Author Archives: Emily@HiringLibrarians

Personal Professional Websites: Tenley Sablatzky

headshot of Tenley Sablatzky

Tenley Sablatzky has been the Medical Librarian for the Undergraduate Medical Academy at Prairie View A&M University since 2020. Prior to that appointment, she interned in the Kalamazoo Public Law Library as well as the Air Zoo: Aerospace and Science Museum Library, while completing her MLIS degree at Wayne State University. She holds a BA in English from Western Michigan University, has completed the Consumer Health Specialization from the Medical Library Association (MLA), and serves on several professional committees for the MLA and the American Library Association. 

What is your site’s URL?

Tenleysablatzky.com

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

Introduce myself to employers/researchers who search for my name

Was the original purpose of your site different from this current purpose? If yes, how and why did it change?

No

Are you actively looking for work? (check all that apply)

√ Nope! Not at All!  

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ I paid for a template (or templates) 

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Resume or CV 

√ Blog about personal topics 

√ Work Samples

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations 

√ Twitter or other social media feed 

√ Your photo 

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Email

√ Contact Form 

√ ORCiD 

√ Twitter 

√ LinkedIn 

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ No, I include my arts/crafts/hobbies/other tangential or unrelated work 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last year 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

Major changes to my resume or additional things to add. About once a year I’ll look at the design and decide if I want to change anything.

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ Wix 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ $10.01-$20.00 

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ No 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes 

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ 0-50 

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Yes, for job hunters 

√ Yes, for people looking for speaking gigs

√ Yes, for people who are independent contractors/freelancers 

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

I don’t have concerns about the things that I share on my site. The things that I don’t want to be public for privacy reasons don’t get published. 

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

I’d use one of the many site creation services like wix/squarespace/wordpress/etc unless you have a lot of experience with site design yourself. It’s really easy that way to set it up and design the site and usually for an affordable price. 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

I think they’re necessary for people actively searching for jobs or opportunities because anyone who receives their application will immediately google the name. If a site comes up it’s the individual’s chance to introduce themselves a little further. Without a site, the employer will learn about you elsewhere on the internet from who knows what kind of source.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Medical Librarian

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Academic Library 

If you work for someone besides yourself, does that organization have rules about what you can share on your personal site?

√ No 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US  

Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

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As of April 2022, it’s part of the job ad

[Librarian Putnam at Sesquicentennial reception, 4/24/1950] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Vice President

Titles hired include:Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Strategic Intelligence Data Analyst 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References 

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Don’t know

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

I am at a large corporation. Our department writes a job description and gives it to HR, who advertises for the position and screens applicants. The position’s supervisor interviews candidates, and if she likes them I interview them as head of the department. Once we decide who we want to hire, we let HR know and they make the job offer and handle the rest.

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

She came to the interview very prepared. She prepared a few PPT slides to share a project she had handled at a previous position, and spoke to how that would support our position.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Imperiousness, indecisiveness 

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

How interested they are in the job; are they applying for lots of positions or were they selective about ours

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √  Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Come unprepared 

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

Have your video camera on if possible 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

 √ Other: As of April 2022, it’s part of the job ad 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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?

√ 11-50 

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.

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

Showing up to the interview drunk. Yes, that has happened. Lol.

Reception at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Librarians. Washington, DC. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director 

Titles hired include: Assistant Director, programming librarians, clerks, shelters, custodians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References 

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

We ask candidates to submit a resume and cover letter, I review (with other staff help, depending on the position). I use a rubric to evaluate resumes of qualified candidates. Invite for in-person interviews, and I use a rubric to evaluate interviews. I am the director and have the final decision. I often delegate that decision to my Assistant Director for clerk and shelver positions. 

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

Quick thinker, evidence of innovative thinking and overall high level of competence and confidence. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Showing up to the interview drunk. Yes, that has happened. Lol. 

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

Hard to define. You don’t know a person until you work with them. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

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

Occasionally. The setting matters… make sure your sound/microphone works well, show that you’re comfortable with the technology. 

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?

It depends greatly on the hiring agency. We may focus on customer service skills, but another agency may focus on educational level or skills. Read the job ad and job description closely and look for their values. Focus on highlighting how you meet those priorities. 

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?

We use rubrics for comparing candidates. 

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

Ask about priorities for the position, what the job looks like in the day-to-day, how much public service time vs project time you’ll have. Show that you are interested in the details of the position and in the work, not just the paycheck. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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.

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

Speaking about past experience is important, but it’s even more important to address the job you’re applying for.

Photograph of James B. Rhoads and Pavel Podlesnyy, USSR (The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) Embassy Librarian Presenting Vol. 15 USSR Foreign Policy to NARS, 7/31/1970. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: University Archivist

Titles hired include: Librarian, Library clerk, student employee

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

For open librarian positions the position information is sent to Academic Affairs and then approved by the Board of Governors to be filled. Then a hiring committee of two librarians and an outside faculty member is formed. This hiring committee reviews applicants and selects at least two to interview. Initial interviews are completed online. Second/third interviews are usually conducted over a full day, with separate interviews with the hiring committee, HR, Academic Affairs and potential colleagues in the library. This process includes a meal with the hiring committee and a tour of the library and parts of campus. The hiring committee then reviews the applicants with recommendations from HR and Academic Affairs. An applicant is selected and an offer is made.

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

They studied the library and our unique needs in advance! They also explained their job in their current library very well, so that the non-library faculty member understood by the end.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not addressing the activities of the job they applied for with any competence. 

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

How knowledgeable they are about the job they applied for.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

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

They forget to ask questions about the job or about the people interviewing them.

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

Yes, I’ve done a few. Be sure you’re in a quiet location with a good background. Be passionate about the job you’re applying for.

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?

Research well in advance of your interview so that you are able to competently explain what you bring to the job you’re applying for. Speaking about past experience is important, but it’s even more important to address the job you’re applying for. With public academic libraries applicants can often get an idea of what salaries are like through the state. Researching the organization you’re applying for, is important, as is researching the library/library job you’re applying for.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

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

Only the names of applicants are known until they are called for interviews. This doesn’t help with possible name discrimination, or work history discrimination.

