52  ·  Survey Results:  Survey Questions and Responses
Our library hasn’t participated actively in Area Studies programs. When we have faculty members with specific interest
we encourage them to work with their assigned selector for their department. Our biggest challenge is identifying
catalogers with the language expertise.
Recruiting a librarian with the required language capabilities was a recent challenge. We eventually reassigned the
selection responsibilities to existing staff that did not have the language capabilities, rewrote the job description, and
reopened the search.
Recruitment.
Ridiculously expensive “big packages” leave small collections out of the loop and unable to get materials through ILL
anymore. We are working harder to build consortia and negotiate with vendors to get cheaper prices.
Scarcity of persons in some areas. State hiring freezes. Limited collections budgets for these areas.
Shortage of qualified candidates. Competition from other universities with stronger area studies programs.
Comparatively modest salaries and shortage of resources for professional development. Working within its financial
constraints, University of Iowa library administration accords global resources librarians considerable autonomy
and flexibility in exercising their professional judgment in their work and in developing their personal priorities for
professional development.
Small pools of qualified candidates with requisite subject, technical, and language knowledge. Difficulty of recruiting
more senior librarians with such skills. We define job requirements broadly (MLS degrees not required) and are open to
considering persons from a variety of backgrounds. We take advantage of existing experienced staff to train and mentor
those newer to the profession. Compensation doesn’t always fully recognize the specialized skills we possess, and we
are not always as competitive as we could be, especially in the face of strong competition from other sectors (corporate,
government) for individuals with special language skills. Within our means we strive to address these issues.
South Asian Studies: Language skills can be hard to come by. Keep looking, hire students. Library salaries seldom match
what the talented can make elsewhere. Subject knowledge and technical skills don’t often inhabit the same body.
Staff budget has shrunk by more than half. One dedicated staff now handles all East Asian legal resources. Out of
necessity, we’ve used language skills of staff outside of the East Asian Law Department to help out with acquisitions
tasks. Also, reference librarians help out where possible with East Asian law-related questions.
Technological skills. Scarcity of talent in the US for many specialized linguistic areas. (We recruit worldwide.)
The most significant challenge we have faced in recruiting global resources librarians is the diminished pool of librarians
with global or international expertise. Few librarians have the academic background, language skills, and experience
needed to fill these positions. This is true of all areas, but most acute in areas outside of Western Europe. Another
recruitment factor is the economic downturn. In our most recent searches for Western European librarians, we have
opted to hire librarians who have some academic background in their region or language skills. These librarians
underwent significant training in collection management and are working toward developing their subject knowledge.
Anecdotally, the diminished number of global resource librarian positions in ARL libraries seems both to discourage
subject librarians from developing global or international expertise, and discourages scholars with this expertise from
becoming librarians. With few positions available, there is little motivation to seek training or advanced degree that is
needed to be a global resources librarian.
The primary challenge is finding librarians with the right skills who can also meet our standards for faculty status. Most
recently, we hired an area studies librarian in collaboration with an academic department and this person has a part-
time teaching appointment in the department.
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