Volume 4, Special Issue • June 2007


Good News: Better Pay, Reduced Workweek Hours and Improved Benefits Revived Montville Township (NJ) Public Library (v3n5, May 2006)

Already established substandard wages, poor productivity, bad morale, high staff turnover, mediocre customer service, a non-competitive workweek, poor workplace conditions and facing hostile collective bargaining negotiations just around the corner, the outlook for improved wages and work conditions seemed hopeless. The year was 2003 and the union contract had already expired. As the newest director at the Montville Township Public Library, following a series of rotating directors, I had to remind myself why I accepted the Director position. I told everyone it was because I needed a new challenge. Challenge was an understatement.

The following article should motivate other librarians and library workers in similar seemingly hopeless situations not to give up.MORE

Winners of the 2005-2006 SirsiDynix ALA-APA Award Spread the Word about Salaries (v3n5, May 2006)

In April and May we are featuring the winners of the 2006 SirsiDynix—ALA-APA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Salaries and Status for Library Workers. Elissa Cadillic is the current President of AFSCME, Council 93, Local 1526 at the Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). In April, we interviewed James Fish, Director of Baltimore County Public Libraries. MORE

Plan Your Referendum for Success (v2n7, July 2005)

As expense growth continuously erodes public library district budgets, the number of library districts facing difficult choices is mushrooming. Where local laws permit it, the inevitable result is a proliferation of these districts approaching their taxpayers with a ballot question seeking a tax rate increase. Rate increase questions may be for new construction or for operations.

Whether a library seeks professional assistance in marketing its referendum question or simply tries to sell it to the public on its own, certain guidelines are helpful in formulating an executing a strategy. MORE

Career Advancement

Attention New Librarians and Career Changers: Identifying and Conveying Transferable Skills (v2n4, April 2005)

All too often professionals are both educated for and continue to “train” for and develop competencies (knowledge, skills/abilities, attitudes) specific to one type of library or information environment or one size of library or information environment. The reality is that library and information professionals should be aware of, and familiar with, all types of libraries and library issues. In addition, in today’s workforce, professionals are more often moving among different types of library and information environments to find positions that meet their short term and long-term career needs as well as their personal needs. MORE

References Are Key to Job Search Success (v3n5, May 2006)

Editor’s Note: We welcome Elisa as one of newest regular feature writers.

A mistake that job seekers make unknowingly is not selecting the best people to serve as their references. Countless articles have been written on resume writing, interviewing and the entire job search process, but few on how to use references to your best advantage. Once candidates have been narrowed down in the search process, often the references may be the deciding factor when candidates are equal in their qualifications.

I can personally remember screening resumes for a position only to discover that the candidate had listed their mother as a reference! No, it was not an intentional strategy to get my attention. The person just did not know that this was not acceptable in the job search process. MORE

The Abilene Paradox: Does Everyone Really Agree? Or Are They Just Being Nice? (v3n7, July 2006)

Do you ever wish that someone in your organization would speak up against an impossible situation or a project that is doomed to fail? Do you suspect that co-workers share your opinion? If so, your organization may be in the grip of the Abilene Paradox, a group phenomenon first identified in 1974 by management consultant Jerry Harvey. Harvey, now a professor emeritus of management science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., writes that groups “blunder” into the paradox when “they take actions in contradiction to what they really want to do and therefore defeat the very purposes they are trying to achieve.”1 MORE

Do Library Science Degrees Matter for Library Directors? (v3n10, October 2006)

We’ve heard whispers of dread concerning whether the MLS is becoming moot, particularly as a defining criteria for large academic and public library directors. A search of the LibraryLit database revealed only a handful of articles on changing degree requirements and those were primarily about functional specialists or directors of special and law libraries, which by nature benefit from specific types of subject expertse. The library job advertisements don’t seem to support the fear of the MLS losing its significance. MORE


Professional Certification of Chefs: A Possible Model for Library Workers? (v2n4, April 2006)

The heat was on.

