Tag Archives: Kate Crowe

Academic Library/Archives Job Interviews – Generalizations That I Hope Are Helpful

This post is written by Kate Crowe (contact information at the bottom!) and originally was posted on her blog here. Last year, she wrote about her professional journey for the SNAP blog (linked below). This post was inspired by the November 9th #snaprt on Twitter; chat flashback here

First, my sympathies that you are on the hunt for a job of any kind. Like any activity where you “put yourself out there” (dating, your rec softball league, etc.), you face some amount of upfront emotional labor and potential rejection. Unlike dating or a hypothetical softball league, this rejection is also directly tied to your ability to pay your bills (and maybe other people’s bills) and get a regular meal – so the stress is ramped way, way up. Virtual hugs to you – my guess is, you need them.

Second, who the heck am I to tell you what to do on an academic library/archives job interview? I’m the Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver, and I wrote about my professional journey on a series of blog posts for SNAP last year. If you want to know more about me and what passes for street cred in the academic archives world, check ’em out.

What follows is based on my experiences on several library faculty search committees, as well as personal observation and experience at an academic archives / as a hiring manager for the past decade (2007-2017). Continue reading

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Rocking the Phone Interview

Sometimes I feel like this blog becomes a chronicle of my graduate school existence. You, the readers, are dragged along on all of my misadventures, though I do that only to help you through pitfalls I have already encountered in hopes you can avoid them or at least minimize the damage!

Back in January, I discussed the application process and how I was tackling it. Good news, folks: I’ve been contacted for phone interviews, so I did something right. Of course, I was relying on others who had been there, done that because they would have good insight as to what worked for them. I can’t say that my phone interview experiences have made me an expert – let’s be real, if you become a phone interview expert during your job search, either you’re a truly special individual wanted by tons of places or you’re stuck in purgatory – but I have become increasingly more comfortable with every one I have, which allows me to provide better answers to questions I’m asked.

When I got the first interview, I had no idea what to do or say, or how I was going to prepare. If you’re looking for an archival job and you haven’t come across That Elusive Archives Job, I cannot recommend it enough. Written by Arlene Schmuland, it provides solid explanations for each step of the job searching process. The section on phone interviews is where I looked first when preparing for my first one. Other excellent advice I gathered came from Forbes (short video included), US News & World Report, US News & World Report again, Yale, and – yes – Cosmopolitan. Some of these sites have conflicting information, and some of the suggestions did not fit me as an individual, so I’ve condensed some of the best tips. Continue reading

The Application Process: Keywords and Addressing the Requirements in the Job Advertisement

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I was graduating in May, and as such, I’m in the market for a job. Let me be real: Job hunting is not fun. In fact, I’d rather spend a day stuck in the DMV than work on applications. That said, it’s a necessity, so I’m sucking it up and getting on with it.

Back in November, SNAP conducted a chat on applications and initial interviews (Storify here). The fourth question was what the application process was like, and were there any particular challenges? Thank goodness for this question, because the responses let me know I was not alone. Some choice words from other chat participants included “horrible,” “mind-numbing,” “one long primal scream/panic attack,” “soul crushing,” and “DESPAIR AND HELL AND CRYING.” Yep, in all caps. As I was staring at the computer screen earlier this week, trying to convince myself to focus so I could get a particular application over with, it was nice to know I had some camaraderie in my misery. There’s unfortunately not a workaround for the application process, unless you’re sticking to small nonprofits that won’t have an HR department to filter “qualified” candidates. I cannot tell you how excited I was to email one resume and cover letter directly to an executive director. Hallelujah!

By this point in our careers, we’ve obviously heard the standard advice for applications, resumes, and cover letters – proofread, make certain the name of the library is correct for the job for which you’re applying, customize the resume to the organization. Etc., etc., etc. However, these things are worth reiterating, particularly because actual research has shown that search committees rank “failure to proofread the documents submitted” and “[f]ailure to tailor the documents to the position” as the top two reasons for job candidates being rejected. The third reason was “[f]ailure to meet the requirements of the position.” However, there’s wiggle room there, depending on the situation. Continue reading

Managing Your Career: One Archivist’s Journey, Pt. 4

Over the past few weeks, Kate has been taking us through her career path and sharing advice on things that worked well for her – and things she wished she had done, but didn’t. In this final segment, Kate talks about moving from a project position to one with faculty status. If you missed any of the previous posts, they can be found here.

Guest author: Kate Crowe
Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver

Getting and Keeping a Faculty Status Librarian Position (Part IV)

About a year into my contract position, I was informed that the library was creating a new position to focus specifically on metadata, cataloging, and physical processing for Special Collections and Archives, and that I would be appointed into the position as Interim Archives Processing Librarian. In retrospect, this meant a couple of things that I absolutely didn’t recognize as significant at the time. First, I was being moved not just from a non-benefitted, contract (albeit one that was professional/required a masters’ degree) position into a benefitted position, I was being appointed into a (interim, non-tenure track) faculty position, which required me to focus on research (publications, presentations) and service (being active in/serving in leadership roles in the library, University, and my profession) in addition to my primary job responsibilities.

