It was never about the books – they’re just the containers!

Vegetable and flower seller and stall, Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonThis anonymous interview is with an academic 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:

Library assistants, research librarian posts, teaching librarian posts

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the UK.

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?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

meet the requirements of the job

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR and hiring manager look separately at every application at professional level.

We check how well they meet requirements in each area of the person specification, grading from 0 (none) through to 4 (exceeds requirements) and add notes where there are other particularly positive (ooh look, they’ve also done this!) or negative (they didn’t use capital letters when writing their name!) points.

We then meet to compare notes and shortlist candidates. We’ve done this twice so far and the results were remarkably similar each time.

The rubric is taken directly from the person specification in the job description, so if you’re applying for jobs in the UK make sure you highlight each one/have equivalent experience/can quickly gain those requirements!

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

Doesn’t show that they meet the requirements of the post. The threshold can vary for this – if there are a lot of qualified applicants you need to meet/exceed every point to get a look in. If it’s a rarer position /fewer likely to meet the requirements it’s definitely more worth an application because you’re more likely to get shortlist even if you’re missing a couple of requirements.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: On request

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Keep up to date with key developments in the area your working in, e.g. Information literacy and educational technology for teaching roles, scholarly communication for research roles.

I want to hire someone who is


How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

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

√ 2

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

√ 1

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?

√ 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?

Our library doesn’t currently have any entry level professional positions, it’s a very small library within a larger network of libraries. In our library the lowest professional posts still require a qualification and some relevant experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It was never about the books – they’re just the containers! Librarianship increases in importance the more information and data there is to navigate. The roles evolve to meet specific needs, as good ones always have.

Note:  We do correct typos, here at Hiring Librarians.  This one was really funny: In answer to the question about how applications are evaluated, respondent originally put: “HR and hiring manager lol separately at every application at professional level.”

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 0-10 staff members, Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, UK, Urban area

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