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Academic Libraries: Staffing Strategies in Academic Libraries

Article List
Academic Libraries
      Disaster Recovery at Rio Hondo Community College
      Serials Holding Display Project at University of Southern California
      Staffing Strategies in Academic Libraries

AIM in the News
      Belinda Beardt, Speaker at SBVC Fall Convocation
      Belinda Beardt, Speaker at SCALL Fall Meeting
      Linda McKell Awarded the Mark Baer Award

AIM Services
      AIM Outplacement Services

Job Search Tips
      Electronic Resume
      Frequently Asked Interview Questions
      Interviewing Tips & Techniques
      Interviewing: From Both Sides of the Table
      Networking Quickies
      Questions to Ask the Interviewer
      Resume Writing Tips
      Retooling Your Career
      The Ten Commandments of Interviewing
      What else can I do with my Library Tech degree or certificate?
      What NOT to ask during an interview?
      Where to Find Library Jobs

Professional Development
      SCHOLARSHIP TO ATTEND the Annual General Meeting of the Society of California Ar

Public Libraries
      AIM's Project Team tackles San Francisco Public Library Project
      Creative Staffing at Torrance Public Library
      Fresno County Partners with AIM
      Solano County Library Expands

Special Libraries
      Consultants Provide Solutions
      Law Libraries - Staffing Strategies
      Microfilming History
      Non-Traditional Libraries
      The Law Librarian Employment Market

Staffing Strategies in Academic Libraries

Keeping large organizations fully staffed is a challenge--such is the case in academic libraries. They are open for long hours and require large numbers of skilled employees. Acquisitions, cataloging, circulation and reference departments all need specialized personnel--people who can be difficult to replace at a moment's notice. Unfortunately, the recruitment time for new staff is often lengthy.

"No matter how well planned the recruitment effort is for replacement staff, there is usually a long period of time until a new person is found. Bringing in a temporary to fill the gap prevents current staff from being overwhelmed with additional duties in their already full schedule," stated Carol Lawrence. Carol worked as an AIM temporary for seven months as the acting Head of Acquisitions for Santa Clara University Library.

Santa Clara University is one of many colleges and universities that use AIM's staffing services for library personnel on a temporary basis. For a wide range of positions such as circulation desk supervisor, reference librarians, law library catalogers and shelvers, bringing in temprary help is vital in managing workflow. Leslie Campbell, Head of Circulation at Santa Clara, needed someone to help in her Department. AIM supplied her with a supervisor. "It was nice to talk to someone who understood our needs," she remarked.

University library directors have often been creative in their use of temporary help. Katherine Richards, Director of the Library at Woodbury University in Burbank, justified the need for a new position by bringing in an AIM temporary. Prior to that, Katherine's staff was stretched thin covering evening and weekend hours at the reference desk. There is now a permanent employee in that position.

Stanford University Libraries have found AIM's services useful in a variety of ways. When the law library needed a cataloger to handle specialized serials cataloging, AIM assigned Jay Smith. "Not everyone enjoys cataloging serials; but I do," Jay remarked after several months on the job.

Chapman University School of Law in Anaheim needed someone to install software and troubleshoot the hardware. AIM assigned Alan Schroeder to do the job. "It's challenging--there is a lot to do to keep up with what's going on." He is responsible for handling email, printer and disc problems, as well as coordinating with the campus computer network.

Using outside help for special or periodic projects is an excellent use of temporaries. Many academic libraries experience an overwhelming number of book returns at the end of each semester. Their regular shelving staff, mostly consisting of students who often leave at the end of the term, is hard pressed to handle the deluge. An increasing number of libraries are using AIM temporary shelvers to handle the onslaught.

Natural disasters can also cause staffing turmoil. Golden Gate University in San Francisco called AIM after the 1991 Loma Prieta Earthquake damaged their library. Their collection was sent to a warehouse while the library building was repaired. Catriona Wendroff, Librarian, was pleased with AIM's fast response to a major disaster situation. "They provided us with pages and a manager for the warehoused collection. The staff provided by AIM have been good-quality."

On occasion, academic libraries also need consultants. From space planning and library design to procedures manuals and library automation planning, consultants have assisted academic libraries with projects that are unique.

Western Career College (WCC) is a private post-secondary school dedicated to educating students in health professions. For over 28 years they have offered technical certification for health care assistants, in areas such as dental, medical and veterinary technology. One of their goals is to become fully accredited with the ability to award an Associate of Science degree. In order to do this, WCC needed to offer more extensive library services.

One of AIM's consultants, Luisa Claeys, was assigned to evaluate their needs. After assessing their goals, reviewing their current system and researching the requirements, she made recommendations on how this could be implemented in phases over the next five years. "It was an interesting assignment," commented Luisa. "I was impressed with the way they help students get financing and jobs after graduation. The school is really involved in the success of their students."

Even though academic libraries have many reasons to use temporary staffing, they also have their challenges in getting through organizational red tape. Some organizations have found it easier to classify temporary personnel as consultants or to refer to the project or function when trying to get approvals. Whatever the means, identifying ways to bring in temporary help when needed is worth the effort in staff time saved and work accomplished.

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