Chef Michael Harris plunged two live Maine lobsters into a pot of boiling water. He had already prepared chicken Marsala with Russet potatoes, julienned vegetables and a Belgian endive salad. Now all that remained was to prepare the lobster and meet the test’s final “15 minute service window.” He had prepared more complex meals in his nine-year career, but now he was trying to pass a test that would make him a “certified executive chef” under the rules of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) based in St. Augustine, Florida.

The ACF has been certifying chefs since 1981. While the above account is fictional, the ACF’s credentialing program might serve as a model for library workers if the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) moves to certify not only public library administrators, but also library support staff. MORE

Is This Your Story? If So, Consider Certification

The Certified Public Library Administrator (CPLA) Program has candidates just like you, whether you’ve had three or thirty years of management experience, love continuing education or do it because you know you must to advance, live in a small town or a large city. If you identify with one of these stories, consider applying to become a candidate of the CPLA program before January 5, 2007—www.ala-apa.org/certification/cpla.html. If you have a different story, consider applying so that you can inspire others.

I was hired directly out of Library School by the City of Duncan to be groomed as their Library Director. Wendy Allen, Roanoke Public Library, VA

I feel unprepared in some key areas of directorship, such as budgeting and facility management, and this is why I am excited and would greatly benefit from the Certified Public Library Administrator Program. Jennifer Plohr, Ela Area Public Library District , IL

It has been 25 years since I graduated from library school. Lois Blythe, Burlington Public Library, VT

I seek to give my experience professionally recognized depth and the physical validation of a title. Patricia Linville, City of Seward, AK

I would also like to be able to contribute to the library profession. Suzanne Cline, Amos Memorial Public Library, OH

My career goal [is] to strive to offer new services to meet the continually shifting needs of today’s highly educated and motivated public. Debra Czarnik, Lee County Library System, FL

Although I began my career in Medical Libraries, it was in public libraries that I found professional and personal fulfillment. Janice Fisher, Riverside Public Library, IL

‘My director has stated that she will be retiring in three years. She looks at me to follow her. June Kruer, Charlestown-Clark County Public Library, IN

I believe the mission and vision of any organization should inspire and energize those who work in it. Karen Mahnk, Town of Lake Park Library, FL

I believe CPLA certification will give me a competitive edge in the job market. Mary Medjo Me Zengue, Addison Public Library, IL

This town never had a library before. Amy Neilson, Exeter Public Library, RI MORE

HR Law

Pay Equity: Women Can’t Just Work Harder (v1n11, November 2004)

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 helps ensure that a woman will be paid the same wages as a man, providing they work the same job and have identical qualifications and seniority.6 While this policy deals with bold, undeniable discrimination against women in the workplace, it does not address the systematic undervaluing of positions typically occupied by women, i.e. “women’s jobs.” Wages in female-dominated professions, such as nursing, are lower than wages in male-dominated professions, such as janitorial services.7 Nursing requires an individual to acquire extensive training as well as to work in an often physically and mentally taxing environment. So why pay nurses less? The statistics mentioned above suggest that nurses are paid less simply because women’s jobs are undervalued. MORE

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye: What Employers and Employees Should Know about Terminations (v3n8, August 2006)

Few things bother both employees and employers as much as involuntarily terminating the employment relationship. Of course, no employee likes to get fired, and, surprisingly, terminating the employment relationship is no picnic for employers either. I have personally worked with some of the largest employers in the State of Michigan and can tell you that management often agonizes over the decision to terminate employees, even in extreme performance and disciplinary cases. These discomforts notwithstanding, in this day and age where downsizing is a way of life, both employers and employees should be aware of some of the issues surrounding the termination of the employment relationship, and how to handle it properly while minimizing potential liability. MORE

National Labor Relations Board Redefines “Supervisor” (v3n10, October 2006)

