don’t say you’ll follow up in a week or two (I’ll make the phone calls thank you)

View of street vendors at 7th and B Streets, NW (Ca. 1880) MarketThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Various types of front-line positions including, children’s and teen librarians, program/event planners, consumer tech specialists, etc.

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a suburban area in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

A better word might be, “interviewable.” We’re not necessarily looking for people who have had specific library experience anymore. We need creative individuals who value customer service, intellectual freedom, and privacy.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

It depends on the position, mostly. HR doesn’t weed any applications out, but they do do a good job of highlighting applicants who meet the qualifications for the position.

If the position is at one of our branches, a branch manager will evaluate the candidates based on a handful of factors. These might include education, prior experience, and the quality of the application materials (without a resume and a good cover letter the information in the application itself rarely makes a candidate stand out).

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

For me it’s usually because the applicant hasn’t expressed why they want to work in libraries or has left it at, “I love books.” I love books too, but you have to give me more.

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

√ Other: Not really. Although I will on occasion, but it depends on the candidate.

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

Ditch the formulaic resume and cover letter. I know you heard about the position from one or more of a handful of sources, don’t parrot what’s already in your resume, and don’t say you’ll follow up in a week or two (I’ll make the phone calls thank you).

Use your cover letter as an opportunity to show us who you are. Talk about your ideal workplace culture, your accomplishments (and what you think allowed you to achieve those), your ideals, or anything but the clichéd these-skills-make-me-your-ideal-candidate canned paragraphs you find on the web.

Write a different letter for each application. It’ll take you longer, but it is worth it.

I want to hire someone who is

A creative problem solver.

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 200+

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?

√ 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 fewer 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?


Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ Other: It depends

Why or why not?

It largely will depend on librarians reactions to change. If we can’t identify what our users need from us as information professionals in today’s world, and use that knowledge to help solve problems (in a way that people find engaging and valuable), support for libraries will eventually fade.


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 200+ staff members, Midwestern US, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

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