Monthly Archives: February 2023

Reminder: Interview Questions Repository and Salary Transparency Info

Have you been on a library interview recently? Or are you prepping for one?

Sounds like you could use The Interview Questions Repository!

This resource holds questions that people were asked in interviews from more than 550 respondents over nearly a decade.

Click on the upside down triangle to the right of the question in the header row to sort by things like interview type, position, etc.

Please help this resource grow! Share the link widely with your friends and colleagues and if you’ve had a library interview recently, report the questions you were asked.

Interested in viewing Salary Info from more than 300 LIS workers? The second page of the Interview Questions Repository shares that data. If you are interested in adding your own salary info, please use this form.

If you have feedback, I’d love to hear it. Please feel free to email me or use the contact form.

Please note: The links should give you everything you need – please use and share those rather than requesting access through Google Drive. You can always find these links in the static pages listed in the tabs up top (Interview Questions and Salary Info).

yellow compact shelving
A View of the Yellow Repository. The National Archives (UK), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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Hiring Better: Disability Accommodations & the Hiring Process

The first run of Hiring Librarians was pretty eye-opening. I learned that there is no secret to hiring and that people who hire library workers have all sorts of contradictory opinions and practices. And I saw that many of those opinions and practices are rooted in internal bias. I am very grateful to the readers who took the time to point out problematic answers, and the problematic questions I was asking. So this time around, I’ve been looking for ways to help mitigate harm, both in the work of this blog and in our collective practices.

In my recent 2023 Job Hunter Survey, one of the questions I ask is if candidates have ever asked for an accommodation during the hiring process, and if so what happened. Of the people who responded yes, many said things like “I won’t ask for accommodations because I fear it will impact my getting the job.” and “it was not given, app withdrawn.”

Back in October, I saw a tweet about a presentation at the Pennsylvania Library Association conference entitled “Reasonable Accommodations from the Employee Perspective.” The presenter, Katelyn Quirin Manwiller, was providing her slides, script and research handout for anyone who might be interested. I got in touch to see if she’d be willing to write something up for the blog and she was gracious enough to say yes. 

If you’re curious about the original presentation, the slides and resource list are here.

One avenue for improving the diversity of librarianship is providing a more inclusive hiring process and examining potential barriers to marginalized library workers. Much of this work requires current library employees, managers, and search committees to undergo training on federal discrimination laws and the positive benefits of having a diverse workforce. Despite these efforts, many library workers remain completely unfamiliar with the protections afforded to disabled Americans during the hiring process. For example, my university requires all search committee members to complete diversity training prior to posting the job which I completed while recently serving on a search committee for a librarian position. Throughout the training, disability was mentioned only in terms of not asking candidates about their health during interviews. At the end, I asked what our procedures were for candidates requesting accommodations, and the HR presenters were shocked, saying I was the first person to ever mention it. Many library workers have never encountered accommodations in the hiring process – or at all. But the accommodations process serves as the baseline for disability inclusion in employment and library workers must be knowledgeable about it to provide inclusive and accessible hiring experiences. 

So, what are accommodations? The Americans with Disabilities Act protects the right to equal employment for people with disabilities, meaning anyone who “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity” (ADA National Network, 2023, para. 2). The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 emphasizes that this definition should be interpreted in the broadest terms possible, including medical conditions that are permanent or temporary, physical or psychological, visibly apparent to others or not. The law outlines the reasonable accommodation process as “a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process” (Office of Disability Employment Policy, n.d., para. 1). It’s important to note that both disability and accommodation are legal terms meant to protect equal rights and not necessarily related to whether a person identifies as disabled. The ADA only applies to workplaces with 15 or more employees. Even though smaller libraries may not be legally obligated to provide accommodations, all libraries should adhere to these practices to ensure that they  provide equal access to all candidates. Lastly, I will emphasize that the ADA and the accommodations process are the bare minimum legally required, not the epitome of inclusion or accessibility. This blog serves as a primer to these legal requirements because they are frequently left out of equity conversations, but please know there is far more libraries can do beyond accommodations to provide inclusive hiring to disabled candidates. 

Accommodations occur when a candidate requests an adjustment to some aspect of the hiring process, often the structure or format of an interview. The candidate would submit a written or oral request for an accommodation to an official human resources office or whoever is doing the hiring at the library. The employer will then grant the accommodation for an obvious request. Obvious in this context is what it sounds like – something where the disability and accommodation are obvious to the employer. An example of this would be a candidate who uses a wheelchair saying they will need access to an elevator during the interview process. If it is not obvious, the employer will require additional documentation from a healthcare professional, either a letter or standardized forms explaining how the candidate’s impairment requires the adjustment. Then the employer will (hopefully) grant the accommodation and incorporate it into the application or interview process as needed. This entire process must be kept confidential because requesting an accommodation requires disclosure of a disability. As such, the HR or the library employee managing the request is legally prohibited from telling anyone else in the library that the candidate requested an accommodation.

For larger HR structures, the online application system may ask candidates if they will need an accommodation. This allows the candidate to potentially keep the details of the accommodation from the people interviewing them, but also may not be that helpful. If the candidate does not know the interview structure, they may not know what type of accommodations to request. Either way, if the request is made through HR, the person or committee doing the interview will be informed what the adjustment is, but not that it is an accommodation. For example, they may be told that a specific candidate will receive an extra break between interviews. These adjustments can easily lead to negative perceptions of the candidate or even discrimination if the hiring person, committee, or even library employees at large are not trained on the accommodations process and its role providing inclusive hiring for disabled people. Accommodations are not special treatment for specific candidates. They are what allow candidates to have equitable access to employment and cannot influence hiring decisions. But the potential for discrimination leads many disabled candidates to never request accommodations, even if it makes the hiring process significantly more difficult for them.

To conclude, I want to provide some general tips that you as the hiring manager or search committee can incorporate into your hiring practices to provide a more inclusive experience for disabled candidates:

  1. Know how the accommodations process works at your institution and include information about requesting accommodations in your communication with candidates.
  2. Ensure accommodations are covered in your library training on hiring for all library workers involved. 
  3. Provide easy access on your website to accessibility information about your library and share that with all candidates you bring for an interview.
  4. Consider ways to build flexibility into your hiring practices and policies so that candidates may not need to request accommodations. These can include sharing interview questions in advance, building in multiple breaks during the interview, skipping mandatory meals or walking tours for candidates, and providing options for interview setting (e.g. telephone or Zoom).
  5. Include disability throughout your diversity, equity, and inclusion work beyond hiring to familiarize yourself and your library with disability inclusion outside of the bare minimum ADA compliance. Disability is not limited to accessibility because it does not exist in a silo. It intersects other marginalized identities and is inherently part of the systems of oppression being addressed with DEI work. 

For more information on accommodations from the employer and employee perspective, I highly recommend the Job Accommodation Network, at They have a guide dedicated to the hiring process, linked below in my references. 


ADA National Network. (2022). What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

Job Accommodation Network. (n.d.). Employers’ practical guide: Reasonable accommodations during the hiring process.

Office of Disability Employment Policy. (n.d.). Accommodations. U.S. Department of Labor.

