Someone who would take risk, ask uncomfortable questions and think outside the box

Deb Hunt

Deb Hunt is the Director of the Mechanic’s Institute Library, the oldest library on the West Coast and one of the few remaining Mechanics’ Institutes that has stayed true to its original mission. She was the 2013 SLA president and is the co-author of The Librarian’s Skillbook: 51 Essential Skills for Information Professionals. You can find her on LinkedIn. Her spare time is devoted to her addiction to mixed doubles tennis.
Ms. Hunt hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Catalogers, archivists, reference, acquisitions, but we all pitch in where needed.

The Mechanic’s Institute is in an urban area of the Western 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?

√ 51-75 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Someone not only with the requisite skills, but also someone who would take risk, ask uncomfortable questions and think outside the box.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR is not involved, We had a library hiring committee that screened all resumes, then we chose semifinalists and interviewed them.

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

Don’t meet minimum requirements for the job.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: If they ask or were particularly competitive.

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Think of transferable skills and how those relate to the job. i.e. what sets that candidate apart in a good way — sort of a “why you should hire me”.

I want to hire someone who is


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?

√ Other: only part time

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

√ 1

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?

√ Yes

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

No, we look for new grads, as we want fresh perspective.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Not at all. There are many parallel career paths with lots of funding and positions that are hiring librarians who are savvy enough to couch their expertise in terms that are understood outside of libraries: e.g. LC Subject Headings=taxonomy; MARC fields = metadata.

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

Listen to what we hiring librarians tell you in this survey. I’ve had candidates say they “do not know why I cannot get a job.” Ask folks like me, get as much education as you can, do mid-career internships.

Do you hire librarians? Take this survey: or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under Special, State of the Job Market 2015, Western US

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