So now you’ve got that in-person interview!

Dear Internet,

Another institution contacted me today to schedule an interview. #fistpump Once I confirmed I was still interested, I started researching the location to see if it would be a good fit for me. Now you may be wondering why I’m doing this as it’s the “get to know you” interview. Simple: I applied for the position as it seemed like a good fit and now I need to see if the location fits me too.

Here are the questions I ask myself and how I obtain my answers:

  • How much are they paying me? You have a good chance of finding your potential salary on the call of applications and it will usually have a range. Because of my experience, I place what I should be commending between the median and high end of the range to give me a rough idea of what to expect. If I fall below that, I negotiate like heck. If they don’t advertise it on the call for applications, you can do one of two things:  The institution may require you meet the meet all the requirements of the union, whose website they gave me, to obtain tenure. I checked the union’s website and it gave the list of the pay ranges for each track of position, in this instance, full, associate, or assistant professor. Often, instead the pay ranges via the union, they will have a pay band, usually associated with a number or letter, so this job may fall into pay band of A21 which the pay is between $55K-$70K. University / college websites are so convoluted you’ll not be able to find this information easily so in google I use the search “salary site:nameofcollege.edu” to find the info. (As a rule, I do not use the college’s search box because it’s always terrible.) If none of this works, email HR to get the salary range. (One of my pet peeves is when institutions want you to provide your salary range. Don’t. This gives them the idea of what they can pay you versus what is available plus that number, for you, might be flexible. If you can live on $60K in one city, the cost of living in another might be low enough for you to live on $45K. So don’t tell them and it’s none of their business.)
  • Holy cats! Can I afford to move to XXX? Cost of living rules our daily lives. For example, we know living on the East Coast is more expensive than living in the Midwest. But just how much more expensive is it and can I use this knowledge to negotiate a higher salary? Let’s start by comparing your current location with the prospective one. For this I use Sperling’s Best Places to get that answer. For this example, I’m comparing moving from Grand Rapids, MI to Louisville, KY with a salary of $60,000. The increase to move is only 2%, which to me is negligible but depending on the pay range of the new institution, if I was near the middle, I’d probably negotiate higher.  If I were to move from Grand Rapids, MI to NYC, the increase is 90% and heck yeah would I be negotiating that salary. Remember this is an estimate and not an absolute number.
  • How much rent can I afford? Now that you have a rough idea of pay, and you have a rough idea of cost of living, let’s take a look at the biggest chunk of your paycheck: rent. To get this number, I head to Zillow’s rent calculator and use the following equation: $X (salary) x .75 (I am generous with taxes/SSDI and usually go 25%) / 12 = monthly take-home. For this example: $60K x .75 = $45K / 12 = take home of $3750. I plug that number in and leave monthly expenses at $0 to get your max amount of rent you can afford each month. (I leave the monthly expenses at $0 as they shift too much to get a minimum and I’m more interested in the max of affordability.)
  • Make an effing budget Now that you have a general idea of how much you’re making and what it will cost for you to live, how are you going to pay your bills? In December I had scored two second interviews with two institutions and I had to be prepared to make a decision so I needed an idea of what i’m looking for. I knew some things were constant (cell phone bill, car insurance) but others were going to be variable (gas, food, internet). I figured out what I was spending in Louisville and amped it up by at least 25% to give me an idea of what my disposable income would be. Make an effing budget.

You have your average salary, cost of living, and what you can afford for rent, the next step is to figure out where you want to live.

Let’s assume you’re moving to a new city and you don’t know anyone, so finding an area that fits your needs is going to be rough going but it’s not impossible. Just like the list I gave the other day on my requirements, for location virtual scouting these are the tools I use:

  • Walkability score  I am not and never have been by any stretch of the imagination a suburbs girl, so I always check the walkability of places I’m interested in. What this also gives you a good idea where neighborhood markets, coffee shops, bookstores, and the like are located. Check out Walk Score to see where your neighborhood lands and Walk Score also allows you to sort by the most walkable areas.
  • Google Maps  for anything I am interested in (coffee shops, trader joe’s, comic book stores, whatever), I use the search string “coffee shops near name of city” in google maps. Up pops a lovely map of all the coffee shops in that city, which I cross reference with my other requirements. Now I have a general idea of where I want to be
  • Google I use search strings like “best bars in X” or “best whatever in X” to also get a good idea of locations. This should also pull up local magazines, newspapers, and websites dedicated to the area since they typically run these type of listicles.
  • Wikipedia I use wikipedia to get an idea of what the town, overall, is like and get an idea of culture.

    Is this a lot of work? Yes — I can spend an afternoon or two just doing research but remember, you’re interviewing the city as much as you’re interviewing the instituion.

Good luck and may the gods be with you in your job search.

personal anacdotes on misc

(Edit: I totally spaced that LibUX interviewed me for their podcast and it went live this week! If you have 30 minutes, go take a listen!)

Dear Internet,

Wednesday is job hunt day and right now I’m up to slightly over 20 positions I need to apply for in the next week or so. I’m now breaking them down by deadline rather than when they were posted so I don’t miss the cut off. There have been a few cases where I’ve applied for positions past their prime and got interviews, but I like to be on top of things. On being thorough: once a librarian, always a librarian, and all of that rot.


This past Monday I had interview with an institution and I’m feeling pretty sure the interview did not go well, which sucks because this may be the interview that breaks my streak on going from phone to in person interviews. (This I realised was very true. There has not been a phone interview that did not end up in an in person interview. Getting the job, obviously, was a whole different matter.)

What went wrong? Several things, I believe, did not bode well. I also worried I wasn’t clear on my points, which TheExHusband (who works from home and thus heard my side of the conversation) thinks I’m being too hard on myself and that I sounded fine. Despite this, the one thing that I wasn’t keen on was the scripted questions. Three of which were so close to the other, I inadvertently answered them all in one go and had to reformulate my answer for questions two and three. I was also not thrilled to see they didn’t have back-up questions when it became evident several of the questions were repetitive.

Recommendation for search committees: I get you’re have constricted time for phone interviews but please, from a candidate’s point of view, consider having back up questions in case a main question does not apply or has already been answered in another form. Also the candidate is interviewing you as well, so please allot time for that to happen.

(I’m also super glad I did research on the school and prepped typical and often potential questions with answers before the interview so I wasn’t fumbling. I was also a girl scout.)

(I made the decision during this cycle of job applications my final question for the search committee is going to be, “Do you have any questions about my resume, web sites, or the case?” What’s happening is I feel I’m getting jerked around going into the in-person interview when I know they’ve been hammering and combing through my sites before the second interview and they’ve already made the decision I’m not the incumbent before the second interview even takes place. You’ll be hard pressed to dissuade me from that thought since I’ve had two job offers rescinded due to their probing of the sites AFTER extending the position. So let’s just get the elephant out in the open shall we?)

This position was one of my top choices due to the school’s reputation, the location, it’s alumni (yep!), and what the job would entail. If I don’t get called back for the second interview, I’ll be super bummed but life goes on and all that jazz.

(Thank you to everyone who is being super supportive of me during these job hunt cycles and telling me a place will be lucky to have me. Your support really keeps me pushing forward!)


If you have been to lisa.rabey.net  before, you may notice I’ve changed the design of the site. As I’m spending more time in keeping the content current, I choose this particular theme because I wanted something clean and easy to use but with a touch of pizazz. I adore the Commodore 64 and TI-99 4/a old computer and gaming images because they juxtapose what it stands for (computers) and what is perceived of my profession (books)  so rightly gives where my interests and skills lay and it seemed apropos. Get it? (Sometimes when I think I’m being clever it could be construed I take it a bit too far.) In addition to the theme, I also liked that it had my beloved right sidebar and the font was easy on the eyes. All in all, I’m really digging the new look.


I’m constantly tweaking my resume as I need to clean up or add new things. In recent interviews I’ve been talking a lot about the courses I’ve been taking at Team Treehouse like Front End Web Development / Full Stack JavaScript and I also recently started a class at Library Juice Academy on Introduction to GIS and GeoWeb technologies, so instead of just talking about them I wanted to illustrate them on ye olde resume.

