A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


So, tomorrow I have an interview at BCC. Relax, it is not for a librarian position, although I would be working alongside a librarian or several librarians. Therefore, of course, the night before I am prepping and/or freaking out. I mean I really would like to work at an academic library after getting my degree (hopefully, after Spring 2009) so this job will make some great resume fodder.
Particularly, I am drawn to the fact that the school I am interviewing at is a community college in the inner-city so that means for the most part that I will be (if I get the damn job of course) interacting with students from the inner-city, a demographic or population (both terms sound so pejorative) I am quite familiar with. Also, the site is not far from my home in Harlem so this too is a plus; I commute like an hour and a half to Queens College, so the prospects of a half hour commute is like a wet dream wrapped in an electric blanket (titillatingly electrifying).
So, ultimately, the best thing is to do some snooping on the school website before the interview and try to second guess some of the questions that I will probably be asked tomorrow by my interlocutors. My strategy should include coming up with at least five questions, but at the same time involve trying to get a reading on the type of patrons/students that I would be assisting. This is not always an easy task, especially since I have never really been on campus.
What I know is that the school is in the inner-city and is part of the City University of New York system; therefore, the type of students that attend the school varies in terms of socio-economic status, educational background, and skill level. There are many bright students that form part of the C.U.N.Y. student body and then again there are some not so smart students that form part of the student body. From having taught at Kingsborough Comm College from 2003-2004 I can tell you that the variance between student levels is probably the only thing that the students have in common. Their skill level is also dependent on mainly one thing: their high schools. If they went to high school in the Bronx, then chances are the students are going to need a lot of help because I feel that many of the high schools in the Bronx are basically baby-sitting prisons.
Let me get the five basic questions out of the way. #1: What is the hourly wage that the school is offering? #2: How many hours will you need my services a week? #3: Are there any benefits associated with the position (i.e. tuition reduction, health benefits, etc.)#4: What exactly would the responsibilities of the job entail? #5: Does the library/learning center have a mission statement that I am supposed to abide by? What is the ethos of the library in relation to learning and/or acquisition of knowledge (i.e. how far are facilitators supposed to guide students along?) And then let me get five basic observations about the layout of the school's library website as well.
#1: The school library's website is layed out for maximum student convenience. What I mean is that the website has a subject guideline which means that there is considerable hand holding that goes on. Not that there is not considerable hand holding at Queens College's library mind you, but the subject guides are not prominently displayed and kind of hidden in a drop down menu. At the interviewing school, the subject guides are prominently displayed which means that students are expected not to hunt for information; it is mostly presented to them with little interference or reliance on their part.
#2: In addition, inside the subject guides, the guides are broken down into three categories: specific databases, inter-disciplinary databases, and electronic journals. This means again, that the designer of the websites had maximum student interfacing in consideration when they built this website. They did not want students getting too distracted. However, it also means that students don't really have an excuse. In other words, no student can say, "I went to the library but didn't understand how to use the materials, etc." There really is no excuse except the student's own fear and lack of confidence if they don't engage effectively with the databases or materials, etc.
#3: The electronic reserves is east to access and there are no frills; it is basically a drop-down menu and students must pick their class by class code and course number. There is very little chance for mistakes, but what if there are more than one instructor a particular class in the drop down menu. Also, the instructions are clearly stated (the instructions directing students on how to access the password protected pages) and there are examples to accompany the instructions, etc.
#4: The library's home page is simple but extremely user friendly; therefore, I don't think that students have problems navigating it which means that if students are directed to the page, chances are they will use it effectively. This is a blessing because the Queens college home page for the library is not very intuitive and most of the phone calls we get at the reference desk concern students not being able to access materials because they haven't been told about the little, tiny tips that will help them navigate the pages more effectively. For example,no where on the Queens site does it say that students need to get their i.d.'s "activated" to connect from home to the databases. This is a big oversight on the part of Queens College and one that could be easily fixed.
#5: There is no mention of what plagiarism is or how it can be avoided. Any student that has trouble determining what is plagiarism and what is not is going to have to go way out of their way to get that information. I really like what Baruch college has on their website because it clearly states what plagiarism is, how it can be avoided, and more importantly, why it should be avoided.

1 comment:

Alexander said...

joo need to rephrase your questions so its about them and what they need rather than what you want.

dont ask about money, bennies or hours yet. those are closing questions and more appropriate during negotiations.

try: what is the mission and what do you feel resonates? what are you able to satisfy?

--- this approach allows you to have dialogue on their success or challenges; thus opening the door for you to brainstorm with them

try: what are some of the highlights in your experience at the BCC lib? Challenges? Can you describe a day in the life of your role?...

--- this gets you to see a glimpse of what's important to this peron. then it opens up..

try: can you describe the day in the life of my role? What is a bad day? Perfect day? where do you see challenges?

try: what would you like to see from me to be successful?