In the past few weeks we’ve had a number of residency (sometimes called fellowship) positions come across the listservs. These kinds of positions are increasingly being offered by academic libraries, particularly at large research universities; despite their increasing popularity there is often confusion over what they are and who they’re for.
What’s a Residency?
Library residencies borrow from the practice of medical residencies. In a medical residency new doctors work under established physicians for a number of years in order to hone their skills. Library residencies are similar in that a new librarian (typically someone who has graduated with their MLS within the past year), is hired to work with seasoned librarians for a period of time, and is paid as a full-time entry-level librarian. A typical residency lasts from 12-24 months.
During that time, a resident usually rotates between various strategic areas of the library (reference, circulation, technical services, instruction, etc) in order to build up skills in those areas. The rotations also help residents determine which areas they have the most interest in working in. Once a resident has completed his/her rotation he/she then works in one of the strategic areas for the remainder of their residency. This longer-term placement helps build more concrete skills in that area. Many residencies culminate with a presentation to the library faculty/staff, again this helps residents build their instructional and professional presentation skills.
What are the Goals of Residency Programs?
Residency programs are intended to be mutually beneficial for the student and the library.
- Gaining professional early-career experience across a variety of positions within a library.
- Mentoring from practicing librarians.
- Full-time employment shortly after graduation (yes, a real pay check and benefits).
- Having a continual flow of fresh ideas and the skills of new librarians rotating throughout their libraries.
- Developing future leaders.
- The ability to hire residents after their residency ends.
Why Should I Apply for a Residency?
Residencies are perfect for new grads because:
- Employers expect that you have limited experience and will train you.
- Only new graduates are hired, so you’re competing with a smaller pool of applicants.
- You get paid to be trained and get invaluable mentoring experiences!
Where Can I Find Out More?
Good news, there is an entire interest group dedicated to residencies. On their website you can find out more about open residency positions, read about what members experienced during their residencies, and see position postings. You can check out the ACRL Residency Interest Group here: http://acrl.ala.org/residency/.
Also, keep your eyes peeled to the iSchool listservs and blogMLS for position postings.