Everything we do, every step, is to create a good patron experience

Newspaper clipping from Thursday, April 26, 1979, from page 17 of the Whitman County Gazette, published in Colfax, Washington. The clipping shows a group photograph of librarians from the Whitman County Library, gathered for a workshop presented by consultants from the Washington State Library. Librarians present were from Albion, Colfax, Colton, Endicott, Garfield, Oakesdale, Palouse, Rosalia, Tekoa, and Uniontown. Note: names read left to right, seated subjects named first, followed by standing subjects. Names: Kuder, Martha; Clow, Margaret; Hawkins, Andrea; Jamison, Barbara; Doyle, Dorothy; Elwood, Win; Zinke, Elaine; Dahmen, Ernestine; Burkhart, Sally; Helt, Esther; Maloy, Edna; St. John, Shirley; Shoemaker, Vida; Robinson, Alice; Delzer, Mary
Whitman County Library branch librarians, Colfax, Washington, 1979. Whitman County Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Public Library Director

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

We have no HR, city application comes to me, the group interviewing reviews and we choose who to interview

Titles hired: page, clerk, children’s librarian, assistant director, programming assistant, cataloger, circ supervisor

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ Other: totally depends on position…

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

they really wanted that position, not to work in a library, but to do the actual work and able to connect their experience even if it wasn’t obvious

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

saying you’re a detail person but fail to fill out the basic application correctly, failing to complete each portion of the application, cold call before the job closes, having been a problem patron before

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


How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Only One!

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

rambling answers that aren’t answers, not preparing for potential questions, knowing nothing about the library/looking at the website and social media

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

We don’t, but I’ve done them. good connection, plain background, knowing where to look

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?

Is it customer service? it applies, make sure to say that. The basic tenets of customer service apply to all library jobs, even behind the scenes – everything we do, every step, is to create a good patron experience

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?

TBH we have very little diversity in our community, but we do seek diverse candidates as much as possible. We are openly working on training with all staff. Acknowledging you have bias is a huge step. systemic racism and bias permeate everything, so it exists in every context.

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

what does a typical day look like, will on-going training/CE be available, what are short term goals for the library as a whole, what challenges does the library face

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author?

we need to be better about articulating what matters – your love of fiction or belief in the mission are great, but that doesn’t mean you are able to do the work, and the steep learning curve employees can expect.


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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area

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