by Whitney Zahar, Senior Assistant, INALJ Pennsylvania
Interview with Dr. Candace Aiani: Library Director at Taipei American School
Have you ever imagined working as a librarian in another country? Several colleagues on the INALJ blog have posted several articles about library work around the world. I have the honor of volunteering as the archivist at Taipei American School, in Taipei, Taiwan. Of course, I also spent some time helping out in the Upper School (High School) library, where I met Dr. Candace Aiani, the library director of the Upper School Information Commons. Candace and I talked about how she got her job at Taipei American School, what challenges she faces working and living in another country, and advice she would give to anyone who wants to leave their country and comfort zone, and spend some time as an international librarian.
1. How did you get your current job?
Through an International Schools Services (ISS) job fair.
2. What are some of the highlights of your job? What are some of the challenges?
The highlights include the ongoing learning need and opportunity, the constant change, and the diverse work and interactions across technical, supervisory, and educational fields. The challenges are navigating international restrictions for access to information products, especially digital content when outside the USA.
3. What do you like about working in another country? What is something you find challenging about working in Taiwan?
I like the cross-cultural experience and the greater opportunity to travel given that I am already in Asia. Taiwan is easy in terms of living in a foreign country. Learning Mandarin is challenging, but that is not the fault of Taiwan!
4. Favorite library?
My library (Taipei American School Upper School Information Commons) is my favorite because it shows what can be made available to secondary students when there is strong administrative support and adequate resources.
5. Favorite book?
Hmmmm….. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.
6. Any blogs or technology tips we should be following?
I’m all over the place with these, changing every couple of months, but I am currently plugged into more systems and IT information as well as college and university level services since our secondary library delivers more services and resources similar to a college or university.
7. What job-hunting advice would you offer, especially to anyone who wants to be an international librarian?
· Just jump in. The water is fine!
· Having said that, I subscribed to The International Educator (T.I.E.) for a couple of years before leaping off. I also purchased an ISS Directory of Overseas Schools which provides basic data on schools around the world. I found both of these resources helpful.
· Start early! Complete your resume package by September, so you can register with a recruiting organization (Search Associates; International Schools Association, etc.) in early fall and participate in recruiting fairs mid-year (Jan/Feb) for a job for the following year. Direct contact is possible too, and some folks are using private head-hunters. Although I haven’t done it lately, I understand more hiring is being done before the fair dates, so earlier is better than later.