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

What are you looking for most in an applicant for this job? How does the work in the library overlap? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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.

Leave a comment

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

Further Questions: Do you hire for hustle?

Each week (or thereabouts) 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 was prompted by someone who hires librarians:

“Quiet quitting” (taking a step back from hustling and only working your designated hours) is in the news a lot now. This, and a recent tweet from an interviewee whose question about “greatness” fell flat, lead me to ask: when you hire, are you looking for folks who will hustle and go the extra mile? If an applicant asked about work/life balance in an interview, what would you think?


Jaime Taylor, Discovery & Resource Management Systems Coordinator, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts: It’s so funny/not funny that “doing your job” is being framed as “quitting.” I think we all know that’s bullshit, and part of a concerted effort by capital to claw back the little bit of power that labor has been able to gain in the last couple years.

At my library, our hours and workloads are governed by collective bargaining agreements, and the unions we belong to see that our contracts are enforced. I love working in a unionized library! Therefore, questions about work-life balance or our  contracts are welcome in my interviews, and can be the kind of question that demonstrates a candidate is a good fit for our institution. As a hiring librarian and as a supervisor, I do not expect the workers I hire or supervise to “hustle.” I expect them to do their job, and do them well – nothing more, nothing less. Things like professional development and publishing are part of their job descriptions, to greater or lesser extent depending on the position, so I help my staff make space in their working hours to pursue them. We are proud of the work we do and want our institution to be successful, but ultimately I and my staff work to live, not live to work.


Kellee Forkenbrock, Public Services Librarian, North Liberty Community Library: Since I mainly hire for part-time staff, I keep my hustle hopes grounded when selecting new staff. Being realistic about the position you’re hiring for, as well as the salary and benefits (if any) attached to the role, tends to rein in your expectations. Conversely, by not expecting superhero-level work from your part-time staff, you put them at ease so that they do the job they’ve been hired to do. I absolutely expect my interviewees to inquire about work/life balance. As a mother, grad student, writer, & employee, maintaining balance in my schedule is key and I’d expect the same of anyone I hire.


Kathryn Levenson, Librarian, Piedmont High School: Hiring for Hustle?

I like someone who is energetic and able to stay on task. 

I value creativity, so I love it when someone gives me a sample letter to send to parents or students or comes up with a more efficient way to do something and after approval runs with it. 

My assistant walks around playing his ukulele on his breaks which the students love. 

Another big help is when you hire an assistant already known by students in the community. My last two hires have been locals, one a parent of students and the other a former paraprofessional. 


Anonymous (Federal Librarian): As with most federal agencies, we must follow union requirements for work hours closely. We have strict rules against additional hours without some type of compensation, so I never expect any employee to work more than their designated 40 hours. For most types of federal employees, any time we work more than 40 hours, we must get prior authorization. So, while I expect employees to work hard, innovate when possible, and be good at what they do, working longer hours without compensation is never one of the requirements. I monitor all the people on my team to make sure that they are not working more than 40 hours. I would also be required to put an employee on a performance improvement plan if they regularly worked more than the 40 hours after they were asked to refrain. When interviewing candidates, about 65% of the questions asked are behavioral questions. It’s our best effort to get a feel for the candidate’s personality and how they have handled various situations in the past. I think we have done a pretty good job of finding candidates that are really hard workers, so the challenge is reigning it in so that they can achieve their goals without working more hours than required. As for a candidate asking about work/life balance in an interview, I would not have any issue with it. It’s important to know up front what the expectations are for any employee in regard to schedule and what type of hours they would be expected to work. I would hope hiring managers would be honest with answers.


James K. Teliha, Dean of the Library & Learning Commons, Frank E. Gannett Memorial Library, Utica University: First, let me say that the phrase “Quiet Quitting” sounds like the result of cynical journalists desperate because they are forced to create content and are faced with an especially slow news-cycle (as August usually is).  These desperate journos are then forced to create a phrase or phenomenon (usually throwing darts at a wall covered with random words, rolling dice, spinning a wheel, spinning an empty bottle, etc.).  Once an adverb and verb are chosen – voila! a new trend is manufactured to “newsplain” (you know, like “mansplaining”) and cover, and generate tons of content arguing whether said phenomenon is real, and what said phenomenon means for society.  

So far, the articles I have read on “Quiet Quitting” have the authors wringing their hands saying “oh my – people do not view their jobs as the be-all and end-all of their existence!”.  Thank god.  Work should not be the sole determining value of one’s life, worth, or happiness.  These articles have also sounded an alarm, and have set up a false dichotomy:  ‘If people aren’t willing to work nights, weekends, 24/7, then they must just be ‘mailing it in'”.  No,  healthy, normal people work to live, not live to work.  Normal healthy people have some combination of partners, children, parents, assorted other relatives and friends and pets, as well as avocational interests that make us the unique individuals we are.  Sometimes, we need to be at that birthday party, or anniversary.  Sometimes we need to finish a project at work, and may need to do what it takes to make that happen (at work or at home).  I would be concerned for individuals whose sole identity and sense of worth is locked up with their job.  I can tell you in my time leading an academic library, I have more often urged people who work for me to exercise self-preservation than to work harder or longer.  You see, I am far more concerned with someone on my staff burning out than “not hustling”.  or as we said, back in the dot-com days, “work smarter, not harder”.

So no, I don’t “hire for hustle”, and if an interviewee asked about work/life balance, that would give me an opportunity for me to sell them on working for our library.  You see, interviews run both ways – not only are they being interviewed for a job, but I believe job applicants are interviewing me about what kind of workplace we have and what kind of boss I am.  I try to hire people who want this job because they enjoy helping people.  Sure, sometimes a project may require extra effort, or there may be a deadline, but it is incumbent upon the worker to freely choose when those times occur.  As long as our job is getting done and as those working for me are putting in their hours, our library works exceedingly well.  


Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College:

Work-life balance is a core value of our institution, so such a question would not come amiss. It would also give us an opportunity to clarify what is and is not common practice here.


Donna Pierce, Library Director, Krum Public Library: Everyone I have ever hired has been for part-time work.  While I do have some set hours (10-3 Tue-Fri and 2-7 Tue-Fri, plus 10-2 on Sat) once they are hired and proven I am willing to work with their schedules.  I have one person who works the 2-7, 10-2 shift who is going back to school.  She has dropped Fridays and Saturdays.  I can’t offer my staff much – no benefits, not the highest pay in the area, etc. but I can allow them to adjust their schedules.  One lady has kids in school – there are times she can’t work the 10-3 because of school events.  So, she makes up her time later.  Due to the low pay and lack of benefits I also know that if pushed, staff will just quit. (I know because that is exactly what I did when I was working part-time and my boss wasn’t willing to work with the hours I needed!)

I always look for a person who will fit in well with my eclectic crew, who has great customer service skills and is capable of learning.  Then I hope for the person who will take off and go beyond what is required. 


Anonymous: Do I hire for hustle? I don’t think so. 

I like a team that has many strengths. When I look at a possible new hire I ask myself “what kind of worker could benefit the team and the work?” I think that “going the extra mile” can look different from task to task. For example, I had a staffer who was not the strongest at customer service, but absolutely a rockstar with  administrative paperwork/organization. I would purposely set schedules to give them some alone customer service time to make sure those muscles were used, but gave them agency over many (manymanymany) admin projects. I tend to believe that completing the tasks and adhering to deadlines are really all that is necessary.  Going the extra mile is great, but causes burnout, and sometimes resentment. If a person does go the extra mile, a small reward (bringing them their favorite coffee drink, lunch, or similar) acknowledging their efforts has been something I have done in the past. It is never expected, nor asked.

I hustle, but I don’t expect anyone else to work like me. 

If an applicant asked about work/life balance, it would not phase me in the slightest. Many library workers wear 200 different hats and there has been much discussion about burnout, so I would probably say something like the expectation is that you do the work when you are clocked in and you leave it in the library when you clock out. It would sound nicer than that, but you get the idea.


Dr. Colleen S. Harris, Librarian, John Spoor Broome Library, CSU Channel Islands: As someone who has a tough time with work boundaries, I am impressed by people who maintain work life balance and keep their boundaries firm. I hope that people will be enthusiastic about their work, but…it’s a job. The organization pays you to do your job. Not sure about anywhere else, but in most of the academic libraries I’ve worked in, killing yourself for the job didn’t earn you any more money or benefits than the folks who make sure to take their designated breaks and go home after putting in their day. I feel like a lot of institutions, and particularly in higher ed and service professions, learned during the pandemic just how much their organizations depended on their free labor to keep from hiring appropriate staffing, and how far their organizations would continue to go to demand that free labor even under natural disaster. Organizations have had that ‘above and beyond’ without having to pay for it, and then they demand it while also not recognizing the humanity needs of staff – time off to be sick, protections from the virus, and just basic mental health. I think employees had their eyes opened to the very real capitalist drive of their organizations in a way that non-crisis time camouflaged.

I respect interviewees who can describe the ways in which they assert their agency to shape their lives in a healthy way, which is how I would describe work-life balance. I try to take lessons from their answers. I recently saw (probably on Twitter) a meme that passed that said, “If an interviewer asks how you work in a fast paced environment under pressure, ask them if that’s the usual state of things, because if so, that’s a systemic problem.” That hit home for me. We shouldn’t be asking folks to work themselves (or ourselves) to death in environments that are intrinsically structured to be toxic and unhealthy.

There’s also a colonialist and racist not-so-under-undercurrent to organizations and admin expecting that extra unpaid hustle—librarianship is overwhelmingly white, and that’s even more pronounced at the administrative level.

I’d love to see (even in my own organization) more unprompted talk from the interviewer side about how they promote work-life balance and how the organization accepts employee boundaries and manages to function in a healthy way. “Quiet quitting” is really just re-forming employer expectations and exposing organizational gaps that were previously hidden by free labor. They assume the over-and-above is their due because so many employees have done it for so long, so it feels like poor performance when folks ramp back to actually just doing the job they were hired for well, for the time they were hired to do it.

[Side note: I’m being a hypocrite here, and I know it. I’ve put in crazy hours this week after being out all of August with Covid. (And, rare for me, I was out-out. Not-even-glancing-at-email out, not-even-turning-on-my-phone-or-laptop out…and that made me realize it’s been years since I was totally divorced from work entirely.) Missing 4 weeks of August before a semester starts is…unadvisable. I fell off the boundary wagon this week because of the pressure I put on myself, but intend to try again next week—my own efforts at ‘quiet quitting.’ I know that I’m always torn – there’s so much to do and not enough people or time to do it in, pressure from admin, and then the genuine desire to serve our students/users/community. All of that conspires to instigate the “vocational awe” that Fobazi Ettarh describes (read her article, it’s excellent), and paves the way for abuse – often self-inflicted, but definitely organizationally-influenced.]


Jennie Garner, Library Director, North Liberty Library: As a library administrator, my overarching job is to be sure the library runs smoothly and our community sees us as a vital service so that our city leaders also know how important the library is in our city. To that end, it’s my expectation that staff provide exemplary customer service that is above par. Working to ensure that our patrons have a fantastic experience every time they visit the library is our main objective. We try to get to yes as much as possible, whether it’s the library providing the service or linking the patron to the service/need in our community. When I hire, I’m looking for candidates who are invested in providing excellent service to our community. That said, internal customer service is just as important as external service and part of my role as a leader is to be sure our staff has the support they need in order to perform well in their roles. Work/life balance is vital for our employees’ mental health and wellness, which in turn ensures their professional life can be maintained. So, if an applicant asks about work/life balance, I let them know that I value their time when they are at work and expect that they are doing the job we entrusted to them but I also know that their personal life is important. What managers sometimes fail to realize is that when our employees are happy in all sectors of their life, it reflects in their work. If we help support both a positive work environment and convey that we understand that their personal life is their priority, our team tends to organically go that extra mile.

