there.

xo,
WDL

Anonymous said...

Read this morning the Marathon County Public Library is looking for a "Special Collections Customer Services Cataloger" to organize a recently acquired collection of blood diamonds and poached elephant tusks. It doesn't pay much, but a job well done is its own reward. Any qualified takers?

Anonymous said...

Libraries that are in trouble will advertise way outside of their normal geographical area in hopes that they can ensnare some unsuspecting prey.

A local public library, which shall remain nameless, has had major problems the last few years: funding, staffing, running branches, etc. They have wound up getting rid of most of their long-term staff.

The result?

Well, they need people in those positions, so they hire desperate idiots from out of state who don't know or don't care to know what is going on.

The result?

Well, when I have to venture into the library to do work (and I do, they have some special collections that no one else does) I have to educate the new person about what it is they own, where it is, and yes, really, I can look at it without permission from the director.

God help the next generation of twotopians who need help in the world where card catalogs still do exist along with microfilm.

Isabelle said...

Ah ha . . . they were advised to go this route on advice of the infamous consultant. Of course. Cut the salaries, because there's one other salary that's got to be paid!

Anonymous said...

I work in this wonderful library in Wausau Wisconsin under this wonderful director with this wonderful library board and I must say AL you are "right on"--it's ALL wonderful!!

Anonymous said...

I never thought I was lucky to have my measly pay raises. They are 3% if you are walking on water and 2.5% if you just have a pulse.

Reading about this library makes me realize it could be much worse.

soren faust said...

My favorite question on their customer service questionaire is:

Explain in detail your knowledge of MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, blogs, wikis and IM. Do you have an active presence in My Space or Facebook? Do you maintain or regularly contribute to any blogs or wikis.

I think this question is also on the application for "Greeter" at Walmart, as it is very pertinent to good customer service that your nose is on Facebook all day...

Anonymous said...

I think this question is also on the application for "Greeter" at Walmart, ...

If the octogenarian who say hi to me at my local Wal*Mart has heard of the Internets, I would fall down and die.

j- said...

*and one more comment, more than likely it will be a fresh faced, young MLIS. *

Except that this person is supposed to be the LEAD librarian, right? Meaning that you should have experience managing as well as all that wonderful experience advocating and being a change agent and shifting paradigms, walking on water and turning two nickels into one hundred thousand dollars. [Hey, maybe they should hire OBAMA...he'll be available if only they can wait until after the first week in November].

I know that some of the smaller libraries in Wisconsin routinely hire DIRECTORS fresh out of library school and pay them one sack of chicken feed per month, but Wausau isn't that small.

Kristen said...

"If the octogenarian who say hi to me at my local Wal*Mart has heard of the Internets, I would fall down and die."

You'd be surprised at what they're willing to learn/do in order to stay in touch with their grandkids.

Both my grandmothers are in their 80s. Ditto my boyfriend's. They're also all thousands of miles away. They thus love following our blogs, flickr accounts, goodreads updates, etc.

j- said...

*If the octogenarian who say hi to me at my local Wal*Mart has heard of the Internets, I would fall down and die.*

You'll probably fall down and die anyway if you accumulate too much of Wal-Mart's high-quality Chinese lead in your system.

Anonymous said...

You'll probably fall down and die anyway if you accumulate too much of Wal-Mart's high-quality Chinese lead in your system.

Hee! That comment made my day. Thanks!

BTW, WTF is a Customer Services Cataloger?

Ed Crank -- Customer Services Cataloger said...

BTW, WTF is a Customer Services Cataloger

A librarian?

Anonymous said...

I was trying to point out the cheesy management trope embedded in the job title. I've cataloged for years, and while I agree it is a public service, I think the MCPL's job title is absurd.

Anonymous said...

Except that this person is supposed to be the LEAD librarian, right? Meaning that you should have experience managing as well as all that wonderful experience advocating and being a change agent and shifting paradigms, walking on water and turning two nickels into one hundred thousand dollars. [Hey, maybe they should hire OBAMA...he'll be available if only they can wait until after the first week in November].

Think of the starry-eyed Farkas types who would love that kind of notch in their belt so early on in their career, though!

libwitch said...

Oh my gods. If the director thinks that librarians are doing "less complex jobs now then they used to," then it gives everyone a pretty good idea of the direction she is taking the library - straight downhill.

And to both demote them AND make them apply for the job against external applicants simply tells everyone that she is trying to get rid of the people who are telling her that her head is stuck up her ass.

Jonathan said...

and one more comment, more than likely it will be a fresh faced, young MLIS.

Who soon will become jaded like the rest of us.

j- said...

I hope the good people of Wausau speak Spanish, because clearly this is one of those jobs that Americans "won't do".

Anonymous said...

Que?

Kevin Musgrove said...

On this side of the pond, advertisements have to be "legal, decent, honest and truthful."

When one of our vacancies was advertised as being part of "an enthusiastic and exciting library service undergoing a programme of service improvements" we threatened to complain to the Advertising Standards Agency.

You folk could do with similar safeguards against snake-oil sales pitches.

