Tag Archives: librarians

Our professional skills & ethics will always be needed.

Young boy tending freshly stocked fruit and vegetable stand at Center Market, 02181915This anonymous interview is with a public  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:

Cataloger

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a rural area in the Western 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”?

Meeting the posted qualifications & experience requirements

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Search Committee consisting of Library Director & 2 staff members. Applications are ranked by each committee member. After discussion, interview candidates are selected.

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

Outscored by other candidates with greater education & 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?

Get involved, demonstrate experience & strong work ethic. Find a way to volunteer, become active & take leadership roles in workplace or library association committees.

I want to hire someone who is

outstanding

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?

√ 1

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

√ Other: 0

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?

Relevant experience is required

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Pew surveys indicate the public loves and continues to heavily utilize its public libraries. If physical collections need to be reduced, libraries will evolve to become more focused on operating as a community, computing and learning centers but our professional skills & ethics will always be needed.

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, Public, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015, Western US

We’re doing more with non-permanent, project-based positions

Push cart market -- New York (LOC)This anonymous interview is with a special 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:

cataloger, government documents, public services, outreach

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a small, remote city in the Western 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 the minimum qualifications specified for the position, and had the experience and education necessary to do the work of the position – without a lot of non-site specific on the job training.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

We have a hiring committee, always with an odd number of people – for professional positions, this is usually five. We have one hiring manager, usually the person who will supervise the position, who shepherds the recruitment, and one person in HR who is available for questions about legality, procedure, and what works best, and who checks each step in the process to ensure that it’s completed correctly. All position must meet the official minimum requirements for further consideration. We used to do this ourselves, but lately, HR has been doing this, so we only see applications that meet them. We also set up pre-interview criteria for each recruitment.

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

They don’t meet the minimum qualifications of the position, or they have too many errors in their application packet.

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

√ Other: not by default, but most hiring managers will respond to questions

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

Ensure that all of their application materials are complete, accurate, and grammatically correct. Typos and spelling errors can keep you from getting an interview.

I want to hire someone who is

dedicated

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 50-100

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 fewer positions

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

√ Other: No, but we’re doing more with non-permanent, project-based positions, especially when we have a permanent vacancy that we can’t fill right away for cost reasons.

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

√ Yes

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

Experience isn’t required. In practice, we haven’t hired anyone without experience in the fifteen years I’ve been here, but that experience may be paraprofessional or in another area of library work.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

We have fewer special libraries in our area. Some of the remainder have fewer professional librarians and fewer staff overall. However, the libraries that remain are vibrant and active, and less duplicative. Before modern technology, we needed more libraries, because people needed their material to be local. Now, that’s not such a need. Instead of buying books and answering basic reference questions, we’re now licensing electronic resources and helping with in-depth research. So, we’ve lost a lot of our entry level positions, both professional and clerical.

Our local public libraries seem just as vital and active. Staffing levels are similar, if not the same, as when I first moved here fifteen years ago.

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, City/town, Special, State of the Job Market 2015, Western US

Further Questions: Which would draw fewer red flags, an application packet with no listed address or an address that does not match the listed work experience?

This week we asked people who hire librarians this question from a reader:

I’m applying for multiple jobs out of state and have seen on this site (and in my experience) that extra consideration is given to local applicants. I’m available to move to the locations where I’m applying at the drop of a hat, so I’m listing the addresses where I would stay (with family, my S.O., etc) until I could formally move. The problem is, I’m not currently working there, so my most recent experience isn’t there either. I mentioned this problem to a coworker, and she suggested not including an address at all, since she does that (with decent success) and insists that the hiring managers don’t need to know where you live until the negotiation phase starts. I see her point, but this seems equally problematic to me.

In short, this is my question: which would draw fewer red flags, an application packet with no listed address or an address that does not match the listed work experience?

 

Jessica OlinMy advice, based on seeing someone do this successfully, is to list the local address and explain it in the cover letter. Something like, “I am already planning to move to that area, so I was thrilled to see this opening,” should do the trick.
– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

Celia RabinowitzThere are certainly some advantages to candidates who already live locally.  They won’t need relocation support if it is available, they already know the area which can help if there are geographic or demographic challenges (I have experienced both), and it is a lot less expensive to bring them to campus.  So a local candidate who is competitive might allow a search committee to expand an on-campus interview pool to 4 rather than the usual 3 if adding them does not add appreciably to the cost.

But – that all only applies if the candidate qualified and is competitive.  I have run searches that eliminated many applicants who lived fairly close to the institution because they were not strong candidates.  Advertising regionally or nationally should mean that all candidates are given equal consideration.

My advice is not to leave your current address off of your materials.  I think that would raise a red flag to a committee much more quickly than including your current address.  I also think it is not necessary to indicate that you are willing to move or that you have a place to stay.  If you are applying then you are ready to move.  I have seen people include such information in a cover letter when they write about why they are interested in the job – perhaps family live close by and the applicant is interested in moving closer to family which would be nice.  Perhaps it is in a part of the country the applicant wants to live in. I would just be careful not to make it seem as if those reasons are the primary ones you are interested in the job.

– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH

Definitely include an address; no address would be a concern for us. We expect that if someone is applying for a job where they do not have current experience, we would think that either that person lived in the area now or would move if offered the job.

