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Tue, Sep. 28th, 2010, 02:47 pm

Any thoughts on the ethicality of working as a librarian for a for-profit college (such as Univ of Phoenix, Brown-Mackey College, or Virginia College)?

Twice I've had the opportunity to interview for such a position. The first time I declined to interview....I was a newly graduated MLS and the world was still full of possibilities. I felt I had the luxury of saying no to such an organization. Today, while interviewing for an admin assistant position at a different for-profit college, my interviewer took one look at my CV and said, "We need a librarian too!" and proceeded to interview me on the spot for the librarian position. I'm scheduled to go back and speak with the dean.

Would such a position be a blight on my CV, or is it a legitimate way to gain much-needed experience?


Tue, Sep. 28th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)

I'm in the UK so I might not understand the distinction, but how would this be different from working for a private university or a corporation? Unless it's something drastic, I can only imagine that any experience in this economic climate would be beneficial. Good luck!

Tue, Sep. 28th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)

This. (except I don't live in the UK)

Wed, Sep. 29th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)

Some of the for-profit schools have a very bad reputation for being diploma mills. They cost much more than a typical college and offer a poor quality education. This isn't true of all the for-profit schools, but there are certainly some unethical practices going on among a few. I'm just not sure if the few have tainted the image of all.

Wed, Sep. 29th, 2010 10:29 am (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification!
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Wed, Sep. 29th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)

Thanks for the input. I think the general consensus is that any experience would be better than none. I'm glad to hear that your experience has been good.

Tue, Sep. 28th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)

I interviewed for a for-profit school this summer, and have a friend who teaches at one. (Actually, a couple.)

From the conversations I've had with other librarians:
- Most librarians don't consider it a blight on the resume - they just want to look at what you did, what skills transfer, and how your experience matches up to other experiences. (Everyone realises jobs are hard to come by, too.)

- There are some concerns about the for-profit industry as a whole: there's a chance of greater regulation coming down the road in the near future. What that means for funding for the library/librarians is very much anyone's guess. They're in major growth mode right now, and if that changes, the entire setting could change pretty quickly.

- There's a lot of variation between for-profits right now. Some do a great job of supporting students, getting them to graduation, and making sure they have real skills and certifications that work for them. Others ... well, *say* they do those things, but the actual stats don't bear that out.

- There also seems to be quite a lot of variation in reporting structure, professional support, etc. (are you reporting to someone who understands libraries, or someone with no library experience? Do you have regular opportunities to collaborate with other librarians working for other campuses of that school?)

My take on it is that I'm willing to look at those jobs, but I want to check out the precise organisation in detail before I get too far into the process.

Wed, Sep. 29th, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)

I agree with you. At this point, I'm willing to proceed with the interview and learn more about the job and the organization. I need experience, that is very true. I just have this stereotype of these schools, that they take advantage of ignorant (and mean that in the literal sense of the word) people who don't understand how the academic system works. They charge so much money for things like "pharmacy tech certification" when in reality anyone can take the pharmacy tech certification test without any classes whatsoever. It just seems unethical to me.
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Wed, Sep. 29th, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)

I think you're right. I'm not in the position to be picky. Thanks for the advice :)

Wed, Sep. 29th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)

Imagine if you were looking at a resume, what do you think would look worse?

-Little to no library experience.
-Librarian experience in for profit school supporting educational goals of students.

I work in a for profit and while it is a business, they also work really hard to support students in ways that many of them did not get when they attended other public or private institutions. Not all for profit institutions are like that, though. You will have to judge for yourself. My duties are similar to those who work in less controversial academic libraries. If it makes you feel any better, I've known colleagues who have moved on from working in for profit institutions (both where I work and other schools) to private colleges and special libraries. Working at a for profit institution didn't hold them back.

Just make sure you continue to network with colleagues, work on professional development, attend conferences. Ultimately, it won't be where you worked that will matter for most employers, it will be evidence of your knowledge.

Wed, Sep. 29th, 2010 03:38 am (UTC)

I'm glad to hear that you have colleagues who have transitioned between the two. I realize there are some for-profit schools that legitimately do help their students but after doing a bit of research, I'm getting the impression that this is not one that has a good reputation.

But I do take your point to heart. It is more important to gain experience at this point. It's time for me to climb down off my high horse.

Thu, Sep. 30th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)

I hate to put it this simply, but... JOB. Job. Job. Job. I don't know if you currently have another, but seriously, job.

Fri, Oct. 1st, 2010 10:47 am (UTC)

I was in the exact same position as you are now a few months ago. As I was going through the process, I tried to do the deepest research possible and came to the conclusion that this particular school was not as bad as the typical mills, but not at the top, either. I accepted the offer (because as the previous poster put it: JOB. Job.), but it became pretty clear in short order that the only reason they had a library/librarian at all was a) because their accreditation required it and b) they needed someone to proctor tests.

It is nothing like being a traditional academic librarian. If anything, it's much closer to public librarianship. Painting it with a broad brush, the students come in with little, if any technology skills and I spent most of my days proctoring tests and teaching students how to use email on the slowest computers imaginable.

I could go on, but you see what I mean. Every experience is different and your mileage may vary. Feel free to contact me directly at terioso at gmail dot com if you want to talk about more. Best of luck!