(The LJA course is a month long while the TeamTreehouse classes are collectively 50-70 hours to be completed (not required but as a challenge) before the cohort starts in May. THEN it’ll be 50-70 hours of work over 12 weeks. Phew.)

(Recently I talked about GIS as a futures of libraries subject so when the opportunity came to take a course, I jumped on it. Hack Library School predicted it as an upcoming trend / requirement in 2012 for those wanting to get into Digital Humanities or continue the tech track so it’s not necessarily a super new thing. While HLS saw this coming, I didn’t see any positions requiring and preferring GIS skills until the last year. I know when I hunted in 2010 and partially in 2014, it was pretty rare where now it’s not. It’s also becoming a standard class in library schools.)

Where were we? The resume!  I updated the digital version and carried on to the site (I’ve also got one with redacted contact information available if you are in desire of downloading such things). As I’ve been talking about the classes I’m taking, new interests, and shifting and emphasizing on previous job duties, it seemed wise to make everything across the web and digital spheres cohesive. MY CV is now five pages long. (TheExHusband commented wasn’t that too long and I quipped making it two pages was nay impossible even if I cut it down to the bare bones. Oh. Youths.)


In addition to all of this, I recently took on a job of building a site for a friend with about 100 hours of projected work, give or take about 25 hours. The client and I thought it would be a simple knock up with a few pages here and there but as I interviewed her more on what she and her partner wanted, the more complex the site became. I’m close to the website owner’s husband, and they as a family have been wonderful to me, so I easily said yes about the job. The payment is going to be in chocolate (you’ve read that correctly) with half due now and half due on delivery.

I know a lot of you are grumbling that I’m possibly screwing myself by doing it for exposure BUT this will allow me to use current skills and learn new ones and while I have experience in knocking websites up it’s not something I do for a job but would like to (hence the Team Treehouse classes). If it were anyone else, I’d require minimal per hour free (by designer standards). I’m pretty comfortable with this arrangement. (To be fair, they have asked me to track hours so hopefully some cash may be coming down the pipeline in the future, even if it is a token amount.)


I know I’ve talked about professional development in the past and when I sat down to organize my education, I knew I was pushing myself too thin to do full stack (front and back end development) and GIS with taking on other areas of interest. I’m currently in the weeding process to not overextend myself but it’s hard when I genuinely have a lot of interests. What needs to happen is figure out a better cohesiveness of my career and those concentrations while using the secondary interests for pleasure. It has to be the right combination of in the now skills with enough cutting edge interests to make you seem forward thinking.


In the realm of forward thinking, the draft post I have on the future of libraries part ii will more than likely be broken out to individual posts for each topic. The first piece in the series with the summary of a few futurisms clocked in at nearly 2000 words and this piece, just an update on my life, is closing in on 1500 words. I’m verbose and if you read my personal blog, you know I do not take umbrage on being succinct.

I obviously have a lot to say.

How To: Become a Library Future(ist) – part i

Dear Internet,

How do you become a library futurist?

Easy. You let others do the research for you.

This is, scout’s promise, not a dig at anyone.

Total pinky swear.

Let me explain.

“What is the future for libraries?” is one of the most popular question I’m asked in interviews. I have a couple of pat answers which are gleaned from the conversations I see on Twitter and mailing lists — but those are getting tired and repetitive.

My secondary answer comes in the form of, “I don’t know. Each library is different, has different needs, and plans for their future. It’s not always maker spaces and nerd nights. The future of libraries, therefore, is flexible. Libraries can be anything they want to be.”

Or something along those lines.

But that answer is also getting tired (and is also a cop out).

What really is the future of libraries?

First, it seems many ideas of what the future holds is related to technology. so let’s start with that first. TechCrunch, Wired, TheVerge, and ReadWrite are the main sites you’ll want to RSS or visit on a near daily basis. You’re going to see overlap between these four (and similiar) sites so don’t be afraid to narrow down to only one or two blogs to keep current.

Why?  I once posited reading tech sites had a better return value of keeping up with the profession over reading professional literature (and much cheaper):

While plowing through mailing list emails one day, a conversation erupted on the “value” of professional journals and magazines, meaning that what is the point of spending several hundreds of dollars for a personal subscription to LibraryJournal when a print subscription to Wired, which some consider more relevant for librarinating, is only $10?

Second, on top of tech sites and blogs, you’re going to want to look at places for special interests you have such as UX, Digital Humanities, or social mediaWhy? Academic articles take roughly 6 – 18 months from submission to publication. By that point, there are already several incarnations of whatever passing on by, which makes the article dated as hell. This is not to say you shouldn’t read those professional publications but you want to make sure you have complementary content in the mix.

In addition to the usual library land publications (too numerous to list and I’m sure you have your favorites), I’m fond of the list of journals found at Researching Librarian.

So you’ve got the sites / blogs / magazines, there is a lot of content — how do you determine what exactly is going to be the future for libraries?

Easy. Look for patterns of subjects across those sites and how they will work within the library ecosystem. Within a couple of weeks, I pulled enough content (which also coincided with chatter across Twitter, Facebook, and mailing lists) to come up with a solid list of nearly a dozen things we’re going to see in the coming future of libraries.

  • Security / Tor / Encryption  Who? The two people who come to mind in library land in this area is Alison Macrina (founder of The Library Freedom Project) and Ian Clark (radical librarian, politico, and curator of  surveillance.infoism.co.uk). What? TLFP’s goal is to “…make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries. By teaching librarians about surveillance threats, privacy rights and responsibilities, and digital tools to stop surveillance, we hope to create a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the local communities they serve.” This work is especially crucial  to keep libraries on point with ALA’s Code of Ethics, specifically article iii, “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.” Clark is especially passionate about privacy (in all forms), surveillance, and inclusion in a post-Snowden world. Why does this matter? Macrina’s, and Clark’s, goals is to hold library associations accountable for their statements in regards to intellectual freedoms as well as educating libraries and patrons on those rights. As more people continue access information on public networks, the ability to protect that information is huge.
  • Library as co-working spaces Who? Me! What? If you’re unfamiliar with co-working spaces, it’s a shared space for those who may typically work from home or on the road and need a singular location to work. For a small membership fee a month, the co-working space provides food/drink, wifi, unlimited printing, boardrooms, parking, and a whole lot of other perks. (I found that using a co-working space tends to be significantly cheaper than using coffee shops or other areas for work.) Why does this matter? Co-working spaces have become de riguer for 21st century work force. If you were paying attention, many of these things are things already provided at libraries, so what’s the difference? For a nominal fee every month, users can get expanded services (unlimited printing, better wifi, locker location, snacks/drinks) with free services already available such as access to databases and the stacks. Most public libraries I’ve seen already have the infrastructure in place to handle this addition so the investment could be minimal AND it’ll (eventually) pay for itself with the nominal fees being charged AND if you get them in them in the library, you’re going to see an increase in circulation and programming PLUS it’ll be on trend with what communities will be looking for from their libraries.
  • Geospatial / Geolocation Technologies Who? Academic libraries. This seems to be either a popular requirement in positions or its own position. What is it? In the broadest sense, geospatial technology is mapping of the earth’s features using GPS and running analysis against the data. Why does this matter? In many of the positions that have the title of “geospatial librarian,” they tend to work with the earth sciences departments and analyze / provide references to maps and other components, which makes sense. But for (most) other libraries, the use of geospatial technology is to map out the library’s stacks and other accouterments to make it easier for patrons for find materials down to where on the shelf or in the physical space where the item is located. Nearly every interview I’ve had that had this “preferred” requirement, they wanted this project completed within a year. Ha. Ha. Ha. As libraries continue to grow their technology, expect them to require GIS related education (of course they will) as a way, they think, to remain relevant.

Here’s the thing: one of my original pat answers in interviews, “Each library is different, has different needs, and plans for their future.“, remains true. You’re going to find all type of libraries, regardless of size, trying to cram the future to fit them, even if it has nothing to do with their community or purpose, to remain relevant.

Come back later when I have more thoughts on library futurism such as copyright, social media, digital preservation, internet of things, and a whole lot more.

