Come work with us: two Technical Services positions

We’re hiring, and the librarians agreed that 2017 was a good time to try hiring differently. We rewrote our job descriptions and ads from scratch, with a different focus on who we are, and what we require in colleagues. We’re excited. This is a new approach to hiring, for us — and we’d like to work with you. I hope these job ads make that seem exciting to you, too.

The College Libraries at SUNY Potsdam are reorganizing our technical services functions, and hiring two librarians: A Technical Services and Metadata Coordinator to help futureproof our services, and an Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian to support the core functions of discovery, access, and management of information resources.

Who are we?
SUNY Potsdam has defied expectations since 1816, focusing on teaching, learning, and creative innovation through the nation’s first school of Music Education, a proud tradition of teacher education, and a remarkable school of Arts and Sciences. We are simultaneously one of SUNY’s most-watched creative campuses AND second-best in SUNY’s comprehensive colleges for students enrolled in STEM fields – and we’re chasing down first place.

To support this amazing community, the College Libraries have adopted a mission focused on forging dynamic partnerships, empowering our vibrant and diverse academic community to do thoughtful research, explore new ideas, and collaborate effectively. Our goals align with The Potsdam Pledge, http://www.potsdam.edu/about, which focuses on our community goals of vital teaching and learning, freedom of thought, belief and expression, respect and responsibility, safety and wellness, diversity and inclusion, and integrity in all we do. Because we are aware that we are a historically white and historically regional college that has an increasingly diverse population, we are working to understand our differences as we integrate students from beautiful rural upstate New York with students from the vibrant urban environments of downstate New York, preparing all of our community members to live global lives.

With full support from our new Provost hired in 2016, the College Libraries are responding to these changes. These librarian positions are ideal opportunities for librarians interested in the blend of tradition and experimentation in an increasingly diverse, inclusive, transparent, and flexible environment. They will join 9 library faculty and 6 support staff who include a mix of “lifers” who have settled in Potsdam for the foreseeable future, and new folks who will learn from us, do good work here, and move on in their careers better for the experience – and we welcome the diversity of perspectives that both kinds of professionals bring to our campus.

What are the positions?

Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian
The librarian will have faculty rank of Senior Assistant Librarian, in a tenure-track faculty position subject to criteria for reappointment, promotion, and continuing appointment as established by the SUNY Board of Trustees and the Personnel Policies of the College Libraries, with a negotiable minimum salary of $48,000.

As a part of our team and community, the Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian will provide expertise in managing the libraries’ electronic and print subscriptions, and the technologies necessary to maintain and access those resources. The librarian will report to the Technical Services and Metadata Coordinator, as a part of a department that also includes two library clerks working in acquisitions, cataloging, serials, discovery, and digitization of local collections. We expect that the librarian will be involved at varying levels of responsibility in the following projects or types of projects:

  • Migrating in 2018 from a local implementation of ALEPH 500 to a new consortial LSP hosting all SUNY campus bibliographic files, including review of all technical services processes and workflows during and post-migration
  • Maintaining and optimizing our use of software services that provide discovery and access to electronic resources
  • Engaging our campus with Open Educational Resources and developing a sustainability plan for OERs
  • Establishing infrastructure and processes to support student research initiatives – in many varied formats – and to showcase the campus’s research output
  • Supporting technical services staff in purchase, cataloging, and maintenance of materials for the F.W. Crumb main library and the Julia E. Crane music library

Specific responsibilities will be refined in coordination with the Technical Services and Metadata Coordinator and the Director of Libraries, building on the strengths and interests of the successful candidate. As a holistic member of the library staff, the Librarian’s responsibilities may include face to face or online research assistance, information literacy instruction, and/or collection development – again, building on the strengths and interests of the successful candidate. Library faculty are also expected and encouraged to engage with the academic and student life of the campus through committee, teaching, or other service opportunities, and current library faculty have built a strong reputation as valued members of our community through these kinds of service engagements.

Our qualifications are simple:

A master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (or from a master’s level program in library and information studies accredited or recognized by the appropriate national body of another country, per http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/employment/foreigncredentialing/forjobseekers), earned by the proposed start date.

and we prefer that you have

– Sufficient experience in libraries, at any level, to ensure the candidate can achieve continuing appointment at the rank of Senior Assistant Librarian.
– Sufficient experience with library technical services principles to allow for confident participation in the life of the department.
– Demonstrated experience working with, doing research with, or teaching under-represented groups.

AND

Technical Services and Metadata Coordinator
The Coordinator will have faculty rank of Associate Librarian in a tenure-track faculty position subject to criteria for reappointment, promotion, and tenure as established by the SUNY Board of Trustees and the Personnel Policies of the College Libraries, with a negotiable minimum salary of $60,000.

As a part of our team and community, the Coordinator will provide leadership and vision for the Libraries’ management of content in all formats, and will be responsible for access to library materials, including metadata creation in support of print, digital, and Open Access collections. Technical Services currently encompasses acquisitions, cataloging, serials, and discovery, and will expand to include digitization of local collections. The Coordinator will supervise one librarian and two Library Clerks, and will be a key member of the Management Team of the Libraries. We expect that the Coordinator will provide leadership for the following projects or types of projects:

  • Migrating in 2018 from a local implementation of ALEPH 500 to a new consortial LSP hosting all SUNY campus bibliographic files, including review of all technical services processes and workflows during and post-migration
  • Engaging our campus with Open Educational Resources and developing a sustainability plan for OERs
  • Establishing infrastructure and processes to support student research initiatives – in many varied formats – and to showcase the campus’s research output
  • Supporting technical services staff in purchase, cataloging, and maintenance of materials for the F.W. Crumb main library, and the Julia E. Crane music library
  • Mentoring the professional development of a new Electronic Resources and Serials librarian, and participating in skills and professional development for library staff
  • Integrating patron-driven or purchase-on-demand processes into current acquisitions, ILL, and cataloging environments

Specific responsibilities will be collaboratively refined with the Director of Libraries after hire, building on the strengths and interests of the successful candidate. As a holistic member of the library staff working in a leadership role, the Coordinator’s responsibilities may include face to face or online research assistance, information literacy instruction, and/or collection development – again, building on the strengths and interests of the successful candidate. Library faculty are also expected and encouraged to engage with the academic and student life of the campus through committee, teaching, or other service opportunities, and current library faculty have built a strong reputation as valued members of our community through these kinds of service engagements.

Our requirements are simple:

A master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (or from a master’s level program in library and information studies accredited or recognized by the appropriate national body of another country, per http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/employment/foreigncredentialing/forjobseekers).

And we prefer you have:

– Experience working in academic or research libraries.
– Sufficient experience in libraries to ensure the candidate can achieve continuing appointment at the rank of Associate Librarian.
– Sufficient experience with library technical services to allow for confident leadership of the department.
– Demonstrated experience working with, doing research with, or teaching under-represented groups.

Both positions require that you submit very particular application documentation.

1. Submission of a detailed cover letter that explains your interest in the position and what you have to offer our institution, and describes how you will approach the key projects listed in the job description.

2. Submission of a one page statement detailing how your previous work and/or service has supported the success of students from diverse/underrepresented backgrounds, or contributed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus environment. Applicants with no prior involvement with such processes should indicate how they will advance SUNY Potsdam’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

3. Contact information for three professional references.

Applications can be found here:

Technical Services and Metadata Coordinator

Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian

The Freedom Series

Jenica   January 20, 2017   2 Comments on The Freedom Series

Over the last two years, I have felt a developing sense of unease about what our current college students do and do not understand about their freedoms and rights — and the freedoms and rights of their fellow citizens. We’ve been working through racial tensions, a campus hate crime, with the social and emotional fallout of the presidential election tossed into the mix. And I’ve been able to follow a thread through it all, one that I think separates my generation from this one in a real, meaningful way.

I don’t think they understand the First Amendment, and their First Amendment rights. I think that the media free-for-all of the 24 hour news cycle mixed with the media diaspora of type-and-click internet publishing platforms mixed with our Everyone Can Be Famous entitlement culture has led to a world in which we have a dangerous number of young people who feel the freedom of social media and the firehose of information but don’t understand the consequences of trying to drink that in.

I had challenging conversations about the right to free speech, and what a state college’s role is in first amendment issues. About why students are allowed, nay, encouraged! to protest. About fake news and the price of sharing it. About the social consequences of exercising freedoms in a socially unpopular way.

And each of those conversations felt important, and meaningful, and was held one-on-one. I can’t talk to the whole campus. I can’t reach every student. But I can reach several thousand of them by using my library as a platform to support age old library philosophies of practice, professional ethics, and information literacy goals. So that’s what we’re doing. In spring 2017, the College Libraries at SUNY Potsdam will be hosting The Freedom Series, a web-and-print exhibit on the core academic and learning freedoms of Information, Inquiry, Speech, Press, and Assembly. I’ll be sharing them as we go, but for the start of classes we began with an approach at awareness raising about fake news. If this looks useful for your library, please steal it. The original powerpoint is online here, and I consider this to be licensed for any non-commercial adaptation. Go forth and help our communities be smarter.

“It’s just libraries, nobody dies”

“It’s just libraries; nobody dies.

I’ve been saying that since 2001, when my first Director said it to me when I was freaked out that I missed a deadline. I was a brand new professional, and that missed deadline seemed like a pink slip. Nope, Karen said. Not a crisis. Just fix it.

I’ve lived my whole professional career balancing between my own high standards for performance and the awareness that it’s just libraries and nobody dies. And for the last 6-8 weeks I’ve been suffering through some writer’s block on two new job ads. We decided to nuke our job ads from orbit and rewrite, reflecting the personality and reality of our libraries more effectively to the job market. I wanted to have them posted last week. They aren’t written yet, because I’m blocked. But it’s just libraries. Nobody dies.

Except then I got news from a friend writing to share the story of a family medical challenge, saying, “Sincere gratitude to all the medical researchers who post their works open-access and to hell with the rest of you. Pubmed is great. But I don’t have the kind of library access that lets me read all of this stuff and the stakes are pretty damn high for me right now.

One of the ads I’m writing is for a Coordinator of Technical Services and Metadata. The other is for an Electronic Resources and Discovery librarian. Know what those two positions do? Among other things, they are the library staff who ensure easy access to information, promote open access, and advocate for better vendor-user relationships.

Nobody dies, huh?

I’m going to go write, now.

Welcome to the Absurd Zone

Welcome to the Absurd Zone

Welcome to the Absurd Zone

I hate December. December is the Absurd Zone. December is when we wrap up classes, enroll students for the spring, prepare for winter break, have major cultural holidays and family obligations, and also wrap up a financial quarter. December is when academics break into tiny pieces.

In May, when the stresses hit, you know you have the summer to rebuild yourself. In December, we stare down the same stress points and recognize that there’s a light at the end of tunnel, for sure, but there’s still five months of trains coming before we get there. In December we know we’re going to make it… but only by embracing the absurd.

This week started with a toddler meltdown because overalls are CLEARLY torture, PARENTS, and the Tyrant Without Offswitch would like to know why we do not recognize this fact despite her 100 decibel shrieks informing us of it. Fine, kid, lie on the floor and scream while failing to remove overalls over your shoes. You do that. You still have to wear pants.

Then Monday proceeded into 11 hours of meetings. Eleven. Hours. Of. Meetings. The last one was a campus dinner, but it was professional conversation with students, colleagues, and the President and her wife. So… still a meeting. After 10 prior hours of meetings. I was grateful I wore leggings and a sweater dress, because that, at least, is sort of like pajamas. I can pretend I’m happy and comfortable if I’m wearing sort-of-pajamas. Then I went home and battled through bedtime with a super-restless toddler, then laid awake with an annoying hacking cough of undetermined origins, because of course.

At 8:05 this morning I woke up thinking “I just heard the kitchen door close, so that means Kyle went to work. OH SHIT IF KYLE WENT TO WORK I AM LATE”, because I had an 8:30 meeting on campus. Which I made it to about 3 minutes late, because I’m a goddamn superhero who can embrace the ludicrousness of a messy bun and good jewelry as a substitute for ACTUAL PREPARATION. Then three more hours of meetings, endless gratitude that the library cafe sells bananas and coffee, and… oh man, the email. I can’t with the email yet.