October 1, 2006—The NLRB issued a lead case addressing supervisory status in response to Supreme Court decision in Kentucky River, a collective of three cases hinging on the definition of “supervisor.” The action is being criticized by Democrats and unions who argue that it could mean that there will be a separate class of workers who are neither truly management nor allowed to join unions. Business leaders argue that the change is appropriate and will not affect a large number of workers. MORE

HR Practice

Arbitration: The Final Frontier or The New Horizon? (v3n7, June 2006)

In all of our lives it is certain that whether we are dealing with personal or professional matters we will encounter disputes. As a result if we are to rectify these situations amicably both parties must agree upon a process that they see as mutually beneficial. In recent years in both organized and non-organized environments this has meant an increase in the use of arbitration. However, with this increased use comes questions like, “Is arbitration right for my organization? How do you know when to use arbitration and what is arbitration?” I do not represent myself as having all the answers (to assert such widespread knowledge on my own would be vain so I will leave any such conclusions up to you the reader); however, I will provide a window that will allow us to look into the appropriate uses of arbitration, as well as how it differs from litigation, mediation and fact-finding. MORE

Mind Your Manners: Courtesy Important For Employers As Well As Employees (v3n11, November 2006)

Even though unemployment is low (4.4 percent in October, according to U.S. Department of Labor) and the American Library Association has predicted a shortage of librarians, library job applicants still complain that employers fail to extend even the most common courtesies. In the words of one academic librarian:

Is it really so difficult to type up a form letter that says “We received your application; thanks for your interest”? If someone doesn’t make the first cut, let them know rather than making them wait another five months. – Sarah Roy MORE

It’s Not Too Late: Last-Minute Tax Tips, Plus Two Changes for 2007 (v4n3, March 2007)

Tax returns on due on April 16 this year, a day later than usual because April 15 falls on a Sunday. As most librarians know, the IRS Web site (http://www.irs.gov) provides forms and publications, and IRS Publication 17 (“Your Federal Income Tax”) is a good place to start. So if you haven’t filed your return yet, you may find the following tips helpful. MORE


The World Is Changing: Why Aren’t We? Recruiting Minorities to Librarianship (v1n4, April 2004)

Few would argue that there is a need to recruit into the field of librarianship, at all levels. Several sources report the dearth of library workers, such as the 2001 survey conducted by ALA’s Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR).1 Respondents, members of the Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA) cited difficulty in filling positions in technical services, children’s/youth services, and managers. In the space given for comments, recruitment of diverse candidates was one clear theme. Increasing diversity in the ranks of the profession is of critical concern. Data collected over the last decade indicates that nearly 9 of 10 public, academic, and school librarians are White

Why it is important to have profession that has representation from all ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures? Why should library workers be reflective of the communities they serve and the world at large? For some, that is reason enough, that the profession should look like and change like the demographics of the country. Others posit more concrete benefits. ALA is committed to raising awareness about diversity as one of its key action areas. MORE

Thinking Outside the Hiring “Box” (v2n8, August 2005)

Getting a job in today’s market – in the vast majority of situations – involves an application and interview process. Although most institutions have designed processes bound by guidelines and rules based primarily on federal and state law, there are a wide variety of differences in specific areas of the hiring process. Two major differences include the pre-interview and the interview process. In these hiring areas, institutions and organizations have the opportunity to gather more and, often, specific data on applicants, assess a match of candidates to the open position, and match the organizations needs to the best candidate. Often, interviews can have very unusual aspects and candidates need to be ready for what comes! MORE


How to Get What You Are Worth (v2n9, September 2005)

This article originally appeared in the July 2005 issue of Info Career Trends.

Oh, happy day! You’ve interviewed for a good job, and they have called to offer you the position. Now, they are going to make you the perfect offer of your dreams, right? Hold on!

