The minimum requirements for an entry level position is a very low bar to reach

This anonymous interview is with an public 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:

Staff in reference, youth services, adminsitration, and circulation.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an 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?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

We look for a combination of skills that are job knowledge (library skills) plus interpersonal and customer service skills.  For supervisory positions, we prefer some supervisory experience.  We also look for signs of initiative or planning skills.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

We evaluate all applications.

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

Lack of library experience.  While it is not a deal-breaker, we find that many applicants look at the skills needed on the job post and see that they fit the minimum requirements. The minimum requirements for an entry level position is a very low bar to reach.

For professional positions, we are more flexible, because the commitment to library school indicates a certain desire and knowledge of library work.

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

√ Other: If asked, we share areas they could improve on.

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

Go beyond just reading the job description, and find out more about the position.  If it is a good match, you will have skills in the relevant areas already and not be stretching your resume to match the job.

I want to hire someone who is

a team player

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?

√ 2

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

√ 5-6

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?

√ Yes

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?

We don’t require experience, but we also find that professional librarians are applying for para-professional jobs.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Librarianship, and how it is defined, is a moving target.  We find that the library as community center is more emphasized now, whereas in the past it might have been more of a popular materials center, or a technology center. Libraries adapt to community needs very well, and will continue to do so.

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, Public, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

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