Don’t be too specialized. But, at the same time, don’t be too generalized.

Fish Market This anonymous interview is with an public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference librarians, collection development and systems librarians, children’s and teen librarians, archivists.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban 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”?

Someone who has experience-either via work history or volunteer or school practicums. I’ve had several applicants fresh out of (online) library school with NO library experience whatsoever. Someone who has a steady job history, I avoid people who have job hopped a lot or have a spotty work history with no explanation (a good explanation-took time off for family or health reasons-that’s completely understandable). Someone who is articulate in both writing and conversation, someone who has reasonable expectations for the job in terms of both scheduling and salary.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR sends the applications to a third party company that grades the applications before we receive a final list. I’m not sure what their criteria is. I’ve gotten applications for library jobs from people who clearly don’t meet the requirements, so I can’t say for certain that they eliminate based on the minimum requirements posted for the job. It’s kind of a mystery, really. Once we get a list, we (the hiring committee) decide who to interview based on their resume.

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

Lack of experience in the area we’re hiring in. If I’m looking to fill a collection development position and the person is a librarian with no collection development experience, I’m not going to interview the person.

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

√ Other: Only upon an open records request

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

Don’t be too specialized. But, at the same time, don’t be too generalized. I realize that’s contradictory, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s important to have experience in different areas, depending on the library field you’re entering. For example, public librarians should have at least a baseline of experience in reference work, circulation, collection development and computers.

I want to hire someone who is


How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

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?

√ 7 or more

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?

√ 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?

Both. There is a minimum number of years on the job descriptions, but I’m not sure how much HR sticks to that, given that I’ve had applicants with no experience. We tend to hire people with more experience as a practice because we’re perpetually short-staffed and need people who can hit the ground running.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

I think librarianship is evolving, not dying. The nature of our day-to-day work might be changing, but there will always be a need for someone who is an information professional, able to parse through the huge amount of information that is out in the world and make sense of it all for the public. Yes, Marian the Librarian is dead, but the profession isn’t.

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 100-200 staff members, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

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