Job: Reference Librarian

7.22.16 –  Reference Librarian
Nazarbayev University Library, Astana, Kazakhstan

Sarah P’s comments:  As I commented in an earlier post NU is a fairly new university and I first saw an advert posted for librarians in 2011.  From what I hear the pay is low as compared to what faculty receive but it is an opportunity to gain international work experience helping to develop an academic library.

NU has now been around long enough to garner some reviews which I would definitely read before deciding to apply:
Academic Job in Kazakhstan?
Glassdoor Reviews
Pol Sci Rumors  (some comments are culturally insensitive)


Nazarbayev University is a new, research-driven institution located in
Astana, the exciting young capital of Kazakhstan. NU offers undergraduate,
Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in fields including Science and Technology,
Engineering, Business, Public Policy, Social Sciences and Humanities,
Medicine, and more. Nazarbayev University Library, currently one of the most
progressive and dynamic libraries in Kazakhstan, is looking for energetic,
creative, and service-oriented librarians to join our team. Apply now for the
chance to have the unforgettable experience of living and working in
fascinating Central Asia.

Key Responsibilities:
• Conduct reference interviews to provide targeted research advice and
• Assist and instruct patrons to locate and use library materials;
• Assist and instruct patrons in the use of electronic resources for research;
• Provide subject specialist expertise for patrons in an area of strength (e.g. chemistry);
• Develop training materials for reference;
• Develop and give seminars on database use, information literacy, and research;
• Organize events and exhibits to encourage patron use of reference services;
• Develop new methods of reference service using Western technology and library experience;
• Develop the collection in print and electronic formats;
• Research patron needs and analyze effectiveness of subject specific reference collections;
• Assist with other library work areas or committees as needed;
• Work at reference desk in accordance with library schedules (note that evening and weekend hours are included).
• Publications in local or international journals/conference proceedings
• Mentoring of local staff

Minimum Educational Requirements:

ALA-accredited Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.

Desired Educational Background: We welcome applicants from a variety of
academic backgrounds; however, applicants with an undergraduate degree in the
Sciences or Engineering will be given preference.

Required professional experience: Relevant experience in a Western academic
library; instructional experience.

Required professional knowledge and personal qualities:
• Demonstrated expertise in using databases, electronic, and print resources;
• Excellent oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills;
• Effective instructional skills in group and individual settings;
• Strong planning, organization, and analytical skills;
• Teaching or supervisory experience;
• Ability to work flexibly in a team or independently;

• Experience with work, study, or instruction abroad.

Proficiency in languages: Excellent proficiency in English is required.
Knowledge of Kazakh, Russian, or other major languages is advantageous.

Computer skills:
• Advanced computer user in Windows, MS Office, and Internet;
• Experience using integrated library systems and library catalogues;
• Knowledge of electronic databases and advanced search techniques.

Application Deadline: Open until filled
Please send, in English, resume, cover letter, and contact information for three references to Library Director Aliya Sarsembinova (
Only candidates who have been selected for an interview will be contacted.

3 thoughts on “Job: Reference Librarian

  1. I was interviewed (3 times via Skype) for this post a while ago and did not accept the offer. The pay is extremely low and the accommodation that they provide is shared. Not worth going all the way there for very little compensation (2000 USD per month before tax). You also have to pay upfront for your travel expenses as well as pay for all the necessary documentation required to live and work there.


    • Thank you for Anna for taking the time to comment. Your statement is similar to other reviews although I have heard that they have recently improved the salary and accommodation. Five years ago I also interviewed and ultimately turned them down, mainly for the same reasons. The then Director told me he was looking for young librarians looking to gain experience (translation: accept the low pay). I hope someone in power finally realizes that it is both disrespectful and disruptive (they keep having to replace departing staff) to pay librarians far less than the faculty.


      • Indeed. I felt that I needed to comment to let others know and particularly consider this option should they be interested. Thank you for your blog as well. I check it regularly for jobs and international librarianship information.


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