 

 

I Want To Be A XXX Librarian, Part IV

Dear Internet,

My writing about the job finding process, the frustrations, and how to plan when you don’t get a job is not a new thing. I touched about it in library school:

I wrote extensively about the process when I graduated from library school and applied for 110 jobs before receiving an offer:

With a follow up in 2012 when a friend pointed me to a forum question on a knitting social media site (Ravelry) whether or not someone should go to library:

Over the years these posts are the top most read in regards to my professional writing. The job tracker [.xls] (2010) I created as a complementary tool has been downloaded over 100 times and it’s been reported back to me how useful the spreadsheet is.

(I use a similar version of the spreadsheet except by creating tables in Evernote to track the job application process. Eff Microsoft.)

Now that I’m back in the saddle in the job market again, I figured it was appropriate to write about the process of what’s going on six years later. But please be assured the above posts are still fairly relevant today as when I first wrote them.

(Note: The following posts are designed with the thought you know how to put together your resume/CV,  references, and writing letters of interest. If not, may the gods have mercy on your soul (and this is not the place where I’ll be teaching those skills. Go forth and google!))

The name of the new series is I Want To Be a XXX Librarian and shares the same tag as the previous SYWtbaL posts so everything is one neat place. (Lucky you!)

Here is what has happened in the series so far:

(I purposely held out on posting anything on this topic for the last few weeks because I wanted to make sure the updated #teamharpy post was seen by millions. But thanks to widgets, I have a link in the upper right hand corner of this page as a constant reminder of the status of the case. Yay technology!)

Caught up? Good.

(Before I begin, there are going to be hiring managers who are going to disagree the hell out of my suggestions. But here is a wonderful thing to remember: no one hiring manager agrees with another. I’ve polled, with similar questions to each, those who do hiring at a variety of institutions and there was never the same answer. The below is what works for me and I tend to have a higher than average interview rate, so YMMV.)

Today we’re going to discuss the hows, whats, and whens for applying for jobs.

What should be ready before you start applying for positions

  • You resume/CV and references in doc and PDF formats. Why? Some institutions will only take one format over the other.
  • Your reference document should have three professional references and three personal references along with their job titles, where they work, business email and phone numbers, and how they are relate to you (e.g. colleague, employer, etc). Why? Some jobs will ask you to include the document with your applications, others will require you to input the information into their software. Some will require to have three professional references where as others will want a mixture of both. Obviously make sure all of your references are aware you are applying for positions.
  • Have a document with the name of the places you’ve worked, their address, and their phone number (typically the number to HR). Make sure to go back at least 7 – 10 years. Why? Many (okay most) institutions who use HR software will request this information when you put in your employment history so they can confirm you worked there. I use HR’s phone number because I know of some supervisors who have over stepped the bounds of what they can and cannot say and you also need to account turnover in your previous department.
    • This document is for you reference only and is not going to be given out publicly so you can format it however you want.
  • Your transcripts in PDF format from every institution you graduated from. e.g. Have a bachelor’s and two master’s? You’ll need three transcripts. You can request these, sometimes for a fee, directly from the college. To verify its authenticity, the document should be directly from your college and PDF format. Why? Because HR is too lazy to fact check this themselves? I’m sure it is to prove the credentials you claim to have is true. Now here is a twist in the process: Some institutions will state they want “official transcripts not given to the student” and then provide digital only applications. Now AFAIK, those type of transcripts, digitally, can be hard to obtain, so whatever the college sends on to me is the one provide to the hiring institutions.
  • Have multiple versions of your resumeWhy? Because you may be applying for more than just librarian positions and you’ll want to highlight different skills for those type of jobs. Obviously do not have multiple resumes for every job, rather if you’re applying for UX positions, have a UX centered resume.
  • Have a digital portfolio. Why? I cannot stress this enough. In 2014, I wrote about the art of keeping a digital portfolio, why it was important along with examples – that’s how passionate I am about this topic. (If you throw up your resume in pdf format (obviously), don’t forget to redact your contact information). Also keep in mind: Employers are going to be googling you thus by having a professional web presence will greatly enhance your awesomeness and higher up the rankings rather than just the tumblr you created for your favorite TV show.
  • Use URL shorteners to specific sections of your digital portfolio to illustrate examples of your work. Why? Because, more often than not, you’re going to need to illustrate your work via the HR software OR in your letter of interest OR in interviews. e.g. I use http://bit.ly/lrpresentations to go directly to my presentations page, http://bit.ly/graphicdemia points to my graphic novel project.  Be smart how you use these and don’t forget to keep a list of the ones you’ve created!

Search for jobs once a week and where to search for them Applying for jobs is a full time gig in and of itself. The other day I applied for four positions over six hours with only bathroom breaks. Calculate about 1-2 hours per submission and that time adds up quickly.

Looking for jobs is also a full time process. I have nine websites and four RSS feeds that push me jobs. By waiting once a week, I can spend a day going through all of the sites and compiling a list of positions (with their URL obviously) on what to apply for in the following days. Also keep in mind that many positions have an open call period of at least a month, so if you hit the sites once a week, you’ll still be able to catch the previous weeks postings.

Right now I’m only looking for straight library jobs that deal with digital / web / systems / online in the title. Once I gain more skills in other fields, I’ll be expanding my search.

(Also note I’m looking specifically for academic positions, though a few public positions and corporations have popped up in my search and I’ve applied to those as well.)

Addendum: Know where you want to live and what amenities you want as you search. I’m free as a bird so right now I’m looking at positions with the following criteria:

  • Within an hour of a MINI dealership. If you didn’t know, I drive a MINI Cooper, which is now produced by BMW. The twist here is BMW dealers will not fix MINIs. I could find a speciality shop that will fix Jeeves but I have a sweet deal with my warranty so I’d rather not.
  • Trader Joe’s / Whole Foods nearby. I’m not joking. Finding Lisa-approved food (I’m allergic to dairy) is difficult if there is not one of the above available OR at there needs to be least a good hippie store will do in a pinch.
  • Preferably on the East Coast. To be closer to Europe. Again, I’m not joking.
  • Locations as follows in no particular order: East of the Mississippi, Chicago, no farther south than Nashville and/or the Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic up through New England. I would consider New Orleans for the right job. (Not Ohio, Illinois except for Chicago, Michigan, Indiana, western Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, West Virginia, any part of Kentucky other than Louisville or Lexington, west and northwest of the following: New York, Vermont, or Maine. I’m sure I’m missing a few others. Yes, I’ve found quite a few jobs (20 so far) that meet my criteria.)

Keep track of where and how you’re applying for these jobs This is where using something like the job tracker [.xls] comes in handy. You do NOT have to use a standalone spreadsheet anymore as Google Drive keeps it in the cloud for you. I use Evernote (also a cloud software) and created a table with the following columns: Position title, location, URL of the job add, end date, date sent the app, how sent (login and passwords for HR websites), and notes. In notes I comment if I was rejected, interview dates (and rejections), and anything else I need to know about that job. You can set this up any way you like but just make sure you do one to keep track of your applications.

When putting together your letter of interest, copy the job description / qualifications into a separate document to check against. This is something I just started doing recently. I cut and paste the job description and requirements onto a blank doc page. I give it half a screen of real estate with the other half the letter of interest to the institution I am applying for. As I hit the point of addressing the description/requirements in my letter, I strikeout the item in the other document.

Addendum: When writing your letter of interest, make sure to use keywords or phrases they have used in their descriptions/requirements. Sometimes the letters go through a screen process that just picks up on those keywords. Plus it shows you have a strong sense of attention to detail.

Have multiple templates of letters of interest. This is where I’m going to get a lot of grief. You’ll here over and over and over again that each letter needs to be structured to address the requirements of the job you’re applying for. This I do not disagree with. However, you’ll be applying for so many similar jobs, there is only a few ways you can say, “In this regard I was fundamental in XXX.” So here’s what I do:

  • Find a letter of interest I have already written.
  • Click save-as and rename it for the new position I am applying for. (My example is lastnamefirstname_nameofinstitution_titleofjob.doc)
  • Update the to field, the subject line of the position I am applying for, and the date.
  • Update the greeting.
  • I have a standard intro paragraph that is the same for every letter, “I am writing with great interest for the position of XXX as advertised on the XXX.” and I update it with the new information.
  • Then I start rewording, adding paragraphs from other letters of interest and it becomes a matter of strengthening, clean up, and tweaking for the next position. Even starting with a pre-written paragraph / phrase, I am still spending upwards of two hours per letter of interest.

