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Books and Beans: D.C. Libraries Need Cafés, Stat

Washington DC considers placing coffee shops in their public libraries as a source of revenue and increased foot traffic. There are already many different libraries that have had much success with their coffee shops and so it shouldn’t be an “if” question; Washington DC should jump on the bandwagon and allow its community to enjoy and make use of their public libraries more. A coffee shop is a great way to make the library a social place,a way to make it even more of a community center. It’s also a great way to work around the food restrictions within the library itself! 

How to deal

Rejection can be really hard, especially when you’re applying for that “dream” library job. It can sprout insecurities about your abilities and skills; it can feel like the only responses you’re going to get are those rejection emails.

I find that at the moment when you’re feeling most insecure and down, it helps to talk about it with family, close friends, and library colleagues. Your colleagues, most of all, will most likely relate to your specific experience; but, in general, most people know what it’s like to be unemployed looking for work and to be rejected sometimes.

Also, you should consider the fact that often public libraries hire from within and place a job ad for compulsory purposes only. Once you apply, they’ll let you know that the position has been filled usually only when their desired candidate is hired.

Although it doesn’t make the rejection element any easier, it does help to place things more into perspective. If you went to an ALA-approved Library and/or Information Science program, you most likely hold the skill set that hiring libraries are looking for.

If you are looking for a specific job at a specific location, it can really help to get your foot in the door by volunteering with that dream library and getting to know the team, and more importantly, letting that team get to know you!

Stay motivated! The jobs are out there; just keep applying!

Stay positive!

The process of applying for public library jobs can be super daunting, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming. There are some simple things that you can do to lessen the anxieties and fears that come with preparing your cover letters, your resume, and preparing for job interviews.

I find it extremely helpful to reach out to my other library friends for advice, whether they are already working as librarians, or are in the same boat as me — newly graduated, looking for a job.  One of my friends just passed along a library career counselor’s information to me because she found the counselor to be super helpful. I plan on getting in touch with said counselor to discuss sample interview questions, as well as with help on my cover letters.

I was lucky enough to participate in a practicum while I was in my program at GSLIS (Graduate School of Library and Information Science) and developed positive relationships with the librarians at the library. I know that I can reach out to them anytime if I want practice with interviews, as well as discussing my strengths and weaknesses. I know it’s not always easy to find places to intern but volunteering can be just as helpful! I was given a page (shelver) position at a library that I was a “super volunteer” at because, you guessed it, I made sure to be completely indispensable to them.

The best thing that you can do during this time is to reach out to others and develop or continue to develop networking relationships. But you also have to take action. Worried you don’t have enough experience? Find a place to volunteer. Worried you don’t remember all the things you learned in your program? Make organized lists of your classes and rehash some of the biggest projects you worked on. Having a set list that you can easily refer to makes the entire interview preparation process much less overwhelming.

As far as my own interview experience so far, I think showing enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, as well as having a love for helping others is all you really need at the end of the day. So staying positive and working on ways to maintain an enthusiastic state of mind are super important because the people that are interviewing you will be looking for someone that they would want to work around regularly, and a negative attitude will get you nowhere.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint”

As it turns out, looking for a position at a public library takes much longer than one would imagine. I am still waiting (and they’re still evaluating) from places I’ve applied to in late May and early June.

I recently attended a webinar sponsored by LLAMA on applying for library jobs and they indicated that it usually takes between two and four months to go through the process, whether it be having a job at the end or receiving a polite rejection letter or email.

I’d really like the opportunity to be invited for more interviews simply because it’ll be good practice, but even more so to increase my morale. Unfortunately, that’s not really how it works so morale needs to be found in other venues.

Other things I’m working on to increase my morale? This blog! And actually making use of my Goodreads account. A great way to prepare for upcoming interviews is to organize your Goodreads books in categories that match with what position you’re applying for. Children’s librarian interview? No problem! I’ve got my children’s books organized on Goodreads. (In actuality, I have not done this yet, but it’s still great advice)

Please feel free to share any librarian job search or interview/interview prep stories in the comments; it can only help me!