Who is Mr. Library Dude?

Joe HardenbrookHi, I’m Joe Hardenbrook. I currently work as a reference and instruction librarian at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA where I manage reference and instructional services, teach information literacy sessions, supervise the evening/weekend librarians, and serve as a liaison to the education, psychology, and diversity programs.

Previous library experience includes a stint at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay as an instruction and reference librarian, at Southern New Hampshire University as reference coordinator and information literacy librarian, at Millikin University as library instruction coordinator and educational technologist, and at Sam Houston State University, where I was a reference librarian and instruction coordinator. In addition, I’ve taught college-level courses in podcasting, first-year seminar, and information and library science.

I’ve worked in libraries since 1998. I received my MLS from Indiana University, and a B.A. in history from Ball State University. When not in “libraryland,” I’m an aspiring shutterbug and traveler–I often blog about that too.

Why Mr. Library Dude?

Simple answer: it’s a name that has stuck! A few years ago, while teaching a library instruction session, one of the students needed help. However, he forgot my name, so he yelled out: “Hey, Mr. Library Dude!” It fit, so I decided to adopt the moniker.

Note: Views on the blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.

54 thoughts on “About

  1. I have one quick question:

    A lot of these professional positions require librarians to teach research and computer literacy to students. That doesn’t seem too scary, but I want to know, do such libraries usually have a pre-packaged curriculum that they want you to follow, or do most of them expect the new librarian to develop the curriculum from scratch? And if so, how much lead time should one expect to receive?

    Basically, I am confident of my knowledge, I just worry that– left to develop the curriculum myself– I might overlook or under-emphasize something crucial.

    • Hi Christopher,

      Good question! Most libraries (at least the ones that I have worked at :) have an outline of what material should be covered. It’s even better if the library has developed learning outcomes for these sessions. I’ve been lucky to have had co-workers take me under their wing and let me view a few of these sessions before being asked to teach them on my own. For me, that was the best way to learn. Also, if you’re conducting a session for a professor’s class, it’s always best to collaborate with the faculty member to make sure that you are covering the material that’s needed to complete the students’ assignment.

      • Hello Joe, thanks for the useful articles on your blog – it’s really helpful. I was curious about this comment, as the need for tech mentors seems to be stronger than ever in the library profession. Have you seen anything in the 4+ years since your last comment that makes you more/less optimistic about library professionals delivering technical guidance and learning?

      • I think it’s still pretty much the same (but I’m just judging from the environment I work in). I work with college students: Most over-estimate their technical expertise and research skills–so I think librarians can help play a big part to foster those skills. However, we need to collaborate with faculty–which can sometimes be stumbling block. We need good partners to make it happen!

  2. Thanks, that’s good to hear, I’m much less nervous about it now :)

  3. Hi Joe,

    Do you have any advice for a public librarian who is looking to make a switch to academic libraries?

    • Hi Jaime,

      Be sure to emphasize how your skills are transferrable. Public libraries deal with a diverse group of patrons and so do academic libraries (in fact, probably more so at a public library)! Then emphasize why you are attracted to working at an academic library. When applying, just make sure and try to address all of the bullet points in the job ad–that will be the most important thing.

  4. Hello Mr. Library Dude,

    I am currently studying history and struggling to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have started looking into majoring in library science, but my major concern in the job market. As a former history major, do you think that library science is a good fit for those with an interest in history? Also, do you think that there is a reasonable chance to find stable employment with the MLIS?

    Thank you so much for your time and for all of the helpful advice on your blog.

    • Hi Josina,

      History is a good background for library science. I know a lot of librarians–myself included who have a bachelor’s degree in history. But like most librarians–you will be a “jack of all trades”–so your undergrad degree is generally not too important (unless you are applying for a very specialized librarian job). The history background provides a good solid base of general knowledge, and is also helpful if you’re interested in archives/special collections work, too.

      As for being a good fit? I would suggest networking with some librarians or job shadowing to see if you think that librarian work would be right for you. As for finding stable employment–a lot of that depends on where you are located and what type of library work you want to do. Popular places such as NYC, San Francisco, Boston, or “college towns” are usually heavy competition for librarian jobs. The more geographically mobile you are, the better. Also, if you decide to go through w/ the MLIS–make sure your tech skills are up to date, and that you get some sort of library experience (part-time job, internship, practicum)…because just taking the classes won’t lead to a job.

