Miskatonic University Press

My job description

york libraries code4lib

Recently I’ve chatted with a few colleagues at work about sharing job descriptions, so I thought I’d post mine. I’m the scholarly analytics librarian at York University. At York University Libraries the librarian and archivist job descriptions have, I think, accumulated years—possibly decades—of text from previous iterations and other job descriptions, the origins and purposes of which are now lost. One day we may update them. In the meantime, here’s mine with some explanatory comments.

The description begins with a summary, the first sentence of which is the brief description of the scholarly analytics work:

Leads and works with colleagues in identifying and analysing data and metadata related to the collections and services of the Libraries in support of the teaching, learning and research mission of the University.

Ultimately everyone’s work at York means supporting the teaching, learning and mission of York because that’s what York is there to do. It’s a university, and everything on campus, from faculty research to grounds-keeping to running the wifi to fundraising, is there to support teaching, learning and research—and the student experience, which is also part of all our planning.

Then there’s the brief description of being the math and stats librarian. I think all the subject and liaison librarians have something very similar:

Under the direction of the Head, Steacie Science and Engineering Library, provides assistance to the users of the Library, and under the direction of the University Librarian and the Head, Steacie Science and Engineering Library, select, develop and maintain library collections in all formats for mathematics and statistics according to established library policies and procedures.

“Under the direction of” does not imply direct involvement or close supervision. Excellent collection development, in line with policies and procedures, is the goal, but how we do that is up to us. I’m part of a group that’s helping us all get better at that by sharing insights and best practices.

This last sentence meant I covered the data librarian while he was on sabbatical, but you’d never guess it from the cryptic wording:

Temporarily serve as liaison and consultant for inquiries regarding a variety of locally maintained and networked data sources.

When the job description is updated, that will be removed.

Then there’s a page and a half of detailed responsibilities, which starts with the main work, being scholarly analytics librarian:

The Scholarly Analytics Librarian will devote significant time to enhancing the role of data and metadata analysis in the Libraries in support of the University curricular and research activities. Leads and works with colleagues to identify useful and relevant data and metadata, analyse these and disseminate the results.

In conjunction with various library committees (e.g. Assessment, Teaching & Learning, Collection, etc.) provides leadership in use and deployment of tools and platforms to support data and metadata analysis and dissemination in support of teaching, learning and research at York and the operations of the Libraries. Advocates for the use and dissemination of open data in appropriate administrative and scholarly contexts, and liaises with colleagues and researchers about open data, data management, and digital scholarship.

Engages in systems operations and software development in support of scholarly analytics, data and bibliographic work, as needed.

The next line means I’m still overseeing the delivery of customized research recommendations in Moodle (our course management system) and the student portal, including my-librarians. This is left over from when I was web librarian. It’s in maintenance mode now, and I hope to hand it off to a group actively involved in the Libraries’ work in Moodle:

Lead and work with colleagues to enhance delivery of library resources and services via established and emerging web-based systems such as Moodle (or other course management systems), the student portal, etc.

Then it’s boilerplate stuff that all subject and liaison librarians have, with, I think, more or less just the name of their branch changed:

Assists users with their information needs by advising on the most effective search strategy and/or method of finding information. Identifies the resources, print or electronic, most likely to answer a question. Develops and renews web tools and resources. Makes effective referrals as required.

Plans, build and maintains information resources in all relevant formats for the Steacie Science and Engineering Library. Participates in the development of policies and procedures for collection development and maintenance. Principle activities include the selection of appropriate materials; allocation of resources budget among formats; planning and implementation of resource sharing and related programs in accord with library programs; collection analysis and evaluation; design and implementation of use and user studies in accord with library programs; collection review for preservation, protected access, remote storage or discard.

Maintains effective liaison with faculty, students and library colleagues and with other resource centres to ensure the development of user-relevant collections and services at York. Particularly, interprets library policies to users and recommends collection, service and policy needs to appropriate colleagues within the University.

Contributes to information literacy programs in a variety of formats by evaluating needs of students and faculty; conducts classes and prepares necessary instructional support materials.

And finally stuff that, I think, all librarians have, again with just the branch name changed. Notice the strangled language, for example how I will provide “input to the decision-making process within the Libraries through meetings and other communication devices.” We always seem to end up adding unnecessary words to cover all bases: “Will endeavour and attempt to facilitate and empower colleagues and co-workers to collegially discuss and consider issues and matters relating to the operations and undertakings of the Libraries.”

Prepares annual and special budgets and reports as required.

As a member of Steacie Science and Engineering Library, develops policies and procedures, coordinates services and implements policies, services and standards. Interprets policies, services and standards to departmental staff, to library staff and to library users. Participates in the hiring, evaluation, training, motivation and supervision of staff as appropriate in consultation with the Head of the Library and other appropriate library personnel. Works in a collegial administrative environment.

Service and professional development and research:

Serves on library committees and provides input to the decision-making process within the Libraries through meetings and other communication devices.

Maintains awareness of university developments and develops professionally by membership on university committees and by attending and participating in meetings, workshops, conferences, etc.; and by reading relevant literature.

Maintains liaison with colleagues in regional libraries (and others as appropriate) in order to develop cooperative programs.

Contributes to librarianship and scholarship by carrying out professional research and scholarly work and by activity in professional associations.

And finally:

Carries out other responsibilities as assigned in accordance with established procedures.

“Other duties as assigned”—surely the last line of every job description ever written. Librarians and archivists are members of the York University Faculty Association, a union, so “established procedures” and past practice matter a lot.

Reading it over line by line, I’m happy to say I actually do all of that. It’s a varied mix, and it’s a great job. The next big step is writing up what I’ve been doing and releasing the code.