More library school graduates are going straight from undergraduate into a library program, and might not have three-five years experience coming out.

Rebecca Lemos

Becca Lemos is an aspiring children’s librarian currently working as a library page. She is proud to have accomplished the conception, planning and implementation of a genre based reorganization of her library’s picture book collection. She has been looking for a new position for more than six months, in public libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, and Department Head. Ms. Lemos has a:

Teaching degree with intensive student teaching, internship and mentoring experience. Internship in children’s public library services.

Although she currently lives in suburban area, Ms. Lemos is looking for work in a specific urban metro area in the Northeastern US. She is an avid baker/foodie, and to offset that hobby she is also a runner. You can take a look at her ePortfolio, or learn more about her on LinkedIn.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

1. Location, Location, Location.
2. Livable Salary
3. Opportunities for long-term growth

Where do you look for open positions?

2. LORI Jobline
4. LinkedIn
5. Traditional job sites (monster, indeed etc.)

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I have a few cover letters pre-prepared but I will re-write and tailor them to fit the job that I am applying for. I have a resume and reference list that I always keep up-to date, including links to my educational portfolios and LinkedIn page. If the job posting supplies an email to send my application to, I will email all of the documents along with an introductory message. If it is a mail in application I will print out all of those documents, include my business card and a handwritten note, expressing my interest. I try not to spend more than 1-2 hours on an application.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

Other: Instead of library page, I list my position as library assistant 1) because I’ve had interviews with library staff who didn’t understand the terminology 2) I do much more than shelve books in my current capacity and am allowed more freedom in my position because of my degree 3) honestly to give myself a leg-up in the job hunt. I feel like a hiring committee sees library page and instantly views my job experience as not valid experience, when in fact I’ve learned more from my hands-on experience as a page than I did in library school!

When would you like employers to contact you?

To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: Phone for good news, email for bad news, and save your taxpayers the postage and stop mailing rejection letters.

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Other: The responses I receive from my own questions to the interviewer/interview board as well as the level of communication and professionalism during the interview process. If I’m expected to respond to your emails in a timely manner, I expect the same consideration from you. Even if the emails are to say, “we haven’t made a decision yet, but hope to soon” that is more respectable than five weeks of silence and no communication.

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Offer realistic salaries and positions for level of education. I shouldn’t have to work three part-time jobs that require a MLIS because there are no full-time positions out there. Be fluid about years of experience. More library school graduates are going straight from undergraduate into a library program, and might not have three-five years experience coming out. Be willing to to mentor and take on new graduates. We have to gain experience somewhere. More millennials like myself are entering the workforce with student loan debt and multiple part-time jobs are not viable financial options for us. I have seen many of my peers with library degrees choosing jobs outside of the library world because they can’t afford to be a part-time librarian.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Communicate at every step of the way. Notify me immediately if you decide not to interview me, or if the position has been filled.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being yourself and being honest. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses, or that you don’t know the answer to a question. Play up your strengths, and when you get home find the answer, and email the committee back to demonstrate that even if you don’t know an answer off the top of your head, you are a dedicated information professional who will and can find the answer.

Also, thank you emails. Always.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey!

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!



Filed under Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Public, School, Suburban area

2 responses to “More library school graduates are going straight from undergraduate into a library program, and might not have three-five years experience coming out.

  1. Thanks for this, Becca! I’ve been looking a library job since 2007. The economy went downhill during my time in graduate school and I’ve been unsuccessful in finding even a part-time library job. I completed an internship and currently volunteer at a library, but that’s all I have at the moment. I know the ALA isn’t entirely happy with MLS graduates getting into paraprofessional positions, but those positions are the only way of getting any practical experience since full-time positions do require years of experience. Academic libraries in my area are starting to require MLSs for part-time positions. Things are changing and I can’t tell if it’s good or not for aspiring librarians like you and me. I’m not even sure I will be able to secure a library position and may consider other avenues.


  2. Pingback: About a Decade Later: Former Job Hunter Becca Tansey | Hiring Librarians

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