Further Questions: What if candidates are interested in obtaining another degree?

Here’s another question from a reader. I asked people who hire librarians:

Is it a turn-on or turn-off when applicants mention their desire to obtain a further degree which is not strictly library science, but is tangentially related? (For example: a degree in education, management, etc)

I would say it probably depends on where you are applying. If it is a tenure track academic library, then absolutely, we want to know that you have thought ahead about your career, your continuing education, your research and publishing interests and frequently ask about these things in an interview. If your research and educational interests are not at all related (say for example you want to become a skydiving instructor) I would probably skip that part unless for some reason the search committee is asking you about your personal interests.

Advanced degrees in a subject specific area including management, or higher education are a big plus in academic libraries!

– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries


Marleah AugustineI don’t see it as either a turn-on or a turn-off. I take it just as more information about the candidate that I can use to determine whether the candidate will be a good fit in the position. 

I will say that, as someone with a psychology background (BS and MS, prior to my MLIS), I’ve always thought that a psychology degree is helpful when working with the public, or staff for that matter. 🙂

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library


angelynn king


It can be a concern if it’s a degree subsidized by the hiring college

— the committee does not like to get the impression the applicant is primarily interested in the tuition benefit and will leave as soon as the degree is earned.

Generally, though, there is no such thing as too much education in academic libraries. 

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


Furthering ones’ education is always a positive thing. For me, it would be a turn-on We have a couple of Children’s Librarians who have other masters degrees in early childhood ed and special ed. Makes them better able to provide outstanding programs and services.

– Kaye Grabbe, Director, Lake Forest (Public) Library, Lake Forest, IL


J. McRee Elrod


Libraries need cataloguers with subject specialization.  

We would be pleased.  

Whether employees may take classes free of charge is a legitimate question to ask if applying at an academic library.

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


I think it’s a GOOD thing when applicants express an interest in continuing their education! To me, this says that an applicant is interested is a “go-getter” and is motivated to grow, both personally and professionally. I like to hire people who have energy and enthusiasm, and the desire to achieve another degree is a good indicator of those two traits. In an academic library, it is extraordinarily helpful to have library faculty who have a secondary body of specialized knowledge beyond the library/information science degree. This expert knowledge is highly valuable to our students, but it also enhances the value of the library to the entire college. I believe our libraries *need* the broader perspective that comes with a diversity of education experience beyond the library/information science degree.

– Elijah Scott, Director of Libraries, Georgia Highlands College


Sherle Abramson-BluhmI think the manner in which it is mentioned is more what makes it a turn-off or turn-on.
A candidate who brings this up without being asked may appear to be less serious about doing the work of the job – and more focused on the degree.
But a willingness to continue learning I do not feel is ever a bad thing and can be discussed in the proper context.
– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan
Laurie PhillipsIn some cases, this can be a red flag. We work really hard to hire people who will succeed and move up toward tenure, etc. We invest a lot in our junior faculty and don’t want to lose them. We are a primarily undergraduate institution with a few graduate degrees. If someone wanted to get an MBA here, we’d say go for it. There is a night program and it would be helpful in many ways to their work and to the organization. Our now retired Dean obtained her MBA here while working as a librarian. But, if someone wanted to work on a degree that we don’t offer, how would that work? What would be the outcome? Moving on? That might be difficult to support. We don’t require a second master’s degree, although some of us have them. So I can’t say definitely either way. It would depend on how that plan would fit into their work here.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

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 me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  How was I supposed to know you was a heartbreaker I didn’t know, I couldn’t know Now I’m laying on this killing floor and I wanna comment


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

2 responses to “Further Questions: What if candidates are interested in obtaining another degree?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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