This week’s question is one I saw asked by Lassana Magassa on the NMRT listserv. The answers he gathered from this and some other listservs, as well as some thoughtful commentary, are posted on his blog. Lassana’s question is:
I have received a question from a prison librarian in Ohio regarding the hiring of ex-felons by a public library. These individuals have been working as inmate library clerks. They have the skill-set for circulation desk and book shelving duties. Also they have entered new book titles into the library’s catalog database and managed circulation records. They have been dependable staff members. Would your library consider hiring ex-felons?
I don’t have any special problem hiring an ex-felon. I would probably want to know more about their offense (e.g. were they convicted of stealing rare books from a university library? Not good). I would have to check and see what regulations the university and the state may have about this. I do believe there is some mention of it on the application, but I don’t know what they do with that information. We don’t require any background checks. Because we are a university, we consider our students to be adults and are not particularly concerned about work with children, as a school or public library might be.
“An individual with a criminal conviction is not automatically excluded from employment. Appointing units, in consultation with the applicable Human Resources Office, will assess any criminal conviction history which is returned as a result of the criminal records check. The Office of the General Counsel will be consulted as needed. This individualized assessment will consider the nature and gravity of the offense, the time elapsed since the offense or completion of the sentence, and its relevance to the particular position sought. “Obviously if a candidate neglected to include this information and it was discovered during a back-ground check, they would no longer be considered.As a manager, I would not rule a candidate out for this reason. With the help of Counsel I would want to know how much I can ask in an interview, and I would want to do that in a one-on-one conversation not in a group setting. If hired, I would leave it up to the new hire to reveal any information. I am fortunate in that I mostly hire entry level positions, so introductions do not generally include much background information and it need never be an issue.– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan
Thank you as always to the above for their time and insight. If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.
And thank you for reading! I was so touched, I was moved to kick the crutches from my comment.