Understand the Value of All the Positions in the Library

Jaye Lapachet is a law librarian who has worked for Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP since 2001, spending the last five as the Manager of Library Services with a staff of 0-10 employees.  She has been active in the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, and received their 2009 Professional Achievement Award. Ms. Lapachet has also worked in Information systems design at Content Innovations. You can see her quiltwork on Artquiltmaker.com.  She has been a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees.

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?


Understands the job and is not taking the job in hopes of getting something better

Not annoying

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

Tells me they want my job

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

That people know Word and how to use the Internet.

Don’t include references, especially not stacks of glowing reference letters.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

How they are involved in the Library community.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ Other: Both should be attachments

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?


Answer the questions.

Make sure you understand what the job is before you walk in the door.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Come on too strong.

Ask if the person in the Library Assistant position will be doing reference.

Not understanding the value of all the positions in the Library (everyone has a valuable role)

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

Exhausted us.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Dress up. Don’t wear perfume or stinky soap.


Filed under 0-10 staff members, Law Library, Original Survey, Paraprofessional, Public Services/Reference, Special

4 responses to “Understand the Value of All the Positions in the Library

  1. Aimee

    “Ask if the person in the Library Assistant position will be doing reference.”

    I am surprised to see this statement. This is a question I always ask because the extent to which support staff are permitted to answer reference questions varies by library. Library Assistant jobs I interviewed for ranged from not being allowed to answer any question beyond “Where is the bathroom?” to a library with a reference desk staffed fully by volunteers.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve had the same experiences as Aimee.

      Wouldn’t you rather we ask and understand the prospective duties of the job we are applying for, rather than assume what the position entails?

    • Elena

      Same here. I’ve worked at libraries where there was a clear delineation, and at libraries where almost all staff were cross-trained so library assistants could answer reference questions when the librarians were busy and librarians could do circ when that end was busy. I would definitely ask if I were interviewing for an assistant job, and I’m taken aback that that’s considered such a negative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.