Further Questions: Broadly, what does “or equivalent” really mean in a job announcement?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Broadly, what does “or equivalent” really mean in a job announcement?  And more specifically, could a paraprofessional position ever stand in for librarian experience, if it included some librarian duties such as staffing the reference desk?  Can you describe any instances where someone with “equivalent” experience was hired at your organization?

Laurie Phillips

Yes, we absolutely consider paraprofessional experience, as long as it is relevant experience. We have also considered experience working for a vendor. We generally hire at entry level so if we ask for experience with something, it’s at any level. We just want someone to have familiarity with the type of work and perhaps with the setting.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

We do count paraprofessional experience providing reference service, tours, instruction, etc. In public services, we frequently hire candidates with paraprofessional backgrounds for entry level professional positions since they usually have a lot of front line customer service experience which is extremely valuable when providing in depth subject specific reference and instruction.

– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Library Learning Services, University of North Texas Libraries

J. McRee ElrodWe usually mean a library credential from outside North America.



We do consider a library tech graduate who has demostrated ability to perform original cataloguing.

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

Marge Loch WoutersAt our shop, equivalent means you may have a BA/BS or MS/MA in something with substantial experience working with the public in a non-profit or tax supported institution, creating partnerships or doing something that would add to our team strengths. In our library, we have hired former teachers and historians. Colleagues at other libraries have shared that they have hired paralegals and social workers as well. A paraprofessional can most definitely be hired into an open MLIS position – the key is showing that they have strong advocacy skills and ability to take on and handle increased responsibility and independent work projects.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

angelynn kingWhen an academic job ad says “ALA-accredited MLS or equivalent,” this is generally meant to include foreign degrees (which by definition would not be ALA-accredited.) In some places, a degree from an entity that used to be a library school but now calls itself something else — a School of Information, for instance — would also be acceptable.

As far as experience, I have seen paraprofessional experience counted as library experience but not as librarian experience. It would depend on how the job requirements were worded.

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

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 us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

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Filed under Further Questions

2 responses to “Further Questions: Broadly, what does “or equivalent” really mean in a job announcement?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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