UofT Library Saga Part III: So You Want a Part-time Library Job

Yes, you’ve probably all been through it: the dreadful process of struggling to find a part-time job (dun dun dun). What drives me nuts is how people always say that there are “tons” of jobs out there, as if employers can’t wait to hire armies of hungry students in exchange for cheap labour. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like the more desperate I get, the more I tend to deflect potential job opportunities so that ultimately working for McDonald’s becomes my only way out.

Anyone who’s worked at a fast-food restaurant would tell you to stay away from that (errrrr…) “line of work”. And you probably deserve better anyway–come on, who am I kidding? You go to UofT (and have probably already sold your soul to get a seat in some obscure class, all in the name of Higher Education). I’ve personally always been envious of those students who work in campus libraries. I mean, most times they just sit, instead of serving the hungry mob of customers and going home smelling like Big Mac.

It turns out, there’s far more to it than that. I found out some pretty interesting and helpful stuff from a friend of mine who works in Gerstein. After conducting a semi-formal interview with her, I’ve returned with an infinite amount of wisdom on this topic.

So what’s so good about getting a part-time job at a UofT library anyway?

  • Convenience: it’s on campus, so for those who live in residence or in the surrounding area , it’s within walking distance.
  • Decent pay: she refused to reveal her actual hourly salary, but from her facial expression, I’m sure it’s a satisfying amount. She reassured me that it’s above minimum wage.
  • It’s open to everyone, even international students. Since it’s not a Work-study position, even those who do not qualify for OSAP can apply.
  • Not physically or emotionally draining. There is a lot of personal freedom associated with the work – a sharp contrast with many other part-time jobs where your employer enjoys breathing down your neck.
  • Not boring: her tasks alternate between sitting at the Service Desk and walking around the library shelving books.
  • Nice people: her supervisors and co-workers are all very friendly and cooperative.

What do you do?

  • 2 shifts = a total of 8 to 10 hours per week. She chooses her shifts to fit her schedule.
  • She mostly offers customer service to anyone requiring her assistance. Often it’s to locate a book, though occasionally she gets confused first-years asking her for help for a physics or chemistry problem, which provides her with lots of personal satisfaction.
  • When she’s shelving books, she gets to walk all over the library and pick up any books that students have left sitting around, and put them back where they belong. Basically, she gets to move around (which is kind of like a work out), relax, and get paid.
  • Occasional special projects: help bringing in new books, massively shifting around current books, and so on.
  • Problem-solving: it’s an intimidating but important skill to have for pretty much any other job you’ll end up doing. For her, it mostly involves dealing with people who have, unfortunately, had their stuff stolen.
  • The workload can be a bit heavy during exam time, when a lot more students come to use the library.

How do you apply?

  • Hiring is usually in early August.
  • Go to this site: http://link.library.utoronto.ca/library/easy/logon.cfm
  • During hiring season, there are usually many job positions listed, for libraries all over campus (trust me, there are lots!) You can choose to apply to as many as you want.
  • Good skills to have: interpersonal, organizational, decision-making and problem-solving. You should also be friendly, approachable and empathetic.
  • Separately upload your resume and other required documents. However, when applying for a specific position, you’ll need to individually submit these documents along with your application for that position (the system doesn’t automatically submit it for you each time you apply).
  • Cross your fingers and hope for the best! Each position usually gets an astounding number of applications. The initial process of picking applications is done randomly by computers. These candidates are then interviewed (some may be waitlisted). However, the chance of getting the job is extremely high if you get past the interview stage.

It does sound like pretty rough process, but it sounds like it’s worth it. Remember: “No pain, no gain”!

- Lucy

3 thoughts on “UofT Library Saga Part III: So You Want a Part-time Library Job

  1. Hey Lucy,

    That’s a really interesting read! Great job – Can’t wait for part IV!

    Wow, I wonder how much they actually get paid… I heard they make quite a lot as well from my friend… and those master students get $37.50 TA-ing as we heard today! haha

  2. Hi Wayne!

    Thank you for all your comments! It’s really cool to start seeing comments on my posts :D

    I think they definitely don’t make as much as TA’s do, although it’s quite a bit…depends on a few factors which I’ve forgotten. But yeah, 37.50 is quite a lot, especially given that you are pretty much paid to DO your masters to begin with. Muahahah grad school here I commmmmeee!

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