me, school, and job interviews

amy posted this October 19th, 2008 | filed under: general, library skül, moi, student scholarship | 1 comment »

note: this is a verrrrry long post. i don’t know who i think i am, cuz as far as i’m concerned only dorothea and meredith can really pull this off – but here goes. grab a beer, cuz if you choose to read the whole thing, you’ll be here for awhile. (i wrote a summary so you can skip to the guts).

i’m en route to internet librarian in monterey. [well i’m here now.] plane rides always make me pensive. well, they make me pensive after i’ve checked out the movies. (gotta say i’m pretty impressed with air canada’s canadian movie offerings. less impressed with the fact that even a headset now costs 3$ and that during the safety demo, the lifevest of the flight attendant was branded with the logo of the long-defunct canadian airlines.)

so much has happened over the past few months and i really haven’t had anytime to blog about it, but i promised to talk about library school and interviewing for jobs in a post, so here it be.

back in may i graduated from mcgill. i think i’m still in shock that it’s over. the decision to go back to school to become a librarian meant that i had to finish my bachelor’s degree, something that i had left years before in favour of full-time employment. i had 5 semesters to finish before i could go to library school, which i completed in 2 years by going to school full-time during the summer. it was brutal, and my rugby playing suffered immensely, but my grades didn’t and i managed to hold onto a job a the same time, so i considered it a success.
applying to library schools was more of a shenanigan than i would have liked. i had planned to go to mcgill. i wanted to go to mcgill. and i thought mcgill would want me to go there. but i was wrong (kind of). after sending out applicatoins to university of toronto and university of western ontario (just to cover my bases) i heard from mcgill that i was accepted… to be on the waiting list. utoronto and western both gave me early acceptance spots, but mcgill, part of “the dream to become a librarian” had me on a waiting list. less than thrilled, i was. thankfully it all sorted itself out and i didn’t have to do my library degree sans hubby (as i would have at western) or while going catastrophically into debt (as i would have at utoronto). and i think in the end, mcgill is happy they accepted me, and i’m certainly happy to have gone there. (note to alumni association: though i am now gainfully employed, i am not ready to be giving you any money. plz do not call me for a few years. kthxbai.)