So that’s pretty much it. Other then one day I don’t look for positions, I knock out one to two applications a day. When I’ve made a dent into the list, I start the search all over again.

Have any more tips or tricks? Add them to the comments!

we need to talk about #teamharpy

*nina has written their thoughts on the nearing year anniversary since the dismissal of the case.

Dear Internet,

March 25th is the one year anniversary of #teamharpy case being dismissed, by the plaintiff’s lawyers’ request no less, from court.

There are several reasons why I’m writing this.

First, to set the record straight, to tell in chronological order what happened and how it ended. If you search for me on any search engine, due to the popularity of the plaintiff’s website and other (large) websites that wrote about the case, there is nothing in the first pages of results discussing the dismissal or discussing the dismissal with accurate facts. My own websites barely stay on the first page.

Second, my professional reputation has been damaged. Not irrevocably, but fairly damaged. See reason above on search results. I’ve had two offers rescinded and I’ve been the top two in several final positions with hints I would be extended the position and ultimately rejected. How do I know the case is affecting my employability? After the first or second interviews, the institution google searches me (I now know they have seen the pages related to #teamharpy), goes to my site(s), and spends hours combing them. One institution had seven different people combing my profesh site. How do I know this? By my web logs. I see who (by ip / domain name) has searched for me, how they found my site, and what they are reading on my site. Some continue to read this site long after the interview has been over.

(What I initially forgot to mention is that at least three institutions there was at least one person at each who printed out reams of my blog pieces and became mildly obsessed with me. No, not scary at all.)

This is why I have the blurb box in the upper right corner stating the case has been dismissed and the #teamharpy link points to this page.

Now that’s out of the way, Let me catch you up what’s been going on:

  • August 2008 – October 2013 I receive first and second-hand accounts of the plaintiff’s alleged unwanted, mainly sexually harassing, behaviour, which allegedly was happening mainly at conferences.
  • October 2013 While I am at a conference, two separate individuals relate how each of them, at separate times, were allegedly harassed by the plaintiff. One reported when she rebuffed the plaintiff’s advances, the plaintiff allegedly responded, “Your husband doesn’t need to know.”
  • May 2014 Fed up with discussions of alleged numerous persons using conferences as their ground for alleged harassing behaviour, I go on a rant on Twitter about the lack of community accountability and name the plaintiff as one of the assumed and known persons perpetuating this alleged behaviour
    • I did not use the word “alleged” in my tweet, which could have changed everything.
  • May 2014 nina writes a blog post, “Time to Talk About Community Accountability.” While she names the plaintiff once (possibly twice), the piece is more about why professional communities (any community, not just library profession) seemingly refuse to police their own. She uses my tweet as the jumping point.
  • June 2014 nina and I receive cease and desist papers from the plaintiff’s Canadian lawyer. We are asked to remove the tweet / blog post and apologize.
    • After much discussion between the two of us, we decide to stand firm on our words and refuse to remove the tweet and blog post. I mean, who sues over a single tweet and a blog post written by two persons who do not have influence?

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

  • July 2014 nina and I are served papers, again from plaintiff’s Canadian lawyer, with the plaintiff suing us for, collectively, $1.25M. This is not a typo.

I live in the US, nina lives in Canada. Why the Canadian lawyer and why sue us in Canada?

Here is the simplified answer: In the US, if someone defames another, it is up to the defamee to prove what the defamer said was/is not true. The burden of proof lies on the defamee.

In Canada, the opposite is true. It is up to the defamers (nina and me) to prove what we say is true.

Hence the Canadian courts getting involved.

You may be asking yourself, “You live in the US. Can they sue you in Canada?” The answer, simplified, is yes. But, I can decide not to accept the summons and they are up shit’s creek without a paddle — to some degree. In my understanding, once they sue me in Canada, they cannot sue me in the US. US / Canada have ties in various legal things that prevent the same case being tried in both countries – ever. So yes, I could have gotten myself out of the case with a technicality, while nina could not.

So why did I not use the technicality? I was the one who started this mess, I needed to stand my ground, and I needed to support nina. I am the one who sleeps with me at night and I could not morally leave anyone to hang for something I was party to .

So I stayed.

I will and would stand by my responsibilities all over again. No questions asked.

How did the hashtag #teamharpy come about? nina coined the term in relation to how women who whistle blow are treated. I picked it up and it blew up. (Apparently it’s now being used by a muay thai group. Did they NOT do their research on the name?) Both sides of case use(d) the tag in Twitter to relate news and case movements. The Canadian lawyer’s last tweet in relation to the case was in November 2015, eight months after the case had been dismissed.

  • August 2014 – February 2015 Lawyers for both sides go back and forth. Plaintiff’s American and Canadian lawyers allege the plaintiff is being shunned from their various professions (library conference keynoter and futurist to name a few) and is allegedly losing money by the truckload.
    • We (nina, myself, our lawyers) continue to find (and archive) evidence on various, public, social media sites depicting the plaintiff is still preforming their professional responsibilities, including keynoting and working around the world. During the cross-examination, when presented with that evidence, plaintiff allegedly demurs on their activity.
    • When we did the call for witnesses, 22 women came forward. Of the 22, two agreed to do a deposition, and one ended up being our witness.
      • The general consensus between nina and myself is the position of these women could be damaging to their mental and emotional health, as well as open up a whole can of worms that could prove traumatic for them. We did not want or put anyone in that position. We understand why the other 21 refrained from going forward.
    • A neutral person put together a change.org petition requesting the plaintiff cancel the lawsuit since it went against everything that librarians/library science stood for. Over 1000 people signed the petition in agreement. As the case heated up, I requested the petition to be removed as to not antagonize plaintiff and their lawyers. It was removed.
  • February 2015 The process of the cross-examination had come to fruition. Myself, the single witness, and nina convene in Toronto. We are there two days.
  • February 2015 The plaintiff’s lawyers offer up a dismissal (case is dropped; we do not get sued) if we follow X things. nina and I discuss it and decide to accept the offer.
    • Why? Canadian legal system does not work like the American legal system. First, Canadians are not litigation happy. Second, when it comes types of cases that go before the courts, family court is almost always first up on the docket. If we were lucky, our case would go to court in about two years. Yes, two years. It was agreed to take the dismissal for two reasons: First, our mental health. The last year had taken a huge toil on both of us and seeing it to the bitter end (which we had both hoped to do) wasn’t looking so good anymore. Second, money. We raised $15K which completely went to pay our legal expenses. The remainder of the legal bill was paid by myself and nina.
  • March 2015 Actions for the dismissal, and with an agreement on both sides, the case is dismissed. The agreement is nina and I post retractions and apologies on our individual websites and on the #teamharpy website. We also have to tweet we’re apologizing with links to the apologies.

If we thought our own personal harassment up until that time was awful, it became nuclear after those tweets. I remember after tweeting the requested info, I shut the lid on my laptop, and didn’t look at the internet for a few days. When I came back, my mentions were a list of insults, sexual harassment, death threats, and other fun things from colleagues in the profession, gamer gate, people not even associated with anything in the profession/case, and random trolls. I reported and blocked hundreds of twitter, facebook, and fake email accounts and I had to scrub off all contact information from my websites (and anywhere on the internet) so I would not get doxxed.

During the case, and even significantly after, there were articles, opinions, acts of defaming our names and images, including:

  • People not involved / associated with either myself, nina, the profession, or the case writing / commenting as if they had first hand knowledge (no one knew who the hell these people were)
  • Nearly none of them were Canadian lawyers, did not understand Canadian law, or even understand American law but proffered up opinions on such matters
  • Articles were written on several websites such one that rhymes with box and another that rhymes with fifart that completely and utterly had the information (what nina and I did for a living, the details of the case, everything) so skewed, it was laughable. We didn’t care if they disagreed, we did take umbrage at the poor reporting of even simple facts.
  • We were called “grifters” by several well known sites such as the one that rhymes with nopefat. A “grifter” is a con-artist, mainly out to get money. Somehow the fact (yes fact) the plaintiff sued us for $1.25M, and we did not counter sue even for damages, was not lost on me.
  • The plaintiff, after the case was dismissed, appeared to have forgiven us, accepted our apologies, and allegedly “moved on and find peace,” etc but I found full copies of the apology and retractions, tied with my image and / or nina’s image as the preface on the platintiff’s public social media accounts on sites such as Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and SlideShare. I sent in DMCA takedowns to every site I could find and most of images / content were removed from most of those sites.
  • The plaintiff  was using covers of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in social media, tagging the tweets / other social media with the #teamharpy tag, and pointing out we were allegedly witch hunting the plaintiff across the internet, just like in the witching hunters in the play.

