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Can anyone give a rational explanation as to why a job with a description like this:

DESCRIPTION: Provides technology and computer support for the Vanderbilt Library. The major areas of responsibility include developing, maintaining and assisting in the enhancement of interfaces to web-enabled database applications (currently implemented in perl, PHP, and MySQL). The position also helps establish and maintain guidelines (coding standards, version control, etc.) for the development of new applications in support of library patrons, staff, and faculty across the university. This position will also provide first line backup for Unix system administration. Other duties and assignments will be negotiated based on the successful candidate’s expertise, team needs, and library priorities.

would require an MLS? Library experience? Sure, I can see why that would be desirable. While I find it ridiculous when many libraries require an MLS for what is essentially an IT manager, Vandy is upping the ante here and requiring it for a developer/jr. sysadmin.

I guess that’s a way to prop up the profession.

11 comments
  1. I would also note that the starting salary ($39,000 minimum) seems pitifully low for a candidate who will have to have significant IT skills _and_ a master’s degree. I don’t know what the job situation is like in Tennessee, but I can’t believe they’ll be pulling in many candidates at wages like that.

  2. Ross said:

    Good point, Dan. Nashville, while certainly cheaper than many larger U.S. cities, still has roughly the same cost of living as Atlanta or Dallas.

    Emory currently has a similar position (that requires no MLS) that starts at $48,000.

  3. William said:

    I agree – it does not make any sense (and I say that as a hiring manager). It may be listed as an MLS as developers will not work that cheaply.

    I have nearly fallen into the trap of indicating a ‘requirement’ when it is actually a desire. Perhaps that is the case here – though looking for an MLS who is also a decent developer and with skills as a sysadmin would indicate a MUCH higher salary.

  4. Casey said:

    Perhaps the position needed to be classified as a librarian position for HR reasons (the job title is “systems librarian”)?

    What I found weirdest about this posting is the requirement of “two years’ full time technical support experience”… add that to the 2+ years development and sysadmin requirements and that adds up to somebody with at least 5 years of extremely specific tech experience and an MLS. How many people in the entire US meet that description? Having recently gone through a long fruitless search to fill a systems librarian position (paying almost twice as much as this one and not requiring an MLS), I can assure you it is a very, very shallow pool indeed.

    Also note that $39,000 is the starting salary for the “Term Librarian” position on the same page — which requires no experience at all.

    I’ve found that library geek/systems librarians positions that require an MLS invariably pay significantly less than those that don’t. Pretty sad.

  5. leo said:

    “Systems Librarian” implies head of dept. (such as it is).

    Requiring that the person have an MLS means they’re putting the position on a par (“professionally” speaking) with the other library departments. This can be handy in certain situations.

  6. johnd said:

    Yeah, good luck to them. It ain’t 2002 anymore. People with good tech skills are pretty hard to find these days. Adding an MLS requirement will just about ensure an unfilled position, or a whole lot of on the job training.

    Come to think of it, I have all the required qualifications, maybe I should apply … oh wait, I haven’t been paid that poorly since I started working in libraries over 10 years ago. Guess I’ll pass.

  7. Ross,

    Having recently advertised and filled a slot that was similar to this. Not quite as technically inclined, but certainly in the same ballpark. We pay significantly better…and we’re a state school in TN.

    We required an MLS because we had no choice. Our librarians are hired as tenure-track faculty, and thus have to have the terminal degree for the profession. We could possibly have given up the line, but once gone it is never coming back…and that librarian is then going to be in a very vulnerable position depending on the administration. Giving up a tenure line is insane in academia.

    That’s why.

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