Tag Archives: librarians

Further Questions: Do you Google job candidates?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Do you Google job candidates? Or look for them on social media, in your library system records (if local), or any other type of informal/formal background check? Have you ever done this and regretted it, or not done this and wished you had? When in the process would you be an online detective and why? I’ll admit that I Google people all the time, just because I’m curious and like putting my research skills to the test!

Pssst… we discussed this issue on Further Questions before, so take a look to see how things may have changed since 2013!

​I know this is not a very exciting answer, but our HR does not allow us to do this. If the candidate provides links in their application materials like to their LibGuides or their blog, we can look at those, but nothing else.

- Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Library Learning Services, University of North Texas Libraries

Our HR department generally does the basic background check/work verification.

As for myself, I don’t Google prospective job applicants. My rule of thumb is: would I want someone to Google me? I’d rather not have someone judge me based on some random thing I might have tweeted five years ago, divorced from any context. I judge people based on their work history and their interview. I did it once a few years ago, I’ll admit, but I felt so creepy about it that I’ve never done it again. It just felt so invasive. But, maybe, if I was presented with a serious candidate that had a strange gap in their work history that they failed to explain either in the application or the interview, I might do it again, but that’s the only time I think I might consider it. So-my advice to applicants-if you have long gaps in your work history or were fired, etc., be honest and up-front about the reasons. Don’t make me Google you!

- Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

Jessica OlinIt depends what the position is. An administrator? Absolutely I’ll Google/DuckDuckGo/etc. I’m an academic librarian, so I might look an administrator candidate up on Google Scholar as well. If it’s an entry level professional, I’ll probably only Google if something feels a bit wrong or if I’m torn between two candidates. Paraprofessional? Never have. As for library system records? Never.

 

- Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

Celia RabinowitzI rarely Google or search for a candidate online.  This is often at least partly a result of lack of time more than anything else.  When I have it has most often been after an on-campus interview.  I prefer not to have outside social media influences, including photographs, on my assessment of candidates before I meet them other than what they might provide information about in their own application materials.  I might take a look at the web site for their current place of employment if it is an institution I am unfamiliar with.  I consider that an enhanced form of looking at their professional credentials.

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

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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a willingness to get their hands dirty – sometimes books have to be moved and we have to do it.

school children in japanThis 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:

Technical services/systems librarian

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Library Management
√ Research Methods
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Soft skills, time management, and a willingness to get their hands dirty – sometimes books have to be moved and we have to do it.

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

our particular catalog, as long as they have the ability to learn that is fine.

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

Not sure, the majority I see here are Simmons.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Get some experience – doesn’t matter how, volunteer, intern, filing service job, just get in a library.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.

Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Northeastern US, Special, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

get some experience even through volunteerism

Rural school children, San Augustine County, Texas (LOC)This anonymous interview is with an academic library worker who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

graduate assistants

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

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Portfolio/ePortfolio
√ Field Work/Internships

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

marketing, instruction, information behaviors, web design, project management

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ Other: Important to have the skill, but also theory and best practices behind the skill.

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

specifics or the library organization

 

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

n/a

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

n/a

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

get some experience even through volunteerism, learn to present and instruct, gain good technology skills, and join professional groups and interact with other professionals

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Someone who would take risk, ask uncomfortable questions and think outside the box

Deb Hunt

Deb Hunt is the Director of the Mechanic’s Institute Library, the oldest library on the West Coast and one of the few remaining Mechanics’ Institutes that has stayed true to its original mission. She was the 2013 SLA president and is the co-author of The Librarian’s Skillbook: 51 Essential Skills for Information Professionals. You can find her on LinkedIn. Her spare time is devoted to her addiction to mixed doubles tennis.
Ms. Hunt hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Catalogers, archivists, reference, acquisitions, but we all pitch in where needed.

The Mechanic’s Institute is in an urban area of 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?

√ 51-75 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Someone not only with the requisite skills, but also someone who would take risk, ask uncomfortable questions and think outside the box.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR is not involved, We had a library hiring committee that screened all resumes, then we chose semifinalists and interviewed them.

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

Don’t meet minimum requirements for the job.

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

√ Other: If they ask or were particularly competitive.

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

Think of transferable skills and how those relate to the job. i.e. what sets that candidate apart in a good way — sort of a “why you should hire me”.

I want to hire someone who is

innovative.

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: only part time

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 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?

