Write a blog post for SCARLA

Do you have an internship? Have you attended an event or workshop? Have an opinion about an issue? Write a blog post about it for SCARLA!

We’re looking for people who have worked in an academic or research library to share their experiences and ideas. It’s a great way to be on the web–and an opportunity for future employers to find you and see that you’re contributing to the field.

If you’re interested in writing a post, contact Jen Hunter (jenhunternj @ gmail.com) or Cassidy Charles (cassidycharles24 @ gmail.com).

Job Opportunity: Research Assistant

Yarimar Bonilla, professor in Anthropology and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers is looking for a research assistant.

“I am seeking a research assistant to help in the completion of my manuscript, which focuses on French Caribbean History and Social Movements. I need someone with excellent reading skills in French who can peruse legal texts, colonial documents, and academic publications.

Most of the work will be done virtually, although being able to meet occasionally in either New Brunswick or New York City would be a plus. I am seeking someone to start immediately and continue on into the next academic year, if possible. Remuneration is $20/hour for 10 hours a week. Please contact me directly if you are interested:

Academic Interviews: Top 5 Takeaways

My previous post detailed the 2-day academic interview. Here are my top lessons learned.

  1. Be yourself. While being professional and informal is important, be sure to show your personality. Remember, you are not a robot; even if you are the most qualified candidate, you want your potential future co-workers to view you as a well-rounded, passionate person with real life interests and goals.
  2. Bring comfortable shoes if your itinerary includes tours or moving between buildings.
  3. Practice, practice, practice your presentation! Save it in as many places as possible.
  4. Have a list of questions ready to ask (as every encounter ended with “Do you have any questions?”).
  5. You will be offered dozens of bathroom breaks. TAKE THEM. This is a great time to de-stress, whether that is by drinking some water, checking your phone, fixing your hair, etc.

The Academic Interview: A Marathon

Academic library interviews are like interviews on steroids! Many of these interviews will be conducted over the course of 2 days and involve meeting with dozens of different individuals ranging from librarians to deans of academic schools. That said, this experience can be very stressful, especially if this will be your first academic interview experience. As a recent MLIS graduate, I am proud to say I survived my first 2 day academic interview! I will share my experiences and what I learned, which will hopefully give you a better idea of what to expect if you are interested in going into academic libraries.
Academic library interviews are like interviews on steroids! Many of these interviews will be conducted over the course of 2 days and involve meeting with dozens of different individuals ranging from librarians to deans of academic schools. That said, this experience can be very stressful, especially if this will be your first academic interview experience. As a recent MLIS graduate, I am proud to say I survived my first 2 day academic interview! I will share my experiences and what I learned, which will hopefully give you a better idea of what to expect if you are interested in going into academic libraries.

Background: I applied for a position I saw posted on ALA JobLIST and was contacted about 2 weeks after the search period ended to set up a phone interview. I completed an hour long phone interview with a 4-member search committee. The majority of the questions were more about my work-related attitudes and philosophies than about my hard skill set and previous positions. About 2 weeks later, I received an email invitation for an inperson interview. After accepting the offer, I was given a set of potential dates and a presentation topic. While some interviews require you to teach a lesson, I was asked to prepare a 30-minute presentation about the role of a particular type of subject specialist in an academic library. Additional emails followed to set up my travel arrangements and meals. About a week before the interview, I was sent a formal (intimidating) itinerary. I took the time to Google search of the 20-some people I was going to meet with. Specifically, I looked for pictures (so I would be able to recognize them) and information about their job responsibilities and their interests. I was scheduled to meet with a mix of librarians, teaching faculty, and administrators over the course of two days.

I chose to drive to my interview (I was offered flight accommodations, but thought the short drive would give me a better sense of the area). My first contact, a member of the search committee, arrived to pick me up in the hotel lobby, and we completed an hour tour of some of the libraries on campus. The tour was relatively casual and more of a time for me to learn. I was told about the unique roles of each individual library and how staff members often worked in teams. I had time to ask basic questions, and some of the new information I learned I was able to incorporate into my presentation. Additionally, I took out a few points in my presentation when I realized they were not highly relative to the unique aspects of this position.