Long story short, I’m looking for people who show me that they are interested in library work and strong customer service values when they are at work but I don’t expect them to live and breathe the library.


Jimmie Epling, Director, Darlington County Library System: First we were told by the media and HR gurus of the “Great Resignation.”  Then came the media and HR guru reports of the “Great Regret.”  Now we are told by the media and HR gurus of the “Quiet Quitting.”  This kind of behavior has happened in the past and should come as no surprise now.

Some folks didn’t like their working conditions, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 restrictions and responses, and resigned their jobs.  The jobs they took proved not to be what they expect and now they regret their decision.  Those with regrets, and who cannot resign because they need to work, have decided they are going to “quietly quit” their job until they find another.

There is nothing new to see here.  Many over the years have quit jobs for ones which they felt would suit them better, only to be disappointed for one reason or another and become disgruntled workers.  As disgruntled workers, they engaged in “just putting in their time” or the minimum work necessary, which now is dubbed “quiet quitting” by the media and HR gurus. 

There is nothing wrong with having some employees who ask about the work/life balance.  Many of us are accustom to having employees who are their just for their paycheck because the work/life balance, as it is now called, falls firmly on the life side of the equation.  When hiring, you can sometimes determine what side the candidate will fall in in that balance.  If you are looking for someone who wants job mobility and to achieve “greatness” at your library, hire that person.  If have a job where you need someone to fill a position that has little job mobility or opportunity for “greatness,” hire the person who will be happy with the job because their satisfaction in life is not tied to the job.  This person just wants to work to live.

When hiring you need to understand three things.  Not every job you have is a step to greater things.  There are candidates who just want to work to live, not live to work for advancement.  Lastly, an employee can become dissatisfied with the job, quit for another job and regret the decision, and ultimately become a quiet quitter.


Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: My answer partly depends on the type of position. An hourly full-time benefitted position (non-exempt) is designed so that we do not expect, and cannot allow, staff to work overtime or take work home. What I would hope for, and strongly encourage and support, is that colleagues in these positions will engage in library or college-wide work like committees or volunteering for events, and that I and the other supervisors will recognize the time commitment required. So the “extra mile” in this case isn’t about work/life balance or doing more than expected. I have some staff who like to be involved in these types of activities and others who do not – they come to work, do their work, and go home. Support for this work does appear in the position descriptions so that provides us with the opportunity to make note of staff who do this work during evaluations. There is no financial compensation tied to performance evaluations so there really isn’t a carrot or stick.
In my experience, exempt staff know that their work will almost inevitably require them to work beyond the “minimum” at least occasionally. As the library director, I feel like my responsibility is to try to keep some informal track of that and to be sure that we can work out ways to even things out (either on the books or sometimes on the side). Library faculty keep faculty schedules. The demands of teaching, professional work, service, and scholarship are familiar to those of us in academia. The balance and effort can look different for different people and for different career stages. Those expectations are set by the library faculty  – if not how many hours people spend, certainly what success looks like.

I think it is important to work with colleagues to reach a mutual understanding of what work/life balance looks like. There are people for whom work is a refuge for any number of reasons. Those individuals may want to “go the extra mile.” I work hard not to compare one staff member to another as long as each of us accomplishes our work, feels valued, and is given opportunities and support to do extra (like committee service) if it is of interest. So if a candidate asked about it, I think I would encourage them to ask the people who would be their closest colleagues in the library. And I would tell them that balance is probably something that is not static and good communication is key to ensuring that everyone is feeling effective, appreciated, and human.


Randall Schroeder, Director, Retired: Personally, hustle and going the extra mile while ignoring work/life balance would get me to raise my eyebrow. I’ve had too many “earnest” colleagues that drove me crazy if their colleagues didn’t live up to their impossible standards. A refreshed librarian who isn’t freaking out about child or elder parent care is a more productive librarian in my humble opinion.

I have told every person I have ever hired that if they didn’t take their allotment of vacation, please don’t do it thinking they are impressing me. I’m more likely to think you are nuts. Hopefully these candidates did not get into librarianship because of the fantastic pay. One of the advantages of being a librarian should be quality of life. If you are stressing yourself out and you’re not a director, frankly, I don’t believe you are doing it right.

Relax, nobody ever died of library malpractice. The worst thing we do to anybody is inconvenience them.


Ellen Mehling, Job Search Advisor/Instructor and Brooklyn Public Library’s Job Information Resource Librarian: I can’t say I would hire for “hustle”. The expectation should be that employees do the job they were hired to do based on the job description, no more, and no less. (I’ve seen people interview as if they would “go the extra mile” and then once hired, spend their time and energy promoting themselves and not doing the actual duties of their job. So I am suspicious of those who are “hustling” 24/7!) They should do the job well consistently, with true teamwork and accountability, but without the unspoken expectation of “you will give more, more, always more”. 

I don’t like the phrase “quiet quitting” because it is inaccurate. It is not quitting at all, and it is unsettling that the phrase equates “doing your actual job” with literally “not working at all”. I have to wonder if that phrase is an attempted backlash by those who are threatened by the “great resignation” and who want to deny that it is happening.

In my observation and experience as an advisor, the great resignation has been going strong for a couple of years now and shows no signs yet of slowing down. I have many more librarians coming to me for job search advising now than prior to COVID, and right now lots of them are looking to leave the profession altogether, which is an interesting change and a bit sad for librarianship, but not surprising. They are clear that they don’t want to work for employers that bully, gaslight, and exploit them, that overwork and underpay them, punish them for taking sick days when they are sick, offer no raises and no opportunities for advancement, and/or put them in danger, from COVID or patron violence or anything else. They are saying “no” to mistreatment and disrespect and I am 100% here for that.

If an employer wants an employee to do more on an ongoing basis, there should be a clearly defined, real reward for that, beyond an insincere “Thank you so much!” or a t-shirt or free pizza twice a year or whatever.

