Friday, January 24, 2020

About That Librarian-In-Residence Thing

This week, Reese Witherspoon's book club, which is in conjunction with her media company Hello Sunshine, put out a call for a librarian-in-residence. People have mixed feelings about this opportunity. Some people are REALLY EXCITED about it, and others are very frustrated.

While on the surface, it seems great, we thought we should take a closer look at this. There is already a pretty comprehensive article written on BookRiot, and Library Twitter has plenty of opinions, but we thought we'd share our thoughts anyway.

The Bad

  1. Lack of Information. Though the ad has now been updated, when it was first posted, there was no mention of salary, hours, benefits, etc. In addition, the title "Librarian-In-Residence" implies that you would have to live in Los Angeles, which means it would only really be open to a select few. The updated ad says that this is a part-time, paid position, and you wouldn't have to live in L.A. Some travel is required, which would also be paid for. This doesn't really answer all the questions, though; how much travel is required? Is this something a librarian can do on top of their full-time job? We really don't know.
  2. Wait, a Librarian Is What Now? It seems that the term "librarian" is being used to mean "a person who likes books a lot." This is ... not correct. As we know, many of us got a Master's Degree to have the title of "Librarian," and to see it given away to just anyone raises our hackles a bit. According to the actress, "the word 'Librarian' encompasses all types of interests and educations," and that is just not true. It's hard enough to have people think that we're not volunteers when we're full-time employees; please don't add to this. Really, you don't have to be a librarian to do this job. A really good booktuber would be great at it.
  3. Dance Moves? In the video Ms. Witherspoon made to advertise this position, she mentioned that great dance moves are important. Many people find this ableist. What if the absolute perfect person for the job has limited mobility? Even those of us who are lucky enough to be able-bodied... well, I can't dance to save my life, but it's never come up in a job interview.
  4. It's Too Cute. One of the comments I've read about this is that the whole thing is just too cute. We work so hard to be taken seriously as educated professionals, but here comes this video that makes us seem like, to be A Real Librarian, we have to not only be educated and knowledgeable, but also adorable. Really?
  5. It's Not An Application, It's A Contest. As BookRiot explains, this is more of a contest than a job application. You need to look good on camera, and once you submit an entry video, Hello Sunshine can use that video however they wish, with no guaranteed compensation to you.
  6. So ... Really, Does It Pay? The ad says that it is as paid, part-time position. It doesn't say how much, and the lack of transparency is an ongoing issue in terms of salary in the library world. 

The Good

  1. Honestly, It Sounds Like Fun. The person who gets this position will get to "collect and catalog resources, talk about our book picks with Reese, speak directly with our authors, and have fun and entertaining conversations with our community." A worldwide book club! HOW COOL! It really does sound awesome.
  2. You Get To Talk To Celebrities. I'm going to be totally honest here. The thought of being friends with Reese Witherspoon is pretty cool, but what I would really geek out about is the opportunity to talk to authors about the books they wrote, maybe get the inside scoop on details that ended up getting cut in editing. 
  3. A Little Extra Income. While the ad doesn't say how much the job pays, many of us are drowning under student loan payments and the general cost of living life in 2020. Especially for those of us with Etsy shops or barista jobs on the side, an extra paycheck doing something we love would be pretty nice. 
  4. Free Travel. I mean... how fun! 

Our Thoughts

Look, if this sounds like a good opportunity for you - why not apply? Take these things into consideration, but if you go into this with your eyes open and you still are interested, then go for it. This job sounds like a really great opportunity for someone, and I hope that Hello Sunshine finds the perfect person for the role.

Ms. Witherspoon, if you're reading this (which I know is extremely unlikely), we here at 5 Minute Librarian love you and would welcome the chance to educate you about the field of librarianship. We're a very dedicated profession, and you should drop into your local library and take a tour! 

And please consider hiring a degreed librarian.

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