Additional information:

  • There is no gag order in the dismissal, which means we can openly discuss the case.
  • There is/was no time limit to when the apologies/retractions needed to be up on our websites. I took  mine down about a month later and TheExHusband set up blocking so anyone trying to get the archive, direct links, or any other access will be denied
  • All tweets in relation to the case, even the deleted ones, were captured and made available by a third party. If you scroll all the way to the bottom (the beginning) of that link and move up, you’ll see the timeline of the harassment everyone in the case went through from trolls, gamer gate supporters, and more mixed in with the positive support

There you have it

This information is true and chronologically correct to the best of my knowledge. I am speaking from my perspective only.

Edited
1/29/2016 11:59EST to clean up incorrect legalese.
1/29/2016 17:15EST to clean up some grammar mistakes and add a clarification.
1/31/2016 14:28EST to add nina’s piece

How To: Do something (anything) to enhance your skill set

Dear Internet,

In the last six months of job hunting, I’ve begun paying closer attention to the fluidity of the requirements of positions. While my background is  pretty diverse, I wanted to start thinking more of becoming a specialist in a few areas rather than just being an overall jill of all trades.

(Yes, yes, I know I ranted about unicorn / blended / full stack librarians and how it is bunk (still is bunk) but girl needs to pay her bills and the profession doesn’t move that fast.)

Part of the problem in having a huge variety of interests is they’re closely related fields so there is a lot of crossover but this is slowly not becoming a problem as I start breaking out the pieces I was most interested in and fitting them into a puzzle I can better understood.

After going over my interests, it became pretty clear what I wanted to do, as much as I loathe to say these two words, is to become a full stack developer. I want to know the back end of the server but I also wanted to learn how to develop and optimize the front end too. I’ll be writing more about how I’m doing on these things the upcoming weeks as I continue to sort and shuffle to make it work for me.

(And how you can do most of this training for free.)

For today though I want to to give you an idea how to get started if all or some of things interest that interest me and might interest you. Fill out the comment box below if you have more suggestions.

Back End
I’ve done some back end server stuff a million and a half years ago but that stuff is getting beyond rust. I keep it on my resume as most places want to know you can understand and move along the command line, write a few scripts, typically things many of us can do in our sleep. I wanted to reboot my back end education and this is how I’m starting:

  • Step one: Buy a book on linux. Yes, yes, I know there are a trillion and a half websites that will teach you a-z of linux, but I am a tactile as well as a visual learner. I need a book next to me when I’m working so I can take notes and what not. If websites work for you, awesome. I will probably use them for troubleshooting and quick reference.
    • I recommend The Linux Command Line for a couple of reasons, even if you’re familiar with using the command line already. This is a thorough walkthrough from setting your terminal shell to writing scripts. Caveat: Do not buy a flavor specific book (Redhat, Ubuntu, etc). While 95% of the commends work on all flavors, that 5% will get you if you buy a Ubuntu book and you’re working on Redhat.
  • Step two: Download VirtualBox, a virtual machine software. Some like VMWare or, if you’re on a Mac, Parallels but I found both to be clumsy and / or resource intensive. Things may have changed in the last few years since I looked at them, but they left such a terrible scar on my soul I refuse to use them.
  • Step three: Download your flavor of linux. You’ll need to download the ISO separately from VirtualBox but you’ll install your flavor within VirtualBox. To clarify: VirtualBox doesn’t come with any OSes and you’ll need to get them separately. Which I suppose I could have just said outright.
    • Choices are: Ubuntu, CentOS, RedHat and a metric ton more. You’ll want to make sure you’re downloading the desktop version for your experimentation. Now that you have a virtual machine, you can download variety of flavors to see which one works for you.
    • What’s the difference between the flavors: Think of cars. Every car on the planet has similar set up: four wheels, an engine, doors, steering wheel. What makes them different is design, size, and features. That’s exactly the same thing for the differing flavors of linux.
  • Step Four (optional): If you need something beyond books or websites, look for online classes. Udemy has classes fairly cheap but I found their classes to be hit or miss. Linux.com has suggestions. If your library has a subscription, Lynda.com also has pretty intensive courses.

Front End
I use “front end” to refer to not only the coding but also the organization of information, how it works, and its accessibility. These are a lot of different whole positions in themselves but I’m curious as hell about all of them. There is a lot going on here but just so we’re clear most librarian positions do not expect you to have expert knowledge (they may say so but really, what they ask for and what they want are two different things) in any or all of these things. Most will refer to front end as strictly web development / coding. If you decide to work outside of library land, YMMV.

  • SEO Search Engine Optimization is easy to learn but with libraries difficult to implement. The basic idea behind SEO is to better improve your site’s rankings in search engines so you can be found, but with libraries it becomes moot as most people use “name of city library” in their search bar and the first hit is usually that city’s library website. What SEO can do for libraries is optimize their sites for accessibility, which is important. It’s also a good skill to have if you’re looking to consult or move out of library land. Some things to know:
    • There is currently no industry standard certification on SEO. If you find websites that claim to get you industry certified, it’s bullshit.
    • Be weary of sites that want you to download software, even free, as most of them are ad ridden, unneeded, and only for Windows. A lot of the tools, if not all of the tools, you’ll need are already available online.
    • SEO Beginners has a good list of sites to read if you’re interested in keeping up with the hows and why of how search engines work, the research, the techs, and new techniques. (Google’s algorithm changes enough that what works for SEO in one version won’t necessarily work in the current version.) I read moz.com and searchengineland.com on the regular to keep abreast of changes and news.
    • Books are hit or miss. Mainly miss and mostly bunk. As of July 2015, a lot of SEO books just cull information from the internet, slap it together as an eBook, and call it a day. Don’t be fooled by most of the books that have high rankings — you’ll notice a lot of them are not verified purchases (which if your book is only available on Amazon and in eBook form — how in the hell are these people giving A++ stars?). I do recommend Adam Clarke’s SEO 2016 eBook. While I originally gave it three stars, his amiable response and updates were significant enough to move that up to a 4.
    • You can take classes at Udemy and there are a ton of free ones. The ones by moz.com are going to be legit since they are the SEO experts but look for highly rated popular ones to step your toes in.
  • Social Media This is more of my expert area as I’ve been writing, using, and lecturing on social media for years. What I’m more interested in is not what is popular and what the youths use in so much as what social is (ir)relevant to libraries, how to manage and produce content, and getting started. My stance has been, and will be, not all social media is for all libraries. I’ve fallen off the wagon for this but bookmark the above page if you want to get updates on the regular, which I promise to do.
  • User Experience / User Interface / Information Architecture These are fields I’m really interested in and the ones I really need more instruction on. I have given introductory talks on very, incredibly, simple introductions to UX, but a lot of what I’ve gleaned over the years has been listening / learning from experts. Smashing is a very good resource. Listen to the LibUX podcast which is run by twitter friends Michael/Amanda for talks, resources, and more. The holy grails on UX/UI are The Design of Everyday Things and Don’t Make Me Think. Amazon has a wide variety of books on UX, UI, and IA. I have the first edition of Information Architecture (looks like I’ll have to update), which is also a holy grail. IA is typically tied in with UX/UI in a variety of fashions (mainly usability).
  • Coding I will freely admit I am eating crow on this topic. I postulated for years not every librarian needs to learn how to code to work in tech (and why I get my knickers in a knot when a lot of the librarian tech stuff is mostly coding), and while I still maintain this to be mostly true, I’ve conceded I need to learn how to code. Something. Right now I’m mainly interested in HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Ruby on Rails.
    • First, I’m going to sing the praises of teamtreehouse.com. My local library has a subscription to the service (and they also have a subscription to Lynda.com), so for me it’s free. Their classes are fantastic, well organized, in-depth, and some places (Like CodeLouisville) consider them to be a standard for learning. Plus the instructors are professionals in their field, not some Tom, Dick, and Harry who can put up a class on Udemy. Treehouse also has a large variety of coding  tracks (WordPress development, Ruby on Rails, etc) that are comprised of variety of classes within those tracks. Plan on spending between 25-40 hours per track. Don’t be an idiot like me and do 40 hours over 3.5 days for reasons. They are going to include tracks on soft end development like SEO and currently have a track on starting your own consulting firm and digital literacies. And if my library dumps Treehouse, I am going to cough up the $25/mo to get their service as I love them that much.
    • Second, in addition to Treehouse there services like Udemy, UdacityLynda.com, and others have loads of free (and cheap) classes to take on a particular language. Lots of languages (I’d hazard most if not all) have classes/tutorials set up already on their or related sites.
    • Third, if you’re going to code, hie thee over to cloud9, a cloud based development workspace. You get one work area for free in which you can run one whatever at a time. e.g. If you install and muck about WordPress, you won’t be able to install the environment for Python. You’ll have to scrap your WordPress workspace to do Python, but hey!, it’s free. (They also have paid tiers which allow you to upgrade to more workspaces and so on.)

