This week brings the next part in the Brash Jobs series where I offer tips and tricks for getting into the job industry. In part one of my job hunting posts, I talked about getting yourself prepared and figuring out your strengths/weaknesses before we began. If step one was knowing yourself, then step two is knowing your enemy. To break open the door to employment, you’ll need to study the lock that keeps it shut…in other words, you’ll have to research your potential employer and learn what you can before the actual interview. For libraries, this pretty much involves scouting their website.
For for this post, I chose a library at random to do a breakdown and show you what I look for. I chose Idaho’s Boise Public Library as my example.
What do you notice right away?
Let’s start with bullet point observations and a few basic inferences. Sure, most of these are pretty simple, but paying attention now will pay off later.
- Municipality: In the upper left corner, you’ll see that this page is “brought to you by the City of Boise”; I can infer from there that this is a city library system (as opposed to county, academic, or private libraries).
- Scale: Just by looking at the “Locations & Hours” Tab on the left side, I can surmise that they have more than one location. I know it’s obvious, but I start with this stuff to get you thinking.
- Technology: In the upper right corner, I have the option to log in and review my account. When coupled with the online calendar and dark grey tabs on the left hand side – “Donate Now”, “Get a Library Card [online]”, “Pay Fines & Fees Online” – it’s rather impressive. I’ve worked with many library systems, visited dozens of others, and very few have the ability to take credit cards and payments online. I can reason that this library has a very strong IT foundation and is probably well-funded. Speaking of which…
- Funding: With most government entities, you can find out their budget online through the city/county website. Trust me, you sound REALLY smart if they ask, “What do you know about us?” and you say, “Well, I know you have over 100 employees and a budget of about 8.9 million dollars, which has been a steady increase over the past few years and now accounts for about a quarter of the arts and recreation budget for the city.” How do I know what the budget is? Because I clicked on “See More” tab in the upper left corner and went to the Boise 2014 City Budget. Boise makes it very easy to find their information!
How do I know that the budget has increased? Because I read the previous budget plan as well.
- By the time you’re done talking to these guys, they’re going to think, “Holy crap, this guy did his homework!”
- Charity: Not only is there the dark grey “Donate Now” tab, but there is also the “Idaho Gives” in the upper right corner, along with the Boise Friends of the Library and the Boise Public Library Foundation in the bottom center. With how much real estate it takes up on their page, I can gather that Boise Library System probably has a strong focus on altruistic endeavors.
- Culture: Take a look at the highlight in the center for the Idaho Dance Theatre. Is there a large theatre/dance scene in Boise? Five minutes of Googling will find that out. Again, it’s very impressive if you have a passion for the arts and mention the Stagecoach Theatre and the Boise Little Theatre.
- Transparency: I really like a system that makes itself very accessible. Notice in the bottom left how easy they make it to call or click for assistance. If I have to dig through 3 pages just to find a number, I get the feeling I’m dealing with a nameless, faceless entity. Having the number and especially the director’s name right up front says, “Hi, we’re approachable and easy to reach!”
- Social Presence: Boise makes it very clear on their front page in the bottom right corner that they have a strong social media presence.
Facebook, Twitter, a YouTube channel and BookMyne! For those unfamiliar with BookMyne, it’s an app service through SirsiDynix; for my non-library peeps, SirsiDynix is an integrated library system (ILS) provider that keeps track of your book and patron records. BookMyne can scan a book’s barcode (to see if the library has it), access your account to check due dates, place a hold, renew a book – almost anything you do in the library can be done on your device. You can even get alerts when books are due or holds become available. Searching the catalog by author, title, subject or keyword gets you book summaries, cover images, number of copies and more. You can even see what your friends are reading via Goodreads!
If this sounds super cool (or you have Sirsi and you’re interested in it for your library), check out this demo video on it.
A good question to ask during the interview could be, “How are you liking BookMyne? How much patron participation/usage do you get from it?”
Next time, we’ll delve even deeper into the preparation and *GASP* the actual interview!
Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian