Email Lists: A Dose of Common Sense
Let's chat, folks. I know there are tons of things in LibraryLand we could discuss, but for a moment, let's talk about e-mail lists. I know quite a few people (like Griffey) who think that email lists are the (outdated) devil. I happen to like receiving things in email because I haven't yet figured how to acceptably integrate feedreaders into my life, and I prefer conversations via e-mail than via the comment section of blogs, whcih I never remember to go back and check after I've left some inflammatory comment. Anyway, we can discuss fuddy-duddies like myself and our love of the e-mail later. We need to chat about lists, though. If you've been on the NEWLIB list lately, you likely know why.
Lists are good things, if only to keep yourself updated on conversations/arguments/discussion/resource lists that generally make the rounds when people query via email. Lists are very often archived somewhere for future reference, which is super-useful is you know that someone on the ILI-L list recently compiled a list of articles about academic librarians and student success, and want to find that list. It's a neat way to get to know a whole lot of people in your field quickly (so is Twitter). And maybe I'm just extra-stalkery, but it's also a quick way to gauge who is involved, how they're involved, and what they put out for public consumption.
I know, this reeks of Obvious and that spectre CommonSense. But lately, you wouldn't know it, given some of the posts to the list. Let's discuss some offenses that, even if true, you should keep to yourself and not post for God and everybody to see.
1. Making comments such as (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Well, I posted my resume on Monster/Careerbuilder/ALA's resume site/whatever, and no one has contacted me about wanting to hire me!" Wow. Really? None of the top-tier places to work have e-mailed you, or even showed up at your doorstep with a contract in hand? Color me shocked! *ahem* Um, what i meant to say, in a polite and un-mocking manner, is that jobs do not hunt you. You hunt jobs. This is why it is called job-hunting, and not candidate-hunting. Getting your resume reviewed is great, but unless you take an active role in subscribing to job lists, regularly checking employment sites, and making some sort of effort, putting yourself on the web is about as likely to get you a job as trying to boil coffee by holding a cup in your hands. It could happen, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
2. Making comments such as "It's been (x+5) years since my MLS, and no one will hire me. I mean, I know I haven't done any professional development, or gotten involved in any library related organizations at *any* level, and am completely fascinated by these newfangled e-mail machines I see real librarians use on a regular basis. But, I just don't get it. I mean, what, is my MLS worthless?" Forgive my crassness, but yes, it might as well be worthless. If you haven't done any librarianating, anything related to libraries, or even managed to keep up with the changes and discussions in the profession via blogs and other free sources, it says that not only is your MLS atrophying, but that you're really not interested in librarianship as a career choice. Librarianship, for all its cushiness as opposed to those making life-threatening decisions, doing heavy lifting, or repaving the interstate under the unforgiving August sun, is still a fast-paced profession that forces you to keep up with change or die. And in order to keep up with change, you have to be an active participant in some way.
3. Making comments, after letting the list know you are actively jobhunting, to the effect of #2 plus saying "Well, I feel left out because I don't know much about this whole online searching business. I mean, I had a class on Dialog back when I got my (now rusty) MLS..." Come, now. Unless you want to be permanently labeled as a troll and never again taken seriously, this is just silly. Go to your local public library. Get a card. get online. Many academic libraries subscribe to a number of databases (including some from Ebsco) where you can practice and get accustomed to what interfaces look like nowadays. If your last experience with 'online searching' was Dialog, you may have to get accustomed to not using a command interface. (Also, very few people work in DOS anymore, so be prepared for GUI disappointment.) Heck, even Google has advanced search features. But, really. When you say something like this, not only does it reveal that you are about twenty years out of date in your skill set, you upset those librarians who are interested in keeping the profession vibrant and, um, useful. Of course, you will also have other librarians clicking their heels with glee that you're their competition.
4. Demonstrating an obvious lack of net-savvy. No, we're not going to notice from your posts that you can't do CSS. No worries. But when you make ill-informed comments, when you hijack a thread, flame folks, and when you generally make ignorant remarks on a public, archived list where your comments will be stored in perpetuity, you are shooting yourself in the foot. The librarians on these lists will not only be new librarians and MLS students, but older or more experienced librarians as well as vendors. The vendors you might not have to worry about so much, but the other librarians have been on, are on, or will be on hiring committees. making yourself look ridiculous on-list may not seem like a big deal, but it's a smallish profession. Names get remembered. Ridiculous posts get discussed off-list, whether you like it or not, as other librarians look for someone to mock so they can feel superior. (I'm not saying I'm above this. it happens.) The job search is competitive enough without you "branding" yourself as the village idiot.
Of course, the folks this post is intended for likely don't keep up with much, and this isn't a blog on the famous must-have lists (though I'm proud to say it did make it onto a list recently mentioned on ILI-L - thanks!), so they probably won't ever read this. But it's a good reminder for the rest of us, too, I suppose. I get snarky on threads and I know it; I do try to censor myself before out and out calling someone a jackass, I swear. But to make a habit of representing yourself as uninvolved, uninterested, and decaying in the skills the profession needs, you can hardly be surprised that you've been interviewing for five years and no one has offered you a job on a silver platter. I mean, of course, *you* can be surprised if you want to be, but the rest of us aren't. We're just hoping you'll apply for the same job we are, because it makes us look awesome.
Also, after seeing what occasionally comes across these lists, it might be a good idea for you to get a 'net alias and set up a dummy email account. Because the next search I'm on, I'm totally scanning list archives for your name.