I think applicants should ask about work/life balance and healthy boundaries during a job interview. It’s smart. It is a huge red flag if an employer objects to that kind of question – that is not a place where you’d want to work.


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: Although this is an interesting way of identifying employee performance, I had an immediate negative reaction to most interpretations of this phrase or explanations of what this phrase actually means. My internal dialogue on this issue ended up with me disagreeing with most of the ways to look at this. Because of that, I did a little more digging and I found several articles and streamed interviews as well as blog postings (I consider these resources differently these days) and found an online article that provides background information for the overall concept. And of course – I am not saying that those who use this or define this phase sanctions or justifies all definitions, but it should first be said that there ARE very differing definitions.

So read on. I will give my take – as a manager – on how definitions for this phrase might play out in a workplace when those definitions include “justifiable behavior overall” or “acceptable “for now” or “understandable and ignored” OR – as many say – this is the fault of the manager who chooses to accept it as their fault AND spends significant time attempting to engage employees or “make them happy again” or inspires employees by providing an environment that makes everyone want to “hustle” again once the organization corrects the problem.

Jeanne Sahadi, CNN Business on August 26, 2022 said in What Managers Should Know about ‘Quiet Quitting.’ “‘Quiet quitting’ is annoyingly imprecise and misleading.” Sahadi goes on to say that definitions are mixed in that some identify it as “doing the bare minimum at work or just not going above and beyond.” And others with a different take say it is “about setting healthy boundaries.” Similarly others say “it’s about taking back control of your time and standing up to employers expecting you to do more without paying you more.”

I think, however, that these are completely different situations and performance levels even within single definitions. In fact – you need to address these phrases separately (if in fact they do represent “quiet quitting”) including:

  • “doing the bare minimum”
  • “just not going above and beyond”
  • “setting healthy boundaries”
  • “taking control of your time”
  • “standing up to employers expecting you to do more without paying you more.”

When you separate these statements and phrases out or uncouple them, they are – in my opinion – distinctly different and should be identified for leaders, managers and employees as individual performance issues.

doing the bare minimum” No matter how you say or what tone you use, although doing the minimum on a job may still constitute “doing your job” it is still a negative descriptor. The repercussions could include a refusal of team members to work together and certainly a lack of trust in the manager who is perceived as not treating people equitably either through pay or roles and responsibilities. With that said, the answer lies in the definition of “bare minimum.” In the purest sense – again, although sounding negative – if you look up bare minimum, it is characterized as perfectly acceptable, making it okay to be – and they use this word – “mediocre.” Therein lies the problem …that is, although one can say the bare minimum is acceptable the additional explanation used with this is that to be mediocre is to be “not very good.”

To move beyond this, managers have to decide on what employees must do to be at least acceptable in their job performance. In addition, organizations need to have clear definitions of additional evaluative aspects or attributes such as enthusiasm for work, specific attitudes or at least the lack of negative attitudes, teamwork behaviors designed for a successful team and specific statements of what “at the very least” means. No one wants to work alongside someone getting paid what they are getting paid when there might be noticable differences and someone – who doesn’t have to be “hustling” or going above and beyond – is receiving the same benefits, etc. So while intrinsic pride in work and accomplishment is not possessed by everyone, all of the elements must be working at a baseline level to move something along or forward.

“just not going above and beyond” While I am sure that some employees choose to – either overall or at some times or in some jobs or with some managers – NOT go above and beyond, a manager has to decide how they will ‘manage’ this person and process. And – if an employee does want to commit to only this, they should do so in such a way that no one is aware of this – least of all the person or persons who evaluate them. That being said – four issues should be addressed (and this content is specifically for libraries and non-profit environments.)

  • An employee choosing to work in this mode should carefully assess their own goals to make sure their performance is up to acceptable performance standards so that the work they are hired to do DOES get done. They also need to ensure that those around them – a team, intermittent partners, clients/users, etc. do NOT have to either take on more themselves or settle for less than good work.
  • An employee forced to work in this mode because of a health reason or short term non-work situation should first determine if it IS possible to maintain their minimum and if not, they need to decide how they will ensure that work gets done or done differently, without compromising the work of others or their work life relationships. If they need to reach out to their manager they need to either informally or formally discuss how their job will be done, but possibly differently, to see if that is acceptable through informal means or through more formal means – for example FMLA – so that work activities are ensured but perhaps in different ways or at different times.
  • A manager who suspects this is the case needs to first determine if this is acceptable behavior in the short term both for the employee, the team, etc. If it is, then it doesn’t need to be addressed but if an evaluation period is due, and aspects of work or team work or team product or user needs being met – then the manager needs to decide how to carefully decipher evaluative criteria so it is clear that the evaluation clearly and fairly assesses and addresses work.
  • If a manager suspects that this is the case and it is a long term issue, they must first verify if it is an issue for aspects of work or team work or team product or user needs being met. If this is thought to be the case through third party information or observation the manager has to decide based on specific evidence, gathered appropriately and then determine if the situation needs to be corrected or management expectations of employees needs to be corrected or the work itself needs to be corrected so that work matches employees skills, remuneration, etc.

If it is determined that there is one or more employees who practice this, managers must investigate these minimum attitudes to determine if the problem lies within the organization, their management style, the nature of the work, team members or other issues such as umbrella organization issues, societal issues, etc. Clearly the vision of the organization along with its goals/outcomes, etc. needs to be attained through fairly distributed work with reasonable and fair rewards. In the absence of more traditional incentives – which is endemic in many libraries – then the organizational culture, employee “drivers,” non-traditional and traditional incentives need to be explored.

“setting healthy boundaries” There is nothing wrong with setting healthy boundaries, but both employees and managers need to couple these issues with the “no above and beyond” issue previously addressed. When explored together one needs to be sure that “not going above and beyond” is not just another part of “boundaries.” That is especially important because one should NOT assume that it is unhealthy to go above and beyond and that simply isn’t true for everyone. In fact some would argue that our profession has nothing BUT jobs that are very hard, not as well paid as they should be and require above and beyond. Also – service professions are known for attracting people who are there because their satisfaction comes from a variety of things – and going above and beyond and the extra mile is one of those things that brings satisfaction.

