This anonymous interview is with an academic employee who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. When asked, “Are you a librarian?” this person responded, “It’s complicated.” This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
I have personally been a part of the following hires in the past 3 years:
Chair of Systems
Data Curation Librarian
E resources Librarian
Positions we have hired for that I haven’t participated in:
Chair of Public Services (circulation/reference)
E resources Librarian (different than above)
Emerging Technology Librarian
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern US.
Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?
√ Other: 2
Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?
√ Other: 100%
And how would you define “hirable”?
Possessing a high ranking as defined by our rubric for the job. Mix of degree, experience, and general feel from their documents.
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
HR has stop questions that automatically weed out applicants.
Rubrics depend on the number of applicants. Big searches get rubrics, 3 or less applicants we usually go for the gut based on what we need and skip the numbers.
There are search committees for staff (3ish people), salaried (5), and faculty positions (5). The committees consist of a mix of staff levels. Faculty positions include people from outside the library. Chair searches will often bring in more people related to the functions of the Chair. Dean searches are handled outside the library but with a library sub-committee.
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
lack of experience
Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?
What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?
Before the interview: Describe how you meet requirements don’t just say it. They are short answer questions not check boxes.
During the Interview: If you got the interview we are most likely looking for fit, be yourself. Talk to us like we are already co-workers.
I want to hire someone who is
How many staff members are at your library/organization?
How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?
√ There are fewer positions
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?
√ I don’t know
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?
√ I don’t know
Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?
Usually, if the pool is expected to be small or we are hiring internally we shape the application so experience is not a stop question.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
The profession is dying in places where the people practicing it are unwilling to change.
Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?
For the love of god, do not type in documents (resume, cover letter) into an application. On my end it comes out in a mass of un-formatted, headache fuel. I have disqualified people because I didn’t want to read it. Upload your documents.
As for the state of the market. It took me a year of searching before I found my first library job, and I am one of the lucky people. Keep at it. Look at every experience you have until you get the job in terms of how it can help you get to where you want. I worked Black Friday at Toys-R-Us and when the search committee asked me to explain how I handle stressful customer interactions I was like, “Let me tell you!”. Stay positive about where you are now because it will help you get to where you want to be.
For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.