This anonymous interview is with an employee from a public library who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. When asked, “Are you a librarian?” the respondent said “It’s complicated.” This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
Reference, Management, Children’s, potentially Tech Services
This person works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a rural 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?
√ 25% or less
And how would you define “hirable”?
Having minimum skills and experience to do the job.
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
By me (Director) and supervisory staff.
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
Lack of education or experience
Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?
√ Other: only interns
What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?
Get relevant experience through volunteering or internships.
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?
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?
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
The field has changed, but the need for compassionate people to help find information and build communities has not.
Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?
I could go on, but I think my situation is not typical. Still, a lot of what I learned in library school was not at all useful to my job. Job seekers need to be good at flexibility, have other talents besides library-specific ones, and not be wedded to whatever they thought they wanted to do if they want to remain relevant.
For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.