But there are other things that cause people to go above and beyond such as a position that is an internship where enthusiasm, and “above and beyond” are noted; succession planning often means that you are doing YOUR job but showing you can do other things as well; a job that has training for not what you are doing now, but training for what is next – which is often above and beyond – and MANY of our jobs where it says – literally – a professional in the organization is expected to work a minimum of 40 hours a week.

“taking control of your time” Like the other areas, if one feels the need to do this, the implication is that their current job is NOT well planned and possibly that the organization does not have control of what they are asking for and from whom. This makes the most sense to me and I don’t think I would have said this two years ago in just this way but there are several issues here.

The pandemic found us – for the most part – providing many of the same services but in greatly reduced or with completely different modes and methods. Also employers as well as managers – for most of the pandemic – did not have the control they needed and did not have the ability to say – thoughtfully or otherwise – stop doing it this way and do this instead. In addition, we are returning sporadically and this means that few have had the chance to say – what shall we leave behind or what needs to adapt or what needs to go forward. With that in mind there are a few solutions and – dragging out my “go to” I first am going to suggest that people use paradigm shifts to identify the way things were, the way things are now and the way things will be – and the specific date for that beginning. So no matter what you do – use these visual or organizational techniques to make it clear. Also consider then using those shifts for each general job description so that managers can personalize even more of what was, is and will be – but drilled down to more individual applications.

One additional technique is a reboot of any or all roles and responsibilities. This approach should present very different parameters. That is, consider the following:

  • reducing the breadth of roles and responsibilities by asking people to identify – in priority order – what one of three teams the might not serve on for one year
  • reducing the number of teams or committees overall by putting the team on hiatus or by keeping the same teams but providing a stop-out (temporary) of work for a specific length of time …everything does NOT have to “come back” at one time
  • reducing team goals or outcomes to fewer than3
  • reducing new initiatives (mutually agreed upon among teams) to focus on one or two instead of what often happens where one teams new project create work for many
  • delaying new initiatives, but picking a specific future date for critical initiatives such as software upgrades, etc.
  • changing the size of a new initiative with a pilot rather than a full scale release

These decisions often provide the much-needed respite with a calmer atmosphere or more reasonable ramping up for returning to normal while still providing the basic services for which the organization exists. This in turn provides employees – seeking a “slow down” with a natural more accepted way to slow down or step back, but more importantly – provides them with an organized work flow to an end date before more engaged or charged work environments will return.

“standing up to employers expecting you to do more without paying you more” To me, this is a completely different aspect of the question and should be happening – driven by management – no matter what individuals choose to do. THIS is about setting boundaries, performance expectations, assessing client needs and determining where managers draw the line for piling on work, expectations and raising the “minimum” bar. This also involves:

  • making choices of what the organization will continue to do when more is on their plate either with the same employees or – in many cases today – fewer people in the workplace
  • assessing levels and depths of services – instead of three programs a week, only two …instead of on-demand classes – here are the available slots to fill
  • assessing providing original on-demand content instead of “please choose from these three outlines for the instruction
  • instead of returning to all programs and services during open hours – offering hours with staff but no services such as programs, consultations

These approaches need to be accompanied with meaningful data gathering, a decision to NOT hide reductions and management data gathering on salaries, fair wages, per hour comparisons with other area institutions, the cost of living, etc. and – if possible – difficult in retaining employees. And – frankly – this last one is more difficult given the lack of movement in the workforce, employees need to work and not be able to move among other jobs, due to the size and nature of the community, unemployment numbers to name just a few reasons why many employees simply can’t leave.

Finally – it’s relatively clear I don’t like the term and don’t believe we have to live with it either as individuals, members of teams or managers. Instead – we need to get to the root cause of why even one person just wants to – as so many definitions indicate – do the minimum or perform at the lowest level. I am also – in this forum NOT going to begin to outline the tenets of professionalism for any profession but say that many of the definitions above indicate a less-than-professional approach to one’s profession.


We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, on Twitter @HiringLib, or hidden inside a Kinder Egg along with a cool toy. 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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We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible

Archivist Sara Jackson. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: library trustee and retired special librarian

Titles hired include: YA, PT and FT Children’s, Tech Services, Adult Services, Admin

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise) 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Job description (usually Union affiliated) must be approved by City as well as Union, job is advertised locally and on regional boards, resumes are reviewed by Lib Director and Head of HR to decide on interviews; interviews take place with Director, and relevant team members, sometimes reviewed by Trustees depending on level

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

Articulate, asked good questions, expressed genuine interest in position and also in growth in the organization, good skill set beyond just MLS skills

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Either on Zoom or in person, shows up in unprofessional dress, difficult expressing themselves when asked questions (not including nervousness), stumped to describe strengths and weaknesses or an important accomplishment or learning experience at previous job

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

Are they actually a good teammate; are they a responsible/reliable individual

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

Showing up without having done basic homework about the organization

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

Yes, same reasons as in question 8 (Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?) and question 9 (What are your instant dealbreakers?). We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible.  

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?

There are lots of relevant skills learned in non-library related jobs so it is important for a candidate to describe these and do their best to relate them to the job on offer.  Often parapro or pre-pro experience is like an entry level professional so I don’t look down on people who don’t have the degree.  An expressed desire to get a credential is important though it depends on the job.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

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

As a govt. organization and personally we are committed to a diverse workforce that mirrors the demographics of our city and we value the differing points of view that employees can bring to the table.  Given the lack of diversity in many MLS programs and libraries of all types, there is still a lot of discrimination in hiring, conscious or otherwise.

