No Ouija Board Required! The Librarian Civil Service Exam

by Josh Rimmer, Senior Editor, INALJ Missouri, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana

No Ouija Board Required! The Librarian Civil Service Exam

JoshRimmer_INALJWVWhile I have certainly tried it; however, I have yet to have my mechanical pencil hover over my ScanTron to deliver answers from another realm. Although maybe my lead breaking over the C bubble is a spiritual sign destined to thwart my attempt to fill in the bubble? I do have a terrible tendency to apply heavy pressure when writing, so maybe it was human error? Or maybe I should have just brushed up on knowing specific functions in Excel, and what category/sub-group may I find a particular function. Looks like the answer is C in this case.

Overall, in my experience, Librarian Civil Service exams are not particularly difficult; however, small mistakes are costly if you are ill-prepared, or lack basic general knowledge. Anywhere from two to five questions may cost you an opportunity to be selected and interviewed. It is not impossible to be perfect on these exams, as long as you know what to look for. A dead giveaway for what you will see on your Civil Service exam is highlighted by the job descriptions and tasks that are outlined on the job responsibilities page. While this is essentially no different than addressing specific job functions in your cover letter. Case in point, my example of Excel. I am an intuitive user of Excel, and I could not tell you about Excel hotkeys. Guess what they asked? Excel hotkeys.

While I am not Miss Cleo, the stars do not have to be aligned in your favor to score well on a civil service exam. So no need to keep your credit cards at hand, and I will offer some free hints on what to expect.

• Check out ALA’s Issues Section here. You will see a few questions related to Copyright and Intellectual Freedom. Also browse the policies of the library/system that you’re applying for to see how the local institution upholds these guidelines.

• Read the policies of the particular library/library system you are applying for. This will help when you narrow down choices in answering questions relating to conflict management, or workplace behavior.

• Regardless of your opinion, Social Media is a part of the job. Know the character limit in Twitter; know what blog applications are out on the Web. Mobile apps too!

• Hypothetical Question, Do you know of a free web resource that will help a patron identify unknown Bible passages? You will be asked about references resources. Prepare by examining resources available at the library you’re applying for, your local library and scan the internet as well. Your best chance for success is to gain as much exposure as possible, when you lack practical reference experience. Know the function of various databases. Ex: What is Gale Literature Resource Center?

• Brush up on your DDC. A note to distance library students, your may need to review or learn this on your own. Know your jargon terms as well!

• Question, what review source covers both adult and children’s materials, includes recommended titles, reviews of audiovisual materials, as well as books. Published by the ALA twice a month except in July and August? If you do not know the answer off hand, you better review collection maintenance and selection materials. Know these cold, as well as Reader’s Advisory aids.

• Understand the Reference Process. Check out ABLE for a brief review.

• Dreamweaver, Excel, or some MS component a requirement of the job? Know how to use the specified program(s) front to back. The exam may ask the most minute, or general/basic question about the program.

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