Katelyn Quirin Manwiller is the Education Librarian and Assistant Professor at West Chester University.

She lives with chronic illness and is dynamically disabled. Katelyn’s research and advocacy focuses on improving disability inclusion in libraries through incorporating disability into DEI work, addressing disability misconceptions, and creating accessible work environments. You can find her @librariankqm on Twitter or

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I was a Fulbright Fellow in Managua, Nicaragua, and scored an on-campus interview in January in Northfield, Minnesota

Rebecca M. Gordon, PhD, is a moving image archivist and film/media studies scholar. She is currently wrapping up documentation and final reports for her work as the Systems Manager for the Sara Gómez film restoration and preservation project at Queen’s University’s Vulnerable Media Lab in Kingston, Ontario. Her scholarship appears in PUBLIC, The Journal of Film and Media Studies, Film Quarterly, The Journal of Reception Studies, Film Philosophy, and several collections.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree

√ I need more flexibility in my schedule (to care for dependents or otherwise) 

Where do you look for open positions?  

ArchivesGig, LinkedIn, SAA, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, AMIA, Seattle Area Archivists

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Requiring at least two years of experience

√ Supervisory

√ Department Head 

√ Clerk/Library Assistant

√ Other: Intern! — archives/libraries/museums/galleries were shut during Covid so I’m still trying to get hands-on applied experience to go with the theory

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library

√ Archives 

√ Public library 

√ Special library

√ Other: Museum, National Parks Service, Government Archives

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Pacific Northwest and Canada 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area

√ Suburban area

√ Rural area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, within my state

√ Yes, within my country

√ Yes, to a specific list of places

√ Yes, as long as at least some of my moving costs are covered

√ Other: I’ll move anywhere from Alaska south to Southern California and east to the Rockies, but I have to be close enough for elderly parent emergency travel

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Not Toxic, Sense of Purpose Shared by 85%+ of Colleagues, Unionized 

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

about 20

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits

√ Introducing me to staff

√ Having a good reputation 

√ Funding professional development

√ Prioritizing EDI work 

√ Other: Are honest about any problems in the organization that are already public knowledge

Do you expect to see the salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not 

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

Yes: if the person in charge is someone with a bad reputation from their previous position; if I’m told I don’t qualify but I’m the only one who applied and my qualifications *do* match the advert; there isn’t a deadline on the job ad but I apply and receive an email saying the position is no longer available

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

10-12 hours, depending on the job

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

Read the job ad carefully and highlight areas that are in my wheelhouse and those I’ll need to stretch to fulfill; Refresh my resume or CV; write a cover letter that addresses the highlighted bits; Refresh my list of references depending on the job; Refresh my DEI statement if one is required

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: both phone and email are fine

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

depends; one to three months is fair for a serious job; three to six months is normal for an academic position unless something goes wrong, in which case I hope the candidates, including me, would be informed

How do you prepare for interviews?

I try to review what the organization needs; I am working hard on preparing succinct answers are about how I can serve/fill the needs of the organization

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

The ones that ask me to talk about myself so they can get to know me: I have a weird, long background; I’m working on that elevator pitch (see above) so I don’t fall into a trap of my own making

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened more than once  
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Happened more than once
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen √ Happened more than once
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Happened more than once
  • Turned down an offer √ Happened more than once

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

I was offered another job and was going to be asked to pay for my own travel for an on-campus interview

If you’ve turned down an offer (or offers), why?

I was offered another job and didn’t want to move to where that job was (though in retrospect, that was probably a stupid decision) 

If you want to share a great, inspirational, funny,  horrific or other story about an experience you have had at any stage in the hiring process, please do so here:

Oh man. I was a Fulbright Fellow in Managua, Nicaragua, and scored an on-campus interview in January in Northfield, Minnesota. I accepted, and asked if I could have a day to go to the Mall of America to get a winter coat and some snow boots, and maybe other appropriate clothes. They asked me why. The search later failed, and no one told me so until I called and asked. Later, the person who had told me about the job said, “Yeah, I knew that one might be trouble.” — To which I replied, very curtly, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? That is unconscionable behavior.”

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Be super transparent. If they know that there’s going to be an HR hiccup, lay out in the job ad what hiccups might occur that are not the fault of the search committee, but could well occur. Lay out from the get-go what kinds of professional development training will, could, or will never be supported — and supported I mean both “paid for” and “understood to be important”

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m maintaining

√ I’m somewhat depressed 

√ I’m running out of money

√ Not out of money yet, but worried 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

long walks, informational interviews, check-ins with my AMIA mentor(s), ask over and over and over and over again about volunteering and interning

Do you have any advice or words of support you’d like to share with other job hunters, is there anything you’d like to say to employers, or is there anything else you’d like to say about job hunting?

I was the Precarious Labor Organization Representative to the Board of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies for three years (2019-2022); the main thing I’d say to job hunters is for the love of God organize: join a union, or see if your professional organization has a precarious labor or contingent labor organization. And please don’t let yourself be siloed–be aware of what at LEAST one other professional organization is doing with/for its job hunters. And apply for NEH Summer Institutes! They’re awesome.

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

2022 coursework done; June 2023 is the graduation date

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ Less than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree, but still before I graduated 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Hasn’t happened yet – I’m still looking 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ Other: Residency, I extended my MA residency for a few months because there was work to be done and funding for it, but I also was teaching two courses for the Film & Media Dept at the university where I was doing my residency

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

No — wasn’t a library school though: Toronto Metropolitan University’s Film + Photography Preservation & Collections Management program

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about searching for or finding your first post-graduation position?

…well, I’m glad I already spent 20+ years of my life with an English/Film Studies PhD looking for jobs in *that* field; this feels very familiar

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Further Questions: Do you think it is possible for applicants to be too qualified to succeed in a position?

Each week (or every other week) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

This week’s question(s) are:

Do you think it is possible for applicants to be too qualified to succeed in a position? If so, at how and at what point in the process do you determine over qualification– from the application/CV/cover letter, phone interview, in-person interview, or something else? Do you ever include a maximum amount of experience that you will accept in your (internal) rubrics? What are the pros and cons of hiring an individual who is overqualified?

Donna wears glasses and a red t-shirt. She is feeding a bottle to a kangaroo wrapped in a grey blanket.

Donna Pierce, Library Director, Krum Public Library:

Can applicants be too qualified to succeed in a position? Yes and no. Yes, if they think they are “too good” to be doing this “low level” job. No, if they come into the position with an attitude of doing whatever is needed. Just recently I hired my 4th part-time person (myself and 1 other staff are the only full-time people.) This person was formerly a youth services librarian and a library director (at a library bigger than mine.) I am thrilled to have his expertise and experience to help me with programming, especially with the teens. His attitude is one of doing whatever is needed – nothing is “beneath him.”