just prior to graduating there was a posting at a university in montreal for what i (then) considered my dream job: digital services/outreach librarian. not only would i get to play with new tech and figure out how the library could use it to improve services, but i would be involved in lots of instruction and general outreach to the university community. (note: there was no possibility of relocation – we had just bought a house in montreal. yes. i bought a house before finding a job. everyone who freaked on me – i hope you’ve since relaxed.)
i spent days on my cover letter and curriculum vitae. (at the beginning of my final semester of school, i called the directors of both anglo universities in town and asked if i could have an informaitonal interview with them. i highly recommend this. both directors were very willing to meet to discuss what they are looking for in a candidate, what my c.v. should look like, and what to include in the cover letter. both of these directors were looking for very different applications, so i was pretty stoked that i had done this.) having worked in publishing for quite awhile, i had prepared resumes before, but never a curriculum vitae. the experience is both exhausting and exciting as you catalogue your qualities and accomplishments and tweak them to shine for the selection committee.
back to dream job. i get an interview. once i stopped jumping up and down and “w00t”ing myself, i realized that i now had to prepare a presentation which was open to the staff, and get ready for a marathon interview with the selection committee.
the presentation prep was fairly easy as the question was obviously not a stumper: how could the library make use of some emerging technologies? (actually, now that i think back, i think this was the univeristy’s way of swiping ideas for whoever ended up with the job. SCAMMERS!) i tried to make it as unpowerpointish as possible, but must admit i just couldn’t do it without some slides. ick. i know. and the best resource for this prep was definitely my twitter peeps. (ya ya ya, i’m all about the tweep love.) some folks told me what they thought of their discovery tools, others gave me the dirt on tagging (can you really do it in your catalogue? YES), and others just gave me buttloads of support.<
the presentation itself went pretty well. i was pretty nervous but managed to keep it together and deal with the 15 (OMG!) questions at the end.
on to the interview. the panel had four people on it – two associate directors and two librarians. everyone was wicked friendly and disarming. then i saw the stapled stack of papers each had in front of them – it was the list of questions they were going to ask me! ZOMG!
suffice it to say that i don’t remember many of the questions. i remember being given lots of time to formulate answers, and when asked for clarification the tone was never “what the hell are you talking about?” so i was feeling okay. they asked the traditional “if we call your references, what will they tell us is your worst quality?” (my answer: i don’t easily say no so i frequently find myself juggling more balls than i should be. though i rarely miss deadlines – first real job was in the newsroom of a metropolitain daily = homey knows about deadlines – i can become a big ball o’stress if i don’t keep myself in check.) but they also asked some fun questions like “what do you think about the semantic web?” (my answer: i babbled something about information no longer living in boxes and then got really into it and tangential and totally needed to be reeled in.)
three hours later (by which time my stress had actually manifested itself in a string of zits across my forehead – apparently i’m still 15 years old) we were done. everyone said that it went well. much relief was felt by me, and my bladder cuz you know i needed to pee from the moment i sat down in the interview.
up next? interview with the director of libraries. now since i had already done an informational interview, we had some rapport already. i was asked what i considered my biggest accomplishments in life (the decision to go back to school to become a librarian – and actually complete it, the M&S honour, and being the youngest and first female president of my 50 year old rugby club). we then talked about my future, the future of libraries, and where those two might intersect.
and then it was over. and i went home and drank some beer and fell asleep.
and then i waited.
and i waited.
and still i waited.

i knew they were interviewing six people for the position, so i wasn’t surprised to only hear eight weeks later.
i didn’t get the job.
i found out while in seattle at the sla conference and i was severely bummed. but the LSW and SLA peeps that were there snapped me right out of that. and so i was not sleepless in seattle. (joke fail!)

i let the dust settle and then emailed some of the interview panel members and asked for feedback on what to work on for the next interview (didn’t get much help there – “both your interview and your presentation were strong, but we decided to go with another candidate.” uhhhh, okay. but, why?)

so i took a short-term contract at mcgill (which had been offered to me before i graduated) because i had been working there for my final semester and i really enjoyed the work and the people, and though it wasn’t permanent, i had my fingers crossed.

finally there was a posting for a bunch of liaison librarians. again i spent days on my cover letter and curriculum vitae. again i get an interview. again i w00t myself.
i get to the interview where the director says that usually they get the presentation over with right away and then proceed to the interview. and then it dawns on me – they think i have prepared a presentation, but no one sent me a topic to prepare! [insert quiet internal freak out HERE.] so like oh-so-many thing in my life, i winged it. again, not a hard topic (what do you think about roving reference?) so i wasn’t that worried, but this was to the senior administrative group of the library so… un peu stressant.

anyway, they bought whatever i was selling cuz i got a gig at mcgill.


  • spend time on your cover letter and c.v. – it should echo (with the same vocabulary) language used in the job posting
  • show them to people – both fellow students and those already working (you’d be amazed at how friendly librarians are and how much they are willing to help)
  • like in that glorious movie “The Librarian”, everyone will know HTML, LCSH, all about Kuhlthau’s ASK, and have an MLIS – what do you have that makes you different from everyone else? (and you do have something, trust me. i bet it comes from your non-library life. *gasp*)
  • if possible – ask for informational interviews with directors/associate directors in charge of HR to find out what they are looking for
  • if you’re not comfortable presenting, figure out a way to make yourself comfortable. I know it sounds harsh, but you will almost certainly be doing this as a librarian, so if uber-preparation makes you feel best, then do it
  • there are LOTS of jobs out there if you are geographically mobile. if you aren’t, expand your horizons, baby. think special libraries, think records management, think competitive intelligence, think of all the berloody information needs out there and how you can help out with them!

