Parlez-vous français—vraiment?

To catalog this many pamphlets efficiently and accurately in the allotted time of the grant, we need to be able to select Project Cataloging Assistants with a real ability to read and comprehend French well enough to be able to work with 18th-century French with its variations from modern French. In order to select these candidates, a reading comprehension exercise will be incorporated into the interview process. Using a pamphlet from the collection — one that includes spelling, grammatical, and typographical elements typical to the period and collection — candidates will read the pamphlet, summarize the text, and translate a portion of it into English. In summarizing the text, candidates will have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to quickly read through and understand a text, which will imitate the kind of “reading” they will do when creating catalog records. Additionally, interview questions will draw on the candidate’s experience of this reading exercise.  How difficult was it to read the pamphlet? What stood out in the text or in the physical piece? How it will be to work with this type of material and balance a helpful intellectual curiosity about the material with a need to produce good records at an acceptable rate?  Hmm… I wonder how I’d do with an exercise like this. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep that in mind — creating a reading exercise that gives us a good picture of the candidate’s abilities without being unnecessarily grueling!

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