Celia is running across the finish line of the Clarence Demar Half Marathon

Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: Over-qualification is a tricky issue. Given the job market it is understandable that, for many (most?) people, having a job is better than not. Even one for which they are over-qualified. It is often pretty easy to see that in an application. I have hired individuals with an MLS in hand several times for positions that do not require more than a high school diploma, AA degree, or BA (ILL coordinator, Access Services Manager). When a high school diploma is the minimum requirement and an applicant has a higher degree I don’t usually think of that as an over-qualification, particularly if they don’t have any experience doing the work. When they have been doing similar work, had more authority and/or responsibility, or clearly have more advanced skills I know they may find the job less than satisfying. And they may be hoping, and still searching, to find a job that better matches their credentials even after they are hired.

But – I shifted my thinking about this a number of years ago and accept that an individual’s motivation for seeking employment is not my business. I certainly want to know why the job they applied for interests them. But I never ask why they would take a job they seem over-qualified for or whether they might be bored in the job. I assume anyone applying for, and accepting, a position will work hard at it to do well.

The challenge, of course, is that an individual in a position that does not challenge them or use their range of skills will result in their leaving. And these days turnover is always a scary proposition for those of us who have to jump through hoops just to get existing positions filled (not to mention time-consuming). But this happens all the time anyway – people find a job that pays more, is closer to home, has better hours. If a staff member with a MLS working in an hourly benefitted position finds a job that acknowledges and compensates them as a librarian then I am glad we were able to help them get there. And sometimes they stay even when I know they are not using their degree fully. And as long as they are doing good work, and seem happy, I can ask where they see themselves in five years, or how I could help them think about options, but the choice to stay or leave is theirs.

To be honest, the biggest challenge is often advertising an entry-level position for staff or library faculty that does not require any prior experience and getting applicants who have experience at the specific job which often pushes really early-career applicants out. The experienced applicants are not really over-qualified (unless we say their experience over qualifies them which doesn’t make a lot of sense). But the entry-level applicant with little or no experience isn’t under-qualified. And we want to bring new librarians and staff into the profession. I think this is an issue that many of our newer colleagues are grappling with.

Brandon Fitzgerald, Deputy Director, LAC Federal: My short answer to your question is that I try not to rule out candidates for being overqualified before I have an opportunity to speak with them. Everyone has different life circumstances, interests, and goals that led them to apply. Maybe they want to get their foot in the door with my company or a particular library we support. Perhaps they heard from someone in their network something about our company culture that they value. Or they might know how we like to promote from within and are interested in growing with our company. You can’t glean any of that from a resume. If I were applying for a job I felt overqualified for but had my reasons, I would definitely address that in a cover letter to ensure I’d be given proper consideration.

Headshot of Jimmie Epling, who wears a suit and glasses and smiles into the camera

Jimmie Epling, Director, Darlington County Library System: When hiring for a position we often encounter an applicant who appears to be over qualified for a job. The first impulse of many is to pass on the candidate because in their mind that person “is over qualified and we should not be hired because (insert a favorite excuse).” My belief is not considering a candidate on the grounds the person is over qualified is either shortsighted, discriminatory, or both.

Why might it be shortsighted? This person is interested in the position you have to offer and offers a set of skills needed for the job. What is the logic of hiring someone who doesn’t have the skills and must be trained to do the job? Someone who appears over qualified will very likely be able to learn and perform the job duties required without a lot of training…read “short learning curve.” This staff member will reach the performance level you need soon than someone just meets the job qualifications when hired, saving you staff time and money.

An assumption often made for not hiring someone who is “over qualified” is that person “will not be with you long.” True, this person may be with you only a few months or a year, but the time they are with you may very well be worth it! Hiring an over qualified candidate can provide your library with talents and expertise that even for a short time are invaluable. I’ve often thought, “give me a talented and motivated employee for a year because that person will do more for my library than one who is average will for five years.”

Lastly, not considering someone for a position due to the candidate being, in your view as an employer, “over qualified” is a form of discrimination. As an employer, you have posted the minimum qualifications which the candidate clearly meets. Not interviewing the candidate means you have made a judgement call based on speculation of the individual’s motivations for applying for your open position, not the individual’s qualifications. There are legitimate reasons a person who is over qualified is applying for your open position. You may be able to determine the reasons the person wants the job during the interview. To not offer a candidate with the required qualifications for your job an interview is discriminatory as you are using subjective hiring criteria.

The bottom line is saying a candidate is “over qualified” is a subjective judgement in the eye of the beholder, the employer. Passing on a candidate who appears over qualified is to risk losing a great employee.

Ellen Mehling, Job Search Advisor/Instructor: I don’t think it is possible to be “too qualified”, but as a hiring manager or someone on a hiring committee, I want to know that the applicant who may appear “overqualified” really understands the duties of the job they are actually applying for, and that this position is what they are really interested in.

My concerns would include: the person would be unhappy with the responsibilities and maybe with the pay, would be taking this job only out of desperation, and/or would be looking to get something “better” elsewhere asap. Or they might be used to being in charge and will still behave that way, in a role where that is not appropriate.

I’d look for this to be addressed in the cover letter, perhaps with the applicant saying something like, “In the recent past my position was one of upper administration; I did that for years and was successful at it and enjoyed it. After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided that a position where I can contribute strongly as a team member without the leadership component is what I prefer now.” It is always better for an applicant to convey that their reason for making a change is moving towards something they want, rather than running away from something they don’t want (like the challenges of supervising others, for example). Another reason could be that the applicant wants a healthy work-life balance, but that has to be conveyed with a realistic understanding of what the work-life balance at the new job will be, and without bashing a current or former employer.

The pros of an “overqualified” applicant can be that they may require less training and may already have many desirable skills and years of experience that other applicants don’t yet have. The cons could be: dissatisfaction with the position and a bad fit due to comparison with their former duties, pay, position in a hierarchy, power and control, autonomy, etc.

Thoughtful questions during the interview, that assess how well the applicant understands what the job really entails, should be asked, to determine if they will be happy and comfortable and productive in that specific role.

Headshot of Alan Smith, who wears glasses, a tie and suspenders

Alan Smith, Director, Florence County, SC Library System: I don’t believe I’ve ever rejected an application solely because of overqualification, though it’s possible other employers may do this, especially those who get a huge volume of applications. I have interviewed lots of “overqualified” candidates, hired some, and chosen not to hire others, and it really comes down to the context the candidate provides. 

(Side note: at risk of being pedantic, I don’t like the term “overqualified.” I think of it like the word “unique” — there aren’t varying degrees of unique; something is either unique or not unique, and a job applicant is either qualified or unqualified. In what other context would someone reject something for being too good or too much like what they wanted? Some employers may fear that a candidate who isn’t able to use their full skill set, one they built over a long period of time at great expense, might be dissatisfied with the work or would leave the position quickly. But I also suspect some employers reject “overqualified” candidates because they are intimidated or unsure how to supervise someone with more knowledge or experience.)  

Back to that context: If you are the extremely qualified candidate, just explain why you want this position specifically. Prefer the schedule flexibility of a part-time position? Want fewer responsibilities and a better work/life balance? Trying to gain experience in another area of operations? I’ve hired staff who gave each of those reasons and they all worked out well. 