√ Yes

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

No, we look for new grads, as we want fresh perspective.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Not at all. There are many parallel career paths with lots of funding and positions that are hiring librarians who are savvy enough to couch their expertise in terms that are understood outside of libraries: e.g. LC Subject Headings=taxonomy; MARC fields = metadata.

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

Listen to what we hiring librarians tell you in this survey. I’ve had candidates say they “do not know why I cannot get a job.” Ask folks like me, get as much education as you can, do mid-career internships.

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 Special, State of the Job Market 2015, Western US

Further Questions: What “hot topics” would you ask candidates about in an interview right now?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What “hot topics” would you ask candidates about in an interview right now (i.e. the new information literacy framework)? Or what topics have you recently included? What current issues in librarianship do you think candidates should be aware of and how can they best keep up on current topics?

My “hot topics” vary depending on the job, however, here’s what I usually look for:

General Public Service: Outreach and grant writing experience, familiarity and comfort with technology

Collection Development and Technical Services: Demand-driven acquisitions, RDA, cataloging experience

Reference: Traditional reference skills (being able to function without Google) but also technology experience-being able to work in both new and old reference styles is important-I like a librarian who can answer a reference question even if the network is down

And for all hires-customer service experience. We usually ask situational questions to gauge how someone would handle an issue with a problem patron, etc.

- Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

J. McRee ElrodRDA is old news by now.  We would expect a new cataloguer to be aware of Bibframe developments.

 

 

 

- J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Jessica OlinHonestly, I don’t really care about “hot topics.” I care about how tuned in librarians are to research, who they read both in and out of the profession, and how they will fit with the rest of the staff. “Who influences your practice and why?” is a better way for me to get to know someone than “what are your feelings on X?”
- Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College
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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Further Questions

Talk to your references and make sure they know who you are!

Library, 1959This 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:

all

This librarian works at a library with  100-200 staff members in a multi-type cooperative area in the Southern US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: common sense–but you can’t teach that

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Most of the people I interview think that cataloging is the ideal job. I hate to tell them this, but we’re about public service and everyone works the front desk/reference. We outsource as much cataloging as we can, and that’s no longer a professional level job for the most part. Lacking often are the presentation skills, the ability to speak coherently to a group, the ability to get an idea/s across. Can you tell a story? Can you present budget ideas? Can you write a grant proposal?

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ No preference–as long as they have the skill, I don’t care how they got it

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Student organization involvement
√ Other: Direct public involvement

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

NA

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

No but I hesitate from those who do online programs only as they miss a lot of the intellectual discussion of ideas and theories. These online programs are fine to a point.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Get involved in your community. Participate in some of the activities be it book sales, sports team coaching or whatever you’re interested in. And by all means, talk to your references and make sure they know who you are. Lately, I’ve had people use references that have claimed they didn’t know the person. Fatal flaw!

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Public, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

We need more professionals with the bigger picture and a vision for the future

melanie lightbody
Mel Lightbody has been working in libraries for over 30 years and been a director for over 15. She has worked as a professional librarian in Washington, Oregon and now California. She loves encouraging and mentoring others in the profession.
Melanie Lightbody is a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. She hires the following types of LIS professionals:

children’s and branch managers so far.

She works at a library 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?

√ Other: 6 to 10 were hirable

And how would you define “hirable”?

Someone who has the mix of experience and skills to fit the position we’re hiring for.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

We only see applicants who score over 70 on the initial screening.This initial screening is done by the County’s HR department. Then the hiring team reviews the applications to decide who to interview.

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

At the HR level, not meeting the minimum qualifications as identified in the official position description. These need to be explicit on the job application.

At our level, not showing any specific interest in the position we’re offering will make us less likely to interview them. Also, our experience with candidates from out of the geographic area has not been great so we may forgo interviewing them unless they show specific interest and experience.

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

√ Other: No, but I’d love to if they asked me

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

Know the job description, tailor your application to it as explicitly as possible. Getting through HR pre-screening may a job hunter’s biggest hurdle.

I want to hire someone who is

Open

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?

√ 3-4

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

√ Other: there were less but we’ve added two more the last two years.

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?

√ Yes

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

workplace requires two years of experience

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ I don’t know

Why or why not?

We need more professionals with the bigger picture and a vision for the future. It is not about the realities of busy libraries, it is about the perception that libraries are no longer needed because middle-class and up often don’t think they do need them and perhaps they don’t.

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

Show specific interest in the job you are applying for. Stay away from generic cover letters, resumes and applications.

Do you hire librarians? Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey

Or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

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