      Generally, when the libraries that I’ve worked at re hiring, we look for people who enjoy helping people, like collaborating with others, are tech savvy or willing to learn, can adapt to new situations, and have a sense of adventure.

      Hope this helps!

  5. Thank you so much. This definitely helps. I can get library experience at college, but I’m not up to date on my tech skills. Do you think that I can do some catch up work on that at library school?

    • Hi Josina,

      Yes, I definitely think you can catch up in library school. Many of the assignments will get you up to speed and help build your tech skill set by exploring different technologies.

  6. Hello- I recently read your great post on the Edible Book Festival you held at your library. I am working on a professional book on food programming for teens that will be published by E.L. Kurdyla Publishing and would like to use your idea in my book. Please email me me with permission to do so. I would also like to use the picture you included of your entry. Thank You
    Shari Fesko

  7. Hello- I have still not heard from you I am assuming it is okay to include your ideas in my book? I think it is an excellant overall explanation of Edible Book Festivals and think it is perfect for my book. Please let me know

  8. What is a picture book presentation? I have an interview coming up and they were very vague on what I should include in this presentation. Please let me know what you think I should include.

    Thanks Library Dude!

  9. Mr. Hardenbrook,

    Do you have an email address? I did not see one anywhere? Would you ever respond to questions privately? I am in need of some serious advice. I currently work at a public library but not as a librarian. I’m conflicted about pursuing a library career. There are reasons for this that I would prefer not to share publicly. Could you please help me out?


  10. Mr. Hardenbrook,

    I’m a recently unemployed archivist. I have been reading your blog, Hiring Librarians, Jenica Roger’s post on cover letters, and anything else I can get my hands on concerning the library/archivist world hiring process. I feel like I hit a lot of the points people want to see in cover letters, but I have no idea if that’s actually true. Unfortunately, no one writes back to say “In paragraph 3, you really should have talked about X, Y and Z more.” I don’t know any librarians personally who have been on hiring committees who I would feel comfortable asking to look over my cover letters. Do you know of any places where I might submit a letter or two for critique? At my last position, I was the only archivist/librarian in my office, so while I have many former colleagues who would be willing to help me out, their advice is really focused on a different field. I would very much appreciate any advice on this. Many thanks!

    • Hi dmzz–I know the ALA’s New Member Round Table has a resume review service–but you do have to be an ALA member/NMRT member to get your resume reviewed–unfortunately. If you would like to send me your email address to me (email: hardenbj at uwgb dot edu)–I would be happy to put you in touch w/ a couple of archivists I know. Feel free to do so!

  11. Hi Mr. Hardenbrook

    Thank you so much. I was a librarian(B.A.) in my country(Iran) for more than 10 years, but I’ve come to Orange County(CA) few months ago. PLEASE, PLEASE & PLEASE help me how I can connect with libraries here? I love my major and working in library. I’m ready to do everything can help. How must I start?
    my email is:katayoon1972@yahoo.com
    Please help me to find a way!
    Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Katy–I would start by looking at job postings. For most U.S. librarian positions, a master’s degree in library or information science is required (Info is available from the American Library Association: http://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/home). However, a bachelor’s degree can get you a job as a library assistant. You may want to start by looking at the California Library Association job postings: http://www.cla-net.org/jobbank.cfm, or job postings with Orange County, CA. Also, most libraries have a “friends” (volunteer) program where you can at least get your foot in the door and start networking with libraries and librarians in your area. Or if you have special skills (like a foreign language, etc..), you could see if any area libraries have interests in offering a class you could teach? That doesn’t necessarily pay, but again–it’s another networking opportunity. Best of luck to you!

  12. Hi Mr. Hardenbrook

    Thanks a lot for your answer. I try to start with a volunteer job in libraries and I’d really appreciate your advice. I hope I get a master degree and I’ll never forget your kindness.
    Best wishes for you,

  13. Great blog, Joe—very helpful. I am interviewing tomorrow for the director position at a tiny library in my home town. The education part of the posting said “college degree preferred,” and library experience wasn’t mentioned at all.

    I should explain: this is on a very isolated island in Lake Michigan, where very few people are cut out to be full year residents. I grew up there, and have a bachelors in English and a MFA in creative writing, plus five years university teaching, which involves teaching research writing.