On the other hand, I’ve rejected highly qualified candidates who seemed to think their experience meant they had nothing to learn, or would automatically perform better than other employees in the department. For example, we once interviewed the former Director of a sizable library system for a paraprofessional circulation position. When asked why they wanted the position, their answer was along the lines of, “I can do these duties twice as well as anyone else, and in half the time. Frankly I should be doing your job.” Maybe that was true! But if they say that to the Director in an interview, I can only imagine how they would treat their coworkers. 

To answer the original question, though, I don’t think it’s possible for candidates to be too qualified to succeed in a position per se. However, an extremely qualified candidate may not succeed in a position because they feel simpler tasks are worth less effort, are dissatisfied with the work, or are trying to meet the standards of the position they used to hold, or trained for, rather than the one they have. 

Julie Todaro, Dean, Retired:

Do you think it is possible for applicants to be too qualified to succeed in a position? 

Although both applicants and employers have many things to consider in the hiring process, a great deal of care should be taken when qualifications are considered. This includes employers needing to be very careful in:

  • Getting clarification on whether or not the organization’s qualifications are measurable for assessing applicants, and if not, instructions on how to assess applicant hard-to-measure qualifications,
  • Which qualification categories are being considered? (ex. HR guidelines – as we know – typically include specifics such as:)
    • one or more specific degree(s) or professional designation(s) or certification(s),
    • specific industry knowledge such as proficiency with hardware or software products,
    • the number of years of experience – in general or in specific institutions or with age levels, etc. unique materials or other areas of the profession,

                and the more typical – no matter the level or type of position –

  • skills and abilities to perform tasks such as lifting, pushing loaded carts of materials, etc.
  • Creating a rubric for identifying/measuring quantifiable qualifications and determining presence of non-quantifiable elements/areas (ex. concepts such as time management, multi-tasking, teamwork, decision making and commonly used attributes such as taking initiative, commitment to continuous learning, flexibility, optimism, valuing critical elements of society or the profession),
  • Choosing required vs. preferred qualifications needed for a position,
  • Determining the latitude in making decisions such as substitutions for experience? education? etc., ranges in categories such as a range of years or presence and placement in an educational program (enrolled in …candidacy status for PhDs),
  • Assessing educational or training curriculum present in entities providing preferred or required qualifications (ex. is the graduate school granting their degree presenting contemporary curriculum?)
  • Determining terminology (ex. only specific credentialling, experience and what ‘experience’ means such as the meaning of post graduate work, etc.)

And just like employers, applicants need to be careful in matching their education, training, background, etc. to the organization’s identified areas and in providing honest representations of what IS and ISN’T present.

Giving the many issues surrounding current hiring practices – qualification issues might also 


  • Who determines if an applicant possesses the qualifications as stated; and,
  • The question at hand – the “over” qualification of an applicant.

Beyond the determining of what you need and who has what if an organization does have latitude to hire someone with more qualifications that advertised or needed employers should take great care to:

  • explain the position to applicants – specifically what the person is supposed to do and NOT supposed to do,
  • identify compensation issues and if they affect the salary placement,
  • share other benefits of the position at hand such as access to travel funding, personal technology,
  • be clear about opportunities for advancement that is:
    • can someone in a position “transfer” to another? be promoted? or must they apply and compete for other positions that their qualifications more closely match?

Final recommendations

In my last institution, rejecting someone from an applicant pool because they were “overqualified” was not allowed. This meant that applicants applying for positions with the thought of getting their foot in the door and bypassing our processes had to have the situation very carefully explained to them. I must add; however, that when we did end up doing this – against my better judgement – I might add – it failed twice – once with the employee being clearly told – becoming unhappy they weren’t “using their degree” and “applying” for a position or title change and ultimately leaving unhappily after – frankly – doing a mediocre job at the job they were originally hired to do. In the second event, an employee would literally NOT stop doing other people’s work – again – work they felt they were qualified to do even though it isn’t why they were hired. In that case, the employee was let go – again, because they could not accept the fact that this process applied to them.

I should also add that there is an additional category – and that is an employee who completes a qualification during their employment and then – upon completion – being qualified for another position, but – again – not being able to automatically “move into another position.” Even with careful explanations, it worked FOR the employee on one instance and against the employee in another. In the first, they followed our recommendations, keep within their original job, applied for the other position and was awarded that position. In the second instance, they appeared to disdain their current position as they increased their qualifications and not only did other work – as the earlier example, they did not do the work they were hired for. In that instance the person left before they were let go for poor performance.  

So, with the burden on employers to make it clear and an equal burden on the employee to follow processes, all employers want to assist employees in advancing along a career path. If an organization wants to be clear, written continuing education pathways with clear explanations of the benefits of existing qualifications and increasing educational, attribute and competency attainment are an important part of the infrastructure of an organization committed to employee growth and continuous improvement practices that include increasing experience and education. 

NOTE: Because no one knows what really makes up a professional position until they have the specific professional experience and/or credential, there are a number of people who will apply saying “they know they can do the job” or “they used the library a great deal in getting their credential” and they just know they can now be successful in the position, no matter if they have the credential or not. A longer list of overqualified applicants might include those who are:

  • simply looking for any job and can’t get one in their field,
  • are burned out in their field and are seeking an entry level position only,
  • looking for an opportunity to change positions but are seeking a position that will help them gather information about another area and thus want a lower level or “any” job,
  • want to get into an organization by volunteering (and the organization allows that), and we have those who are admitting they “don’t want to work as hard” as their original qualification required in a position and they want a position that doesn’t extend – for example – beyond a more classic workday and they know they are overqualified, etc.

My same thoughts as stated above exist for these reasons as well – think carefully about hiring anyone who isn’t – in some way – committed to your patrons, their services and resources, the organization and their peers/the workforce. We aren’t in business to help someone else only find themselves, and although that sounds callous, people may well be applying for positions because of any of the five areas above, but they shouldn’t and don’t need to share that with the hiring manager. Employers must realize that if applicants express these reasons and you DO hire them, you are culpable in possible behaviors – because “you knew it when you hired them.” Obviously, managers should focus their time on the MANY applicants who are committed to their work and will be an asset to the organization. 

By the way, if you’re a job hunter I have a new survey for you! Will you please fill it out?

If you’re someone who hires LIS workers, the current survey is still open.

Other ways to share your thoughts:

If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Hiring Better: Insights into the Library Juice Academy Course, Recruiting and Retaining Librarians From Underrepresented Minoritized Groups

The first run of Hiring Librarians was pretty eye-opening. I learned that there is no secret to hiring and that people who hire library workers have all sorts of contradictory opinions and practices. And I saw that many of those opinions and practices are rooted in internal bias. I am very grateful to the readers who took the time to point out problematic answers, and the problematic questions I was asking. So this time around, I’ve been looking for ways to help mitigate harm, both in the work of this blog and in our collective practices. 

Back in July, the ACRL Residency Interest Group held a webinar for Resident Librarians on starting the post residency job search. Panelists created and shared a resource list on Twitter, which I then combed through, looking for things to delve into deeper. One of the items on the list was a Library Juice Academy course called, “Recruiting and Retaining Librarians from Underrepresented Minoritized Groups.” I’m really happy Tarida Anantachai and Twanna Hodge were willing to provide more details about how the course is run and who might benefit from enrolling (and am actually looking forward to starting the course myself). 