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

Questions about expectations not explicit in job description; also probing about how team dynamics work, any political or other issues that are involved that could impact the library, opportunities for growth if contribution is proven so how regular are performance reviews and who does them. Perhaps even typical frustrations experienced on the job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Archives, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

Photograph of the Librarian’s Conference, July 1, 1950. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Librarian

Titles hired include: Librarians (research), Library Technicians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume 

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Develop position description for approval by senior company officer and by HR; ad posted; HR screens out resumes; library reviews remaining resumes; HR screens selected candidates; library interviews those who pass screening and makes selection; HR checks references for selected candidate; HR extends offer

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

Skill set; ability/interest in various library services; thoughtful responses; could help library grow services

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Long, rambling answers; not responding to question asked; unable to offer examples of how they performed/handled work in past positions; critical of past work environment; critical of junior employees; no research into the organization before the interview

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

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Focus on their past position rather than their fit for advertised position

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

Yes – treat as a regular in-person interview even though alone – there are others in the conversation.

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?

Demonstrate relevant experience such as present examples of transferable skills that illustrate they understand the position requirements

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Desired salary is a question in the HR screening interview and the HR rep can provide the salary range

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

Expands advertising sources to attract more diverse pool of applicants

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 success look like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Mid-Atlantic 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: small-medium city

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: hybrid

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

To job hunters – explain skills and abilities with examples of actual work

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Special

if a routine social media scan or other screening reveals a belief in conspiracy theories or misinformation, a library is not an appropriate workplace for that person.

Isabel Miller and Barbara Gittings hugging librarians. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Program Coordinator, Library Assistant, Summer Reading Program Coordinator

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Post a job, schedule an interview, make a preliminary decision, check references, make an offer. I am involved at all levels.

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

Able to anticipate needs–either from a customer service perspective or a library perspective. And a strong service orientation–patrons are not “interrupting” your work they ARE your work.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

We do request a criminal record check. Also if a routine social media scan or other screening reveals a belief in conspiracy theories or misinformation, a library is not an appropriate workplace for that person.

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

How they’ll mesh with the team. Whether they’re someone who has good work follow-through or skates by on charm and personality.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant

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

Honestly, not prepping at all. No evidence that they’ve looked at the library’s website, know about its services, or have opinions on how things might be done or what the library is doing well/poorly.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. Interest in the institution and the particular place of employment goes a long way.

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?

It really depends what skills I’m looking for. Library Assistant skills can be taught. Library values and knowledge about the library ecosystem are valuable for more senior positions since we have a small team without a lot of time/budget for getting people up to speed. In general though strong service orientation, strong technology skills, and willingness to jump into anything right away (flexibility and enthusiasm) are things that I consider to be important.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

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

We try to hire to reflect our community and specifically for more diversity on staff. In terms of actual mechanisms, we have an equity statement on job ads and sometimes we post the positions with organizations that have connections in various communities, but that’s really about it. Put like that, it sounds like we should be doing more.

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

Something that makes it clear that they understand the position, know something about the library in relation to that position and that they’re interested in learning more about the library, the community, the work and have something to contribute.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Canada, Public, Rural area

Have a glass of temperate beverage nearby for when you inevitably have a coughing fit.

American Library Association – Library Personnel – Miss Anne Mulhern, Librarian, Base Hospital, Camp Cody, N.M., National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Associate Professor & Other Really Identifiable Stuff

Titles hired include: Liaison Librarian, Resident Librarian, Department Head, Associate Dean (Different academic levels from Instructor to Professor)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Job ad is usually developed by hiring dept. Admin forms a committee, I’ve served on committees and chaired them. We do phone interviews and then a full day interview for faculty lines that usually includes a teaching presentation.  Everyone who participates in the interview gives de-identified feedback

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

They were *prepared* for the interview. Had looked at us and demonstrated interest in what our library was doing (went beyond giant campus initiatives). Had thoughtful questions for the people they met with. Actually responded to the questions we asked and the presentation prompt. Had actually considered what research would look like (part of our responsibilities) . 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Entitlement / I’m just using this job to something better / you “owe” me this job ; PhDs condescending to work in the library as a backup “because it’s easy”;   Complete disinterest in doing research on a tenure-track line; Shows complete lack of curiosity about the people they would be working with; Openly sexist or racist statements ; 

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

Who is going to turn out to be incredibly lazy or a raging asshole. For anyone in management: who is going to gaslight me 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this  

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 

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

They haven’t prepared questions they can ask all day.  General questions (what do you enjoy, what would you like to change, goals for next six months, how do you celebrate successes?) show interest in *us* and something more than the job responsibilities. If you’ve reached the in person interview I want to know that you’re at least interested in working *with me*

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

Yes — though I anticipate we’ll go back to in-person for full day interviews in the future.  *please* put your camera at a flattering angle so we aren’t looking at your forehead or up your nose.  Have a glass of temperate beverage nearby for when you inevitably have a coughing fit.  

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?

Give clear and specific correlative examples using library language.  You want to join this field, learn some of the jargon and translate it for us.  We’re tired and busy and don’t want to guess if you’ve had experience.  It’s the same for any profession — show us that you want to be engaged in our work — not some mythical idea of what a library is or what academic librarians do. 

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?

We have training for the search committee. We have rubrics to evaluate the candidates.  We try to broadly recruit. I don’t have a problem with us requiring the MLS but I know it’s seen as exclusionary (too often when it’s not the MLS it’s A PhD and that’s not inclusive). Adding minimum salary in job ads has helped a lot too.  What ranks people get hired at and a weird preference for extremely underwhelming white guys still tends to be common 

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

How would you like to see the organization grow in the next five years? How might you and I collaborate? What’s something you’re proud of?  — they need to be aware that we are an under-resourced minority serving institution and we’re extremely proud of our students.  We want you to truly want to work with them and also to care about us as colleagues. If the only thing you can come up with “oh you’re in geographic location” or “Oh you’re a Size of College” (both of which I’ve heard for leadership roles)…. nah 

Additional Demographics

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions  

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

I didn’t give you all of the demographic information because there’s really only a few institutions that meet all of those and you’ve not been clear how you’ll de-identify responses.  

