Most of our hires become solo librarians at small campus libraries, so they must be or become jack of all trades.

Market scene in ParamariboThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Most of our hires become solo librarians at small campus libraries, so they must be or become jack of all trades.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a suburban area in the Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Proper credentials and experience; resume and cover letter demonstrated care taken in application process and attention to details

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

For professional positions, HR sends me only those candidates who have an MLIS or equivalent. From there, I, as the hiring manager narrow the candidates down to 5 or 6 (sometimes more depending on the quality of the applicants) for phone interviews. After phone interviews, the final 2 or 3 are interviewed either in person or via online video conferencing with a search committee made up of HR, faculty, and other campus librarians.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Experience does not support the position being hired, i.e. an elementary school librarian applying to be a graduate level health sciences academic librarian, and without justification in the cover letter of how the mismatched experience could be a positive

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: Sometimes, when requested

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Do not apply to any and every job opening. Instead, apply carefully (including checking and double checking resume and cover letter for errors and crafting your cover letter to match the position) to those positions that are relevant to your education and job experience. Or, if there is a bit of a disconnect between your experience and the position, or if you are switching to a new arena purposefully, explain in your cover letter how the skills transfer and how your strengths in one discipline will help you be successful in a new discipline.

I want to hire someone who is

personable

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are more positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Requirement for library experience, but not necessarily professional library experience. We often hire and train new librarians or those with just a few years experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

The role is shifting from guardians/masters of the information to teachers. We are now teaching others how to navigate and use information instead of supplying that information.

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

Per demographics questions – I am located in the southern US, but our institution has campuses in several states and I hire in the Western US and the Southwestern US in addition to the southern US.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

ranking candidates strong, medium and weak.

Outdoor urban market sceneThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 75-100

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met the minimum requirements

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Evaluated by the entire search committee. Rubrics are provided for ranking candidates strong, medium and weak.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Does not have MLS.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

List all skills and jobs on your CF that pertain to the job you are trying to get hired for.

I want to hire someone who is

respectable

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ I don’t know

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ I don’t know

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ I don’t know

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

No

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It is an evolving profession.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

Surprising how many use our online submission system and fail to submit a required document

Paramaribo market scene. Woman seated with baskets of produce. 1922.This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

reference and instruction librarians

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

meets all required qualifications; holds a desirable number of preferred qualifications; interviews well (i.e., answers questions thoughtfully, asks good questions, is personable, demonstrates presentation capabilities, etc), demonstrates intellectual curiosity, shows potential even if lacking in some skill set area.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR passes along all applications to the search committee.All committee members review all applications. Committee members than gather to review the candidates and identify those showing the greatest potential for the position and who will be invited to a first round phone interview.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

lack of qualifications (do not meet requirements); fails to follow instructions (surprising how many use our online submission system and fail to submit a required document); poorly organized or errors in resume; poorly written cover letter or a glaring error (e.g., copying an old cover letter and forgetting to change the name of the library)

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

make sure they are qualified for the position before submitting a resume. that said i know many people who are job searching will apply for just about anything on the chance no one will be more qualified than he or she is – but this is usually not a good strategy.Submit an error free cover letter that is no more than 2 pages. Address the job qualifications in the cover letter.

I want to hire someone who is

collegial

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

experience is required for entry-level positions, although that might just be part-time or internship work. It is typically an official requirement.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

in higher education the academic library is a necessary component of the student education and faculty research process. academic administrators and faculty look to the library to provide resources and support. To avoid marginalization or obsolescence the librarians need to be proactive in demonstrating value, integrating into the curriculum and developing new services to deliver personalized learning and research support.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

Do your homework on the institution and identify ways you can make a contribution.

Pike Place Market looking north, Seattle, WashingtonThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference & Instruction

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a suburban area in the Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met or exceeded the job qualifications and were people we wanted to bring to campus for an interview.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

All applications are vetted by the entire committee using the job qualification grid as the rubric.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Did not meet the minimum expectations in the job advertisement.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Do your homework on the institution and identify ways you can make a contribution. Illustrate how you can make a difference at that institution and how you would be wonderful to work with.

I want to hire someone who is

an innovator.

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 200+

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 7 or more

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ I don’t know

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Other: I think it has gone the other way, actually, with a parapro position being reclassed as Faculty.

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

I believe most positions require some experience, but it could be via an internship.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Information management is more important than ever. Librarians are finding new ways to meet the needs of their patrons all the time as community centers, places to learn new skills, custodians of the academic and cultural record, and creators of knowledge in digital libraries. Our service mission will always keep us relevant, regardless of how the information is presented (in print or digitally).

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

Further Questions: What is the best way for someone to get promoted in your organization?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What is the best way for someone to get promoted in your organization? Are there any particular indicators that show you when a staff member is ready for more responsibility? Do internal candidates have to follow the same application procedures as external candidates? Any other advice for succeeding when you’re already an employee?