Who are the instructors? 

Tarida Anantachai (she/her) is the Director, Inclusion & Talent Management at the NC State University Libraries, where she oversees the recruitment and hiring process for library faculty and staff positions; leads equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts; and coordinates the Libraries Fellows Program. Prior to this role, she also worked for several years in various public service-oriented positions, all while being actively involved in advancing and advising staff on equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. Tarida was an ARL Leadership and Career Development Program Fellow, a participant in the MN Institute for Early Career Librarians, and an ALA Emerging Leader.

Twanna Hodge (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington. She was the inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Librarian at the University of Florida Libraries. Academic librarian for over seven years, with several years, working on improving recruitment and retention structures in her previous organization and has been engaging in diversity, equity, and inclusion work since graduate school. She is a 2013 American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholar and a 2022 ALA Spectrum Doctoral Fellow.

We have been co-teaching this course since 2020. It has been an incredible experience for us, allowing us to collectively connect with and exchange ideas with library and information professionals across the country (and even internationally!). We also want to acknowledge Angela Pashia, who was responsible for first launching this course and then co-taught a session with Tarida; her original syllabus inspired much of the content we’ve developed since taking over this course.

What is it? Tell us about the course. 

The Recruiting and Retaining Librarians From Underrepresented Minoritized Groups course addresses recruitment strategies that will improve participants’ chances of attracting a diverse pool of applicants and minimize the influence of unintended biases in the selection process. Of course, hiring is just the first step to building a diverse and inclusive workplace. We will also address factors influencing the long-term retention of librarians from underrepresented minoritized groups. 

The modality is asynchronous over four weeks (adding optional synchronous meet-ups). This is seminar-style and very participant-driven, with readings/videos and required posting and commenting on weekly prompts; we do mention that folks get out of the course as much as they want to engage in it. We also share additional resources as we find them (including relevant upcoming events or other recently published articles) via announcements, including in the optional synchronous meet-ups and on our discussion boards. Library Juice Academy also provides perpetual access to its courses, allowing participants to return to the materials even after the course has been completed.

Regarding course prep, we generally spend several hours reviewing the course materials to ensure relevance/updated readings, coordinate our meet-up times, and provide a welcoming atmosphere for our participants. The course is offered roughly twice a year, depending on our schedules. Currently, the cost of the course is $200.You can register through

This is one of the four courses of the Diversity and Inclusion Skills Certificate. The other three courses are Examining Institutional Racism in Libraries; Allyship, Anti-Oppression Practices, and Building Inclusive Libraries; Cultural Competence for Librarians. You can take one, a combination, or pursue the certificate. It’s based on your needs.

Who is the target audience? 

As with many Library Juice Academy courses, our course is open to all GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) library workers, including LIS students, early career folks, senior administrators, etc. Many of those who’ve participated in the past have included library administrators, hiring managers, those who have been or anticipate being part of a search process, etc., but we’ve also had those from adjacent fields, such as rare book dealers or those doing community-based information work. Even if they don’t have a formal role in hiring at their organizations, we have also had and welcome those who are generally interested in creating more inclusive and equitable processes and supporting historically minoritized populations.

What topics are covered?

The first half of the course is more focused on recruitment, including exploring the barriers, bias in the hiring process and various strategies that can be implemented to make one’s search processes more inclusive and equitable. The second half of the course is more focused on retention (though retention certainly does come up even in the first half), including research on low morale, building support networks, mentoring, and building more inclusive spaces centered on those from historically marginalized populations. We’re so grateful for the wealth of literature and other resources that we have been able to cite and include throughout the course—particularly those from our BIPOC researchers and practitioners across the field.

What are some of your participants’ takeaways?

Participants have expressed their appreciation in leaving with applicable strategies and changes in mindset, but also in gaining a community of allies working towards equitable and inclusive recruitment and hiring practices. Former participants have shared in person, via email, and even during our meet-ups how valuable they have found the course, how it has changed their approach to structuring finalist interview schedules, or now they send the interview questions in advance based on our discussions. It’s rewarding, and we are grateful to do this work. We, as instructors, gain from the course as well, from insights from those at different institutions, to new resources, to other ways to further design the course for future iterations. Each time we are reminded that there is a necessity for this course and to continue these conversations.

How can we contact you?

You’re welcome to reach out to Tarida at and Twanna at

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Job Hunter’s Web Guide: APALA Career Center

I’m pleased to share with you some information about the career board run by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA). Swing by for tons of job listings, resume reviews, and even career advice. 

What is it?  Please give us your elevator speech!

APALA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing leadership opportunities through informed dialogue that addresses the needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander library workers and those who serve these communities. APALA Career Center aims to connect job opportunities to AANHPI and all job seekers more efficiently and equitably. 

When was it started?  Why was it started?

The website was launched on April 18, 2022. It was started because we wanted a way for APALA members to connect to job opportunities. Another association also recommended that the additional revenue stream from the Career Center could help us expand our scholarships, awards, and grants. 

Who runs it?

Career Center is under the purview of the APALA Finance and Fundraising Committee with oversight from the APALA Executive Board. 

Are you a “career expert”? What are your qualifications?

We partner with YM Careers by Community Brands, a career center platform that powers the largest association job board network in the world.

Who is your target audience?

Both employers and job seekers in the LIS (library and information science) field. 

What’s the best way to use your site?  Should users consult it daily?  Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?

Job seekers are welcome to sign up for free to view daily content such as the Career Planning feature which provides advice, insights, and coaching information about library job hunting.

Employers can check the products section to find out different pricing models we have, with the most popular one enabling them to email jobs to qualified APALA members and have the positions remain highlighted and high in search results on the Career Center. 

Does your site provide:

√ Job Listings

√  Articles/literature

√  Links

√ Coaching

√ The opportunity for interaction

Advice on:

√ Cover Letters

√ Resumes

√ Interviewing

√ Networking

√ Other (Please Specify): career planning

Do you charge for anything on your site?

We charge to post job listings.

What are your standards for job listings (e.g., must include salary)?

We don’t have any specific standards since the current vendor platform does not have a feature to require posting of salary information. However, we are revisiting it over the summer of 2023 and are hoping to include it in the future.

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Hiring Better: Improving Equity & Inclusion in Academic Libraries through the Diversity Residency Toolkit

The first run of Hiring Librarians was pretty eye-opening. I learned that there is no secret to hiring and that people who hire library workers have all sorts of contradictory opinions and practices, including many rooted in internal bias.  This time around, I’ve been looking for ways to help mitigate harm, both in the work of this blog and in our collective practices, and to help move towards Hiring Better

 I have been interested – and hopeful – about the possibility of Residencies to improve two issues: the difficulty inexperienced librarians have getting their foot in the door and the lack of diversity in the profession. In practice, I have heard that Diversity Residencies can actually undermine the latter.

