This anonymous interview is with a special 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:
cataloger, government documents, public services, outreach
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a small, remote city in the Western US.
Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?
Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?
√ 26-50 %
And how would you define “hirable”?
Met the minimum qualifications specified for the position, and had the experience and education necessary to do the work of the position – without a lot of non-site specific on the job training.
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
We have a hiring committee, always with an odd number of people – for professional positions, this is usually five. We have one hiring manager, usually the person who will supervise the position, who shepherds the recruitment, and one person in HR who is available for questions about legality, procedure, and what works best, and who checks each step in the process to ensure that it’s completed correctly. All position must meet the official minimum requirements for further consideration. We used to do this ourselves, but lately, HR has been doing this, so we only see applications that meet them. We also set up pre-interview criteria for each recruitment.
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
They don’t meet the minimum qualifications of the position, or they have too many errors in their application packet.
Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?
√ Other: not by default, but most hiring managers will respond to questions
What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?
Ensure that all of their application materials are complete, accurate, and grammatically correct. Typos and spelling errors can keep you from getting an interview.
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?
√ Other: No, but we’re doing more with non-permanent, project-based positions, especially when we have a permanent vacancy that we can’t fill right away for cost reasons.
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?
Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?
Experience isn’t required. In practice, we haven’t hired anyone without experience in the fifteen years I’ve been here, but that experience may be paraprofessional or in another area of library work.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
We have fewer special libraries in our area. Some of the remainder have fewer professional librarians and fewer staff overall. However, the libraries that remain are vibrant and active, and less duplicative. Before modern technology, we needed more libraries, because people needed their material to be local. Now, that’s not such a need. Instead of buying books and answering basic reference questions, we’re now licensing electronic resources and helping with in-depth research. So, we’ve lost a lot of our entry level positions, both professional and clerical.
Our local public libraries seem just as vital and active. Staffing levels are similar, if not the same, as when I first moved here fifteen years ago.
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.