Whenever you are being offered a new position, remember the True Objective: The EMPLOYER wants to get the best person possible, for the least (yet fair) money. YOU want the best salary and benefit package possible, for work you truly want to do. It isn’t the employer’s role to get you the best package possible – that is YOUR responsibility! So, here are a few tips to help that happen… MORE

Compensation Strategies Used in Public and Academic Libraries: A Report from the 2005 Survey of Librarian Salaries (v3n5, May 2006)

It is important for librarians to know how their salaries are determined. It may be one question that can be asked by new librarians, either during the interview or after an offer is made: “How is the library funded and how are salaries and other compensation determined?” How much do current employees understand about the compensation plan? Is there a plan?

Each year, the Survey of Librarian Salaries includes one or several supplemental questions. Academic and public library respondents told us the compensation strategies they use, whether staff is covered by collective bargaining agreements and the number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) in various departments of the library. MORE

Librarian Salary Survey Reports Mean Librarian Salary Up More Than 4% to $56,259 in 2006 (v3n11, November

The 2006 edition of the ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian—Public and Academic (previously known as “Librarian Salary Survey”) is available for purchase from the American Library Association (ALA) online store. With data from more than 1,000 public and academic libraries, the mean salary reported increased 4.6 percent from 2005, up $2,480 to $56,259 in 2006. MORE

Support Staff

The Visible Library Worker: What Can You Do to Become More Visible? (v1n4, April 2004)

Begin by asking what value you provide to the library and its customers. I think it is important to think about the people who come into the library as customers, not patrons. What do your customers want? They don’t want a book, or a journal article. They don’t even want information. What they want is answers; they want their problems solved. What can you do to make sure that they go away satisfied? MORE

Good News! Successful Reclassification at the Huntington Beach Public Library (v1n11, November 2004)

Julie Bixby is an Accounting Technician II at Huntington Beach Public Library (HBPL). She shared the story of how she found herself with more responsibilities after a colleague retired. She worked with her library’s director and the Human Resources department to reclassify her position.

LW: Describe the conditions that led you to receive a higher classification.

JB:Two years ago, my immediate supervisor retired. The supervisor did all the maintenance and supply ordering, and monitoring of the library budget. When she retired another person was brought in part-time to do that job. That worked for 18 months, until the part-timer found a full-time job elsewhere. The director had a choice, he could either find a new person to do that job, or he could ask the city for a reclassification study for my Acquisitions co-worker and me. MORE

Journal Yourself to Success! (v3n5, May 2006)

Often, we forget to stand back, take a good look at ourselves and assess our own growth and opportunities. The acquisition of new skills is important, but our ability to articulate how we used these skills in the workplace is even greater. True development comes from actual work experience; including paying attention to our failures and successes. In order to capture your development and be able to talk about it, you should be keeping a record of your experiences. Some Career Specialists call this “journaling.” MORE


Beat the Work/Life Balance Conundrum with a Quality of Life Context: The Work/Life Balance Conundrum (v1n7, July 2004)

I don’t like using the term “work/life balance” to describe the relationship between my personal and professional worlds. For me, the word “balance” suggests an “either/or” relationship between my personal life and professional work—as if when I’m at work, I’m not in my real life; and when I’m not at work, my job somehow disappears from my consciousness.

If you try to “balance” work and life in such an “either/or” framework, you will ultimately discover the fundamental paradox of work-life balancing strategies: You can’t get enough “not work” to make a bad job better. MORE

Job Burnout As a Library Management Issue (v3n6, June 2006)

Professional burnout has long been a problem for organizations, yet it wasn’t until recent decades that the condition, often associated with extreme incidents, referred to as “going postal,” has been given serious recognition. Nevertheless, more and more people are beginning to realize the impact of chronic workplace stress on both employees and their workplaces. MORE

How Libraries Celebrated National Library Workers Day (v3n4, April 2006)

Tuesday, April 4, was a fun day for library employees! Library staff were eager to share their celebrations with LW readers. You may find some inspiration below. Patrons, Friends groups and local media were involved in simple to elaborate celebrations to fit any budget and staff size. Many treats were distributed as thank yous, but there were also educational programs, behind-the-scenes exhibits, and heartfelt expressions of gratitude. MORE