Friday, January 15, 2010


We were given a Christmas gift--permission to hire a 20 hour assistant for our circulation desk. We're three people short on the circ desk, and it's been hell, so this was good news.

And the resumes started pouring in--almost 40 of them.

My own dear dear brother-in-law has been job hunting for a year. At Christmas he told me:"They keep telling me I'm overqualified. And I keep telling them--I don't care. I just need a job"
That gives me a perspective on the resumes we get, from people who have multiple degrees and are vastly overqualified for a part time job that REQUIRES a high school diploma, PREFERS a bachelors degree and is not a creme de la creme job.
We have always gotten resumes from overqualified folks with full time jobs who want to moonlight--but there seem to be more of them now.

We are getting more resumes from people with full library degrees who can't get a job as librarians and just want their foot in the door--take heed, anyone applying to library school!

We are getting resumes from people with many degrees but no job history.Professional student types who have apparently realized that they actually need to get a job, though their degrees qualify them for nothing ordinary. 
We are looking for someone with great customer service skills. Someone who is comfortable with computers. Someone who can move from task to task without fussing or whining, who can take on someone else's job if they're not there, and won't bitch about schedule changes. Someone who doesn't feel that they should be getting paid just for showing up--any work they do is an extra! 
A lot of these folks with multiple degrees and experience in other fields don't seem to get what being a circulation assistant in a public library entails--and yes, we do describe the job. Their resumes are loaded with babble and multiple adjectives, but seldom indicate they can do anything related to the job as it actually exists.
If it wasn't so sad, their attempts to sell themselves would be purely funny, and sometimes we can't help but shake our heads at what they send us:

"My enthusiasm would help open new avenues of learning for the library's patrons"
Ma'am, you're going to be at the desk, checking out and checking in books, registering people for library cards and clearing fines. You are NOT going to be the missionary bringing enlightenment to the savage natives. Most of whom, BTW, are here to use the Internet. The rest probably have as much, or more education than you do!
And:"I've been a substitute teacher and taken some courses in elementary education, so I'd be a valuable resource for your children's department."
Yup, sure. Only the job isn't IN children's. Nor does your vast sub experience--about 9 weeks worth of subbing--or your theoretical courses  mean bubkes around here. I'm working with toddlers and preschoolers, not 10 year olds who want to gather round the big armchair as you read them "Alice in Wonderland"
And since,as you took pains to point out, you live in the neighborhood, you should be aware that the library isn't a mean dark gulag archepeligo waiting for you to shine your light upon its sad, tormented souls. But you don't even have a fricking library card, so how would you know anything about us?
"I'm a bibliophile, poet, poetry editor and library lover"
Fine, but what do you know about WORKING in a library? 
This same dame tells us that among the skills of an English major is "perceiving the world through multiple points of view"
Cookie, that means you sat in comparative lit classes and analyzed poetry or books and read various criticisms. Do you honestly think that prepares you for the REAL world? The lady we had to call the cops on yesterday because she raised hell cursing and ranting about how the FBI was in her e-mail, and then started cursing out the staff? The guy who has seizures here regularly because he won't take his medicine? The homeless guy who falls asleep in the big chair near the desk? The loons at the book sales? The regular folk who come in pissed about something else and take it out on your because "my taxes pay your salary?"
Trust me, lady. I've got one of those BA's in English myself and an MLS to boot. What really trained me to work with the public was working for a year as a bank teller while in grad school.

It's lovely that you're a "library lover". But how are you with frequently demanding and rude often unwashed, real live PEOPLE? 

You read their resumes, you see the degrees and the experience. They're not right for the job here. In better times they wouldn't be applying for such a job. They'd be out, doing what they're trained to do. Doing what they've dreamed of doing.
We're wasting talent. The bankers, the robber barons like my brother the hedge fund manager are still making millions and whining about their bonuses while folks like this scrounge for a 20 hour a week clerical job.
May all of them, the architectural drafter, the movie set prop guy, the copy editor, the prospective librarians and all the rest find work in their chosen fields. May they find it soon.
May my brother-in-law and all the other brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and sons and daughters out there get their dignity--and their lives--back.

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