A Three-Part Strategy on Searching for Resident Librarian Positions

searchlikeaproMaybe you have been following this blog since your wee days in library school or maybe you’ve recently heard about the benefits of a library residency program and you’ve decided that, by gosh, you want to be a resident librarian.

But, now that it’s April and you are set to graduate from library school in a month, two months, or maybe six, you suddenly realize that it’s high time you start thinking about how to find your ideal residency position.

Where do you even start?

When it comes to the job search process, perhaps we should all think about overachieving. You will spend at least one-third of your life at work, so why not spend quality time with finding a position that you want. With that said, here’s a three-part, overachiever search strategy for identifying, tracking and finding residency programs.

The Three-Part Overachiever Resident Librarian Position Search Strategy:

1.       Identify the potential programs today (as in right now):

The list of active residency programs found on the ACRL Residency Interest Group website is a solid place to start to identify which institutions currently have residency programs.  Peruse the list of existing programs and dig into what each program is like. Is it one-year? Two years? Rotational? Who is the current resident? How long has the program been in existence? What have former residents gone on to do? All of these questions can be explored today.

2.       Track residency program openings long before you’re ready to apply:

There’s a lot of value to reading and tracking job postings in the library field upon entering graduate school. Overtime, the skill sets and needs of the field subtly change, and job postings are an excellent way to keep up with these subtle changes by examining the language employed. For residency programs, sign up for the Residency Interest Group blog RSS feed and the Residency Interest Group list-serve to learn about position openings and activities surrounding residents and residency programs.

3.       Find a position using recall, with a little bit of precision:

Once you’re on the job market, tap into that good ol’ library school knowledge and use your powers of recall, precision and the search engine.

There are hundreds of places online where library jobs are posted. ALA JobLIST is the standard fare for library job postings. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) also has a revamped job listing page which includes both open residencies and internships along with regular academic library openings. But not every job is posted at ALA or ARL, and some are not posted anywhere other than on the hiring institution’s website.

Are we supposed to click on every single institution’s website in order to find out if there is a residency opening? Of course not, we are librarians; we let search engines with carefully crafted queries do the heavy lifting for us. The two search engines dedicated to job searching that actually provide results from university websites, ALA JobLIST, and various other library job sources are Indeed and Simply Hired. Both have the capability to save searches and review only the new postings that come through under your specified search query. Make your query simple, like “resident” AND “librarian” without limitations to locale (unless that’s critical for you), and watch the magic happen.

Why spend all this time simply researching residency positions? Let’s say you see an ideal residency position and you want to apply. Maybe from step-one you found out who a former resident is. Perhaps it’s time to send the former resident an e-mail and ask about his or her experience as a resident. From step-two, you have spent the past few months reading various position descriptions and have started to internalize the collective language, desired skill sets, and values libraries are emphasizing for their candidates. Use this knowledge to craft a standout cover letter and resume. Finally, from step-three, you will be able to take note of how many other residency programs are currently hiring and whether or not you have options, if you decide to apply to multiple programs.

So, now it’s time to stop overachieving on that PowerPoint presentation for class and consider overachieving on you resident librarian job search process.

Best of luck!

Juleah Swanson

Assistant Professor, Acquisitions Librarian for Electronic Resources and Former Mary P. Key Diversity Resident at Ohio State University Libraries


2 thoughts on “A Three-Part Strategy on Searching for Resident Librarian Positions

  1. Maria Villarejo says:

    Dear Ms. Swanson,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated this blog post. I had to laugh at myself because I fit the description. I’ve been saving Residency advertisements in a ‘tickler’ file for the day when I’m available to consider the opportunities. I’ve added myself to the Residency list-serve as well. I also appreciate the map from the ARCL interest group and consolidated list!I’m printing everything out and saving in a binder!

    Maria-Elena Villarejo
    MLIS student
    Florida State University

  2. Juleah says:

    Awesome Maria! Thanks for the kind words and I’m glad you found this article useful. There have been so many interesting sounding residency positions open up in the past year, so it’s an exciting time to be interested in residencies. Good luck with the residency search and finishing MLIS!

    -Juleah Swanson
    Acquisitions Librarian for Electronic Resources
    Ohio State University Libraries

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