Anonymous said...

What that library needs is someone who will bring in the crowds on the brand new DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION party night!!!

EEE-HA ! !

Anonymous said...

"You folk could do with similar safeguards against snake-oil sales pitches."

But that's what make our tired, befuddled country run and run and run....straight over the cliff!

Minks said...

Teehee... well... if they can get away with it... and they will. Will people complain about the marginally decreased quality of service? Probably not. Will they hire people (or keep the demotees) that are pretty good at what they do for $10k less a year? Probably.

So,, why would they pay $10k more then they have to again? You can't say 'quality' because the change is only marginal and nobody (i.e. the public) cares.

Brian said...

I have to say after reading your blog, I'm reminded why I hate Myspace. If there was ever a forum for misanthropic Internet adolescent rants as to "why I hate my life and/or job", it's good to know Myspace teenagers have stiff competition. Watch out for the Angry Librarian!

I even admit Howard Stern or Maddox can be pretty entertaining at times. The difference is they do their job with far greater skill and they know what they say is largely an act. I'm not sure you do. The dangers of taking oneself too seriously are all to apparent here. Let me illustrate.

*goes into Stephen Colbert mode*

I truly thought the art of true sarcasm was dead, but here I find a blog that gives me renewed sense of hope for the future of libraries and the librarians who run them. A hope that can only be brought by a pissed off library worker that will speak their mind about the Evils of library change. Change isn't something anybody likes and why should they? Change is for suckers who write books and produce art, who change the world and the people in it into stupid morons who don't do any *real* work for a living. That's clearly not the type of values we want to support in a library.

The words of AL bring forth a tasty blandness and rock steady closed mindedness that is kind of like a cross between a religious fundamentalist and a McChicken sandwhich. It's Jesulicious!

I truly admire the manner at which you blindly stab at the whatever and whomever crosses your Angry Librarian path, in the faint hope of what can only be interpreted as possible enlightenment, with an entertaining tar and feathering? The rage you unleash on Them and the individuals who work for Them is truly awe inspiring, like watching lemmings jump off a cliff.

Watching you cling to your Librarian Credo and attack the opposition impresses me more Ann Coulter wrapped naked in American flag and shooting a hippy.

The sheer outrage you show is so really freakin' cool I want to go out and start the librarian anti- revolution, because it won't be televised...but at least it'll be blogged about.

I salute you!

If you want something more fitting to mock and criticize, I'd start with yourself. Clearly, you're due.

AL said...

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2008Jan15/0,4670,ODDHeatedSidewalks,00.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2008Jan15/0,4670,
ODDHeatedSidewalks,00.html

Anonymous said...

Things are heating up in Wisconsin. See above.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, people walk on heated sidewalks. They also walk on librarians at Marathon County. Brian at 7:19 PM: SCREW YOU!

Anonymous said...

Brian...You're a twotopian, aren't you? Or anything not a librarian?

Have a nice day. We just took up 30 minutes of yours and it felt GREAT!



Seriously, if you have the credentials to do this job, you can get a much better job in marketing or something retail...granted, this is probably a cushy sitting job.

Anyhow. I just got a $3 an hour pay raise...no, my primary job is not in the library field.

merc Kat!

Anonymous said...

Well, we now know what they will do with the $30,000 saved in librarian salaries - it will go for the oil needed to heat that staircase. Perhaps they could just roof the staircase, saving themselves much money over the years.

Brian 7:19, you amaze me. The country is plunging into a recession, three long-time library employees are being forced to take a $10,000 paycut, which may drive them into homelessness or soup kitchens, and you criticize AL for being negative. Just wait until you hit your forties and your administation decides to trade you in for a younger model.

Perhaps you should read more economics and less 2.0 drivel.

ex-lib said...

After reading this I'm sure I made the right decision NOT to return to the field after I was royally Scr**ed at a job, and left to dangle in the wind by "professional" colleagues.

I almost wandered into something like this later. Was told by the head librarian, after I'd applied for job A and was told when I arrived for the interview that I was wanted for job B. A 500 mile trip to be learn this. What else wasn't I being told, I wondered.
The Lib. Dir. tried to give me a hard sell on the job, but was evasive in answering some questions. More red flags went up. Both jobs had been relisted after about a year. Was told that they had "the best regional library in the state". Unfortunately, I knew something about other programs. This system was only a 45 min. commute from the third largest city in the state. Why weren't people beating down the door?

It started to look like word was out on this place. The librarian wanted to know when I could start, close the deal and all that, and I decided to pull my name from consideration right there. Never did it before, but I'm glad I did. 2 1/2 years later this person, who had apparently spent many years at this place, left to take a lower level position at another regional library, in the same state. A few years after that, the system, as a system, folded. Counties went their own way. I don't even know if they have degreed librarians in any of the counties now, or if some county libraries didn't shut down.

I have to say, I find this blog refreshing. The folks in academe don't seem to want to admit that things like this happen.

