HR can, and has, refuse to hire the candidate we recommend, without explanation

Man selling artichokes at vegetable market in Stockholm 1951This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

subject librarians, reference and instruction librarians, electronic resources and serials librarians, access services librarians, archivists

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern 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”?

Met all the qualifications (education, experience, skills) for the position. This particular position didn’t require very much experience, yet we had 25 applicants and 12 were put on the “do not consider” list.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

We have a search committee for each librarian position consisting of 3 or 4 librarians and sometimes faculty or professional staff. Each search committee develops their own rubric for evaluating candidates. The search committee is solely responsible for evaluating the resumes and deciding who to interview. None are pre-screened by HR. (However HR can, and has, refuse to hire the candidate we recommend, without explanation). We have to document everything very thoroughly for HR using a software program called TechnoMedia. Notes from interviews are scanned in to the software to be archived.

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

Not meeting one of the key qualifications, such as not having the MLIS, or not having cataloging experience or science librarianship experience that is needed for that particular position.

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?

Make sure you are qualified for the position you are applying for, and if you think there might be any doubt, explain explicitly in your cover letter how you meet all the qualifications.

I want to hire someone who is


How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 50-100

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?

√ 3-4

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

√ There are more positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Other: only temporarily

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, but we rarely have entry level openings. The Provost keeps insisting we hire at a higher level (I’m not sure why) though it’s not always really necessary. The one we are hiring now is basically entry level though it does ask for some type of science experience either as a librarian or as a scientist or health professional. We are flexible enough to count experience outside of the specific job description though (in other words you don’t have to have experience doing the exact job you’re applying for). In my opinion this attitude should be more widespread.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

There are still a lot of opportunities to add value as content becomes hosted electronically (in e-books, e-journals, and digital repositories).

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 50-100 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

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