Q: Do you have advice for someone on how to get a professional public libraries job in a particular state, Vermont to be specific. I foresee having to go where the jobs are but I will pose the question anyway…
I have looked on the ALA Regional Employment site as well as looking on the Vermont Libraries page but it did not give clues as to how vacancies are posted or jobs are applied for or acquired.
Are unsolicited resumes welcome in the state?
Are vacancies filled from a civic pool of applicants?
Does one apply at a state or local level?
Do public library jobs have residency requirements?
Signed, Vermont Job Seeker
RSG: First, it’s great that you’re being realistic about possibly having to “go where the jobs are” – smaller states or those near a number of library schools often have fewer positions, and a glut of graduates applying for what does come available.
Since you’re specifically looking for public library jobs in Vermont, however, you’ll want to start by keeping an eye on web sites that provide local job listings. The Vermont Library Association sponsors a jobline, and you’ll also want to take a look at the Simmons GSLIS New England Jobline. Then, you will need to broaden your approach. Locate local public libraries through Libweb, visit their web sites, and look for position openings that may be posted on individual library pages but not in the more general databases.
SLN: Also, because many public library positions are advertised only locally, it’s worth checking the classified ad sections of newspapers. Many times, the online version will be more convenient than the print, because you can frequently search the classifieds by keyword. To locate them, try web sites such as Newspapers.com or Newspaperlinks.com.
In general, ads are posted whenever a job comes open, and they will mention a position title, brief description of the position, and application directions. In most cases, public library positions are filled at the local level, and librarians working for public libraries are usually considered employees of the city/town/ village/etc. where the library is located. If the library is an independent taxing district, you will be considered an employee of that institution, rather than the municipality. When you see the application directions on an ad, it should be clear who is doing the hiring – you’ll want to apply directly, following the directions in the ad.
RSG: As to your last couple of questions, residency requirements vary depending on the institution. Larger municipalities will be more likely to require residency. (Chicago Public Library, for example, requires Chicago residency, while Chicago suburbs generally do not require residency in the respective town.) Requirements should be specified in the ad or in the general HR instructions on the city or library’s web site. Some institutions/ municipalities will keep an applicant pool, some will not – again, this is often stated directly in the ad or on the web site. In general, you’ll have better luck responding directly to advertised positions than sending an unsolicited resume – but check individual institutions’ HR web sites, since some will include instructions for sending your resume to be included in the pool for the next set of openings.
SLN: John Hubbard at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has written a good overview on applying for a library job, which has links to other relevant resources. There are a number of other relevant sites and publications to check besides the ones we’ve listed above. For example, ALA’s own site updates its job listings daily, and many public libraries and library systems announce vacancies there. You’ll also want to stay in touch with your alma mater. Most library schools have placement services or bulletins, some of which are available only to alumni. When you first begin looking, you’ll want to cast your net as widely as possible so as not to miss out on any opportunities. This includes attending conferences when possible, especially ones specific to the state/region you’re most interested in, participating in electronic discussion lists, and talking to people in person. In other words, you never know where an opportunity will turn up. Good luck!