While this was all explained to me in terms of “what” was happening, no one really went into any detail as to “how” I was to be expected to fit these additional responsibilities into what was a brand new position with responsibility for spearheading several entirely new initiatives, including populating a new consortial digital repository; creating standards for archival metadata creation and physical arrangement where they had been previously sparse or non-existent; developing a sustainable, systematic infrastructure for archival technical services at the institution; hiring; training; and supervising one staff member and several graduate student employees – basically, running a small unit. Since that initial faculty position, the library has gone through a re-organization and, as of July 2012, I’ve become the Curator of Special Collections and Archives, which is the position I’ve wanted since I was 18. I’ve been very lucky, but I also worked hard for these opportunities. I’ve also screwed up a lot. You will, too. Another good piece of fatherly advice I received was, “Screw up as much as possible as early on as possible” – not, of course, meaning that you should be a literal screw-up, but that if you try and fail within a lower-status position, the stakes are much lower and you’ll learn a lot of great lessons in the process without causing nearly as much damage to you or your organization. Continue reading

Managing Your Career: One Archivist’s Journey, Pt. 3

Over the past few Fridays, Kate has been detailing her journey from library student to curator of a special collection. Previous posts can be read here.

Guest author: Kate Crowe
Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver

My First Professional Position (Part III)

Entry-level positions are tricky. Employers (if they’re worth working for) will realize that there is a limit to what they can realistically expect to get, sans training/coaching from an entry level position and that they will need to put in a fair amount of time to ensure that employees are set up for success. At the same time, many institutions are under-resourced, and your direct supervisor’s time will likely be limited, so they will generally looking for someone who is smart, a quick study, will ask questions if need be, but is generally a self-starter who will go off and do the work without a need for a lot of direction. This goes double if your entry level position involves implementing some new technology (digital repository, institutional repository, web archiving/digital archives) or program (digital humanities) that isn’t yet well understood, especially in terms of infrastructure, by a lot of library administrators.

My first professional position was a contract position (non-benefitted, time limited, but requiring an MLIS) as a project archivist for a 2-year Athletics and Recreation department including processing, cataloging, and digitization projects, all of which was being done within an entirely new collection management system and a consortial digital repository, and which led to a faculty position at the same institution. Here’s what I did, and what I wish I’d done differently in the process: Continue reading

Managing Your Career: One Archivist’s Journey, Pt. 2

Last Friday, we began a four-part mini-series in which Kate details her journey from library student to curator of a special collection. If you missed the first part, it can be found here.

Guest author: Kate Crowe
Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver

First Time Job-Hunting/Interviewing (Part II)

I graduated from library school in May of 2007 with an MLIS from Emporia State University. As I mentioned in the previous post, I graduated with no “real” library experience, outside of my 100-hour practicum. Despite this, I got a job offer that I was interested in – a two-year project archivist position that did require an MLIS but did not have benefits and had no guarantee of employment after the project’s conclusion. I accepted it within 3 months of graduation.

I know for a fact that the halcyon, pre-recession days of summer 2007 had a lot to do with the job even existing – but, in addition to the economic forces, in play at the time I did several things during the job seeking/interviewing process that I believe worked well, and there were several things that I believe I either would’ve done differently in retrospect or would’ve been on the lookout for that I was not at the time. Continue reading

Managing Your Career: One Archivist’s Journey, Pt. 1

When Kate and I first discussed her writing a post for the blog about project archivists, she said she had a lot to share. This has developed into four posts that best work as their own stand alone mini-series. So, for the next four Fridays, we’re going to see Kate go from library student to a curator of special collections. There’s really solid advice for those thinking about applying to graduate school, those in programs now, those graduating in December and May, and those who have been in the field a few years and know it’s time to take the next step. This is the first in the series.

Guest author: Kate Crowe
Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver

What follows are a series of topically focused blog posts, all focusing on my journey from library school student (beginning in fall 2004) to project archivist (September 2007) to Curator of Special Collections and Archives (summer 2012). Each will focus on what I did/what happened, and include information on what I wish I’d known and/or done at the time.

While I hope most of it will be applicable to all students and new professionals in cultural heritage work, my entire career has been in academic archives at a mid-size private research university in the American West. Additionally, I’m a white, cisgender, middle/upper middle class lady person (she/her/hers), so all of that factors into my story and my advice as well. So, take it all with a grain of salt and all of the above in mind. I hope you find it helpful!

Choosing A Library School/Getting Through Library School (Part I)

When people ask me “Why libraries?” I usually say that I’m the child of 2 librarians, and so I didn’t really pick libraries, they picked me – also, I am highly unoriginal.

A bit of background: both of my parents received PhDs in library and information science, and my father went on to become Dean of Libraries and then Vice-Chancellor at the University of Kansas (KU). As a result, I literally grew up in large, Midwestern R-1 academic libraries, first at the Ohio State, and then at KU. Both of my parents seemed to have interesting, meaningful jobs, they made enough to give us a nice, middle/upper middle class life, and seemed to genuinely enjoy what they did. So, choosing to go to library school and follow in the “family business” seemed like a no-brainer. I entered library school right after graduating with my undergraduate degree in history. Below, you’ll see what I screwed up, and what I think worked well, and what I wish I’d known or done in retrospect. Continue reading