Gavia Libraria

A new-hire messiah speaks

The Loon apologizes for her long absence from these pixels; it is an unusually stuffed semester for her, and her walnut-size brain has simply been overwhelmed of late.

She does want to share this, with its author’s permission: the frustrations of a real-world new-hire messiah. They are untouched save for a few typo corrections, corrected grammatical infelicities, and content edits aimed at preserving the author’s anonymity:

How to isolate, disenfranchise, and disillusion your new librarian in 10 easy steps

Would you expect to hire a librarian fresh out of grad school to act as your Head of Reference? How about to build a reference department from scratch without any coworkers for guidance? If not, then why do you expect it of your scholarly-communication or digital-projects librarian? Worried about the future of academic libraries? Keep following these 10 steps, and your faculty will soon dismiss your library as completely irrelevant, while your new librarians who could have worked with these faculty depart the field completely.

  1. Hire a single librarian to be solely responsible for all of your academic library’s digital projects AND the institutional repository. Offer that person the lowest salary possible. Refuse to negotiate a higher salary.
  2. Be sure to hire a librarian fresh out of library school. Give them no coworkers (when a typical digital-projects team for a school with tens of thousands of students would usually consist of 5+ FTEs), no documentation, no training, and no feedback. Isolate them and give them no guidance or defined short-term goals.
  3. Give that librarian IT “support”, but when the librarian and programmer want to work on a project that requires committing 20% of the programmer’s time to participate, say that is too much.
  4. Fire the only full-time staff member who worked on content for the institutional repository. Add this person’s full-time job to your new librarian’s workload. Do not increase her salary.
  5. Tell your new librarian that her job is to choose and implement new software for both digital projects and the repository, but give her no resources with which to do so. Nominally give the projects “high priority” (with the single IT staff member who you won’t allow to devote 20% of their time to the project) and then come up with several other “higher priority” assignments that must be done first. If you do it right it will be three years after hiring your new librarian and your library will still not have new software.
  6. Take two years after your head of libraries retires to hire a new one. During those interim two years, continue to refuse any additional resources, guidance, or staff for your digital projects. After all, why do anything that the still-nonexistent head of libraries may want to change in the future?
  7. Blame your new librarian repeatedly for lack of progress, but don’t provide any guidance or mentorship. After all, you’d surely have the great reference department you currently have if you’d hired a single new librarian and asked them to invent and staff the department on their own. Why can’t your digital librarian step up to the plate like that?
  8. Don’t tell your new librarian about the ongoing grudges and resistance to change in your long-term library staff and librarians. They’ll find out soon enough who won’t work with whom, who threatens to quit any time a change in procedure is mentioned, and who you simply have to work around because “they’ve always been that way.” Encourage this atmosphere! It builds a strong library!
  9. When faculty reach out to your librarian and she proposes projects that will meet the needs of those faculty, don’t forget it’s your job to say no!
  10. Have you isolated, understaffed, undersupported, and given your new librarian enough disparate responsibilities to ensure she’ll never make progress at one without another falling behind? Congratulations! It’s now time to deny your librarian’s promotion due to “lack of progress” and start over! After all, there’s plenty more where she came from!

Further comment from the Loon would be superfluous. She wishes the author well in finding a new position that is not thoughtlessly cruel.

5 thoughts on “A new-hire messiah speaks

  1. Serenity Librarian

    I have felt some of these. Isolated with no guidance or short term goals. Any achievements are criticized as ‘are you sure this is what the library should be focusing on’? The library focuses on nothing and everyone is so ‘busy’ that any actual projects would simply take too much time. ugh indeed.

  2. Librarian in Therapy

    This is not limited to academic libraries. I can’t tell you how quickly my anxiety level skyrocketed while reading this. So much truth in this post.

  3. CB

    That which I have not experienced in this litany of woe, I have observed, over the course of my career. Sometimes, it’s because the boss is truly dysfunctional (by far the worst case); sometimes, it’s because they just don’t feel like they have to pay attention — after all, they hired *you*, didn’t they? I am staring down the barrels, with a sense of impending relief, at retirement. I do wish my chosen profession might have progressed in the realm of personnel management in the past 36 years.