Day in the life of an IT librarian

[One of my goals for 2012 is to update here on average weekly. We’ll see how that goes, but I think I’ve finally sorted out some of my practical issues to make it easier.]

First: I am all confirmed (payment and all) for the Library Technology Conference in St. Paul, MN March 14th-15th. (I am combining a week’s trip to see people in Minnesota with this conference – which is an awesome fit for my new job – plus a chance to see various Minnesota friends, and the chance to be at something I helped found the following weekend.)

Registration’s closed (they hit their cap: part of why I liked it when I went in 2009 was that I do much better in a conference of 500 people than one of thousands.) But if you’re going to be there, I’d love to meet both people I know and people I don’t know yet.

On to the meat of the post: I thought it might amuse people to have a day in the life. Or rather, two.

Continue reading Day in the life of an IT librarian

Hi, nice people!

Thanks to a couple of lovely people retweeting the index post for my job hunting retrospective, I have one of those awesome lines going skyward in my blog stats. (The actual numbers aren’t huge, but it’s still fun to see.)

Thanks for stopping by!

If you’d like to hang out, here’s some of my plans for the near future around here:

1) No later than this weekend, I will do the massive links of doom post that I’ve been saving links for since the beginning of July. And then do much better at posting them at least twice a month.

2) Resuming more regular blogging, by which I mean ‘at least once a week’ and ideally mean ‘more like twice a week’. We’ve just sorted out where I’m fitting into the blogging lineup at work, so I now have an idea of how different topics might split out.

3) I intend to continue blogging about technology (and especially how we can use it to make our lives richer, fuller, and more joyful), libraries, books, reading, and all sorts of other related topics. But if you’ve got things you think you’d like to see me discuss, I’m certainly glad to consider it.

Things I have learned recently:

  • My new job is in a library that has *seven* staircases, most of which don’t go to all floors, in an arrangement that my boss refers to as “Hogwartsian”. I’ve more or less figured them out now. Maybe. Anyway, I’ve decided I like the yellow one best.
  • Dreamweaver, as a program, has not changed as much from way back when I used to use it as I thought it might have. (Which is good: I got to make a bunch of edits on the library webpage today, and didn’t break anything.)
  • Imaging and ghosting computers is slightly less tedious when one has an iPhone and Kindle app handy. (There is a lot of rebooting involved in the process, which means you get these 2-3 minute gaps periodically in which you can’t actually do much.)
  • Documenting things while they’re still new in my head remains the most sensible way to do things.

Job hunting retrospective : index

One of the things I knew I wanted to do once I was hired for the awesome new job was to write up my thoughts and (general) experiences about the current state of library job hunting.

That grew.

In the links below, I focus on aspects of job hunting that are specific to libraries. I should note clearly that I was looking at college/university libraries, independent school libraries, and public libraries, but not public schools (I don’t hold a teaching license) or special libraries (corporate, medical, etc.)


This is mostly about my experience, based on a lot of reading (both within the field and outside it), my experiences, and my conversations with various colleagues, lists, and other resources.

In fact, this isn’t so much ‘advice’ as ‘here’s some stuff to be aware of, so you can make better informed decisions about what you want to do.’ Doing this stuff doesn’t guarantee you’ll find a job (it’s a really tough market). I do hope, however, it’ll help you figure out some things that might make your own search easier, give you more questions to research, or otherwise get you further along your way.

Library job quirks: bits and pieces

This final section of my library job hunting quirks posts wraps up a few shorter bits and pieces, namely:

  • Timelines (and why library searches often take forever.)
  • Interview trips and who pays.
  • Asking questions.
  • (And you can always go back to the index)

Continue reading Library job quirks: bits and pieces

Library job quirks: clothing


Standard job hunting advice says “Wear a suit. Unless you’re a programmer/coder.”

That really ought to say “And libraries are complicated, too.” In every single job but one that I actually interviewed on site for, a suit would have been far too formal, in ways that would almost certainly have indicated that I wasn’t picking up on important cultural cues.

It is different if you’re looking at upper library management of a large library, a school that has a dress code, or something like that – but most of the time, suits are too much. (The one exception was a for-profit college, and they were explicit about students dressing for classes as they would in a formal business environment setting.)

(as always with this series, you can also get to the index.)

Continue reading Library job quirks: clothing

Library job hunt quirks: applying


Many parts of the basic process are not that different from other jobs – you will want a well-polished resume (and if you’re going for academic positions, perhaps a CV, especially if you have publications, presentations, etc. to your name) and a great cover letter.

A variety of people willing to be references also helps – I picked who I listed for a particular application (when requested) based on the focus of the job, as one of my references was a longtime past manager, another was a teacher I’d done significant collaborative work with, one was a colleague with a strong technology background (and who could speak to mine in detail), one was someone I’d done a lot of diversity-related work with, and another was a past manager in a complex ongoing volunteer role.

But there are also some odd quirks.

Below are things I’ve been asked for (more than once!) by various jobs:

Continue reading Library job hunt quirks: applying

Library job hunt quirks: networking

I found, during my search, that there was some really good advice out there, but there were places where the common (really good) advice just doesn’t match the reality of a library job search very well.

Here’s my thoughts on the places it’s different. (And I welcome comments on my blog in general, but I’d really love them here, from other people in the field.) Index of posts is over here.


Many job hunting advice sources advise you to network in a particular way – ask people you know about openings at their company, or network with the assumption that if they don’t hire you for *this* job, there’ll be another similar one along in a few months. (For example, many businesses might have several people with the same basic job duties, so people do come and go somewhat regularly.)

Libraries don’t generally work that way. Neither do schools.

Continue reading Library job hunt quirks: networking

Library job hunt: cover letters to interview

This is part two of an essay talking about my job hunting process. Part 1 deals with everything up to writing the cover letter. (And you can see the full index of posts in this series over here.)

Continue reading Library job hunt: cover letters to interview

Library job hunt : my process

This part of my series thinking about my job hunt is going to focus on how I actually handled the process and mechanics. I’m breaking this into two sections: the part before writing the cover letter, and everything after that.

You can see the full index of posts over here.

Continue reading Library job hunt : my process

Library job hunt quirks: the interview

This section talks about interview prep for academic library jobs in particular. The short version? Expect a really long day.

Continue reading Library job hunt quirks: the interview

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind

More about my job and a day in the life

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