Additional jazz

If you’re going to program/web dev/whatever, you’re going to want to find a local geek/nerd/hacker space. L-ville has CodeLouisville (where I’m going to be taking in-person classes on front end web dev starting in the spring) and as well as a few other hacker spaces. Almost every city I’ve been to has some kind of *space where you can muck about, learn new things, and find your peoples. If you search MeetUp, you should find specific groups, e.g. Louisville Linux, where you can meet people, learn something, participate events, and so on. Last but not least, find mailing lists of what you’re interested in to keep you fresh on what’s happening in that thing. Alternately, you can get updates from their websites via RSS or mailing lists as well.

tl;dr

I’ve covered a lot of ground today but this should give you a good idea of where to pick up training, information, and etc if you’re interested in any of my topics or you can use these techniques for your own interests.

As mentioned, I’ll be updating over the upcoming weeks on projects and things to keep me on track and so nosey people can follow along.

Au revoir!

The Great Job Hunt of 2016

Dear Internet,

During the great job hunt, a million and a half years ago or 2010, I started a post with,

In the list of ridiculous things that I consider to be dehumanizing, job hunting is one of them. And by ridiculous I mean that I, myself, find this process ridiculous because the level of bullshit and hoop jumping and dehumanizing because I’m beyond irritated that we, the applicants, get judged by missed punctuation and our activities online. But we, in turn, cannot judge our potential employers (well, at least publicly) for the exact same things for the fear of their potential wraith.

Six years on that has definitely not changed.

If you’ve been following this blog in the last week, I ranted on job titles, job descriptions and “other duties as assigned,” and the fallacy of unicorn / blended positions. You’ll see much of my rant mimics what I wrote all those years ago under the auspice category title, “So, You Want To Be A Librarian.”

Almost nothing has changed. Scouts honor.

In 2010, I ranted about the man keeping me down, unable to find a position after library school (114 applications!), and the ridiculousness of applying for these jobs (the awful HR software — holy cats!).

Then I got a job. That contract ended. I started writing a book, the book stalled, and well, here I am.

It’s 2016 and the job application process is almost eerily the same. I’ve applied for 120+ library positions, the HR software still remains cagey as hell, I have had scores of interviews but no job offers. I’ve dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s, I’ve done just about anything anyone has asked me to and yet…

Yet…

Nothing.

Those offering their (oft not asked for) opinion tout out the same reasoning why I’m not getting positions now as I was then such as: my language on social media, what I’m willing to discuss on social media / my blog, what I am / am not doing to make me more desirable. I don’t have enough experience/skills, I have too much experience/skills.

I believed enough in #teamharpy and I did not back down.

In 2010 I understood the high probability I was not getting positions, despite being the golden child of my graduating class, was likely a combination of everything and not just a single thing. Tie in coming out of a recession, the job requirements were in the process of shifting, and everything was possible. Nothing was improbable.

In 2016, much of this has has not changed. It seems to still be a sellers, not a buyers, market. I still have friends, as qualified as myself, who can’t find positions. Many have moved on to non-library positions in corporate or non-profit ventures.

The truths as I am being googled relentlessly and the case still figures prominently in the search results no matter how you spin it. As I wrote more eloquently the other day, “… prospective employees love the resume, letters of interest, my portfolio, and everything I stand for, but not me due to the case.

Is it the case that’s holding me back? I think so: I’ve had job offers rescinded more than once after the the school googled me and got the details. Do I think it’s also has to do with what I’ve been writing, tweeting, Facebooking, etc online? I genuinely have no idea but I’ll hazard some places might see that as a liability.

(One person told me these places have a “right” to google their possible future employees. Sure. Are they are also googling their current employees? Because I can tell you with certainty I have and not everyone is coming up roses.)

So where does that leave me? Applying for jobs, writing the rocking letters of interest, work on adding more skills to add to my growing cadre of existing skills.

I just won’t give up. I love what I do and that is something you can’t take away from me.

As that stands I have to work two times, no a million times, harder to prove my worth. Is this blackballing, because let’s be honest that is what it is, ever going to end? Yes. When? No idea.

But it will at some point.

It has to.

I Want To Be A XXX Librarian, Part III

Dear Internet,

Monday, I discussed the ridiculousness of job titles and their descriptions.
Tuesday, I provided empirical proof of what job descriptions really mean, including examples and suggestions to make changes in this system.

Today I’m going to talk about “unicorn” and “blended” positions and how they are stifling the profession, not enhancing it.

Now I acknowledge I’m going to get some flack for this post — mainly because people will be clutching their pearls re: economy, location, cost of living, position within the library, and more. I get it. I do. Those are all valid concerns and statements.

But in the end, the argument remains the same: We’re expecting too much out of people and pay them too little for their expertise, knowledge, and education.

(I have a post brewing on the ridiculousness on interviews. Oh yes, yes I do.)

Unicorn jobs
When yesterday’s post was circulating the interwebs, numerous people commented it was an apt description of what a unicorn job looks like. I’m not one to disagree when people are commenting on my cleverness, but there is more to just the description alone that makes these positions “unicorn.”

Using my previous job as the example, I will dissect the job to discern how many positions one person was/are to preform.

  • Traditional library services – reference, collection development, etc
  • System administrator – ILS, unix/linux, Windows, and other back end
  • Database administrators – maintain the library’s various databases, including intranet
  • Web developer (all flavors) – Scripting, programming languages, web design, graphic design, etc
  • Social media / outreach / content creator / community manager – Maintain online presence, work with web developer on content creation, maintain analytics, SEO, UX/UI, etc
  • Accessibility manager –  Maintain accessibility standards not only in the physical space but also online space. They would work with the web developer and social media manager on content, library database accessibility standards, etc
  • Copyright manager – Work with staff (library / college) on all duties in accordance with copyright(ed) materials
  • Open source guru – Work with numerous previously related managers / professionals on curating, suggesting, maintaining open source software for the needs of the library
  • Project manager – Creates, maintains, and works with various aforementioned on coordinating workflows for projects

Nine separate jobs. NINE. All rolled up into a single position.

Yes. One position.

Not only am I to know how to manage library’s databases and backend servers I need to have an in-depth knowledge of UX/UI, copyright, accessibility, project management, and so on.

And you want to pay me HOW MUCH for that privilege?

Now another set of pearl clutching: “We cannot afford to hire more than X people.” “We don’t need a whole host of services such as mentioned, just a tiny bit.” And my favorite,

It’s always been this way.”

We used to use ice blocks for our fridges and sent conversations using telegraphs. No, it doesn’t have to be, “always been this way.”

You’re not a forward thinking library, you’re cheap, you’re expecting miracles to happen in too short amount of time span, and the big one: you’re devaluing your employees..

Basically you’re cheap. And not forward thinking.

There. I said it.

“Forward thinking” is one of the hot questions prospective employees ask you — what do you think is “forward thinking” for libraries? And the answer they want to hear is, “3D printers,” “makerspaces,” and “geospatial technology.” Because, you know, everyone does that.