Julie TodaroWhat is the best way for someone to get promoted in your organization?

Most library environments do NOT provide many (or any!) opportunities for promotion and within those environments who do, promotion can be very different. In fact, most libraries do NOT include what can be identified as a career ladder, or promotion track. And many more libraries do not include (at all) opportunities for “advancement” or different, typically higher level jobs employees can work toward. One of the frustrations of libraries in general is that many employees cannot move up – in terms of salary or title – unless they take on management responsibilities of supervising people and/or budget activities and while this makes sense, not everyone WANTS to manage other people or organizational dollars.

In those libraries that have a more typical “promotion” process – it/they can be explained as the following:

…you successfully complete work roles and responsibilities (above and beyond) and it is indicated on performance documents, when you have reached a status (years of service, project or work completion, exhibition of specific and possibly unique strengths or competencies, etc.) you earn and are awarded a different, higher level title and more money…but not necessarily additional roles and responsibilities… (Example – Librarian I’s might be at the lowest level and you progress to a II or a III.)

…you successfully complete work roles and responsibilities (above and beyond) and when you have reached a status (years of service, project or work completion, exhibition of specific and possibly unique strengths or competencies, etc.) and all is indicated on performance documents, you apply for (within a prescribed number of years) different, higher level title and more money or to retain your job (!)…but – again – not necessarily additional roles and responsibilities… the application process includes employees creating a portfolio that is vetting by either or both internal (in the library) groups or external (outside the library) groups and – ultimately – a decision is made on levels achieved successfully which can include retention in – or release from the organization. (Example – Assistant Librarians or Professors, would progress to Associate and then a Full Professor)

…you successfully complete work roles and responsibilities prescribed not only by position descriptions and your goals and indicated on performance documents, etc, but within your profession’s or institution’s process– for example – a career ladder. As you move up or make progress upwards on the ladder’s “steps” (which can consist of a combination of years of service, completion of roles and responsibilities, etc.) you reach or achieve different levels of status. These could be illustrated by one or more of the following – titles indicating growth, progression or status, salary increases, benefits, perks (such as flexible schedules or “first pick” at work schedules, etc.) This may include different, higher level title and more money…and often management responsibilities for people, money, collections, etc. but often times – not many additional roles and responsibilities…(Example: Librarian, Level I or Assistant Manager to Librarian, Level II or Manager)

…you are successful in your position and it is indicated on performance documents, and you choose to apply and compete for other jobs/positions in the organization – typically at higher levels – and if you get the position – you get a new title (and the title may or not indicate upward mobility) but if the position is at a higher level based on job responsibilities, it should mean an increase in pay with typically different, sometimes completely new roles and responsibilities. (Example: Reference Librarian to Assistant Head of Technical Services; or a Children’s Librarian to Adult Services Librarian – no increase in pay; Children’s Librarian to Assistant Head of Adult Services – increase in pay due to moving to management NOT because of a move to a different functional area.)

In general, most think a promotion SHOULD mean you have gone above and beyond or you have taken on higher level roles but it may NOT mean that in organizations where career ladders or ranked processes have paths for increases in pay but NOT new roles and responsibilities.

So I think the original question was what do I have in my organization? I have a combination of the above with titles that indicate progression, and successful movement among titles achieved by successful performance of work roles and responsibilities AND successful ranking (internally by supervisors) on not only annual performance documents but on (every three years) portfolios.

Are there any particular indicators that show you when a staff member is ready for more responsibility?

Good question. I think when staff members “do their job well” (and forgive the awkward phrases) and do it quickly AND ask for more, it is an indication they need to be challenged more not only within their own position, but with a higher level position with more, different roles and responsibilities. It is one of the joys of being a manager – when you see someone master an area quickly and want more…sometimes this is achievable within their position but often it means they have to go higher. One of the challenges of managers is when they have this situation but no jobs open or no career ladder! So they create structures within which they can both challenge and reward without the more formal processes.

Do internal candidates have to follow the same application procedures as external candidates?

I have seen both, that is, some organizations will allow for movement within an organization without formal, external postings such as private institutions or organizations where internal structures (unions, career ladders, standards and guidelines, etc.) make this possible. In my organization, I have both…that is, I can choose to post internally only and have internal competition OR I can post only externally and have internal employees (both part time and full time) compete with external candidates.

To avoid problems in explaining why people were chosen; however, it is always recommended (for legal AND ethical reasons, much less morale) – no matter the institution, position or people – to have individuals fill out the paperwork in order to clearly articulate their directions, then have managers fill out their paperwork to articulate why the candidate was successful.

