Q: How likely (or unlikely) is it that I would be able to get a job teaching at the university level at this stage in my career?

Q: I have a MLS in library science and a PhD in library and information science. Seven years ago I refused a job teaching in a library school because of the abysmal salary offered (I didn’t know enough to negotiate then). Since then I have worked as a consultant and am currently working as a school librarian and instructor at a charter school. How likely (or unlikely) is it that I would be able to get a job teaching at the university level at this stage in my career?

SM: Don’t get discouraged, and don’t dwell in the past. You have the degrees, which is half (or a good chunk of) the battle. And, in the seven years since you turned down that position, you have worked… which counts as experience in the field and is always, always important when applying for jobs (yes, even teaching positions). In fact, many librarians will tell you that their favorite library school classes were taught by adjuncts, working in the field, or professors who had spent a good part of their careers working as librarians. So, with that in mind, make your seven years of working experience “work for you.”

You should apply for teaching positions that interest you and ones that might utilize your work experience (e.g., school librarianship) and also look for adjunct positions which can help get you in the door. If you are not seeing many open positions, contact LIS departments at different library schools and ask if they are hiring or might be hiring in the future. Peruse the job ads for college professors and see what they require. You may need to brush up on your online learning management systems, and your social networking skills. See also this previous question on finding online teaching positions. If you feel a bit rusty, look into taking some online classes such as those offered by Simmons College GSLIS or ACRL. This is also a good way to network with other librarians and instructors and to learn more about online instructional tools.

When you apply for positions, be prepared to discuss classes you would like to teach, courses you would like to develop, and research projects you would like to pursue. Try to get in the mindset of a professor.

Other ideas: talk to faculty members at local library schools, or the school where you got your PhD,  to get some advice on how to get a teaching position. Make sure your curriculum vita is up-to-date and think about professionalizing your online presence: create an online portfolio and connect with other professionals on LinkedIn.

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