I’m typing this on my “lunch break” as an exercise in stress reduction because holy crap what the fuck, during which I’m listening to The Beatles “Blackbird” and trying not to obsess about the data requests I got yesterday which I’m getting texted reminders of today. Of the grant report due two months ago that I have not done, which needs to be followed up with another report in two weeks. Of the job descriptions that need to be posted ASAP and are not done. Of the all-faculty email I need to edit and send out ASAP. Of the Cuba Winterim travel course which keeps throwing up details to be dealt with. Of the four more hours of meetings on my calendar today. Of the list of un-registered students we need to cross-reference to our student employee roster to contribute to eleventh-hour retention efforts. Of the million other details which pile up because December.

Bob Dylan just shuffled up. “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?” And I’m thinking about the four years straight that I’ve sworn up and down I would begin a lunchtime mindfulness meditation practice for myself. You know what I won’t be doing in December? Starting that. Maybe January.

Because January is coming. IT IS. January has a few weeks with no classes in session, and is on the upside of the darkest time of the year — past the solstice, and into the spring semester — and is a cultural touchstone for change and renewal. 2017 is coming, and until then… I’m going to embrace the absurd. These stresses are impossible to manage. I’m going to do it anyway, with liberal application of manatees and whatever else makes me smile. Because Everything Will Be Okay.

Right?

An open letter to my community

Libraryland colleagues,

I walked past the campus lunchtime protesters today, twice — once on my way to lunch, and once on my way back. The first time, they were shouting “FUCK THE WALL”. The second time, they had a great dance-line chant of “Hey ho, hey ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” I smiled and gave them a thumbs up both times, but didn’t join in.

Truth be told, I was far more interested in stopping and joining in the first chant than the second, despite the social inadvisability of the Director of Libraries and Applied Learning yelling “FUCK THE WALL” across our academic quad. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a personal fan of President-Elect Trump. I voted for Clinton. I’m actually deeply fearful of what the next two or four or eight years will bring, but the unavoidable fact is that he won the election. Our system upheld its own rules, and assuming we don’t get a bunch of Faithless Electors, the deed is done. Yelling about it won’t change it. The Director of Libraries and Applied Learning won’t be standing on the statue of Minerva and shouting profanities across the quad, but I will be taking action this next year in my own way.

Because those protesters have the right to yell. So do the citizens in this community who are pleased that Trump won.

And that’s the source of my action point number one. The librarians have agreed that we will be doing an informational and educational campaign on campus about the first amendment, the rights and responsibilities of free speech, freedom of information rights and principles, and the power and consequence of social media in a speech and protest environment. Online resources, browsing collections, workshops, seminars in campus Days of Reflection, guest lectures. Whatever we can do.

I’m committed to this course of action for a lot of reasons.

First up, as a librarian, it’s something I believe in. I’m an adherent of the Hall/Voltaire “I will protect your right to say vile things” philosophy, because who defines “vile” is a point of privilege and power, and if we start stripping away the right to say vile things by our definition, we’re offering others the power to strip away our own right to say what they deem to be vile by their definition. Protecting one protects all.

Second, also speaking in my role as librarian, freedom of information is a tenet of my profession that drives my commitment to what we do. It’s all in the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights:

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use

But further, as an educator I have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable in my community, ensuring that they have a safe space to pursue their education. So that means preventing and addressing bias, discrimination, and harassment. By my read, librarianship’s professional Code of Ethics also lays this one out, in numbers 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7.

  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

And there’s the final reason why I won’t stand up and should “Donald Trump has got to go” while on work time: numbers 6 and 7 above. I have an obligation, as a professional and as a representative of the State, to distinguish between my personal convictions and my professional duties. I must not advance my private interests at the expense of the comfort and safety of my library users. I must not alienate my community — regardless of which 50% of the electorate best represented their views this political season.

So we’ll be focusing on ensuring our libraries are safe and welcoming to all members of our community, and educating our students about freedom of speech, freedom of information, the role of the State vs the role of the individual, and the powers and pitfalls of all of the above. That is my job. That is my purview. And I will fight for it, red in tooth and claw.

And while that probably won’t change the rhetoric about the wall President-Elect Trump insisted he would build, or change the outcome of the presidential election, or even make my students of color feel any better about the world they live in, I hope that it does one very important thing. I hope it helps to create an empowered, educated, critical electorate in 2018, 2020, and 2024. That is the most important contribution I can make, if I can make it.

And I hope you will consider a similar path in your libraries.

Valar Dohaeris.

Jenica