By Chris Rotolo |
The Monmouth County Library system is planning to hire about a dozen people to fill librarian and librarian assistant positions in 2018 following a bond referendum approval last year.
The openings are due to the recent lifting of a long-standing hiring freeze that kept the county system from filling a multitude of vacant positions.
“With budgetary constraints and the idea in mind to not raise taxes, we were directed to have a hiring freeze,” said Monmouth County Library Commission Chairperson Renee B. Swartz. “And over time, our staff size went down quite a bit because people retire, people have serious illnesses, and as a result of not being able to fill those staff positions, like any business there is attrition. It puts a strain on the entire system.”
Swartz described a fully staffed county system with 13 member libraries and 14 branches as one with about 150 librarians and library assistant employees, a mark she and her peers are looking to build back up toward this year.
“During the freeze we have managed, and our people have done very well,” she said. “But right now we have to think about rebuilding and refilling some of the positions that are already in place now, as well as adding other positions due to expansion.”
The expansion Swartz speaks of includes the Holmdel Public Library’s transition into an 18,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility within the local technology hub that is Bell Works, which is somewhat symbolic of the county’s focus for the system rebuild.
According to Judith Tolchin, county library director, the vacancies include professional librarian openings and other clerical positions that have become available due to recent retirements as well as library system expansion.
As technological advancements are made each year, efforts have been made to keep the county system on the cutting edge of a developing society that has new ways to consume information, and covets 24-hour-a-day accessibility to that material.
“An interest in technology is something we’re certainly looking for in candidates. Technological skills are great to have,” said Tolchin. “Having a knowledge of what it’s like to download a library book is very important, because our libraries now transcend physical walls. Information goes to the palm of your hand. Your access to the library is there 24/7. We want people to be able to make use of it wherever they are and whenever they want to.”
“We’re constantly trying to keep ahead of the technology curve,” Swartz added. “Not too far ahead where we’re out on a limb and investing in something new and expensive, only to find it’s not worthwhile. But we know the direction we want to go in. We know the materials we need that are going to enhance our mission. Now we’re searching for the talented candidates who can apply their talents to our technology upgrades.”
Those seeking a full-time professional librarian position must have completed their Master of Library Science and possess a Librarians Certificate, requirements to work in most county and municipal systems.
“We usually bring in people to fill these positions who have just received their degree, or who have had them for a couple of years and are returning to the labor force,” Tolchin said. “But librarians usually get pretty dedicated to their location and tend to stay for long periods of time.”
The job openings are posted on the Monmouth County website, under the Employment tab. Librarians are paid $47,077 a year with benefits.
Tolchin also revealed there is a need for applicants skilled in web design, graphic design, processing and customer service, all of which could help secure a library assistant position.
Tolchin described the library assistant role as more of a clerical position, but also referred to it as a gateway into the county library system for those interested in one day obtaining a Master of Library Science, and ultimately a position as a certified librarian.
“Securing a position like this is a great way to get your foot in the door,” she said. “That’s where we end up very fortunate, is when we find people for these positions who do want to pursue that master’s degree and a career as a librarian.”
To become a library assistant, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, but those with a bachelor’s degree can seek a library associate’s position, which will provide further responsibilities and training on the path toward becoming a professional librarian. The salary for part-time librarian assistants working 12 to 25 hours a week is $13.54 an hour, no benefits.
This article first appeared in the Mar. 1-8, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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