February 19, 2007

Being a team member....

Two positions have recently been posted at my former place of employment, including the one I vacated.

First, I'd like to say that I truly enjoyed working there. I liked the job and the people. I moved for a promotion and to return "home."

Having said that, the job description includes the following statement:
The successful candidate will be someone who is open minded, has a flexible personality, strong social skills, the ability to function as a team member, and a dedication to the profession of academic librarianship.

I dare you to address that in your cover letter and/or resume. I've seen some vague statements on job ads, but this really jumped out at me. I'm not going to talk about open minded, flexible personality, or social skills, as everyone's definition of that will vary. I am going to talk about the ability to function as a team member, i.e. being a team player. The reason - I'm not to sure my definition matches theirs.

It is an awesome place to work, but as with any organization, it does have it's short comings. I've always believed in pitching in and helping, especially after working in a brand new library in a recently opened career college - I did more than my share of non-librarian duties. However, at former workplace, this isn't necessarily the case. As an example, reference librarians release print jobs among other things. "Where's the bathroom" may be the bane of a public library reference librarian, but at former workplace it was "I don't have my id and I need to print." So, if the students didn't have their id, we had to release the prints for them. This required walking to the printer and swiping a card. No kidding. Well, there is only one reference librarian on at a time and some students do actually have real reference questions. During peak times, the line could get long, with a good number of those waiting simply wanting their print jobs released. Circulation and reference face each other. Hard not to know when the reference librarian is handling a boatload of students. However, should a student ask at the circ desk for a print job to be released, they would send them to the reference desk, regardless of the length of the line (not a problem if I'm not helping others or it's a slow day). I personally helped each person in order of appearance at the desk, so if you had to wait for a print job while I helped a student locate a resource, so be it. The circ personnel had a print card, but they rarely popped over to help us out. You see, it wasn't their job. On average, there are three people at the circulation desk to one reference librarian, but it wasn't their job, so they sat there and continued to send people over to the reference desk. If you absolutely were drowning, you called another reference librarian. The librarian over that department once said it wasn't beneath her to release print jobs. I'd have to agree; it isn't beneath me either. However, apparently it was beneath the circulation personnel. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point.

A couple of other things: it's a small library. And, I am defining team in this case as the whole library. In larger libraries, it may not be feasible, but this library only has about 14 librarians, including the director and two coordinators. And, obviously two of those positions are vacant.

Being a team player is pitching in and helping out when it isn't your job. Going in and just doing your job doesn't make you a team player. Or at least not a top notch team player.