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How to Write and Market a Director/Assistant Director Job Posting for Your Small Town or Rural Library
So, you’re suddenly without a Director (or perhaps an Assistant Director). Maybe the last one ditched you with two weeks' notice for some big-city job with more pay and more prestige. Maybe you’ve just found out that your Director is retiring in January, even though you’d hoped to convince her to work past 75. Perhaps you decided your library needed a change of direction, and you eliminated one director without a plan for a smooth transition. Or maybe Covid-19 stress caused your Director to chuck it all, move to Tahiti, and begin a new life as a painter. It doesn’t matter. You, the Library Board, are now tasked with finding a replacement. And you have no idea where to start.
To get qualified candidates, you’re going to have to write a job posting and put it where qualified librarians will see it. And because you’re a small, rural, area, you’re not just selling a list of job requirements and a salary – you’re also selling your library and your community.
Parts of a Winning Library Director Job Posting
A good director job posting, like a good news article or press release, should move from the broad picture to the minute details. You need to hook your reader and interest them in your library community before you ambush them with details.
The Basic description of the Job.
Start with a clear description of the job, to weed out unqualified applicants.
Parker County Public Library in Smithville, Indiana, seeks a qualified Library Director.
The Description of the Library
Give the library’s basic facts, including the size of the building, the date of the most recent renovation, and the size of the collection. Potential directors want to know how much maintenance is looming on the building and how good the current collection is. If your building is older, don’t hide it. You’ll want to attract directors who have successfully navigated renovations in the past. Operating budget is also a must – potential directors need to know what they’ll have to work with to see if their skills are a good fit for your position.
The Parker County Public library is a historic library serving a population of 13,000 with a main branch and a bookmobile. The main branch, a historic Carnegie building, underwent extensive renovation in 2015. The bookmobile was purchased in 2018. The collection includes 64,000 books and 76,000 ebooks. The library employs 6 FTE and has an annual budget of $500,000.
The Description of the Community
This is what will sell your listing. Yes, librarians can Google quite well, but they won’t bother unless you make your community sound worth their time and attention. If you’re at a loss for how to describe your community to attract new residents, look at how your local development board, real estate offices, or Chamber of Commerce represents the community. Remember to highlight large local industries, proximity to major medical or cultural centers, any awards the local school has won, and recreational activities. If your city has won awards for livability or economic climate, mention those here. Remember, you’re asking someone to uproot their life and relocate to your area, hopefully for decades. SELL YOUR TOWN.
Parker County, a region of rolling hills, working farms, and historic towns, is home to 13,000 people, two high schools, 5 major manufacturers, and two state recreation areas. Smithville, the county seat, has been voted one of “America’s Most Artistic Small Towns” for three years running. An active arts community sponsors concerts, gallery exhibitions, and plays year-round, with a special emphasis on the Smithville Days festival, a juried arts and crafts festival that attracts exhibitors from across the Midwest.
Smithville High School has earned an A+ rating and combines excellent academics with a growing career and technical program. Last year, 179 of the 182 graduates either enrolled in a college or technical program or entered the workforce.
Smithville is centrally located. It is less than 90 minutes from Bloomington, home of Indiana University, and Lousiville, KY, and is within 3 hours of four other major metro areas.
The Detailed Description of The Job
Now you have the reader hooked. The applicant is thinking “Hey, Smithville sounds idyllic, and with a major airport 90 minutes away, it’s not really that isolated. It’s less than two hours from two cities known for their food culture, and the schools sound pretty good. Plus, it has enough of an arts and cultural life that I won’t need to travel to the city more than occasionally.” Now, while they’re thinking about looking at real estate, you can hit them with the job requirements, which are pretty standard for Director positions.
Preparing Budget and Managing Expenditures
Reporting to an Appointed Board
Maintaining Library Facilities
Drafting and Revising the Strategic Plan for Board Approval
Overseeing Collection Development
Education Requirements, Experience Requirements, Any Special Skills, and Salary and Benefits
Your applicant is now excited about your job and your community. It’s time to tell them what will make you excited about hiring them and to give them the information on salary, benefits, and vacation. You started with a broad picture, and now you’re giving the narrow description that weeds out unsuitable candidates and leaves you with the handful who are a good fit for your position and your community.
Must have an MLS, three years of experience in management, and be comfortable cataloging English and Spanish language materials. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.
Salary Range: $50,000-$60,000 depending on experience
Benefits: Three weeks of vacation to start, four weeks after five years. 10 paid holidays a year. Membership in the state pension plan (PERF), 457(b) plan (similar to a 401k), health insurance (HSA), life insurance, vision insurance, and optional benefits including dental insurance, short and long term disability.
Application Instruction and Details of the Search
This may be a bit obvious, but make sure that, at the end of your posting, you tell them which materials to send, where to send them, and when you expect to begin reviewing applications. Since job postings sometimes take a while to find the right applicants, you have enough information for readers to know if they’re still able to apply.
Send resume, cover letter, proof of librarian certification 2 or higher, and three references to HiringCommittee@Parkercountylib.com. Review of applications will begin on November 1, 2021, and continue until the position has been filled. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.
Where to Post Your Description
Every state’s library job market is different, but you can’t just post on Indeed and hope for the best. (And if you do post on Indeed, make sure that your tags are broad enough to include people searching for jobs tagged Library, Librarian, and Library Management, not just “Library Director” or “Director.” As any librarian knows, information must be cataloged correctly to be useful!) A few places to post your job are:
· ALA Joblist (https://joblist.ala.org/home/index.cfm?site_id=21926) – The American Library Association is still one of the most popular places to find library jobs.
· ARSL Jobs (https://www.arsl.org/jobs) The Association for Rural and Small Libraries will attract librarians who see your small community as a benefit, not a drawback.
· Your State Library Association. (In Indiana, that is https://www.ilfonline.org/networking/submit.asp)
· Your State Library Job Board. This is often a different job board than the state library association and another great location for people who specifically want to work in your state. (In Indiana, that is https://continuinged.isl.in.gov/jobs/)
Targeting your posting to places where people specifically go to find library jobs will serve you far better than posting on generic job search sites.
Also, if your vacancy coincides with your state’s library conference, consider doing open interviews at the conference. Many of the professionals who are interested in your job will be there, and you can network and spread the word about your opening. The library world is fairly small, and it’s even smaller if you’re a smaller library that will mostly attract in-state candidates. Get out there, and let the potential directors meet the board they’ll be working for!
What Comes Next?
Hopefully, you’ll get more than one qualified applicant for the job. In a later edition of this newsletter, we’ll give a refresher on how to sort through applications, interview, and choose a director who’s a good fit for your library and your community.
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