I want to marry James McAvoy but there’s a snowball chance in hell that’ll happen.

(Hume was on point when he posited just because X happened over and over again, doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get the same result with X in the future. Inductive reasoning. In Lisa parlance: Just because I haven’t been able to marry James McAvoy in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future though experience tells me it will.)

Blended positions
Blended positions are the new hotness in library land and are incredibly similar to unicorns. In my understanding, a blended position is where not only you have your job but you’ll have basic knowledge/experience/etc for someone else’s job thus if said someone else calls out sick, and they were the cataloger, you could pick up their slack.

You know, while still doing your job.

Now I’ve heard this described as more as “helping” people, because everyone has a little bit of knowledge of the other, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became it’s another shot at keeping the budget in line.

Library administrators want people to have specialized skills while also being generalists.

Huh?

That is what it boils down to. They want someone who has a second master’s in X while having their MLIS, while also having specialized skills in another field, keeping up with all of that while adding new skills to their  resume.

Are you tired yet? I am. I can barely keep up with my areas of interest let alone pick up yet more interests.

Can you?

Again, I get it. Not everyone is an ivy league or a wealthy community who can command separate people for each of the above listed positions. That’s not unreasonable. But many of those positions don’t require MLIS degrees and nor should you require the candidates to have them. You’re watering down the profession requiring everyone to be everything.

And you know the hilarious bit?

Many of my friends, who have MLIS’ and were doing any one of the above, ended up moving out of library land and into a position that specialized in one specific thing (server admin, database admin, etc). And you know what else?

They got paid a whole effing more than what they were commanding at their previous library.

Sometimes as much as 50% more.

So here is a library begging for everyone to be specialized and generalized, who pay squat, and seem perturbed when their unicorns / blended people scamper off to other positions.

To put it mildly: We’re effing ourselves over.

I’m typically considered to be a unicorn as I have a long history of working in tech, I have two masters’ degrees, I’m trained as an archivist, and my professional interests are in a whole ‘nother area. (You may not agree to this, but you know, your opinion and all that rot.) And I’ve mentioned before, prospective employees love the resume, letters of interest, my portfolio, and everything I stand for, but not me due to the case.

Always second runner up, I am.

I don’t mind being all of those things. Previous skills learned in previous jobs means I’m a lot more able, and flexible, to pick up new things. e.g. During my first foray into college, I worked at a meat packing plant stuffing sausages into the bottom of their plastic containers before they were vacuumed packed and shipped. You know what that job gave me? A very good eye for detail (every sausage had to be just so), flexibility in working different shifts (my hours varied), and standing on my feet for long periods of time.

Many job positions require those three things and hey! I learned them at a meat packing plant.

I will admit I kind of love being a unicorn, I get to learn new things and exalt my awesomeness all over the place. The downside, however, is I got burned out fairly quickly, I lost my steam, and started hating my job.

My suggestions are to not require MLIS’ for every goddamned position in your library; be flexible on those position requirements; actually pay for your employees professional development; stop demanding 1000% when you’re only paying 69%.

Stop watering down the profession. Stop demanding more bang for your buck. Stop asking for things that are not a benefit to your library.

Ditch the goddamned team building exercises, Myers-Brigg tests, or any other bullshit. Everyone hates doing them, they tend to lie to make themselves look better, and things never change.

If you want to really change, start utilizing your existing staff on their skills and abilities. Start paying your employees more. Start giving them an opportunity to grow without planning to chop them down later. (e.g. Assume they will get bored and leave once they obtain said skills.) And most of all? Listen to your employees. Listen to what their wants and needs are and parlay them into your mission plan, or whatever buzzword filled thing that describes your library.

Change the “always has been” to actually be “forward thinking.”

P.S. If you are in a unicorn or blended position, and love it, great. I’m glad someone is getting something out of it. And to clarify, I get some library’s need backups as they are short staff, just don’t expect them to know everything about that other person’s job.


Did I get Hume’s meaning wrong? Am I incorrect about what blended relationships mean? Am I missing something? Comments are open! (Just don’t be an ass and effing it up for the rest of the population.)

Tomorrow, I will finally talk about pay and benefits. Huzzah!

I Want To Be A XXX Librarian, Part II

Dear Internet,

Yesterday I discussed the ridiculousness of job titles and their descriptions. For empirical proof, I’m going to dissect my last position, where I worked for nearly four years as a Systems & Web Librarian, and what those responsibilities really meant.

Let’s look at the requirements for that job directly from the horse’s mouth:

  • Information Literacy: In collaboration with colleagues, classroom instructors, and the Information Literacy Librarian, design, teach, and promote general and subject-focused instruction sessions that support the academic curriculum; develop a personal teaching philosophy; contextualize instruction based on course learning outcomes; teach database and web searching and evaluation; understand and apply Institutional Learner Outcomes (ILOs); participate in the development and delivery of library instruction to online and distance learners; create and maintain SubjectGuides and other instructional materials using web, presentation, and course management software; and participate continuously in the development and administration of learning assessments. (You’ll note this is one sentence. Cut/pasted for its absurdness in length.)
  • Reference Services
  • Collection Development
  • Liaison Service
  • College Service: Participate in faculty responsibilities as described in the Faculty Performance Evaluation system, including student advising and campus-wide committee work; cultivate collegial working relationships within the LLC; collaborate with colleagues in local, regional, and national libraries to cooperatively develop and manage print and digital resources; promote awareness of the LLC’s mission, resources and services; collaborate with LLC staff in long and short term planning; and support the mission, vision, values and strategic priorities of the LLC and the College. (You’ll note this is one sentence. Cut/pasted for its absurdness in length.)
  • Professional Development

(Pretty standard stuff you’ll see on most academic librarian job responsibilities.)

Now on to the real meat of the job:

  1. Coordinate and trouble-shoot daily operation of the ILS
  2. Serve as liaison to  IT Department for the integrated library system, web page server, and setup of library PCs
  3. Serve on campus-wide teams relevant to web page services and other information technology tools and resources
  4. Manage, design, and develop library website for optimum exposure and ease of use. Lead library team responsible for the content and presentation of the web site, including the use of existing and emerging social media
  5. Compile statistics on use of library system and library web page
  6. Maintain library’s  collaboration with statewide collaborative resource-sharing initiative
  7. Use technical expertise to assist with implementing and maintaining digital library services, including OCLC ILLiad and instructional support materials
  8. Provide library staff support and training in ILS and virtual services
  9. Demonstrated experience maximizing the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of instruction and other learning experiences through intentional instructional effort
  10. Portfolio of web page design and implementation projects
  11. Knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for evaluating and integrating emerging library technologies (They mean social media.)
  12. Ability to demonstrate the mental health necessary to safely engage in the librarian discipline as determined by professional standards of practice.

Now the job description is much longer, but I’ve weeded out the humdrum stuff. Let me now break down how I spent my 37.5 hour work week.

  • Reference desk: 10 hours
  • Instruction and prep for said instruction: 10 hours
  • Department and college wide meetings, including liaison departments: 10 hours
  • Fixing library computers, scanners, and related items: 5 hours a week

Number of hours to fulfill the listing of what I was hired, web and systems, to do: 2.75 hours.

A week.

Am I exaggerating?  Sadly no.

Let me break down what those job duties really meant:

  1. This was handled between myself and cataloging person, but mainly by me. I used lunch time and reference desk time to fix, update, and maintain the ILS
  2. The previous two librarians in the position burned bridges with the IT department and the library was on the lowest rung of the ladder for any kind of support. Because of that poor relationship, it took me six+ months to get into having weeklyish meetings with the various heads of the department and to get respect from those heads. The library has zero control over desktop environments, software updates and fixes, and so on. No one other than IT, including the Systems & Web Librarian had/has admin access. The best I could do is fix software issues (“I don’t know how to do headers.”), reboot machines, and fix student laptops because the library, aka me, was faster than the college’s open student lab. I doubt that has changed.
  3. The college’s website was handed over to the communications team, there is one person, in IT, handling/maintaining the college’s site and they have get “suggestions” from said communications team before doing any kind of work on the site. The systems and web librarian has zero administrative access.
  4. Library website is controlled by the college. Everyone in the library, per the library’s director, has access to update/manage/etc. It took me a year to get the staff to okay all changes I made for better navigation, usability, and other refinements before someone else in the library effed up my hard work, which I had to fix. In the nearly two years I’ve been gone, the site has remained identical to how I left it.
  5. As described for ILS and social media. Stats on the library’s website is controlled by the college and I had to make a formal request to get the analytics.
  6. As described
  7. More or less as described. The ILS is not hosted at the college, it’s managed by the ILS company. I could update and control the front end of the ILS for patron viewing but that’s about it.
  8. No one did this until I came along. So, as described.
  9. Buzz words
  10. I was the only person, confirmed by IT and the library director, who presented a web portfolio for tenure. Since the college runs the website, no idea why this was added since the person in this position would not have any control.
  11. They killed off half of my social media initiatives, the social media is rarely updated.
  12. About 12. YES, that was on the job description. YES, it was reference to me as I’m bipolar. YES, the college was bombarded with phone calls, emails, and so on to get that removed. YES, I was in process with talking to the college’s legal team on suing the college. Good times.

You may be asking yourself the following questions:

  • “Lisa, you do know while you’ve stripped this post of your previous employer’s name, it’s in your portfolio?”
    • Yes, yes I do. I figured since the college tried to eff me in a variety of ways, it was open season.
  • “Lisa, but future employers…”
    • Look, let’s be honest. Future employers love my interviews/resume/skills but once they do a Google search and see the #teamharpy case, I’m persona non grata. My skill set is highly desirable, I am, however, not.
  • “Lisa, everyone in nearly every librarian position is expected to handle multiple jobs. You’re not a special snowflake.”
    • I know this. I’m not so smug to think this was only me. But you know what? People who are ladled with this much responsibility are burned out. They work unpaid overtime from home or stay after scheduled hours. Self-care is a joke. They then cut ties and take their skills to other fields, mainly pure IT, to get the money they deserve. About 75% of my librarian friends who are IT nerds do exactly that.

How do we fix this problem? Here are my suggestions:

  • Stop requiring all positions to have “blended” relationships. You’re attempting to get more bang for your buck while your employee is getting burned out. Should they do some of these things? Sure. Have said employees work reference once or twice a week, or maybe be a liaison to a department that fits their background. But for the effing love of god, stop forcing them to do ALL THE THINGS and then start grabbing at your pearls when projects are not getting done.
  • Stop being cheap and break up the unicorn position (which I’ll discuss in another post) into multiple positions. Don’t give me the tap dance your budget cannot allow for it. If the college can pay the president and upper echelon management zillions of dollars, you can find the cash.
    • At a position I interviewed with recently, I was told by the director I could have any kind of computer system I wanted, two if desired; head to any kind of conference I wanted and the college would pay, and continued listing all these great, and costly, perks. But the college was absolutely adamant they couldn’t pay more than extremely low $40Ks. Extremely low. It’s bullshit. If you want me to stay, you want to me do my job and enjoy my job, pay me what I deserve.
    • Speaking of which, use money normally paid to adjuncts (and I’ve seen departments have up to a dozen adjuncts who did full time library work on part-time pay/hours) and funnel that into a second position. You’re wasting money.
  • Be realistic. Ask yourself what is it you really want from the position and the person. Don’t listen to bruhaha from college colleagues, not every library needs a goddamned 3D printer, or from other libraries what you should have as opposed to what you need. Not every library needs the same things. All libraries want to be forward thinking and relevant, which is also totally okay and encouraged. It’s totally okay to have wants, but while it would be great to have someone do geospatial work for your stacks, if you’re a tiny ass library, is that a bit ridiculous? (Yes, yes it is.)
  • Appreciate your employees. True facts: I loved working at my few bucks above minimum wage bookstore job rather than the $62K a year library job because I felt appreciated. I was encouraged to expand my horizons. I was told what a great job I was doing. At the library job? Not so much. I’m not alone in this thinking. Many will accept reasonable pay cuts or work that much harder for their upper management if they feel appreciated. And it doesn’t have to be big! A card, a lunch, a or cheap gift card somewhere, doesn’t matter — as long as the employee is feeling like they are doing a good job, they will stay. (This should be taught in management classes. It would do wonders for moral.)

This is getting ridiculous long so I’ll end here. Let’s give the lowdown on what I covered: Empirical proof of what job descriptions really mean, including examples. Suggestions to make changes in this system.

Tomorrow I’m going to dip my toes into franken jobs, what I mean by unicorn job positions, more thoughts on responsibilities, and pay wage/gap. Well, I hope to at least cover some of it. 🙂

I Want To Be A XXX Librarian, Part I

Dear Internet,

I’ve job hunted in the librarian world three times: first when I graduated with my MLIS in 2010, which took nearly a year and 110 apps before I was offered a job. Second when I was thinking of leaving my last position, applied for two jobs, interviewed at one, rejected by both. Finally, this last job hunt in which I’ve been hunting for a solid year, and half heartedly the six months before that, with 120+ applications in my field as an academic librarian, 40+ in other fields for a total of 160+ applications.

I feel like I’m a damned1 near expert in job titles and descriptions2.

Let’s look at examples of job titles for similar positions I’ve come across in the last year:

  • Online Learning Librarian
  • Digital Learning Librarian
  • Web Services Librarian
  • Community & Digital Services Librarian
  • Emerging Technologies Librarian
  • Technology and Social Media Librarian
  • Systems Librarian
  • Web Content Manager Librarian
  • Learning Commons Librarian
  • Cybrarian (Yes, this really was a job title)
  • Digital Initiatives Librarian
  • Digital Content Librarian
  • Digital Services Librarian
  • Systems & Web Librarian

Stop that. You’re effing confusing everyone.

This is not including positions marked Librarian I/II/III/IV and so on that required or preferred digital/technology/emerging/web job duties. (The notation of position was mainly in public libraries, but the requirements were nearly the same.)

You could weakly argue these positions were completely different. Someone who is a systems librarian is vastly different from a web content librarian which is vastly different than a digital initiatives librarian.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: That’s a bullshit lie and we need to stop kidding ourselves.

Now let’s look at these job descriptions written by our illustrious future employers (or their HR department):

  • Liaison to varying departments
  • Collection development
  • Library / student / staff instruction
  • Develops and updates online materials; knowledge of LibGuides
  • Participates in college and community services
  • Reference responsibilities
  • Participate in various functions for tenure

Now, I’ll concede this is pretty much standard across every academic librarian position regardless of job title. Now lets look at the other responsibilities:

  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of HTML / CSS / Javascript / Python / Django / Ruby / SQL / scripting languages
  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of OSX, Windows, and Linux platforms, including server side software
  • Project management
  • Knowledge of current trends in library and technology services
  • Liaison to IT and related departments
  • Maintains library’s web presence, including but not limited to: social media, website(s), and ILS and discovery layers
  • Pioneers experimental and innovative approaches to emerging technologies (direct cut/paste from a job description currently in another tab)
  • Working knowledge of assistive and accessible technologies
  • Coordinate workflows, set guidelines and ensure that the library’s web presence is accurate, up-to-date, user-centered and accessible (another cut and paste)
  • Manage interface customizations and the integration of commercial and open source library application (another cut and paste)
  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of open source software
  • Working, but preferred, knowledge of digital and physical copyright laws
  • Maintain and administer the library’s intranet
  • Lead and/or participate in processes for usability testing, analytics analysis and assessments of the library’s virtual spaces (another cut and paste)
  • Become resident resources/tools/databases expert (another cut and paste)
  • Maintain currency with web technologies, software, tools and solutions. Participates in training efforts (another cut and paste)

And there is a lot more.

(And I had to grammar and spell check a few of the cut/paste thingies.)

You’re probably thinking, “Holy cow! That cannot be all for one job.”

Yes, yes it is.


Join me tomorrow when I dissect my last position which as the same requirements as above, unicorn librarians, and the asinine pay scale for these jobs.


1. A swears in a professional website post. Yes, I know. Shocking. If you are focusing on the swears and not the content and subject matter for the post, you’re not someone I want to work for. It also shows you pay little attention to detail and a poor understanding of written communication skills.
2. You may wonder if the subject line of this post has to do with porn. The answer is no, but it does have to do with the wildly variating titles for the same or nearly same positions, mainly in academia.