After an hour, my contact walked me back to the hotel and I was picked up by a higher adminstrator for a driving tour of the campus. It’s important to remember that the university staff are trying to sell you on the university and moving to that particular area. Feel free to ask questions about communities where staff tend to live, the cost of living, transportation to campus, etc. After driving around campus, we visited a few nice neighborhoods where many staff members chose to live. We soon arrived in town and were met with the head of the search committee for dinner. Both staff members told me about their favorite restaurants and hang out spots in town. Overall, our chats were relatively informal. They both recognized that moving to a new place for a new job was a big adjustment, and wanted me to feel free ask honest questions: Where do people live? Where is the nearest mall? What do people do for fun? Don’t feel silly, it’s your life and you should do all the research you can to determine if both the position and location are a good fit for you! This dinner experience will help you relax during the more formal interview, as you feel that you know a few friendly and familiar faces. I was dropped off back at the hotel around 9 p.m.

I suggest practicing your presentation at least twice before bed, with a timer and looking into a mirror. It is important to remember that your audience will care just as much about your presence and style as they do about your content. They want to get a sense of how you are as a public speaker and how comfortable you would feel providing library instruction. My topic was ultimately opinion-based, so I chose 5 key points and elaborated on each. I was sure to focus on aspects mentioned in the job description brought up over dinner, including openness to change, creativity, and emerging technologies.

Flash forward to the next morning:

I set an alarm extra early the next morning. It is important to leave time to check out and have your bags stored (believe it or not, there was a line to check out at 7:30 a.m.)!

I was met by 4 staff members (1 who had given me my first tour and 3 new faces) for breakfast at 7:45 a.m. I strategically ordered last, so when the three staff members all chose the buffet breakfast, I chose the same (I wanted to show that I was flexible). It is important to remember that while conversations can be casual, they are still making impressions of you. Try to be friendly and give them a sense of who you are, but avoid anything too personal or that could be interpreted in multiple ways. Additionally, this sounds simple, but try to avoid messy foods and plan on eating quickly: the majority of the meal was spent answering questions, with not much time to eat.

After breakfast, I was escorted to the room where I would give my presentation. I was ready to “get it over with,” so I could relax again. Please, please save your presentation in your email, on a flashdrive, and another backup method for good luck! It happened that the room I was in did not have a place for me to plug in my flash drive, so I had to pull it from my email. I chose to not bring formal notes, because I wanted to speak from memory and not spend time constantly looking down. While the entire staff of the library was invited (OH MY), only about 20 people came and only a few tuned in to watch live video feed. The audience included librarians from various departments, paraprofessional library staff, teaching faculty, library administrators, the assistant dean, library director, and the search committee.

After the initial introduction, I began to relax and go through my presentation just as I had practiced. At this point, your content is set; it is up to you to come across as friendly, a good public speaker, creative, passionate, and genuinely interested in your audience. I tried to make eye contact with different audience members and move around. My presentation was a mixture of things I saw as important to librarianship, current roles, potential future roles, and example of projects I had completed in my professional experiences.

While I was given 30 minutes to present, I strived to finish early to ensure I would not run over. An additional 30 minutes were scheduled for questions. Many of the audience members who asked questions began by complimenting an aspect of the presentation, which made me feel better!

After the presentation (time to breathe again), I was walked by a staff member whom I had not met to a different building to meet with about 10 members of the library staff who would work closely with the new hire. There was no formal list of questions; members introduced themselves and were each given a chance to ask me about my background, philosophies, subject knowledge, work experiences, etc.

Next, I was escorted to meet with a human resources representative who discussed health insurance, retirement, family support, criteria for promotion and ranks, professional development stipends, funds available to support relocation, etc. This was less of an interview and more of an informational session.

Still with me? Tired yet? Almost time for lunch!

I was picked up by a staff member I had met earlier and taken to meet with the assistant dean of the school the librarian would serve as a liaison to. I recognized him from my presentation earlier, so I was glad to know he had an introduction to who I am and my vision of the library. He began by telling me how supportive he was of the library and how open he was to developing creative new ways for the library to impact student learning. He listened to my ideas and our conversation shifted from current values of a librarian to potential new programs I had mentioned earlier and how I would go about implementing and evaluating them.

At about noon, I was picked up by another member of the search committee and taken to an on campus restaurant for lunch. I was joined by a professor and 2 members of the search committee. Chat shifted between casual talks (where are you from, what are your hobbies, etc.) to additional questions about my professional experiences.

