Displaced at ALA Annual

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

6 thoughts on “Displaced at ALA Annual”

  1. This is the experience I had at Midwinter too. While it was great hearing about these organizations in person, all of the information I got from them I was also able to Google in no time.

    But for perspective, I went to Annual last year and there were about 20-25 hiring organizations there. One of my classmates interviewed with three libraries and got 3 job offers: one after 20 minutes in her interview, and two via phone at the conclusion of the conference. I think that in-face presence is still a major way to gain recruits, but I think that with hiring freezes, a lot of these organizations are just unable to show up, especially since what they’ll end up telling people is that there are no jobs or that they’re in a deep freeze.

    It would be nicer if you were able to know EXACTLY who was going to be at the displacement center, since that’s not really an option through jobweb. At least you could shield yourself from disappointment when you get there, eh?

    Best of luck!

  2. Some libraries cannot afford to recruit in the official recruitment area – so they are interviewing/meeting people outside the curtained walls.

    There are a lot of jobs – it’s just not everyone can afford ALA.

  3. Katherine – what a great post. I heard many similar observations about the placement center this year. I find it pretty scary but also kind of like a challenge in a way…which might be an odd way to look at it. Hopefully we will have more opportunities in the future and maybe ALA will stop, it sounds like, charging too much for employers to use that service.

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