Category Archives: Academic

Personal Professional Websites: Brittni Ballard, Learning Technologies Librarian – Higher education, eLearning, and disability justice

Brittni is a fat, White woman with shoulder-length wavy brown hair and blue-framed glasses. She holds her pug-beagle mix Rupert. He is mostly fawn with a black mask and ears and a white chest.

Brittni Ballard is the Learning Technologies Librarian for Towson University’s Albert S. Cook Library in Baltimore County, Maryland, USA. She came to academic librarianship after experiments with classroom teaching, video game development, and non-profit work.

When she’s not working, she can be found collecting photos from villager friends in Animal Crossing: New Horizons while sipping coffee, snuggled under fuzzy blankets with two dogs and one cat on their chaise sofa.

What is your site’s URL? 

https://www.brittniballard.com/

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

The site is a way for me to share my work, notably my scholarship (writings and conference presentations), in one central space while highlighting what makes each piece special. Specifically, I include my favorite quote from each piece so that, even if folks don’t read the entire thing, they still have a better idea of what I value, think about, and do. Ideally, even these brief glimpses will facilitate new conversations with others interested in the same kind of work.

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

To some extent, as might be expected, this site was created as I was job searching, and if / when I look for jobs in the future, I’m sure it will be a useful way to better share who I am and promote my efforts to search committees. However, it is now primarily a way to connect and even build relationships with fellow library workers. This is why I explicitly name my positionality, values, and interests on the homepage.

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

√ Other: I am actively curious about new opportunities, places, and people, including formal and informal teaching / learning / speaking engagements

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

 No, it has not.

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No

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

√ Resume or CV

√ Work Samples

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo 

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

√ Email 

√ ORCiD 

√ Twitter 

√ LinkedIn  

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last month 

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

Whenever I publish a new piece, I add it to the site.

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

√ Google Sites

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?

√ No

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ I don’t know 

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All! 

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?

To avoid having crawlers collect my email, I hide my email address behind the display text “Email me.” Because my work profile is public, and includes my work number and work email, I do include my institutional affiliation (in my online resume). However, I don’t mention my affiliation on Twitter. If my site was being used regularly, I may switch from including an email to just using a Contact Me form.

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

Have fun with it! I enjoy thinking about how to present my work in a public way that emphasizes visual organization, standard American English, and values rather than productivity. 

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

Google Sites works nicely with other Google products, like Drive and Photos. That makes it easy to maintain.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Learning Technologies 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?

√ Northeastern US 

Anything else you’d like to say, to me or to the readers?

Thanks for investigating personal web usage among GLAM workers and students!

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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Filed under Academic, Northeastern US, Personal Professional Websites

We ALL feel a lot, your level of maturity is reflected in the library-twitter world you inhabit.

Exterior of the University of Exeter Library, with students entering and exiting the building
The University of Exeter Main Library, Benjamin Evans, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Dean & Director

Titles hired include: All of the library faculty and staff in our university library

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ Other: DEI Statement

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Depends if it is faculty or staff. We have search committees, DEI expectations, training and meetings before the job description can be approved by HR. We have a very strong procedure to ensure that we are fair and accommodating to all applicants.  

Faculty run the faculty search, but the dean makes the final decision (provost must give approval)

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

They had a strong sense of self and understood the value they would bring to the workplace. An openness to experience and to joining an academic environment. An understanding of our student-centric campus ethos.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Yes! You can be the smartest person in the room but if you have a low EQ and can’t work with others the hire will not be successful.

One must come with a well formulated concept of self in regards to DEI work and evidence of support/knowledge for our campus population. As a majority under-represented campus, we require a DEI lens/mindset.

If your priority is to work 100% at home. We allow telecommuting, but we are a F2F campus and that requires equal focus on site.

Negative angry-twitter postings. We ALL feel a lot, your level of maturity is reflected in the library-twitter world you inhabit. You do not have to say everything you think. It is called being a grown up

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

what their career goals are. I consider growing people my responsibility and knowing what people want re: knowledge acquisition would be useful

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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 don’t consider their fit with the campus. Do your homework. 

Sell what you bring to us. 

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

We have. Practice a solid presentation. Two years into COVID/online work there is NO EXCUSE for a lousy presentation. Make sure the lighting is good, sound, your entire face!  I just had an interview for an instruction position and one candidate only had 1/3 of her face visible.

Bring the energy – it is more difficult for us to get to know you. Show interest and excitement.

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?

Connect the dots. I hired a Home Depot manager who strongly connected her skills to running a service desk. She’s awesome

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: we finally got our campus to share. As a state institution, there is one solid number. But it is uneven.

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

So much. 