day 1 with mlis

amy posted this May 28th, 2008 | filed under: general, moi, student scholarship | 1 comment »


(more thoughts on being done with school – until i cave and do a phd – coming up soon.)

new blog on open access geniosity

amy posted this February 16th, 2008 | filed under: inspire me!, open access, student scholarship | no comments »

check out Open Students. i seriously love this mandate:

We’re students – the next generation of scholars.
We believe that science should be open, for everyone to learn.
We’re changing the way that research is disseminated.

and they invited me to guest blog! (i better figure out something to say… any ideas out there?)

another recalled book

amy posted this February 16th, 2008 | filed under: library skül, student scholarship | no comments »

fifth recalled book in three weeks.

i am never gonna finish my research project if peeps keep recalling my books! (think i’ll get any sympathy from my supervisor…?)

of all the things i need to do, updating this blog is the most fun…

amy posted this January 13th, 2008 | filed under: library skül, Second Life, student scholarship | Tags: , | no comments »

… but maybe not the best use of my time.

to do today:

  • finish berloody CAIS proposal so that i can tell folks about chat reference in SL (don’t get me wrong, i really wanna go and think my research is interesting – but CFPs kill me)
  • wade through the pile of amazing submissions to Library Student Journal and tell some very patient authors that they are about to be published
  • begin reading Strategic and Competitive Analysis: Methods and techniques for analyzing business competition by Fleisher & Bensoussan. (I’m told it’s an oldie but a goodie.)
  • finish Everything is Miscellaneous because it was recalled by the library and due last Friday – which means I already owe 4$.
  • wrap my head around Blair’s “futility point” [David C. Blair, “Searching Biases in Large Interactive Document Retrieval Systems,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science 31 (July 1980)] and what this means in terms of current information retrieval
  • listen to some Feist and P Funk (ya, that’s how I roll)


here i go.


end of term thoughts

amy posted this December 12th, 2007 | filed under: library skül, Second Life, student scholarship | Tags: | no comments »

this week at Library Student Journal i posed a question about the focus of MLIS programs: too much theory or too much practice? last night in Second Life i was speaking with a group of librarians – some were newly minted, others were old pros – asking what they thought was most important. everyone seemed to agree that theory was important (“that’s why you’re at university – to use your brain”) but that the hands-on was also essential. “two sides to the same coin.” but i’m concerned about this dichotomy – or maybe it’s a continuum?

there is a divide between theory and practice in the LIS discipline, and i fear this has an impact on students, one that will see the discipline offically split down the middle – where only those interested in theory will get an MLIS (a two year program) and those interested in practice will get library tech degrees (also a two year program). (and i am by no means denegrating library tech degrees, but the supposed difference between that and an MLIS is the inclusion of theory for MLIS students). this split will hurt both the creation of theory and the advancement of the profession. if the LIS field continues to be presented as either “you can do a PhD” or “you can work in a library” then there’s no wonder the divide exists!

so i have been thinking about theory and practice as part of a continuous cycle. one must fuel the other. the two are part of each other, and push each other re-evaluate their parts.

if web 2.0 is concerned with collaboration, constant re-evaluation and the (web) user, and library 2.0 is concerned with collaboration, constant re-evaluation and the (library) user, then why can’t we have LIS 2.0, concerned with collaboration, constant re-evaluation and the (LIS-lover) user?

so as i sit here trying to get a move on, and finish these two assignments, i’m determined to figure out the best way to apply some theory to these two very practice-related papers (meeting report recommendations in a hospital library, and addressing the knowledge management needs of a military organization). the LIS city of practice was built on theory.

(my city, naturally, was built on rock n’roll.)

someday soon i’ll be a librarian and i want to make sure that i’m not thinking in terms of the theory-practice dichotomy, because it doesn’t really exist.