Librarianship is changing into a community connections field, where we connect people with other people or services that can benefit them

OUTDOOR MARKET AT HAYMARKET SQUARE. PUBLIC PROTEST KEPT THE SQUARE FROM BECOMING PART OF AN EXPRESSWAY, 051973This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Catalogers, Adult Services Librarians, Youth Librarians, Managers

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest US.

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

√ more than 100, but less than 200

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Experience!! I see far too many LIS degree-holders applying for professional, supervisory roles who have no idea how to even shelve a book. I also see too many lazy mistakes, such as leaving the name of the previous library system on the cover letter, rather than my system’s name – this earns an automatic trip to the trash can without further review.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

In my system, we can ask that HR weed through the initial glut of applications if we feel we will be overwhelmed, but they certainly don’t automatically weed them. The rubrics for weeding are the base qualifications listed in the job posting: years experience, possession of a degree, etc. A hiring committee is formed for each position, usually consisting of the Library Manager, the supervisor for the position, an Admin employee, and sometimes a Library Manager from a neighboring library.

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

Another applicant has a particular skill set that we are looking for, more experience, or we simply feel they articulated who they are in their cover letter/resume better than the eliminated applicant. We are not only looking for hard skills (MS Office, Overdrive experience, etc) but also soft skills (customer service, experience defusing difficult patron interactions, etc) AND if they will be a good fit for our organization (personality).

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?

Ask others in the profession to critique their cover letter/resume and participate in a formal mentorship program.

I want to hire someone who is

passionate

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 200+

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

√ 7 or more

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

√ 7 or more

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

√ I don’t know

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?

We do not require experience, but it is just what happens in practice.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Librarianship is changing into a community connections field, where we connect people with other people or services that can benefit them (whether connecting a bunch of knitters together for a craft group or helping the homeless find food, shelter, and jobs). However, if we aren’t smart about how we maneuver into this change, we can quickly be deemed irrelevant or useless.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

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

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Public, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

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