Tag Archives: librarians

Further Questions: Broadly, what does “or equivalent” really mean in a job announcement?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Broadly, what does “or equivalent” really mean in a job announcement?  And more specifically, could a paraprofessional position ever stand in for librarian experience, if it included some librarian duties such as staffing the reference desk?  Can you describe any instances where someone with “equivalent” experience was hired at your organization?

Laurie Phillips

Yes, we absolutely consider paraprofessional experience, as long as it is relevant experience. We have also considered experience working for a vendor. We generally hire at entry level so if we ask for experience with something, it’s at any level. We just want someone to have familiarity with the type of work and perhaps with the setting.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

We do count paraprofessional experience providing reference service, tours, instruction, etc. In public services, we frequently hire candidates with paraprofessional backgrounds for entry level professional positions since they usually have a lot of front line customer service experience which is extremely valuable when providing in depth subject specific reference and instruction.

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

J. McRee ElrodWe usually mean a library credential from outside North America.

 

 

 
We do consider a library tech graduate who has demostrated ability to perform original cataloguing.

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

Marge Loch WoutersAt our shop, equivalent means you may have a BA/BS or MS/MA in something with substantial experience working with the public in a non-profit or tax supported institution, creating partnerships or doing something that would add to our team strengths. In our library, we have hired former teachers and historians. Colleagues at other libraries have shared that they have hired paralegals and social workers as well. A paraprofessional can most definitely be hired into an open MLIS position – the key is showing that they have strong advocacy skills and ability to take on and handle increased responsibility and independent work projects.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

angelynn kingWhen an academic job ad says “ALA-accredited MLS or equivalent,” this is generally meant to include foreign degrees (which by definition would not be ALA-accredited.) In some places, a degree from an entity that used to be a library school but now calls itself something else — a School of Information, for instance — would also be acceptable.

As far as experience, I have seen paraprofessional experience counted as library experience but not as librarian experience. It would depend on how the job requirements were worded.

– 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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libraries are not quiet :)

Market scene in ParamariboThis anonymous interview is with an public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

library associates and shelvers

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”?

able to perform duties required

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

I evaluate all applications by reading them all and sorting those with potential to be called in for interview and actual test.

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

poor resume writing

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 resume pop

I want to hire someone who is

passionate

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?

√ Other: none

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

√ Other: none

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?

√ Yes

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

none required

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

will always need librarians just have to be flexible to change to the requirements

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

libraries are not quiet :)

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

trivia skills or the ability to track down info in print resources aren’t really the focus anymore

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

Subject librarians
Discovery and Digital Initiatives librarians
Library IT staff
Catalogers
Reference librarians

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?

√ 75-100

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ more than 75 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Had the minimum and preferred qualifications for the job description

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applicants who don’t meet certain basic requirements (have an MLIS, etc.) are weeded out by HR. Then the search committee (elected by the library faculty) reads the materials for and rates each candidate based directly on their ability to meet the requirements or preferred qualities described in the job ad. The top candidates, after all scores for each candidate have been combined, are invited to conduct a phone interview.

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

Not enough relevant experience or obvious mistakes in the application materials

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?

Take advantage of all opportunities to gain experience available to you and use specific examples from this experience to demonstrate how you stand out as a candidate.

I want to hire someone who is

eager

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?

√ 2

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?

√ 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?

Experience is listed as preferred, but often makes candidates stand out and those with experience have a much higher chance of being considered.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

I don’t know why anyone would ask that, but if someone did, I would say it’s not a dying profession because there is so much expertise that librarians can offer that, while not always appreciated, is essential to the functions of academics and society. The expertise of librarians is certainly changing–trivia skills or the ability to track down info in print resources aren’t really the focus anymore–but what we offer continues to be valuable.

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

As long as there are libraries, there will be librarians.

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 member of a hiring or search committee.

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

Desired skills and/or sufficient experience to come in ready to do the job.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Discussed by the hiring committee (typically ~5 persons). No rubrics.

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

Lack of library degree and/or no relevant 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?

Address the job description and desired skills in your application materials.

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?

√ 2

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?

√ 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?

