Hack your job search: residency programs

Freaking out about finding a job after graduation? Consider applying for a residency, a temporary job appointment for recent library school graduates. Residencies are usually an academic library thing, but there have been a few offered in public libraries or archives. Though these are temporary appointments, keep in mind that residents are librarians with just as much responsibility as the rest of their colleagues. This is no internship, folks!

Key points about residency programs:

  • They generally last one to three years.
  • Some require a capstone project to be completed by the end of the program.
  • ACRL has a great overview of programs and an introduction to a few current residents.
Photo from Flickr Commons, @A T@

Photo from Flickr Commons, @A T@

Why residencies are awesome:

  • The job market can be difficult for recent grads with minimal professional experience. Residencies offer the chance to work at the professional level in an entry level position.
  • Though it isn’t guaranteed, residencies could provide the opportunity to be hired permanently at the end of the appointment.
  • Many libraries hire more than one resident at a time. Built-in buddies means residents have a support system, a chance to network with colleagues at their level, and people to share ideas and collaborate with.
  • Mentorship is a critical part of these programs. Residents have the chance to be mentored by experienced librarians and build some valuable connections.
  • They encourage diversity. Many positions have titles like “Diversity Librarian” and candidates from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Another goal of these positions is to encourage diversity initiatives at the library and at the university as a whole.
  • Residencies frequently cover all aspects of academic librarianship from reference to scholarly communications to data curation.

The less awesome side:

  • Residencies can be competitive, as is the norm for LIS jobs.
  • Appointments for residencies are short term and there is no guarantee that the appointment will be extended or turn into a permanent gig. This is largely contingent on budget; it’s possible that the library simply may not be able to afford to keep you on as an employee. It can certainly be challenging to adapt to a new work environment, forge relationships with colleagues, and work on projects and committees only to have to leave after a relatively short period of time. That said, the experience will make you a competitive candidate when applying for jobs elsewhere.

To get a feel for what a residency entails, check out some current job postings:

Are you feeling convinced and ready to start writing those cover letters? For more job postings, check out ACRL’s Residency Interest Group.

For more job search tips, check out these HLS posts about job search battle plans, tools, and shared experiences.


How is your job search process going? Do you have an opinion on residency programs?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s