In the post below, authors of The Diversity Residency Toolkit provide an overview of the resource they created. It is grounded not only in the literature, but in the experiences of Residents themselves. In this thorough and thoughtful post, you will find information about what libraries need to do in order to create Diversity Residencies that actually serve their purpose. I am glad to share their words here. If you are looking for more, the citation for the full toolkit is:

Adolpho, K., Bergamasco, M., Corral, A., Peralta, M., Rawls, M., Tadena, L., & Tavernier, W. (2021) Diversity Residency Toolkit. ACRL Residency Interest Group.

In 2019, members from the ACRL Residency Interest Group (RIG) (an interest group of the Association of College and Research Libraries) were tasked to examine diversity residencies in terms of institutional readiness, support, and success. In response to this charge, the group developed the Diversity Residency Toolkit. This tool was designed to provide guidance for a residency program from its inception to its completion and beyond. While the toolkit was designed to address a growing need for consistency across residency programs, it can also be used to improve hiring practices and assist with onboarding staff from underrepresented identity groups. This blog post was collectively written by the toolkit’s authors and will provide an overview of the tool and how it can be used to improve hiring practices.

What is a Diversity Residency?
A diversity residency is an entry-level temporary position that provides early career library workers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups with professional experience. What this looks like will differ from institution to institution; a residency might have a particular focus, or it might be structured to introduce a resident to different areas of library work before the resident finds their area of interest. Residencies can be anywhere from one year to three years long, with model programs providing three-year contracts.

Why was the Diversity Residency Toolkit created?
First, it is important to recognize why diversity residency positions exist. An increase in representation in all types of libraries has been at the center of inclusive hiring practices for a number of years, and in academic libraries, one option for addressing this issue is to create diverse residency positions. These positions are often advertised as a career pipeline for individuals from underrepresented identity groups within the library and information field. In academic libraries, these positions can provide individuals with entry-level experience that can be used to help springboard an individual toward the next stage of their careers.

The Diversity Residency Toolkit was created by RIG members that were appointed to serve on the Diversity Residency Subgroup. The subgroup was tasked by then RIG Convener Twanna Hodge to identify, critically examine, and assess current ACRL Diversity Alliance Member Residency Programs to establish the efficacy of existing programs and develop Diversity Residency best practices.

Can you talk a little bit about the process of creating it? Some of the specifics I’m interested in:

a) The Toolkit was created by a 7-person subgroup of ACRL RIG who were themselves current or former residents. Did they self-nominate? The subgroup was appointed by Twanna Hodge, 2019 RIG convenor. When the work began, it was a space for the subgroup to share their own experiences as residents and learn about the commonalities and differences between the residency programs. When this began, many subgroup members were in or had previously left a diversity resident position in the United States, with a few going through the job-hunting process or facing significant life changes. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the physical and emotional labor that went into this work, given that many were in temporary and precarious positions.

b) How did you gather additional experiences from other current or former residents? The members of the subgroup were part of a cohort of residents who communicated regularly and shared their experiences through various networks. The first was from a cohort of resident librarians who attended the 2018 Diversity Residency Institute hosted by UNC Greensboro, which received an IMLS award to host a national cohort development program for Library Diversity Residents. This program enabled one to two incoming residents from each institution to attend a two-and-a-half-day institute to 1) receive instruction from national experts on how to make the most of their residency experience and 2) gain a professional network of their residency colleagues nationally. The second network was from a national Slack Space, created by the two inaugural diversity residents at the University of Texas, Natalie Hill and Laura Tadena. The Diversity Resident Slack space administrators facilitated quarterly meetups for residents to share their experiences or provide career support for members of the Slack space (i.e., interview and presentation practice, shared resources, CV review, etc.). The other network that was essential for guiding the work was the RIG list-serv, which before moving to ALA Connect, was freely available to anyone interested in receiving information about residency programs.

c) Were the existing resources/literature helpful, or did you find much that contradicted your own experiences? While exploring the literature, a recurring thread was the amount of choice and agency resident librarians were given in their positions. While there is no formalized structure for library residency programs, a common structure is a rotation model in which the resident works in 3-4 different library departments during their residency to gain skills and experience in various parts of library work. For example, a resident might start work in the collection development department for about three months, then “rotate” to work in research services for the next three months, and so on. Some residents wrote that the rotational model worked for them because it allowed them to explore various library careers and learn new skills. However, other residents noted that they were dissatisfied with the rotational structure because it required them to work in areas they were uninterested in and didn’t match their career goals, or required them to rotate to a different department when they would have preferred to stay longer in their current department. We noticed a trend in which the resident’s level of satisfaction and interest in the rotational model—and, therefore a measure of its effectiveness—depended on how much choice and agency they had in modifying the model to suit their needs. 

As we noticed a trend of agency or lack of agency in library diversity residencies, we also noticed a lack of commentary or dialogue from libraries as employers. There were few suggestions that included a call to reform or standardize diversity residencies, despite residents advocating for more agency or wishing their residencies were different. The subgroup’s focus was to equip library institutions with a set of tools to enable them to better support residents. The subgroup identified the value of institutional accountability and transparency, and designed the tools in the Toolkit to be interactive and iterative, and to encourage the generation of action items to set change in motion.

Key steps for ensure that a Diversity Residency is as beneficial for the resident as it is for the organization: A conversation with members from the subgroup:

What are the key steps an organization can take to ensure that a Diversity Residency is as beneficial for the resident as it is for the organization?
Specific steps would probably vary depending on the institution’s specific program and the resident librarian’s specific needs, but here’s what we (the subgroup) recommend: 

  • Remember that the goal of a residency is to increase the recruitment and retention of BIPOC library workers. 
  • Don’t treat residencies as a way to solve diversity and inclusion issues at your institution and really take the time to assess institutional readiness for hosting a resident librarian before posting that job ad. Bad residency experiences have absolutely pushed good people out of the field. 
  • Planning or redesigning your residency program to center the resident librarian’s needs will go a long way in helping ensure resident librarians have good experiences. This should include flexibility around rotations and placements based on their interests and support in applying, interviewing, and being a competitive candidate for positions post-residency. 
  • Is your institution ready to host a resident librarian? Evaluate your workplace and critically examine if the library staff and administration is ready to provide an immersive experience to an individual in this position. 

The toolkit is in beta testing, is that correct? How is that going? Have you learned anything surprising?

We have fewer institutions taking part in beta testing than anticipated. In addition, most institutions have experienced delays in their hiring process for various reasons. We were surprised to find out that a public library was interested in the toolkit and that institution is part of the beta testing, which is encouraging, as it will give us insight into how the toolkit can be used in a non-academic library setting. However, we know that institutions are using the toolkit more informally who still need to sign up for beta testing, which is also encouraging. While it means an extended timeline for our research, we think it’s still worthwhile.

If you were to rewrite the toolkit today, would you change anything?
At this point, we have reservations about making revisions before seeing the feedback from the institutions that are participating in the beta testing process. Any revisions should be evidence-based and centered on the resident experience.

