Lessons from a Teacher Librarian: What I Wish I Knew for My Interview

Career Blog

Published: April 20, 2018 by Evelyn Hudson

Going into my first job interview for a teacher librarian position, I had no idea what to expect. I had not worked in the field before, so I wasn’t sure what to emphasize as my strengths. The administration took a chance on me and now I am in my second year as a teacher librarian.

So, what did I wish I knew before going into my interview? Lots of things. I certainly would have changed what skill sets I emphasized. Lucky for you, my knowledge is your gain!

Without further ado, here are the five things I wish I knew before my interview and how you can use them to your advantage.

  1. Teacher librarians serve many roles. If you are like me and the only person working in the library, you will be creating budgets, developing collections, running student clubs, chaperoning events, holding events and more—sometimes all in the same day. In your interview, emphasize your skills at multi-tasking and talk about a time you juggled multiple roles. If you don’t have any experience in a library yet, discuss a graduate school project where you were the leader and dealt with everything from scheduling to presentation design. Show the interviewer you can handle whatever roles they throw at you.
  2. Teacher librarians have to play well with others. If your only interaction is with students, you will not make as effective an impact on student learning. You have to show teachers that you know your stuff and can make their teaching lives easier. Many times, they won’t come to you, so you have to market yourself. Tell the interviewers about how you’ve collaborated before to produce an excellent final product—either in a library or in graduate school.
  3. Teacher librarians have to be technology-savvy. In my position, I am in charge of the library website, multiple databases, several online programs and a SMART Board. Students and teachers come to me when something isn’t working and it is my responsibility to fix it. The website is something I built using Google Sites and has really made a difference for my students. In your interview, talk about your technical expertise. If you built a website for a project, mention how you could build a site for the library like I did. If you are great with databases, mention how you could be the go-to person for searching. You can also give a tour of your career e-Portfolio.
  4. Teacher librarians have to keep their finger on the pulse. If you don’t know the next big thing before your students, you’ve lost them. The library has to seem like a vibrant place or you won’t get many visitors. Tell your interviewer about the emerging technologies you’ve learned about in your classes, suggest creating a learning commons environment if the school doesn’t already have one or offer social media suggestions. Show the interviewer you can bring a fresh perspective into the library, which will bring more students, too.
  5. Teacher librarians need to be creative. Events and contests are something I do regularly—and circulation increases because of them. For School Library Month, I brought in a local young adult author to speak with students and I am currently running a Books by Emoji contest where students guess a book title by its emoji summary. Events like these bring in my regular students but also interest those who don’t visit the library as often. Showing them the library is a place that wants them there makes them want to stay. In your interview, talk about an event you planned or share photos of displays you created. Demonstrate you know how to draw in students and create a positive environment in the library.

Are you a current teacher librarian with advice to share? Tell us your story in the comments!


Upcoming Webinars

Interplay & Compatibility: Using Soft Skills to Ace Interviews, Get Hired, and Excel at Work

Public library leaders Heidi Murphy and Deb Sica share their interview, hiring, and career insights regarding the importance of soft skills to succeeding in the LIS world. Find out from insiders not only what strengths hiring managers are looking for when they’re interviewing you, but also why those strengths are so critically important to libraries and their missions.

Presenters: Heidi Murphy – Director of Library and Recreation Services, City of Pleasanton; Deb Sica – Deputy County Librarian, Alameda County Library

May 2, 2018

5:30 pm Pacific

Location/Link: https://sjsu.zoom.us/j/296122211


New LIS Jobs in Handshake

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Don’t forget to explore job openings outside of the public and/or academic libraries in Handshake. Consider searching on topics such as taxonomy, research, data management, digital asset management, and similar terms that may reflect your particular LIS skills or area of emphasis.