    The volunteer board of trustees is made up of people I’ve known for almost thirty years (though I have not lived there full time for over a decade). I have a good relationship with nearly every board member, and one was even my elementary school teacher for two years. The board is entirely female, as are the five other interviewees, only two of whom are islanders. The other three are library professionals from across the state, one a collections dev. person, one a children’s librarian, and the other a former director of a largish library. The two islanders, like me, have degrees, though in less relevant fields than even mine.

    My question (yes, there is one) is this: while ideally, my maleness should not come into play at all, what do you think? Obviously I don’t want to come across as overly aggressive or anything, which isn’t me anyway, but do you have any interview advice for a situation where I’ll already be “the odd man out”?

  14. I don’t know whether my “maleness” had anything to do with it (probably not), but I got the job! Now I can start looking at some of the other posts beyond the applying/interviewing stage. Thanks again.

  15. Hi Mr. Library Dude,

    Do you have any advice for a new academic librarian who is having trouble reaching out to faculty in a couple departments at her school?

    I’m a newbie librarian, and I’ve been in my current position for about a year now. In that time, I’ve developed great relationships with most of the departments I’m responsible for, but I’m still having trouble getting the attention of the nursing faculty. They hardly ever respond to emails, and although I’ve go over there in person to introduce myself and have taught several instruction sessions for them, they seem to forget about me not long after these encounters.


    • Hi Elena–I’ve encountered this too. Sometimes faculty are just too busy to respond to requests, however one thing that worked for me in the past was to design a monthly or semi-monthly email newsletter for each department I was responsible for. I would put in reminders about services (instruction, ILL, etc…), database news & tips, new books, etc. After putting this together a few times it stuck in their heads that this would be a regular occurrence and that I was a good resource to use!

      Another strategy I’ve done – although sneaky – was to put together a libguide (or similar resource) for subjects/classes that I thought needed it. Then I promoted it on our website, Facebook page, Twitter, and to students. It finally got wind of the faculty and they thought it was great and again it reinforced how helpful the library can be.

      Hope this helps!
      Joe (Mr. Library Dude)

  16. Thanks! I can definitely try those two suggestions out!

  17. That kid has some imagination dude…. LOL!

  18. Hi there, great site you have here. Nice to see it from a guy`s point of view. Would love to begin a library career but sometimes I don`t know where to start (I`m not in the US but regardless). I find your advice useful as a whole though. I love the lego figurines too!!

  19. I just might come to you when I cant find that obscure Byzantine book I need !
    Great Blog !

  20. Hi Mr. Library Dude,
    I am an elementary education major who is thinking of going to grad school for library science but I have no idea where to start! I I’ve looked into it some but each school seems to have different entrance requirements. Do you have a recommendation for an overall list of things to do/have?

    • Hi Megan–yeah, many of the schools will have different requirements. The best place to start is on the American LIbrary Association’s (ALA) website: http://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/directory – the ALA accredits most library schools in the US & Canada and having a master’s degree in library/information science from an ALA-accredited school is usually a requirement for librarian jobs at public libraries and college/university libraries.

      To be a school librarian, check out this page: http://www.ala.org/aasl/education/ncate/programs.

      The HackLibrarySchool blog also has students/recent grads sharing info about their programs: http://hacklibschool.wordpress.com/category/hack-your-program/.

      As for what to do? Library school entrance requirements usually aren’t too “tough” – just have a solid undergrad background. Some library schools will require the GRE, others may not. Actually, being an ed major is good since you spend a lot of time instructing patrons with different things. If you do decide to go to library school, make sure and do as many internships/practicums as you can, or library assistant work while you’re in school because it will look good on your resume. Hope this helps! -Joe (Mr. Library Dude)

  21. I have a question that is elementary. I had an interview for a library page position (a position that I have held at another library for 18 years). I was asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” I started asking when this library was built, etc….questions that already been researched by me. What kinds of appropriate questions should one ask?

    • Hi Steve–besides basic questions like that, I’d also throw in some such as: “What do people like about working here?” “How do you see the library changing in the next 5 years?” “Is the library more team-driven or individual driven?” “Can you describe a typical day?” etc… any sort of question that allows the supervisor to give his/her opinion or view on the question. After all, most people like to give their opinion/view on things. :)

  22. Hi Joe,

    I’m currently studying my Masters of teacher-librarianship in QLD Australia when I came across your blog. It’s been a great help as I am currently writing up cover letters and crossing my fingers to get that interview. Here in QLD there aren’t a lot of teacher-librarian positions in that State department as they have been cutting them out for the last 10yrs. So most of the jobs I apply for are in Catholic Education etc. Do you have any tips for applying to this sector? Or know of someone/web site that might have some pointers for someone just starting out in the library sector?