Do you have suggestions/resources for current diversity residents who feel unsupported in their residency?
Getting involved with the Residency Interest Group (RIG) is a great way to connect with other current and former resident librarians. Community is especially important for librarians from marginalized communities—it’s a way to process and share experiences with library professionals who may be in similar positions or who were residents in the past and may be able to provide guidance. Individuals who are in residency programs can join networks like the ACRL Resident Slack Space or the informal space created by the University of Texas’ former resident librarians. These spaces will provide you the opportunity to connect with others in similar positions as your own and learn about the different residency experiences. Finally, consider joining an racial or ethnic affiliate of the American Library Association like the American Indian Library Association, Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, Black Caucus of ALA, Chinese American Librarians Association, or REFORMA, to name a few. These affiliates, like ALA and the ALA Divisions, offer mentorship opportunities, scholarships, leadership development, and other resources for career development.

Do you have suggestions for what library workers should look for when applying to a Diversity Residency? Are there any red flags?
We found in the literature review that there were several diversity residencies where residents were given menial tasks and other work that was not at the professional level, and where their colleagues mistook them for interns. Be wary of any diversity residency with vague job descriptions and/or job tasks not clearly at the professional level. If you’re unsure whether or not a job expects library professional-level work, compare it against other non-residency entry-level job postings. 

We strongly advise against applying for jobs that do not have “librarian” in the job title and avoid residencies that are not salaried and do not have benefits. Residencies with host institutions that are in the ACRL Diversity Alliance are required to provide a salary commensurate with the salaries of entry-level librarians or archivists.1 Tools like the Hiring Librarians salary table can help you determine whether the salary offered is commensurate. 

It’s important for applicants to diversity residency positions to inquire about DEI initiatives at the library, and the purpose in starting a diversity residency program there. If the search committee frames the impetus for the program around solving DEI issues at the library, that’s a red flag. Any institution where they place extra emphasis on the resident librarian doing “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)” work, as opposed to doing the work the resident would be interested in might be a red flag. Temporary, early career positions for BIPOC cannot solve climate issues at a particular institution, and people in these positions should not be responsible for getting DEI work started. 

The toolkit is aimed at Academic libraries, but I know of at least one public library that’s starting a diversity residency. Do you have thoughts on how it might be adapted or on how processes or considerations might differ in other library types?
The toolkit is flexible enough to be adapted by institutions of various sizes and focuses. As we mentioned, we have 1 public library in the group of 3 institutions that are participating in beta testing. Within the toolkit, we acknowledge that institutions may only be able to form some of the recommended committees because of constraints, whether related to the number of staff a library has or because of schedules. However, if an institution understands the purpose and processes, it can find ways to implement support and structure for a residency that works for its institution. We encourage all administrators, coordinators, and stakeholders in diversity residency programs to read the toolkit and see how it is adaptable to their institution. If they have questions, we’re available to help answer them!

Similarly, as libraries in general continue to have difficulties diversifying their staff, are there lessons from the toolkit that can be applied to the wider world of library work and workers?
Yes, without reservation. The tools can be used to support early career librarians, librarians new to an institution, and any librarian who does not identify as being part of the dominant library culture that is mainly cisgender white women. The toolkit provides tools/information for administrations, coordinators, and other stakeholders to think more inclusively about how they hire and onboard workers. All four toolkit parts can be applied to library work/workers. Assessment practices (like the survey at the end of the toolkit) should become more normalized in this profession, especially when it comes to evaluating how an institution hires and onboard workers. 

Are there any resources/articles/research on Diversity Residencies that are currently blowing your minds?
Residencies Revisited: Reflections on Library Residency Programs2 edited by Preethi Gorecki and Arielle Petrovich is a great read for anyone who’s interested in residencies and learning more about them. The book is a personal narrative of what it’s like to be a resident. 

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

Resident librarian positions are not the solution to diversity problems. They can be incredible examples of springboards for advancement in the field of librarianship, but they can also be why people leave their institutions or the field. An institution’s preparedness is critical for its success, so take the time to do the work and research what has been published in residency programs.

If you are a resident, find your network and if you need help, ask your coordinator, mentor, or someone you trust at your library to connect you with another resident (either past or present). If you need someone to ask, email one of us, and we will be happy to connect you with other folks in similar positions. There is power in sharing your experience. Consider connecting with another resident (or two). 

Connect with other coordinators if you are a coordinator, manager, or someone thinking about starting a residency program. There will be another resident institute in the fall of 2023—consider sending your residents. If there is a learning day, consider attending so that you can ask questions and ensure that your resident program is equipped to host a resident. 

Finally, administrators, leadership, executives, or anyone with positional power, consider using it to help your residents grow their networks. Check in with your resident and invite them to sit down with you at least once a semester and hear about their experience—you might be surprised at what you learn. 


  1. ACRL Diversity Alliance,
  2. Gorecki, P. & Petrovich, A. (Eds.). (2022). Residencies Revisited: Reflections on Library Residency Programs from the Past and Present. Library Juice Press.

Kalani Adolpho (they/he) is a Processing Archivist for Special Collections and Archives at Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. Their research interests include ethical issues in description and trans and gender diverse inclusion in libraries. Kalani is the current convener for the ACRL Residency Interest Group, and a member of the Homosaurus editorial board. He holds an MLIS and BA in History from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Maya Bergamasco (she/her) is the Faculty Research & Scholarly Support Librarian at Harvard Law School Library, where she provides in-depth tailored research and scholarly publication support to the HLS community. Maya’s academic interests include community outreach and engagement, critical data studies, and user instruction. She is a past ALA Spectrum Scholar and current ALA Emerging Leader. She holds a MLIS from Simmons University and a BA in English literature from State University of New York at Geneseo.

Michelle Peralta (she/her) is an archivist for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. She holds an Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University, as well as an Master of Arts in History and Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from San Diego State University. Her interests include community archives, reparative archival description, and primary source instruction.

Mallary Rawls (she/her) is a Humanities Librarian at Florida State University. She works with the English department, African American Studies, and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies programs. Her research interests include critical information studies, critical librarianship, African American literature, and American history. 

Laura Tadena (she/her), is the Community Engagement Librarian at Austin Public Library in Austin, Texas, and a current ALA Emerging Leader. Laura’s background is in architecture, education, and organizational development. She specializes in addressing inequities in the built environment and creating inclusive and welcoming library spaces and services. She holds a MLS with a School Librarian Certificate from the University of North Texas, a BS in Architecture from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and is an MBA candidate at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

Willa Tavernier (she/her), is the Research Impact and Open Scholarship Librarian at Indiana University Bloomington. Her research interests are in public open digital scholarship, equitable scholarly communication and how the idea of community intersects with open access and scholarly communication resources and providers. She holds an MLIS and Graduate Certificate in College Teaching from the University of Iowa, an LL.M. in International Business from American University Washington College of Law, an LEC from the Norman Manley Law School and an LL.B. from the University of West Indies at Cave Hill. Her most recent work is the public open digital scholarship project Land, Wealth, Liberation – the Making & Unmaking of Black Wealth in the United States.

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Once I applied for a job and heard back about scheduling an interview 13 minutes after my initial email!

Jenna Courtade is a current MS/LIS student at the University of Illinois. 

She is looking for positions in digital imaging labs or archives as she is passionate about preserving, and making accessible, important cultural and historical material. Jenna loves spending her free time baking, working on crafts, or developing the film she uses to photograph friends. 