WDL said...

one quick point, all you folks realize that operating budgets are different than personnel budgets, right?

they don't slide back and forth into one another, you can't fire a page, and patch the roof with those savings...

just saying....

i didn't realize it either until i transitioned from mid level to management.

now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

soren faust said...

Brian is like those rubber-neckers on the Interstate. They see an accident and just can't resist the thrill of looking, the gutteral rush of seeing someone in distress.

I bet Brian reads this blog everyday just to experience the thrill of hating something.

Feels good, doesn't it?

j- said...

*Brian is like those rubber-neckers on the Interstate.*

No, apparently Brian is one of those Gen Y dopes who thinks Steven Colbert is the height of hiliarity. He probably also thinks that since he gets all of his "news" from the Daily Show rather than Fox [note the mindless and out-of-place Ann Coulter mention], he's smarter than everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Brian 7:19, you amaze me. The country is plunging into a recession, three long-time library employees are being forced to take a $10,000 paycut, which may drive them into homelessness or soup kitchens, and you criticize AL for being negative. Just wait until you hit your forties and your administation decides to trade you in for a younger model.

When I first read about the demotion, my first thoughts were about these librarians who may possibly be thrown into financial turmoil. It truly makes me sick. It seems to me that AL was just pointing out an unethical management. Perhaps he's been brainwashed by all that right-to-work drivel.

An aside: I also find Brian's position very funny because he is a state employee in the South. As a former resident in one of those bass-ackwards states, I can attest to how crappy state employees are treated in the Sunbelt and how state legislatures are constantly lobbying to cut benefits, freeze salaries, etc. Have fun with that.

Dances With Books said...

Actually, WDL, the budgets may depend on the place. Here where I am at now, they had "savings" on two librarian positions they did not fill for a while. So, they used the savings to buy some new furniture for the computer lab. So in a way, you can patch up the roof with personnel savings, if you know how, so to speak.

Anyways, we talk a lot about being hostile to interviewers, but some do deserve it. When I was in my first foray to get a job, I went to a very prestigious southern university, which shall remain nameless. The guy who would have been my boss, during the time when I was meeting with the search committee on campus, asked some question about service philosophy. Apparently, he did not like my answer, and he went on a yelling tirade insulting me right in front of his colleagues. I never quite figured out what he wanted me to say since he almost jumped across the table. I thought I was going to literally have to get up and defend myself, and everyone else just sat there, either embarrassed or scared of the guy. Needless to say, I did not get the job, but I would have declined anyways. Have no idea if they filled the job or not, but sometimes, red flags are very evident. If the guy turns red as he yells at you because he thinks your answer is not good enough, that would be a red flag.

Sure, I can laugh a bit at it now, but back then I remember how terrible I felt, telling my advisor back in library school about it. Needless to say, I am not one to be sympathetic to administrators. Respect goes both ways and that guy showed none.

Anonymous said...

"No, apparently Brian is one of those Gen Y dopes who thinks Steven Colbert is the height of hiliarity. He probably also thinks that since he gets all of his "news" from the Daily Show rather than Fox [note the mindless and out-of-place Ann Coulter mention], he's smarter than everyone else."

Except when we are Gen X, anon. <--- GenXer who thinks Daily Show is best at news and worships Colbert as a god.

BiblioGoddess said...

My gawd, you could drown in the buzzwords.

Kevin Musgrove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Musgrove said...

obviously not real librarians, otherwise the buzzwords would have been converted into TLAs

Anonymous said...

Wow, AL. Some days you're the only one keeping me going in this profession. I sincerely thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

I graduate this December (from a 2 year part time program) and am getting nervous about finding a job. I HOPE I'm not so nervous that I would apply for a job like this. Better to get a second part time job at Barnes and Noble...
MLSstudent

Roger said...

I saw some flutter on Twitter earlier today. Your new Twitter account is really bringing down the house over there. I'm surprised most of those twopointopians let you follow them. Keep up the good work.

Leena said...

regarding the Twitter account. I saw something on a listserv about that earlier. Seems a little hypocritical but I guess it can give you some fodder for the blog huh? Have you seen it? http://twitter.com/AnnoyedLibrn

I think you are dead on with this newest post though. You rule!

Jaded Librarian said...

When I left my previous place of work, and the LIS profession, I knew this was coming. I'm glad I got out when the 'getting was good".

If I had known there were others out there like you and me I might have given it another chance.

The new librarians just make me sick. Thankfully we have to stick up for the "true" librarians. I don't really understand why you are playing their game with that silly Twitter stuff though. Seems beneath you.

Grace said...

Well, this is just another example of why we need AL out there speaking the truth. More and more jobs are being given to paraprofessionals or "gamey" librarians.

I was checking out your Twitter page. Not sure I really get the whole Twitter thing but I guess it's one more place for you to get your message out.

By the way, I actually have 6 cats myself. Not sure I could handle 16, but sounds like a kitty party for you.

Luvs to the furries.

Anonymous said...

The move reduces salaries for the librarians from about $46,000 to about $36,000.
Ouches. My salary gets reduced by 10 grand and I would be living in a box.
*slinks off*