Further Questions: How Has the Economy Affected Hiring at Your Library?

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

How has the economy affected hiring at your organization?  Have there been freezes?  Have positions gone unfilled?  Are applicant pools larger?  Please let us know what’s changed!  And have you noticed any thawing lately?

We have had freezes on filling open positions.  We have had to use open positions as a “cash-in” to meet budget cuts.

But the interesting thing is the applicant pool.  I had an open position — admittedly one requiring IT/network skills, although I was willing to hire a new graduate.  There were 4 applicants. Four. One of them met the qualifications, was offered the job, and turned it down because it required too much work and travel to small remote branches and locations. So now it is unfilled and must remain so until next year.

So here’s the thing:  There are not many jobs available. But, there are jobs that require moving to a small town, outside of the big city, and miles away from a shopping mall.  Those jobs usually require hands-on, do-most-anything kind of work. If you really want a job, sometimes you have to take what’s offered and it may not be quite what you were expecting.

Is it thawing?  Not yet.  Not here that I can see.  Those who claim to be experts in this type of thing tell me that the 2015 budget year will be the bottom. I don’t know — I do know that the only thing I can really tell applicants is keep trying, broaden your skill set, and don’t forget us country folk.

- Dusty Gres, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System

Nicola FranklinHere in the UK the slow down in number of jobs started back at the end of 2008 (in the private sector).  The public sector carried on much as normal for quite some time, and we only really saw changes there from 2010 onwards once the ‘austerity measures’ of the government kicked in and they put hiring freezes on.  Across the central government there is a total ban on hiring, and in other public sector areas (higher education, public libraries, etc) there have been great reductions.
The big debate here at the moment is about local councils making some or all of their public libraries into charitable trusts, run by volunteers from the local community, in some cases with no professional library staff at all.  While CILIP (the professional body analogous to ALA) have come out to condemn substitution of paid jobs by volunteers, the SCL (Society of Chief Librarians, which is the body for all the Heads of Library services in the UK) hasn’t.
There has been little sign of any thawing in the economy or job market as yet, with all the library recruitment agencies and CILIP having many fewer than normal jobs advertised on their websites. In addition the jobs that are available tend to be either senior management, entry level or calling for rather unusual, specialised or technical skill sets.
- Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
Laurie PhillipsWe have been very fortunate not to have hiring freezes. As a private institution, we are not reliant on the vagaries of state government, thank goodness. Also, we have had a high percentage of faculty turnover since Hurricane Katrina, so the university has been particularly committed to rebuilding the faculty (and our librarians are faculty). I would say, yes, our  applicant pools are larger and more competitive. We’ve made some wonderful faculty hires because we’re getting a great pool of candidates.
- Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
J. McRee Elrod
We continue to have new word-of-mouth e-publishers asking for MARC records, while cataloguing from small libraries has declined sharply. It tends to balance out.
- J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Terry Ann LawlerYes the economy has definitely effected our hiring procedures!  We have had a hiring freeze for years now.  We are currently still frozen on full time positions and have to get permission to hire them on a position by position basis.  Many vacancies have not been granted filling, leaving us perpetually short staffed through out our library system.
Yes, applicant pools are much, much larger.  This means that we have to knock up our criteria in order to make it manageable.  Unfortunately for new grads with little experience, this could mean you’ll need to take on part time or volunteer or intern positions to make your resume fit our criteria.
Also, thankfully, yes, things have thawed a little in our city.  We have been granted permission to fill our part time positions as soon as they are vacant.  That means you do have a chance!
- Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library
Marleah AugustineWe have not had hiring freezes, but we have reduced our number of support staff members just through attrition. As some staff retire or move on to other jobs, we do not fill that position. Applicant pools are very much so larger — in fact, we just hired replacements in 4 part-time positions, and we had to sort through over 100 applications. And the applicants are highly qualified — it was very hard to even narrow it down for the interview process. In the past, we’ve sometimes only gotten a few applications for a job opening, and those who applied were not the most qualified.
- Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

I look forward to seeing YOUR opinions in the comments.  Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Recruiters, Rural area

One response to “Further Questions: How Has the Economy Affected Hiring at Your Library?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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