In fact, I was hired without any library experience

Market before PassoverThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee and a Department Chair (independently reviews candidates). This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

We hire multiple positions with varying specialties. At our institution, all librarians are subject liaisons and all of us are required to perform reference work, but beyond that we do specialize in various areas (e.g. sciences, education, instruction).

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a rural area in the Northeastern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

There are a couple criteria: one, meeting the minimum requirements specified in the job description (we are not permitted to consider candidates who do not meet specified minimums), and two the level of “fit” to the duties of the position (in terms of previous similar experience, accomplishments in areas we’re looking for, and so forth).

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

There are a few steps in the process.

First, applications are evaluated by the search committee; we use an online application system. HR does not weed out candidates prior to the search committee review. Subsequently, the search committee conducts telephone interviews and reference checks, and finally the candidate has an interview on-site. During the interview, they meet with the search committee and several other groups, all of whom provide written evaluations using a simple rubric.

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

Failure to meet specified requirements (for example, if the job description specifies a minimum of 2 years experience in academic librarianship, that is a hard and fast rule–if the candidate can’t demonstrate that, they cannot be considered for the position at all).

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

√ No

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

Well, there are two things to consider. For first-pass hirability, where I work the candidate (as mentioned) needs to meet the minimum requirements. However, that’s more or less a “yes/no” situation.

In the interviews, though, the most hirable candidates are those who can engage with the committee, provide concrete examples of their accomplishments and how they make the candidate ideal for the position. A candidate who can highlight what they have that they think no other candidate can offer is definitely a strong contender for the position.

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?

√ 3-4

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

√ 2

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are fewer 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?

√ No

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

The experience requirements vary by job; generally experience is preferred even for a position that might be considered “entry level,” but it’s not an official requirement for those just starting out (in fact, I was hired without any library experience).

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ I don’t know

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 10-50 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

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