After lunch, a member of the search committee took me on a walking tour of a few other campus libraries, popular areas, and beautiful view points. I had worn my comfortable heels, anticipating a lot of walking that day! He was very excited to show off the campus to me, once again reminding me they are also trying to sell themselves and their campus to you.

After our tour, I met with the library director, who I had dinner with the previous night and had seen twice this morning. We discussed logistics (when is your timeline to start if we were to hire you, how do you feel about relocating, after all you have learned are you still excited for this job) and I answered additional interview questions. The director gave more more details about the timeline of the search and estimated it would be at least 2 weeks until they made a decision.

Finally (by now it’s 3 p.m.), I had my most formal interview of the day. I knew this was coming and loaded up on coffee. They also brought my a water bottle, which I was glad to have after talking for most of the day! The search committee had a packet of questions, and each took a turn asking questions and writing my responses. The questions were a mix of what if situations (how would you balance X and Y if Z), experiences (how often do you handle x reference questions), philosophies (tell me about a teamwork situation which turned out negative, what do you see as the future of libraries), promotion (how committed are you to scholarship, professional organizations, furthering your formal education, committee work, etc). After this, I had a final one on one interview the head of the search committee. The majority of questions asked here were about my past experiences in group work and my views about myself (most proud moment, personal weaknesses, etc.) After this (it’s almost 5 p.m.), the search committee member walked me back to my hotel.

Tired after reading this? Believe me, I was tired about living it (but feeling super relieved). I returned home and sent each search committee member a personal thank you note, each discussing something unique from my encounters with that individual.

Art Library Internship

Wondering what an internship at an academic library is like? There are several different kinds of academic libraries and various positions within those libraries. I interned with the Rutgers art librarian Megan Lotts during the Spring 2013 semester. There is no official internship program at Rutgers Libraries. I just heard by word-of-mouth (from another librarian, networking is important!) that she was looking for a new intern, so I emailed her, and it took off from there.A little bit of background: The Art Library at Rutgers holds over 90,000 volumes. It supports the research needs of students and faculty in the departments of art history, fine arts, landscape architecture, and other multidisciplinary fields. Megan is an artist and has both a Masters in Library Science and a Masters of Fine Arts. She has a very creative mind and is definitely a mover and shaker in the library world.One of my main responsibilities as an intern was to design library exhibits. In most libraries, there are display cases where we can feature items from the collection or anything that might be interesting and relevant to the campus. For the first one, Megan told me I could do it about whatever I wanted, so I picked one of my favorite artists, Francisco Goya. This involved researching, looking through books on Goya in the collection, writing the captions, deciding how to divide up the sections, and cutting out and arranging everything in the cases. I also had some souvenirs from Spain that I used as props.

The second exhibit I did was called Natural Beauty: Art in Math and Science. This was a very time-consuming but fun exhibit to curate. I learned after doing the first exhibit to spend less time on the text since few people actually read it anyway. I did spend a lot of time researching and making props for the exhibit. This involved everything from folding origami to assembling a foam praying mantis to tracking down Hubble telescope pictures. Here’s a picture of one of the cases in this exhibit:

My other main responsibility was to develop the Art Library LibGuide. This consisted of browsing guides made by librarians at other universities and cherry picking and adding other resources that I found. I put together the pages on Medieval Art, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Copyright and Images. Although it was intimidating at first, I liked that the things I did in this internship were being used and seen by real patrons, in contrast to my school projects and papers.Megan headed the first annual Rutgers Edible Books Festival. The idea behind Edible Books is to represent the title or content of a book with food in a clever and/or artistic way. Although I did not assist in planning, I submitted an entry and talked extensively with Megan about her motives and methods in producing this event. With 32 submissions and free refreshments, it was well-attended both by participants and passers-by. Many people were pleasantly surprised that the library would host a fun, interactive event like this. Here’s a picture of the winning entry, The Grapes of Wrath (and you can see Game of Scones behind it 🙂
Probably the most useful part of this internship was the opportunity to see what Megan does day-to-day. I watched her teach information literacy classes and help students with art history research. I also got to ask her things you most likely won’t hear in library school, such as: How many research consultations with students do you conduct weekly? Why do you think you outshone other the candidates for your current and past positions? Librarians at Rutgers have tenured faculty status; do colleagues and students treat you as they would a professor or do you feel second-class at times? Why is the tenure process so meticulous and involved? How do you deal with pushy faculty members and people who make unreasonable demands?This internship was a wonderful opportunity to get hands-on experience in the academic library environment. Megan was a great mentor to me, and the things I did and learned as an intern will be beneficial regardless of the kind of library I end up working in. I recommend getting as much experience as you can while in library school so that you will be a more well-rounded job candidate and will have better chances of finding a position that suits your needs and skills upon graduation.~ Roslyn Grandy, SCARLA secretary, 2013-14

Internship Opportunity: Instruction at Rutgers

Below is a great internship opportunity for an MLIS student who wants to gain teaching experience.

