The Silverfish is published quarterly by the students
of the Information School at the University of Washington.
Alumni Profile: Stephen
In this issue we profile Stephen Conroy, who graduated from the iSchool in June, 2000 and is currently a Librarian in the Broward County Library system in Florida.
After graduating, what were your job hunting experiences?
Before graduation, I had--by using the Internet--located both public and academic librarian positions in the cities and states I was most interested in. Depending on the state, either the state library or the state library association provided very comprehensive and up to date listings.
So, by graduation, I had already applied to over 50 library systems. When I went down to annual ALA summer conference in San Francisco in June, right after graduation, I discovered that 1) many of the library systems I'd already applied to were there and 2) almost everybody there was serious about at least doing interviews, if not hiring right there at the conference. I wound up having about 6 interviews a day, some as a result of my earlier applications.
Broward County Library System offered me employment right after my interview. Within a week after ALA, I had also been offered employment by 2 other library systems. In fact, I'm still getting forwarded mail from other libraries at ALA asking me to contact them for 2nd interviews. Again using the Internet to gather more information about the libraries that had offered me employment, I decided that I *really* liked Broward County. They were hiring about 30 Librarian 1s, because they had promoted that many to Librarian 2s.
When I flew out here to visit the library system to see if I wanted to live here, and also to decide which of the 27 openings I wanted to be considered for, I visited the main library and the 5 Regional Libraries as well. I was offered jobs at both the Southwest Regional and main libraries, and decided I liked being downtown better than out in the suburbs. I like living in the suburbs, but there's a lot more to do downtown after work--besides, I can use the free employee parking if I want to come downtown on the days I have off.
What are the things you enjoy about your job and what are the challenges?
I'm responsible for the audio book collection, which I don't have any personal or professional experience with. Fortunately, most of my ordering is done from lists prepared for all the libraries by the Remote Operations Center; I basically look up the circulation histories of the print counterparts and use that information as the basis for ordering. Although we are the AV/Popular Library, we are also the first desk most people see on their entrance to the library, so we get asked a lot of general reference questions as well. If we can answer the questions we will--but if we can't or don't have time, we have *no* problem referring the patron to the Reference Desk or elsewhere as needed.
The main challenge has to do with not as much computers or support as I'd like; we have 6 employees in the department, and share 3 terminals. None of these 3 have been upgraded to the newest version of the circulation software I use for checking the popularity of the print versions of audio books I'm considering. Our computing services head seems to be very protocol and chain of command conscious, and has a reputation for being somewhat difficult to work with.
Does your current position require your MLIS?
Yes, all the Librarian positions require a MLIS/MLS.
Did you find that your MLIS prepared you for these positions, or did they depend on skills you had before your MLIS or acquired after your MLIS?
Both, of course. Even if I won't be doing cataloging, for instance, I can tell problems with our system, and figure out how I can best search the catalog to find what patrons are looking for. And although we don't use many of the same sources we looked at in my specialty Reference classes, they were all extremely useful as introductions to bodies of knowledge.
If you had to do it all over again, would you do it all the same?
The only change I'd make is adding the Legal Reference classes if I could.
Any advice for students just starting their MLIS in the iSchool?
Besides the overall view imparted by the core courses and requirements, take as many of the classes in your interest as you can. Take advantage of the student rate for attending the ALA and local library conferences while you can.
Any advice for graduating students?
Go to annual ALA summer conferences; the libraries there will be serious about hiring to fill their vacancies.
Are you interested in sharing your knowledge with the rest of the student body? Have you attended any conferences or taken an interesting or worthwhile class outside of the department? Would you care to review nearby bars for us? Send your Silverfish submissions to Ariel Johnson or John Buell.
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