Flexibility in job hunting means considering part-time positions

Flexibility in job hunting means considering part-time positions

by Crystal Bauer, INALJ Missouri

Crystal BauerA few months ago I was approaching graduation from my MLS program. As excited as I was at the prospect of graduating, in the back of my mind, I began dreading the job search within the library field. Having volunteered as an assistant for INALJ Missouri for the past year, I felt well informed on the job market within my area. I had applied for a few library jobs, but received nothing back other than the standard email stating the company had gone with a more qualified candidate. Needless to say I was feeling uneasy about my ability to obtain a full-time library job in my area.

My background story is like so many new MLS graduates.  I was working in a non-library field and had zero library experience prior to going to graduate school for my MLS. I was also residing in a region with two universities offering MLS programs so my area was over-saturated with librarians also seeking full-time employment. With this in mind I decided to widen my search by looking for part-time library work.

I was very fortunate to not only receive an interview but (gasp), also offered a job as a part-time reference librarian at a local community college. The pay for part-time employment was great; however it was still not enough to survive on. Knowing this I began looking at other part-time opportunities in the area. I was able to find a yearlong library internship that was also part-time at a special library.  Now I am able to survive on my paychecks, while obtaining experience in two different types of libraries.

So there may be many benefits to part-time library employment including:

  • Competition for part-time employment might not be as stiff
  • Job allows you to create and establish contacts in the library field
  • Opens doors to a library where full-time employment may become available
  • Benefits may still be offered to part-time staff (my internship offered health insurance that ended up being better than my previous full-time employer)
  • Increased experience in a variety of library settings

Now I will say that there are some disadvantages to taking on two part-time positions that you should consider when applying. Keep in mind there may be an increased amount of time spent commuting between both positions. Your work schedule will probably not be a typical Monday through Friday 9-5. However I was lucky enough to still not have to work ANY weekends! You may also not be able to find two part-time library jobs. Even if you find one library job, considering getting another job that is a part-time position outside the library field. Many jobs may still provide you with experience that is relatable to library services.

So as many new librarians begin looking for work, do not pass over the part-time or temporary positions. They may be great opportunities that provide valuable experience and perhaps eventually lead to a full-time employment.

About the Author

Crystal Bauer is a Reference Librarian at Metropolitan Community College and a Library Intern at National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Through these jobs she gets to instruct, provide reference services, and work on archives. She completed her MLS from Emporia State University in May 2015. She spends her free time traveling and trying new foods.

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