Job hunting is awful right now but also exciting. I’ve just talked two different people through negotiating for higher pay as they accepted new offers and it’s exciting.  

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.

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Hiring Better: Fair Library Jobs

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. I do a bit of noodling around on Twitter, looking for library folks discussing hiring or LIS careers. This is how I learned of the UK Group, Fair Library Jobs. I was really intrigued by their work and asked them to provide something for Hiring Librarians. 


Who we are

Fair Library Jobs (@FairLibraryJobs) is a group of library workers who use grassroots campaign methods to improve recruitment practices in the UK library sector.

The group was formed in November 2021 after an expression of interest on social media from one of our members. We have worked in a range of different library and information sectors and levels but had in common the experience of applying for many roles in different libraries and a shared dissatisfaction of  the processes and policies we had observed. We work on Fair Library Jobs on a voluntary basis, donating our time around full-time jobs to improve library workers’ experiences of recruitment. 

What do we want to achieve?

We are aware that there is a lot of divergence in library recruitment practices in the UK. While many employers use sound and equitable practices for recruiting to posts, many others have policies, procedures and processes that can result in poor applicant experiences and broader inequity in our sector. Our aim is to champion the former and challenge the latter. 

We believe that recruitment to the library sector should be based on an ethos of  transparency, equity and respect and that fulfilling these obligations not only benefits the livelihoods and wellbeing of library workers but also contributes to the relevance and value of the library and information sector to wider society. More broadly we believe that in-post equity, diversity and inclusion work in libraries is significantly undermined where that workplace has not addressed issues in their recruitment and that marginalisation and underrepresentation in the sector cannot be properly addressed without work in this area. 

How do you do this?

We think the first step in reforming library recruitment is to define what we believe good and bad practice looks like. To do this we wrote and published a manifesto on our website – in this we are indebted to our sector siblings at Fair Museum Jobs who were kind enough to both consult with us on their work and allow us to use their manifesto as a foundational text for our own group. The manifesto is our guiding document and we use it to evaluate the library job ads in the UK. This can include job adverts, person specifications, job descriptions and application processes. We use points on the manifesto to either challenge or champion job ads on Twitter and lobby for individual change (on specific problematic elements) and more broadly in the sector. When challenging aspects of a job advert we specify which aspects we disagree with, where these contradict with our manifesto, what the potential equity implications of these are and offer potential remedies or improvements.

We also advocate for use of the manifesto proactively by recruiting managers and HR departments when designing recruitment materials, adverts and specifications. We also advocate on behalf of our followers when they wish to raise concerns about ‘invisible’ recruitment practices (e.g. interview procedures, notification of outcomes etc.) where they wish to maintain anonymity. 

What are some of the common issues you deal with?

Since forming our group in Nov 2021 we’ve raised a wide range of issues that we’ve observed in library recruitment. These can be broadly divided into our three core principles. 

Transparency concerns the availability of necessary information. Some job ads without key information applicants need when making a decision on whether or not to apply or might harm their chances in being shortlisted or selected if they do. The most common issues we see in this are withholding salary information, not showing working days/hours for part-time roles or including implied or ambiguous criteria or processes that require inside knowledge, connections or cultural capital to navigate.

The Equity principle is about factors which have a direct negative impact on folks from marginalised and/or underrepresented groups and that reinforce the privilege of other groups and communities or have the potential to result in socially equitable outcomes . Common issues are roles which do not pay a living wage  (we use the Living Foundation’s (@LivingWageUK) as a baseline), selection criteria that are based on culturally-relative personality traits such as “positivity” and “politeness” and questions about applicants’ interests and hobbies.

Finally the respect principle acknowledges unequal power dynamics implicit in the recruiter-applicant relationship and challenges the recruiters to move from a patron-supplicant relationship to a more mutually-respectful relationship. It recognises that applicants invest significant amounts of time,effort and energy into job applications and requires recruiters to respect this. Common issues include the closure of applications mid-way through recruitment windows (when applicants may already have investested significant time), failure to contact unsuccessful applicants or requiring identical information in multiple formats (such as CVs, cover letters and application forms within a single application process). 

Individual issues frequently overlap between different principles, for example failure to disclose salary is non-transparent, damages equity (given the evidence of salary non-disclosure and gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps) and doesn’t respect applicants (given they’re expected to spend hours on an application/interview without knowing if the job pays enough). We also recognise that individual or multiple issues on job adverts impact already underrepresented and/or marginalised communities disproportionately and that these are likely to impact negatively on equity and diversity both on a workplace and a sector level. 

Who is your target audience?

Fundamentally our key audience is people who recruit to library roles. Whilst challenging problematic aspects of job ads on social media is the most visible aspect of our work, our main intention is that recruiting managers read and reflect on our manifesto and proactively address shortcoming in their policies and processes in recruitment. We are aware however, that recruiting managers in libraries are often bound by institutional policies, we hope therefore that public discussion of problematic aspects of recruitment practices provides a motivation and rationale for reform in discussion with HR departments. Our final audience is library workers themselves and our hope is that open discussion of recruitment processes acts as a consciousness-raising exercise and empowers workers to question and challenge poor practice in the sector.

What successes have you had? 

Much of our success, where it exists, is likely invisible and consists of discussions and changes made to recruitment policies and practices made internally. We have however had feedback from recruiting managers who have implemented all or aspects of our manifesto when undertaking recruitment. Other successes have been in individual advertised roles. Many recruiters have engaged positively with our posts and made commitments to address issues we’ve raised in that advert or future recruitment rounds.

How can people support your site?

Our work is centred on the UK library sector and we welcome people to highlight UK library jobs to us that they feel have problematic elements we can address. This can be done via our email (fairlibraryjobs@gmail.com), through a DM on Twitter or using the anonymous form on our website

We do also invite anyone who supports our ethos and work to pledge their support for us on the supporters area of our website and to follow us on Twitter. The greater the support we can claim the stronger our voice is in pushing for change to recruitment practices. 

Finally we’d love to see similar groups looking to address issues in library recruitment in other localities and would be happy to discuss. 

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