All search committees have training and overview by the Inclusive Excellence office. HR and the Dean looks to highlight and be aware of all diversities.

1) pre-search mtg

2) mid-way through mtg

3) post-work mtg

We have standard questions and a strong process that enforces an open mind and process

We have rubrics so that we are rating the same skills

We have changed our minimum standards of requirements

We try to present a diverse search committee, as much as possible

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

What DEI work are we engaged in?

What is the strategic plan and how is it incorporated into regular work? It is great to have values and goals, but are they important enough to accomplish!

What new, exciting projects is the library involved in?

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?

√ 51-100

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

Have hope, empower yourself, align your priorities/goals with the institution. There are many good jobs and some bad ones. Be picky even when it feels like you can’t be. 

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, 50-100 staff members, Academic, Urban area, Western US

We hired in person, even during the pandemic.

Group of Librarians in sits on bleachers
A_Group_of_Librarians_in_New_Ocean_House,_Swampscott,_Massachusetts. Creator: F. W. Faxon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Discovery Librarian

Titles hired include: E-resources & Scholarly Communication Librarian, Library Associate III: Serials, Senior Project Manager (IT), Assistant ant Director for Education and Research Services

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Other: We take feedback from all staff members and have a coffee time where everyone can meet the candidates

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day 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:

We have a search committee that reviews resumes, works with HR to determine candidates, and spends either a half day (for Support Staff) or two days (for Librarians) with each candidate. Every staff member is invited to at least one meeting with each candidate, whether that be a presentation, a meal, or a coffee gathering (which is more like an open q&a session). I’ve served on several committees and as part of the general feedback group for numerous candidates.

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

They were prepared, calm, and confident.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lying.

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

Their ability to work in teams.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

Divulging too much information.

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

No, we hired in person, even during the pandemic.

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?

Transferable skills need to be phrased in the language of the industry one is transferring to, rather than the industry of origin.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer 

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

Training with HR, lists of “do’s” and “don’ts” and conversations among committee members. However, many opinions (and therefore, much feedback) are based on impressions rather than job skills. We constantly need to refocus on what we’re hiring for, not who we want to hang out with.

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

Office culture, benefits, typical workdays, and “a day in the life.”

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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, Academic, Midwestern US, Suburban area

They don’t need to be just like us – it’s great if they’re not! – but I need them to not bring toxicity in.

portrait of Edwina Whitney, Librarian,
Edwina Whitney, Librarian, University of Connecticut, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Department head (any more specificity there will be self dox!)

Titles hired include: Business librarian, science librarian, public health librarian, social sciences librarian, business manager, director of communications, HR officer, Research & Instruction Librarian, Department Head (for other departments)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ Other: A search committee recommends to the dean, who makes the final decision in consultation with the supervisor where needed

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ Other: Skills test where appropriate for the position.(and not all these things are required for every position)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Yes for staff positions, no for faculty positions

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

For faculty positions, a committee is formed and I both chaired those committees and been a member of them.  Positions posted, applications reviewed against a rubric, screening interviews done,  finalist candidates brought in, offer made.  For staff, the position is posted on the university site. For some positions (higher level staff positions) there’s a committee, but for most it’s the direct supervisor doing the interviewing/hiring with feedback from potential coworkers as available/appropriate

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

They looked into us, especially for the interview stage, and let us know they were interested in this position. The cover letter was about the position/university and what they could bring/why they were interested in it.   Especially at the campus interview point, it was clear that they had looked into the library and the university. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Application meant for another institution. A cover letter that is simply “I am applying for X position” that doesn’t address anything about the position.  Not submitting what we need at the point of application (which for us is literally the cover letter, resume/CV, and list of references

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

What they’re like as a colleague. We’re not a huge library and we work together. They don’t need to be just like us – it’s great if they’re not! – but I need them to not bring toxicity in. We’ve worked hard to improve the culture of the department and I don’t want it to slide back to where it was before I joined it. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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?

Not researching the library/university. We put all our strategic plans, mission, values, online. Read them!  

Also, if you have a presentation, pay attention to the topic.  If we ask you to address, say 2 of 4 items, that’s to help you focus your presentation. We know you can’t address all of them well, so please, really do pick 2 of them!

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

Yes for screening interviews, not currently for final interviews since we’ve returned to campus.  Honestly, I don’t know other than to test your connections, microphones, everything. If they’re using a system you’re not familiar with, ask if there’s someone who can do a pre-interview test with you. 

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?

Tell me how it’s relevant.  Really!   Put it in your cover letter, clearly. Say “your posting asks for teaching experience. While I don’t have classroom instruction experience, I was the designated trainer for my shift when I worked at In-n-Out, where I trained groups of up to 10 employees at one time. I had to adjust training style to different employees, I had to check in with them for understanding a key points, and I had to follow up with them”

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: For most jobs it’s part of the ad, at least for the department I manage. There are some in the library who don’t want to include it, but I think it is an absolutely essential piece and I won’t post an ad for this department without one. 

