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Why you should join our team at MPOW

We have an opening at our library for Head of Access Services.  It’s a completely-revised position description designed to attract a strong “MLS pathway” candidate who wants to get in on the ground floor as we do amazing things.

I would have liked to have made it an MLS position, but for what we can pay, that wasn’t realistic. (The new position was created following a retirement of a library worker who had previously managed a university bookstore; we have a strong pinch-hitter holding down the fort right now.)  However, the benefits at Holy Names are excellent, and the Holy Names community is caring, socially-progressive, and open to good ideas. I realized a couple of weeks ago that I go to work every day looking forward to what I have to do and who I will be interacting with. That’s the kind of benefit you can’t get in every job.

If you are in library school,  getting ready to matriculate, or saving up to go to school, this could be a great opportunity. I actually had a former student in mind when I designed this position–a go-getter who was technologically fluent, good with people, well-organized, and a good multi-tasker. He has gone on to do great things at his library.

Our library serves a small but growing student body (around 1000) and we are not resource-wealthy. Like everyone else at Holy Names, we wear too many hats, do too much with too little, and scrimp in a way that would be inconceivable in larger, better-endowed institutions. That’s either a turn-off for you or an interesting challenge.  (If you can’t manage student-worker hours — and therefore money and the library’s ability to keep its doors open — to a nickel-scraping fare-thee-well, stop reading now.)

The development of library services at MPOW have lagged behind its peer institutions. We only started circulating last summer, we have a huge cataloging backlog, and our website is, hrrrrrm, ghastly, in part due to it being forced into an awkward university template and in part because we just don’t have the resources to do more than put a few links on it. (We’ve done much better with our Libguides, thanks in large part to a tech-savvy temporary part-time reference librarian who has been grinding them out like crazy.)

We did 4 interlibrary loans last year (by paper, and we charged for them, too). Our users still have to plod through our databases one by one, and that won’t change anytime soon.  We don’t do e-reserves. The library itself is a mid-century facility that desperately needs a makeover, has very poor inaccessibility, and is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, punctuated by loud roars every time someone flushes one of our mid-century toilets. (Yes, on our docket is a conversation with campus services about low-flow toilets.)

You either see all this as a turn-off or an opportunity.  I see the latter. While the library is resource-poor, and will probably never be wealthy, many of the library’s challenges and opportunities are only indirectly related to money. We also have some amazing surprises, such as the roomful of RFID equipment, acquired in 2005, that was awaiting rollout (the entire collection is tagged, the maintenance contracts are up-to-date, etc.). We also belong to a great consortium, SCELC, that allows us to license excellent resources at decent pricing. Plus we are in on the ground floor with Navigator, which will move us from paper to pushbutton ILLs in a rather extraordinary fashion sometime this year.

The position you’d work in has some absolute requirements: must be able to manage (recruit, train, and supervise) student workers, who in turn are expected to both staff the front desk and do tasks in support of our various services. Must be good with technology and office productivity software (particularly spreadsheets). Must be comfortable managing budgets and forecasting requirements. Must be good at problem-solving. Must be able to work with other campus departments.

The requirement about LC and MARC is really about knowing just enough to get by for purposes of interlibrary loan and our library management software (hosted Symphony).  I realize MARC is a fusty old standard, but at this point we still need to know it. We get to design a workflow for Navigator from the ground up, and you are a big part of that. Remember that interlibrary loan is in part about managing materials coming in and going out — details, details. You also get some unsexy responsibilities in managing print reserves, which are a big part of our dwindling print circulation, so at least it’s appreciated.

We would be very supportive of your library school schedule, in exchange for your willingness to work some nights and occasional weekends — a necessity, to ensure the library always has at least two staff on duty. We promise not to slam you with The Big Rollout the night before your final paper is due. We also would encourage you to get your hands dirty in just about any area of the library that needs attention, assuming your primary responsibilities are under control, from faculty liaisons to instruction to ERM. Feel free to volunteer to represent the library at various activities. You are also in charge of exhibits. Feel the power!

We’re a collegial, hardworking group, and I think we’re having fun (and I don’t mean “fun” in a teeth-gritting way). We’re all nuttily busy, but again — that would need to be your style, too.

We don’t have to fill this position tomorrow. We’re waiting for the right candidate. Is it you?

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