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree 

√ My current job is temporary 

Where do you look for open positions?  

ArchivesGig, MuseWeekly newsletter, USA Jobs, other job boards.

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Requiring at least two years of experience

√ Supervisory 

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library

√ Archives 

√ Special library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Rural area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, to a specific list of places 

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Good fit for my career goals; Good pay; location I don’t mind.

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

Approximately 35

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits

√ Introducing me to staff 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

Do you expect to see the salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not 

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

A job title that has a “/” or other indication that it is probably two jobs squished into one.

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

It depends. On a job that I am not overly interested in, maybe 30 minutes. For a job that I am really interested in, I could spend a few hours.

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

I use my standard resume/CV, then tailor my standard cover letter. I have different standard cover letters depending on the type of position. If I really like the job, I will spend a longer time to add more to the standard cover letter. I also have a portfolio of my work that I include with some applications. Finally, I have a pre-assembled list of references incase the application asks for it.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

I expect it to take a few months, ideally no more than 2 months.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I write myself questions based on the job requirements and qualifications. Then I practice with family and friends.

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

What is your biggest weakness. I don’t like the negative aspect of it.

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened the majority of the time or always 
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ I don’t know
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ I don’t know
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Not Applicable

If you want to share a great, inspirational, funny,  horrific or other story about an experience you have had at any stage in the hiring process, please do so here:

Once I applied for a job and heard back about scheduling an interview 13 minutes after my initial email! That was so exciting.

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Provide as much information on salary range as possible and always let people know if they were accepted or rejected. 

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m optimistic

√ I’m maintaining 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

I have not really established any. This makes me think that maybe I should. 

Do you have any comments for Emily (the survey author) or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Thank you for putting this together!

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

May 2023

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ More than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Hasn’t happened yet – I’m still looking 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ N/A – hasn’t happened yet 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

Yes, there are resources I have used and could use if I wanted.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about searching for or finding your first post-graduation position?

I think it has been useful to start early, for practice, but I think that I have not heard back from many employers since I would not be able to start until many months out. 

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Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey, Academic, Archives, Midwestern US, Rural area, Special

On Awful Replies

On Thursday I posted “Do not ask questions. My pet peeve. This is useless and a waste of our time.” As many folks have noted on the interwebs (some examples at this Twitter link), it includes a lot of bad takes, including what seems to be the desire to discriminate against folks for having “mental health issues.”

I wanted to first say please don’t take that post, or any individual post, as instructive of normal hiring practices. Any one survey response is not a norm. The surveys in aggregate are also probably not a norm, because I’m not using representative sampling to gather them. So while you may glean advice or tips from individual surveys that suit your job hunting or hiring needs, that advice suits you because it speaks to you and your experience, not because it’s a universal truth. Probably. Most likely.

Unsurprisingly, the awful responses are the ones that get the most traction. For example, the “Do not ask questions” post (just that single post) had 1,004 views in one day. On an average day, the blog as a whole gets about 200 views. But the rip-roaringly awful survey responses are really only a small portion of the total.

There are two responses that I’ve seen to Thursday’s post that I wanted to talk about.

First is the anonymity. When I put out a survey, I don’t ask for contact information unless the person is willing to be non-anonymous. For the Hiring Library Workers survey, as of February 18, 2023, there are 191 responses and only 52 people provided their email. So, I do not have any contact information for the bulk of the responses. I generally can’t follow up with folks who share hair-raising opinions and I certainly can’t name them for shaming.

It seems clear to me that anonymity allows people to share the breadth of their opinions and experiences, including things that may be awful, unpopular, ill-advised, illegal, and/or discriminatory. It allows people to answer the survey off the cuff, without worrying how things will reflect on them.

It also means I can’t verify the truth, accuracy, or motives behind any of the responses. Maybe there’s just some dude in Hoboken who really likes to troll Hiring Librarians surveys. Who knows.

Anonymity feels valuable to me because it is useful to know what is out there. It is useful to be able to know about, and discuss, the details of awful, unpopular, ill-advised, illegal, and/or discriminatory hiring practices in addition to the ones that are good, helpful, and kind. And all the ones somewhere in between. I would love to hear more about your opinions on this, especially if they differ from mine.

The second discussion point that I wanted to respond to, and maybe get your feedback on, is “should I even be posting awful responses in the first place?”

I have already written in this post about why I think awful responses are valuable, but the other side of that coin is “are they harmful?”

When I restarted the blog, I thought about the harm that previous posts had caused, but I focused pretty specifically on the “What Should Candidates Wear?” survey. Not only did that survey provide a forum for anti-trans, pro-gender normative, sexist, and otherwise oppressive opinions, it was written with a large chunk of my own cis-gender, suburban-roots, white lady bias.

Are these “awful posts” also harmful? Do they normalize really shitty opinions?

I have thought not, because generally when they are popular, they are resoundingly vilified. For example, on Thursday, 896 of the visitors to the blog were referred by Twitter, and all of the Twitter posts I’ve seen express some combination of outrage and horror.

But without this context, does posting these views make it seem like they are ok?

I don’t generally put a lot of my own editorial opinion along with the responses because I want people to respond to surveys frankly. And I worry that the perception that they will be judged by me will result in people being less honest in future surveys. Or even just not bother to take them? But is this just the shitty neighbor of a “we have to be neutral” argument? Neutrality is harmful. I am now considering that maybe I should put a disclaimer at the top of each response, warning folks that the views therein should not be taken as universal truth and may indeed be very shitty.

I would like to hear what you think.

Thanks for reading and listening.

Your Pal,


Title: Thumbs down. N.J. Solon indicates his disapproval of Secretary Perkins. Washington, D.C., Feb. 2. Rep. J. Parnell Thomas, republican of New Jersey, indicates with his thumbs his disapproval of Secretary of Labor Perkins just before presenting 'new evidence' to the House Judiciary Committee today in support of his resolution to impeach the Secretary of Labor and two other Labor Department officials, 2-2-39 Abstract/medium: 1 negative : glass ; 4 x 5 in. or smaller
N..J. Solon indicates his disapproval of Secretary Perkins. Harris & Ewing, photographer. Harris & Ewing, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under Op Ed

Do not ask questions. My pet peeve. This is useless and a waste of our time. 

Karl Geiger (1855-1924), Dt. Bibliothekar, Direktor der Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen 1895-1920. Julius Wilhelm Hornung, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Administrative Manager/Regional Manager

Titles hired include: Administrative Manager, Librarians I-IV, Sr. Library Assistant, Library Assistant I-II, Clerk, Page

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration 

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application 

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ Written Exam

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

Energy, enthusiasm 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Stating misinformation about organization, bad grammar, lingo and cliches

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

Mental health issues

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ Only One!

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

Not researching organization;, rambling, unfocused answers that are too long

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

People tend to sound more monotone and show less enthusiasm in this setting. Smile sometimes and look at the camera. Be aware of your background and keep it simple. It can be needlessly distracting.

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Emphasize customer service, work with people 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Too expensive to live in our area now. Makes it hard for lots of people.

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

None! Do not ask questions. My pet peeve. This is useless and a waste of our time. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.


Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US