Hello from ALA 2009, Chicago. I’ve just come from the Placement Center, located in the far-off land of McCormick Place South. Although this was the first time I’d ever ventured there, I have to admit that I walked away a bit disappointed. Twelve booths lined the ballroom—only two of which were academic libraries…only one of which was in the United States.
I spotted a former colleague who was waiting for an interview with one of the public libraries. He has been in the field for a number of years and explained to me, a newbie, that only a few years ago this room would be filled. “This is where most recruiters found their prospects,” he said. “The Internet has changed all that, making the hiring process entirely different.” Not that the Internet had made things bad by any means, but it certainly has changed the way we seek jobs—and has made the Placement Center incredibly unexciting. Everything happens behind the scenes now. I went there to meet possible employers and gain enthusiasm by talking about what they do face to face—something that the Internet doesn’t allow when I blindly submit an application through HR. Although I am incredibly aware that fewer and fewer jobs are available, it was so disheartening to see that THE national library conference only twelve organizations had come—and some of these were only there to show presence and had no openings.
Perhaps this only further proves that networking is key out there, and being at ALA Annual 2009 is a great place to meet new people in a less formal way than the Placement Center. For anyone else that is out there looking, I wish you all the best.
+TTW Contributor Katharine Johnson