  23. Hello Mr. Hardenbrook

    Thank you for putting up a great blog.
    Sorry if I’m asking too many questions, but you seems to be very resourceful in this area.

    I have been considering a Master’s degree in LIS and ideally would like work in California as an academic librarian (East Asian studies since I speak 2 lang.) Well that is the ideal picture.
    FYI, I am a Canadian who finished undergrad in the US.

    I’m in Canada and decided to take an introductory class at a local college that offers 2 yrs program to become a Library Technician. As I heard from lots of people that the Technician degree is in some ways more practical to get work, though pay is less, I am starting to look at Lib Tech. programs in US, California. However, I only see few programs from searching. Is Lib. Tech not popular in the US?

    When I saw some job postings in Cali. on your blog

    It seems they don’t even require a technician degree for a Lib Tech position?
    (City of Arcadia, high school degree needed for LIB Tech.) Is that the case often times?

    Another reason for considering Lib Tech is hearing about the job situation in the US, it seems practical skills would be more useful and perhaps lib. techs who can be hired cheaper have more chance of getting work? (Not that nobody wants lower wage.) What is your opinion?

    Here in Canada, requirements are more stringent and it is very hard to find a volunteer position since most places are unionized, and they cannot let people volunteer. Which brings me to next question, I very much want to get some exp. before I commit to MLIS or Lib Tech. to make sure this is what I want. You also wrote that why would anyone want to spend money w/out knowing for sure. Are there any other places you can think of? Museums often take librarian school students as interns but not sure if they deal w/ books.

    What is your take on online learning? I am considering some MLIS degrees offered online, University of Wisconsin Madison being one of them, and although it’s a fantastic school, I am not quite sure about online learning.
    My current course at a local college is online and though the material is not difficult, it is easy to let your schedule slip and not sure if a person can learn a lot through discussion board as opposed to being in a class. At least for my class I can drop by to talk to the teacher.

    Or do you think, theories are same whether learned online or in-class, only the practicum matters? ie, online degrees are just as good.

    Thank you for reading,


    • Hi JJ,

      Thanks for you questions. Although a lib tech degree is offered by some community colleges in the U.S., many libraries do not require it for paraprofessional (or whatever term you would like to use–“library technician” “library associate” etc…) jobs. Many places just require any bachelor’s degree, and some just a high school diploma. The whole “getting experience” thing is definitely a Catch-22. My best advice: if you do decide to go on to get your MLIS, try to get your experience while going through the program. That could be working part-time as a library assistant, being a student worker at the library, and doing internships and practicum experiences. These types of things will help build up your resume and put you ahead of the competition. As far as online learning vs. on-campus. Most library employers I’ve talked with don’t care–they just want the applicant to have some experience, show some passion for the job, and be up to date with relevant trends and services in libraries.

  24. Hello Mr. Hardenbrook,

    Thank you for putting up a great blog.

    Do you have a email address ? Would you ever respond to questions privately?

  25. I’m so happy I found your blog! I’m always looking for great library blogs I can reference for my own knowledge to better myself as a librarian.

  26. Hi! What a cool blog! ;-) I am a licensed librarian from Batangas City here in the Philippines and I love reading those questions your blogs. It gives me more information in the world of Librarianship. GODBLESS Mr. Library Dude! ;-) ;-)

  27. Hi, just found this blog while looking for pictures for signs for the campus library I work at. I stumbled upon your Lego Library and LOVED it! I was wondering if I could use the pictures for our own library?

  28. Hi Joe,
    I just found your blog and it’s awesome :)
    I am the editor of a school library services journal in Australia and I wondered if I would be able to reprint your blog about weeding?

  29. Hi Joe, I just discovered your bog- it’s great! I have been letting some ideas percolate in the last few months about starting my own library-ish blog. It’s cool to see other people doing it and get inspired! I really appreciate the post about finding creative commons/ shareable images :)

  30. Hi Joe,

    My name is Christine and I’m a freelance journalist writing a story about how libraries are transitioning in an increasingly digital age. I’m really interested in learning more about how the roles and responsibilities of librarians have changed, and would love to speak further with you. I found your post about library school very helpful.

    I’d love to connect over email.


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