– Kaye Grabbe, Lake Forest Library

Marleah AugustineI would imagine that an application with no listed address would draw more red flags — I don’t think it would necessarily be a dealbreaker, if the experience and qualifications were a good fit for the position, but it would definitely warrant some investigation. An address that doesn’t match the listed work experience can be easily explained if the question comes up. This is something that should be included in a cover letter as well, explaining that you’re temporarily staying in the area during the application process. However, that could lead to a sticky situation if they then want you to come on short notice for an interview if you would need to arrange time off from a current position or travel.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

angelynn kingAn application without an address would seem odd. What if the prospective employer needed to send you something in the mail?
 

-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

 

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

The job doesn’t always go to the most experienced candidate

Queipo Market in Little Havana - MiamiThis 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:

Instruction/reference librarians
electronic resources librarians

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a suburban 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”?

A combination of the right level of experience and prospective fit within the current team/system. The job doesn’t always go to the most experienced candidate – fit and specific skills can be important.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Everything gets passed on to us (no HR pre-weed) and a hiring committee made up of professional library staff decides who to interview and ultimately hire.

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

We’re a smaller institution with a specific mission, so we’re often looking for people with really specific experiences and interests.

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?

Write a good cover letter that gets right to the point and addresses the main job qualifications. Present a clear, strong case for why you are a good match with the skills we’re looking for.

I want to hire someone who is

dynamic

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?

√ 1

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 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?

It’s not required, but even for the entry-level positions we usually get tons of applicants with experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Shrinking and changing, but not dying. Information science is still a unique skill set that is hard to replicate or do without when it’s needed.

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

We have limited time to conduct interviews, so we usually choose the top three candidates

Vegetable and flower seller and stall, Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonThis anonymous interview is with a public 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:

Children’s librarians and library technicians

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

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?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met the basic requirements of the job description.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Two or more librarians usually form a hiring committee.

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

Not have the basic requirements (education). We have limited time to conduct interviews, so we usually choose the top three candidates (based on to what extent they meet other criteria we have set out like years of experience, relevant experience, interests relating to the job).

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

√ Yes

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

Keep the cover letter under one page, in a normal sized font.

I want to hire someone who is

awesome

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?

√ 5-6

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?

We usually ask for 1-2 years experience for entry level positions, but have often hired candidates with less experience or directly out of school.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

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 Public, 10-50 staff members, Canada, Urban area, State of the Job Market 2015

meet 50% of the required qualifications presented on the job description

View of street vendors at 7th and B Streets, NW (Ca. 1880) MarketThis 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:

We hire in areas relevant to higher education (so not children’s librarians)…but most others.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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”?

meet 50% of the required qualifications presented on the job description.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

First filtered by HR, and all applications are then forwarded to the hiring manager. Usually a small group, perhaps as small as two people, than review those who we may want to bring in for interviews.

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

Lack of experience.
If a new graduate did not do some sort of externship/intership in a library and they’ve never worked in one we will usually NOT bring them in for an interview (this would be for an entry level position). We do look at other work experience. For example, someone worked in another industry for years and later in life, eg, in their 30’s, went back for their MLIS, we consider their past work experience and the internship type experience becomes moot.

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

√ Other: Only upon request, and it would be very general at best.

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

During the interview we hire primarily for personality fit. Do your research on the company, the folks that work their and look for patterned behavior (eg, LinkedIn, Twitter, eg).

The resume should be a good fit and don’t over sell–humility is valued, hubris is not. Find the balance.

I want to hire someone who is

a nice and honest person.

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?

√ Other: 15

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

√ Other: 20

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?

Professional librarians usually are required to have 2-3 years experience, but we have hired new graduates because they were a great fit (personality) with the team. The 2-3 years experience is stated on the job description but we when the process is in motion we will sometimes overlook it. We do not expect any candidate to meet 100% of the qualifications but be able to learn any skills that are needed to perform the job.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

No. Librarians and many other professionals continue to adapt to an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Those who adapt do quite nicely. Those who unable to adapt…RIP.

The skills and work of the profession continues to change, and that is true of many professions. Continuous learning and critical thinking are universal skills that if not possessed in any professional will eventually catch up with the individual. The profession is fine. How the work is define continues to evolve and has for 1000’s of years.

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

Be honest and open to learning. And be yourself. Every place I’ve worked heavily weighed personality and how the person would work with the existing team as much as skills.

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, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

Don’t expect to hear from me if you have a MLS and no experience at all in a library.

Young boy tending freshly stocked fruit and vegetable stand at Center Market, 02181915This anonymous interview is with a public 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, reference, YA, etc.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

A minimum combination of experience and education.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Committee. No weeding by HR.

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

Lack of minimum level experience or education.

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

√ Yes

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

Must have some experience, be it internship or practicum work. Don’t expect to hear from me if you have a MLS and no experience at all in a library.

I want to hire someone who is

qualified.

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?

√ 3-4

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 fewer positions

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

√ Yes

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?

Official requirement

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ I don’t know

Why or why not?

It’s dependent on administrators. If they are unwilling to even fight for professional positions, then yes, it is dying.

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, Public, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area