√ Yes

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

Not in my experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

As long as there are libraries, there will be librarians. And libraries are not a dying institution. Possibly diminishing, and the degree to which that’s true can be debated, but not 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, Academic, Rural area, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015

Librarians are moving into roles of coach, teacher, concierge, and curator

Astor Market - Demonstrating CoffeeThis 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, courseware, instructional design, interns

This librarian works at a library with 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?

√ 75-100

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met just basic qualifications stated in job posting

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applications are weeded by HR and an online system. Candidates who do not have appropriate education or relevant experience are not consideration.

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

Poor written communication skills: vocabulary, spelling, grammar, inappropriate writing style, typos, formatting.

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?

Describe clearly how they believe they are best qualified for the job, specifically addressing every qualification in the job posting.

I want to hire someone who is

genuine

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?

√ 7 or more

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 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?

√ No

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

Yes. It is an official requirement.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It is a profession in flux. Librarians are moving into roles of coach, teacher, concierge, and curator, and they need to articulate their roles beyond just claims of being gatekeepers to collections. Librarians must engage their constituencies, understand larger publishing trends and patterns of local usage, and stage interventions when there is evidence of low information literacy, poor student learning outcomes, low-quality research at the institutional level, and a lack of understanding among administrators about the value of providing access to information in all formats and cost challenges in the marketplace for electronic database products.

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

A webpage or electronic portfolio with previous work is a must.

Fish 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:

Public services/reference librarians

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

Met minimum qualifications and had the skills we were looking for/needed.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

All applications were evaluated by the search committee.

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

Did not meet minimum qualifications.

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?

Be able to demonstrate the needed/required skills. A webpage or electronic portfolio with previous work is a must.

I want to hire someone who is

adaptable

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?

√ 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?

Varies by position, but any kind of experience is a big plus.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ Yes

Why or why not?

I could go on for hours. Want to get coffee? The profession is not keeping up with the changes in information publication and dissemination and changes in higher education. Library school curriculum is mostly the same as it was 15-20 years ago, and far, far too many librarians simply want to do what they did in their jobs 15-20 years ago. So many experienced librarians think technology is only something “young” people know about and refuse to learn about emerging technology. More and more academic libraries need to demonstrate impact on student learning and retention, difficult enough, and without the ability to change and adapt and re-define what librarianship is that will just not happen. Not just demonstrating the impact, but actually making an impact. Because we really do not need someone with a master’s degree demonstrating how to use a discovery tool to undergrads. Librarians need to learn to do something more, better, and different to survive. Of course, a lot of people will answer this question with the usual “hip, hip, hooray” nonsense about being passionate about librarianship and how great it is, but that is doing nothing to keep the profession relevant. We need critical eyes to evaluate the profession and make changes. Who is going to do that? Certainly not ALA or ACRL.

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, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

Further Questions: How should interviewees answer tricky questions?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

How should interviewees answer tricky questions, such as “what is your dream job?” or other similar questions about weaknesses, strengths, ambitions, etc.? If you can talk a little about preparation for these sort of questions too, that would be helpful.

Laurie Phillips

Ugh. I just never ask those questions because I don’t think they’re helpful. I think if someone asks you for strengths and weaknesses, try to phrase the weaknesses part as something you’re really aware of and working on, or even twist it around to show it as a potential strength (they deserve that for asking unhelpful questions). Interviewers should be asking experiential questions. As for the “dream job” question, what I want to know from you is – do you really want this job? – not a job. Is this a job that you will enjoy and thrive in? Is they’re asking about your dream job, they’re trying to get at that in a roundabout way and there are better ways to ask it. I usually ask “Why is this job a great fit for you and how are you a great fit for this job?” Your dream job may be an outgrowth of this job. Saying you see the job at hand as a stepping stone may be seen as a positive or a negative. Yeah, I would want you to grow in the job but not to the extent that you are always looking to move on. All potential mine fields for a candidate.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

These types of questions are things you should be thinking about before an interview. Be yourself and be honest, but think of ways to state your answer that will put you in the best light. For example, if your dream job is to be the director of a library and you are applying for a department head position, you can frame your answer in this way, ”In 10 years I would love to be a library director, which is one of the reasons this position as department head at your library is so exciting. I will learn valuable management skills under the guidance of an experienced library director.”

