This anonymous interview is with an employee at an academic library who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. When asked, “Are you a librarian?” this person responded, “It’s complicated.” This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
Technical service staff, faculty librarians, archivists, instructors
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?
Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?
√ 26-50 %
And how would you define “hirable”?
Has an MLS from an ALA-accredited school, has some (even minimal) library experience, shows a basic understanding of library terminology and technology (MARC records, ILS systems, etc.)
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
A committee is always formed. HR does not weed out applicants, the committee does. Usually, the applications are looked at by all the committee members, who then meet and discuss who gets cut immediately (ie who doesn’t meet the basic requirements for the job), and then the remaining applicants are discussed at length for who gets a telephone and/or in-person interview.
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
Not having the required degree for the job.
Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?
What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?
Tailor your resume and cover letter to show that you specifically meet all of the minimum/preferred qualifications. If you don’t show that you meet those qualifications right away in the application process, you won’t make it to the interview round.
I want to hire someone who is
How many staff members are at your library/organization?
How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
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?
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?
Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?
It happens in practice. We usually have a great applicant pool with lots of experience applying, so we usually gravitate towards those applicants. That being said, we consider all sorts of library work (part time, as a student worker, even volunteering) as library experience.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
I think it’s a shifting profession (more technological skills required than before), but it’s not dying. We have the same number of positions here that we’ve had in the past. We are always working on exciting new projects and collaborations.
Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?
Keep your head up! We are always looking for new, excited librarians to hire when we have an opening.
For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.