Salary Commensurate with Mind-Reading Abilities

Because of my pesky need to eat in 2004, I’ve been searching for librarian jobs off and on the last few months. Since my last position was as a corporate librarian, I forgot what’s involved when applying for academic or public librarian positions, namely answering those dreaded supplemental questions. Like death, taxes, and the latest on Bennifer, it’s impossible to apply for any sort of professional (and even semi-professional) librarian jobs without baring your soul on scintillating topics such as

  • patrons staring at porn
  • your vision of library service
  • patrons wanting to make bombs
  • the future of librarianship
  • working with diverse populations
  • patrons wanting to stare at pictures of naked librarians making bombs, etc., etc.

No one at library school told me that applying for jobs meant writing an endless series of mini-grad school applications. What’s worse is the fact that the questions seem to be the same no matter what position you’re applying for, though it does make it easy for the applicant who’s smart enough to keep copies of her/his answers (you are keeping copies, aren’t you?). If libraries are looking for answers that will give applicants the opportunity to crawl to the top of the heap, why not be creative? Something like:

  • You are the royal librarian for King Amenhotep III of Egypt. The king has sent his high priest to collect plans outlining the building of a pyramid that will celebrate his reign after he’s moved on to the afterlife. Unfortunately the library has an in-house use only policy due to previous damage caused by a distracted slave dropping them into the Nile. Please write an in-library use policy that will prevent you from being summarily executed. Must be written on papyri and Middle Egyptian hieroglyphics–policies written in Late Egyptian hieroglyphics will NOT be considered.
  • Christina Aguilera wants to find a new thong that will attract the attention of America’s It-Boy of the Moment, Ashton Kutcher. What databases would you recommend to Christina? And what story puppets would you select to entertain her bodyguards?
  • Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry? Describe in at least 500 words, you bitch!
  • Barbara Walters has asked a fellow reference librarian at the desk that if she were a tree, what kind of tree would she be; the librarian replies that she saw herself as an oak. You know that she’s definitely a sickly poplar, if anything. How do you approach Barbara and correct the error without smashing the other librarian’s ego to bits? Provide examples using previous experiences with celebrity interviewers.
  • In the Year 2525, will the profession be alive? Will the reference interview still survive? What will we find?
  • Describe techniques you would use to prevent a snarky librarian coming up with stupid supplemental questions for her own entertainment.

Remember: answers must be received by the end of this week; postmarks will not be accepted.

7 Responses

  1. gl.
    gl. October 27, 2003 at 10:24 am |

    too bad one of the questions isn’t “if you were in our shoes, what questions would you ask?” i used to love it when professors would ask us to contribute questions to an exam. i don’t remember anyone ever picking the ones i asked, though. hmm.

  2. Sulkbrarian
    Sulkbrarian October 30, 2003 at 12:48 am |

    I. Am. Reeeeeeeeeeal. Friggin’ tired. Of. The supplemental. Questionnaires.

    Know what I do? Keep a runnin’ file system in My Documents of my answers to previous SQs, then when it’s time to do the next one, sift and flip thru till I find an appropriate answer, copy & paste, tweak as necessary. It ain’t plagiarism, ‘cuz I wrote it, and those are MY answers no matter what. ­čÖé Hee!

  3. Brian
    Brian October 30, 2003 at 8:02 am |

    I like to ask interviewees, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” Not because I care *what* the answer is, but because I want to see *how* s/he reacts to being asked an idiotic question. One applicant for a library assistant opening years ago chuckled a bit and said, “I’ll be busy being the best darn library assistant you’ve ever had.” His sense of humor got him hired, and his response turned out to be amazingly accurate.
    And my serious advice to job-hunters is please, please, please have a ready answer to variations on “Why should we hire *you* for this job?” And if you really want that public library job outside of your vicinity, say in your cover letter that you’ll pay your own travel expenses for an interview or that you’ll be in town on such-and-such dates.

  4. Sulkbrarian
    Sulkbrarian October 31, 2003 at 2:04 am |

    Check, check, and check, Brian. I gots tha mad interviewin’ skillz. Just need the job now. ­čÖé

  5. CrankyLibrarian
    CrankyLibrarian October 31, 2003 at 10:50 am |

    Ah, you forgot the one where they ask you what your vision of customer service is? Just tell them that you see yourself as an information geisha girl and you’re in!

  6. Original Cyn
    Original Cyn November 3, 2003 at 1:08 pm |

    I guess catalogers have it easier than other librarians. There are so few of us nowadays that the interviewers don’t generally have more than a superficial awareness of what we do. And should they ask us anything even vaguely technical, we can dazzle them with our buzzwords. After a minute or two, the interviewers’ eyes inevitably glaze over, and you just know they’ll hire you if only you’ll stop. This technique has worked for me more than once. And if you quote me, I will of course deny everything.

  7. librarian wannabe
    librarian wannabe November 4, 2003 at 7:43 pm |

    Oh, if only I could get an interview, or a response to one of the many CVs I’ve sent out. What’s a gal got to do, besides getting an MLS to get a job in a library? I’d happily tell an interviewer where I see myself in 5 years, if only someone would take the time to ask me.

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