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

Marleah AugustineI think the best way to answer these questions is to simply be truthful. It’s important to brainstorm and think about these things prior to the interview and, for instance, decide what your dream job really would be like — bonus if you can tailor it to the position for which you are applying. If you’ve taken the time to think about strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, etc, then you’re going to be able to answer those tricky questions honestly and immediately if and when they come up in an interview. Sometimes there is a lot of focus on answering interview questions “correctly” — but really the correct answer is the one that is most true about you. When you interview for a job, you’re also interviewing the organization to see if it’s a good fit for you. Candidates shouldn’t answer questions a certain way because they think it’s right, get hired, and then show a different attitude when they start the position.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Marge Loch WoutersI always look for a simple answer that accentuates the candidate’s underlying passions. A dream job can encompass the way you hope to serve : whether directly with your community doing outreach; creating strong partnerships; helping create successful visions for the library in the community or the way you hope to work: with a team of colleagues to bounce ideas off of; for a strong director/board; in a library that fosters strong community connections etc. Shifting the focus from dream job to dream aspiration helps to keep the focus on your strengths rather than getting lost in the weeds of expressing inappropriate or non-related-to-the-job pipedreams (“I see myself as a library director, a consultant, a megalomaniac, etc and/or retired at 40”).

 

In terms of your weaknesses, look at a strength you have and see what parts of it might be perceived as a weakness and address it as such.  So if you feel you are an extremely hard worker (and justifiably proud of it), you can say you tend to work hard but know that can sometimes be off-putting for teammates. Or you are very honest and that can lead to more effort on your part to be tactful so feelings aren’t hurt.  You never want to put yourself in a position of having a weakness that will weaken your chances at a successful fit for the job. A “good” weakness is one your employer would like to see rather than a negative about yourself. NEVER say you have no weaknesses or always make good choices. The hiring manager will instantly know you for a liar ;->

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Celia RabinowitzI would like to say that I wish search committees would not ask questions like the one posed in the question.  Librarians applying for entry-level positions need A job.  We all know that.  And many won’t know what their dream job looks like until they have worked a while (and sometimes the dream changes over time).  That said, I recommend thinking about what aspects of library work are most compelling to you.  If you really like working with people talk about a job that allows you to have contact with the users of the library, and that could  mean something in circulation or access services, or something that includes teaching, research support, or technology.  If you really like working with objects or data describe how.  That helps you avoid saying you want to be a certain type of librarian or that your dream job is the one you are interviewing for.

I like to ask a question which asks candidates to describe something they tried that failed or didn’t work out as expected and how they reacted or changed as a result.  This seems a better question than the traditional strengths or weaknesses.  But to prepare, be honest.  Really, really try to go beyond saying you are organized, detail-oriented, good with people.  Do you think you are patient, persistent, have experience with specific groups of people or types of resources?  Does the job require work with something you are less familiar with?  Don’t be afraid to say so. Tell us you feel confident you can learn.

Be yourself – acknowledge that you have ambitions (I think I’d like to be a library director some day – why not?!), be able to say what you are good at, and tell us that you know you still have things to learn.  We all do.

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

Ah, tricky questions! As always, I think being honest is important. When you are asked about your weaknesses, acknowledge them and then talk about how you’re working to overcome them or improve upon skills you lack. When you talk about strengths, frame them in terms of how they would be useful for the job you’re interviewing for. And avoid the humblebrag. It’s tricky to walk the line between acknowledging where you’re awesome and sounding like an egomaniac, but try. One of the worst interviewees I ever had flubbed this one by talking about her strengths and how she was able to use her amazing skills to overcome all the problems caused by the idiots she worked with. Don’t do that. Talk about what you’d like to do, where you would like to take this job and how it fits into your professional plan (if you have one). It’s okay to acknowledge that you’d like to move up one day, but try to do it in terms of how your ambition can help the organization.  As an interviewee, I always went over the job description backwards and forwards and used it to frame my answers.

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