Rutgers Libraries in New Brunswick is looking for an intern interested in information literacy instruction for undergraduate students. The intern will assist in coordinating instruction and will participate in providing instruction to students in a variety of programs, including English writing and transfer student seminars. The student will also research and help develop improved methods of instruction deliver, including, but not limited to, the creation of online tutorials. A successful candidate will have completed at least one semester in the MLIS program, experience searching Rutgers databases, and strong presentation skills.

Contact Jill Nathanson, Kilmer Library, jill.nathanson @ rutgers.edu, (848) 445-3608

NJLA 2013 Conference

The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) held its annual conference June 3 – 5 at the Revel in Atlantic City this year. The theme was “Finding Your Perfect Fit” and the conference agenda promised a number of stimulating presentations and conversations. I attended the conference as a student and presented a poster with other members of SCARLA, “What’s the Big Deal About Library Instruction: Getting library instruction experience as an MLIS student.” Our session took place Tuesday morning so that gave us all ample time to attend different workshops and sessions without worrying about our presentation!

Here’s the SCARLA poster:


As Jen mentioned in her anticipatory post for NJLA Annual 2013, attending conferences as an MLIS student is a great way to find out what library and information science professionals are doing in the field right now and why they love it. As a student, you also have the freedom to treat the sessions a bit like a buffet—sampling a bit of youth services, reader’s advisory, and distance learning strategies, if you so choose! Attendees did not have to register ahead of time for the sessions, so everyone was given flexibility with the sessions they attended and for how long.

That being said, I attended many different but interesting programs:

I also toured the Exhibits Hall, perused the poster sessions, conversed about trends with new and veteran librarians, celebrated hard work during the NJLA Awards Ceremony, listened to Laura Lippman’s keynote address, and (accidentally) ate lunch with Stephen Abram, the Wednesday keynote speaker. (Let that be a lesson in the importance of speaking up and networking.) I left Atlantic City Wednesday afternoon with a brain full of new ideas and thoughts, and a greater sense of the LIS professional community.

Who’s going to ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia this January?

~ Cassidy Charles, SCARLA co-president, Fall 2013
cassidycharles24 @ gmail.com

Setting and Assessing Instructional Goals

A few days ago I attended a workshop at Rider University sponsored by ACRL-NJ and VALE about writing performance objectives and developing assessment for library instruction sessions. Heather Dalal, of Rider (who was also a panel member at our library instruction program this past semester) and Lynee Dokus, of County College of Morris, gave a talk on the Dick and Carey model of instruction.They generously put together a site of all of their presentation files, so check out some of the worksheets that they provided to help write objectives and develop assessments.The Dick & Carey model of instruction is thoroughly explained in the book The Systematic Design of Instruction, and it’s easier to visualize with this flow chart that Heather and Lynee provided.


A few takeaway points from the presentation: 

  • You need to understand learner contexts before you start teaching. For instance, if someone doesn’t know how to use a mouse, it will be difficult to teach them how to use an online database.
  • A written performance objective should be specific and use action verbs to help its specificity. Phrases like “know,” “understand,” or “gain an appreciation of” are hard to measure. Phrases like “select,” “write,” and “identify” are easier to measure because they align with a behavior.
  • With that said, a well-written learning objective will lend itself to developing an assessment. For example, an objective like “The student will be able to identify and list the differences between MLA format and other citation formats,” is better than “The student will understand citation style.”
  • You develop the assessment right after you’ve developed the learning objectives–before you’ve developed the instructional strategy or instructional materials, which should be closely aligned with the objects and how you’ll measure them.
  • The process is iterative and allows for revision. If students aren’t achieving the learning outcomes you expect, you can look at your materials, strategy, assessments, or objectives at any point in the process and modify them to create better success.

Jen Hunter
jah123 @ camden.rutgers.edu