it’s important to approach each item as your chance to convince the reviewer that you’re a good candidate for the job, even if it means repeating yourself

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:

Instruction/Reference Librarians (full and part time) and paraprofessionals.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ more than 75 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Minimum qualifications for the job are met in terms of experience, degree, and skills. The applicant turned in all application materials.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR puts in some disqualifying questions (e.g. “Do you have an MLIS or equivalent?” that will prevent the person from applying if they answer no. Otherwise, the chair and the rest of the search committee have access to all applicants. In theory, the chair/hiring manager can remove applicants without input from the rest of the committee, but that rarely happens. How the committee chooses to screen the applicants beyond the minimum requirements and legalities is up to the committee. It could be rubrics, gut feelings, etc.

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

We generally have enough applicants that we are able to only interview the candidates who really stand out as promising. On the first pass, I tend to eliminate applicants who do not show a genuine interest in the job (e.g. the cover letter is generic), have made numerous spelling or careless errors (e.g. wrong library is named). When narrowing to those we’ll actually interview, I look for relevant skills and interest in the job as well as enthusiasm and evidence of motivation.

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

√ Other: I have, when asked, but I have to be careful because I’m not allowed to tell them why they were not selected.

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

Realize that those in hiring positions have different techniques for selecting candidates. I always start with the cover letter, but I know others who start with resumes or the online application. Because of this, it’s important to approach each item as your chance to convince the reviewer that you’re a good candidate for the job, even if it means repeating yourself.

I want to hire someone who is


How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

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 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?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

This has recently changed (fortunately), from “one year experience required” to “one year experience preferred.” I can’t get them to change it to “Entry level.” The practice varies depending on the hiring manager; some value experience while others prefer new perspectives and skills.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

As an academic librarian at a community college, I see daily how important it is for us to teach students to not only find information, but evaluate it for appropriate quality and fit. The danger, I think, is in how the world perceives us; if enough people think we’re irrelevant, then we are irrelevant. The challenge is in getting our value recognized.

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 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

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