We’re looking for specialists…not just a general “librarian.”

View of street vendors at 7th and B Streets, NW (Ca. 1880) MarketThis 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:

Search committees are made up of librarians from all across the library. So any librarian might have to look at applicants for any position.

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

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Had an MLS degree from an accredited institution and met the minimum qualifications listed.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

The search committee draws up a rubric before putting up the job posting. Once the job posting goes up, we’re bound to the rubric, and all applicants must be judged by that rubric.

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

The last position we hired for had a large number of applicants with no MLS degree. We also had quite a large number with library experience in a completely different area than what we were looking for. At our institutions, we’re looking for specialists (reference librarians, catalogers, subject specialists, etc.), and not just a general “librarian.”

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?

Identify positions that fit the job hunter’s interests and experience. Apply to a select number of positions that fit this narrow interest, rather than any position with the word “librarian” in it.

I want to hire someone who is

self-reliant

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?

√ 5-6

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

√ There are the same number of 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?

Two years experience, but library school internships, practicums and assistantships can count as experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ I don’t know

Why or why not?

It is changing, but I’m not yet sure if it will morph into a different kind of librarianship, or some other field altogether.

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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1 Comment

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

One response to “We’re looking for specialists…not just a general “librarian.”

  1. Trish G.

    “The last position we hired for had a large number of applicants with no MLS degree. We also had quite a large number with library experience in a completely different area than what we were looking for. At our institutions, we’re looking for specialists (reference librarians, catalogers, subject specialists, etc.), and not just a general “librarian.””

    This says to me that your job posting(s) aren’t clear. If you require an MLS degree from an accredited institution and that is listed as a minimum qualifications then how do you get that many people applying without it? Can you put “Applicants without an MLS from an accredited institution will not be considered.” on the ad?

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