At the Annual meeting in Atlanta in 2002, the Research and Planning Committee authorized formation of an ad-hoc subcommittee to look into activities we could pursue in order to recruit more students with foreign language backgrounds into academic librarianship. The impetus for this came from the joint program sponsored by the Research and Planning Committee and the Cataloging Discussion Group at the 2001 Annual meeting in San Francisco that identified and discussed the difficulties academic libraries were beginning to have in finding candidates for both librarian and staff positions who had European language skills. Charlene Kellsey volunteered to chair the subcommittee and Gerald Heverly, Brian Vetruba, Robert Rohrbacher, Fred Jenkins and Karen Green enthusiastically joined.
The subcommittee first met at Midwinter in Philadelphia in January 2003 and were off to a flying start with a number of ideas. We surveyed job ads to see what kinds of positions mentioned languages. Jerry attended the annual meeting of the American Philological Association (classicists) and did an informative roundtable for graduate students and faculty advisors on career opportunities in academic libraries. Based on his presentation, he and Karen mounted a website with information on representative jobs, kinds of job duties and links to ALA pages on library schools. Check it out at: www.columbia.edu/~klg19/WESS.
The subcommittee has also drawn up a one-page, eye-catching flyer that could be posted on campus bulletin boards and handed out at conferences and career fairs. While we will have some printed on nice paper to send to other professional organizations and hand out, the flyer is also available on the website. We encourage WESS members to print it out and post copies in appropriate places on their campuses. There is space in the bottom left corner to add contact information if you wouldn’t mind students contacting you with questions. The personal touch can often make a difference.
The subcommittee is also going to be conducting an informal survey of WESS members on WESS-L in order to gather more information on members’ educational backgrounds and job duties. This will help inform improvements and additions to the website. We encourage members to fill out and return the survey.
The subcommittee members are excited about what we have accomplished so far, and encourage WESS members to contact us with comments and suggestions for additional activities. The chair may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.