One great advancement in my organization came a few years ago when they began to allow hourly employees (or non-staffing table/no benefits employees) apply for internal postings. This was a huge step forward for hourly staff – many of whom had worked for many years but were forced to compete with external employees.

Any other advice for succeeding when you’re already an employee?

Ask yourself early on in your career, what IS your career path. Although it’s trite, where DO you want to be in five years? Can you “get there” with the job or organization you are in? Does the job you are applying for have promotion? Is there anywhere “to go” internally?

Ask your manager what is expected of you…you both have the job description but what are THEIR goals and expectations for the position?

Find a mentor (or two!), ask that person how they moved ahead in their work (either or both internally or externally) in person or digitally.

Obviously, do your job well, that is, perform your work roles and responsibilities with care to perform at the above and beyond levels.

Seek new experiences within the organization. Ask for new challenges.

Identify the pathways for movement. So IF you seek upwardly mobile positions, and challenges are not available internally, lean in to your association at the local, state and national levels. Seek advice from your mentor (or others) on how to move and what to do within that association to get the competency range and depth needed for either your current job or your next job.

And finally – although the only way up in your organization may be to take a management position and you don’t want to manage others, think VERY carefully before you take on something you don’t want to do. We should all love our jobs and we should seek the work that makes us happiest even though it may not be the top in our organization. In fact, we are in the perfect profession because we can branch out in so many ways in associations AND achieve increasing higher level work AND achieve recognition we may want AND do good things outside our organization.

All too often libraries do NOT provide the promotion opportunities we need and we find we have to leave our current organization to “move up” no matter the position. Ask yourself these questions early.

  • Is it important for me to move up in my profession?
  • Is it important for me to move up in my organization?
  • What do I “need” as an individual to fulfil my need to “move up?” And is my organization going to be able to provide that for me? If not, is my association? Any other outside work?
  • What can I do to move up in my PROFESSION then, rather than move up only in my organization?– Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College, ALA President-Elect 2015-2016
Marleah AugustineI can’t necessarily say there’s a “best way” — hopefully, if you are interested in eventually getting promoted at your organization, you’ve been doing outstanding work and shown initiative throughout your time in your current position. If an opening comes up, then don’t be afraid to sell yourself and pursue the opportunity. Internal candidates at our organization do follow the same application procedures as external candidates — the only difference is that external applicants may not be chosen to interview, but an internal candidate (regardless of experience or qualifications) is generally guaranteed an interview.

As for advice for succeeding, set goals for yourself even if it’s not required by your organization. Look for as many ways as possible that you can learn about other departments and other positions. Show an interest in librarianship as a career, even if you’re currently working as a clerk.

– 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 us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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Filed under Further Questions

For positions such as Systems or E-Resources, then yes, experience is required

Shulman's Market at the southeast corner of N Street and Union Street S.W., Washington, D.C., with a 1931 Chevrolet car parked in frontThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

catalogers, systems, e-resource, instruction, public access

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met position requirements for education and work experience

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Library Director previews and passes along to search committee those applications she deems appropriate

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

lack of applicable experience or required education

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Apply for jobs where their experience and education meet the job’s minimum requirements

I want to hire someone who is

honest

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are more positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Depends on the position. For instruction positions, no. For positions such as Systems or E-Resources, then yes, experience is required

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

What we do is changing–guides through the chaotic world of information rather than custodians of the book warehouse

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

I would recommend that those considering an MLS work in a library in some fashion before pursuing a masters degree.

Vegetable MArket in Stocklholm 1951This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference librarians and desk staff

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Adequate experience for the position in which they are hiring, capable of the duties assigned to the position, and able to communicate effectively and efficiently

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Evaluated by the primary hiring person of the department. If it’s a manager, that application is evaluated by the HR manager and the director. If a department member, it is evaluated first by the manager and then the director.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Not enough experience, or applicable experience

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Apply for jobs for which they have actual experience. I understand it is a difficult time for hiring, but if you have never worked in computer systems and only in YS, applying as a tech manager is problematic on a lot of levels.

I want to hire someone who is

perceptive

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Circulation- no. I would recommend that those considering an MLS work in a library in some fashion before pursuing a masters degree. It helps students to know what type of library, if any, is the right career choice for them, and helps them look like they have actually done some research into the field before just applying to school because it sounded like a good or fun idea.

Other departments- impossible to get a full time position without any experience. Part time desk work is possible, but you have to have a good work / track record in other fields before folks would hire you to staff a public desk.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It is an oversaturated field, but it isn’t a dying field. The best librarians I know are working hard in some capacity- they may be in transition, seeking work, or are unpaid, but they are busting ass in other places, other jobs, or other projects. The worst thing you can do is sit still and read at home. Though I think that’s what we’d all like to do. :)

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

This is a great service and I look forward to hearing what others have to say on the topic.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area