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

1) HR removes identifying information from application materials for the initial review

2) For the screening interview, we ask candidates to keep their cameras off

3) Provide the screening interview questions ahead of time, and at the campus interviews, a  print of the questions that day

4) give clear explanations of each group/person they’ll be meeting with and why that’s relevant

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

This depends so much on what’s important to the candidate. Personally, I always ask about process – how things get done if someone has a new idea, because that’s important to me.  I also ask questions to dig into the culture of the department, library, and institution.

As important, ask the same questions of different groups/people that you meet with. Not everyone will have the same answer, but they shouldn’t be at odds with each other. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern 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?

√ 101-200 

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

Please have someone (or more than one someone) review your resume and cover letter – ESPECIALLY the cover letter. Resumes can be somewhat generic IMO, but the cover letter needs to be specific.  Having people look at it in relation to a job ad and tell you why they’re making the suggestions they are will help you as you apply for jobs. 

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, 100-200 staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Urban area

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: ACRL RIG (Revisited)

In 2013, as part of the Job Hunter’s Web Guide series, I ran a profile of ACRL’s Residency Interest Group. I’m happy to be able to provide an update to that post. RIG is still doing great work to support opportunities for new librarians to gain work experience. I’m impressed with the mutual support provided by this community! The update was provided by Jessica Dai, ACRL RIG Convener, 2021-2022, Kalani Adolpho, ACRL RIG Incoming Convener, 2021-2022, and Sheila García Mazari, ACRL RIG Outgoing Convener, 2021-2022.

Please note RIG’s upcoming webinar – this Thursday:

What’s Next? Starting the Job Search for Resident Librarians, July 14th, 2022 at 1p ET/12p CT/11a MT/10a PT. Registration is required. 

What is RIG? Please give us your elevator speech!

The Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Residency Interest Group (RIG) provides a platform for current and former resident librarians and other interested parties to share their experiences, engage in service and research, and learn about the availability of library residency opportunities. We work to implement a Resident-Centered Framework (RCF) which has three principles: to center the residents’ perspective and honor their experience, uphold the resident as the primary audience and beneficiary, and commit to transparency. Read more about the RCF in the Diversity Residency Toolkit.

When was RIG started? Why was it started?

In 2008, ACRL amended their bylaws allowing for communities to be created within ACRL that had a specific area of focus but that weren’t represented by Discussion Groups or Sections. They called these Interest Groups. The Residency Interest Group was the very first Interest Group to be formed by ACRL in order to support residents, residency coordinators, and institutions that host residencies. Over the last few years, the audience for RIG has shifted to primarily support current and former residents.

While the number of residents rose substantially when ACRL’s Diversity Alliance launched, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on funding structures, we have seen several universities either end their residencies or choose not to hire a new cohort of residents. Therefore, most individuals currently involved in RIG are former residents, although we are starting to see more residency positions open and we’re hoping to see an uptick of current residents within our membership. 

Who runs RIG?

RIG is completely volunteer-run and is part of ACRL’s interest group structure. ACRL, in turn, is a division within the American Library Association (ALA). For the past year (2021-2022), RIG’s leadership team consisted of Jessica Dai as Convener, Kalani Adolpho as Incoming Convener, and Sheila García Mazari as Outgoing Convener. This structure enables the Incoming Convener to learn on the job for a year before assuming the Convener role, while the Outgoing Convener provides institutional knowledge. For the next year, we are excited to work with our new Incoming Convener, Mallary Rawls. Additionally, we have talented team leaders who organize our teams, which include New Members and Mentorship, Programs and Proposals, Social Media and Web Communications, Assessment, and the Diversity Residencies SubGroup.

RIG leadership changes every year, with each member of the leadership team signing up for three years to allow for continuity. Each year, a call for nominees is sent out for a new potential incoming convener. The roles of Incoming Convener, Convener, and Outgoing Convener are the only roles that require an ALA/ACRL membership. 

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

Being a career expert is out of scope of what we do. Generally we tap into the wide variety of expertise from our members and are a peer network of support, particularly for folks looking to start a residency experience or for folks searching for their next role upon the conclusion of their residency. 

Who is your target audience?

Though our audience includes LIS students looking for their first library position and job seeking is one function of our group, our primary audience in recent years has shifted to current library residents and fellows. ACRL RIG aims to be a virtual community for and by library residents who are looking to connect with each other, as well as learn more about and improve library residencies. 

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?

Folks are free to explore the website and learn about current residents as well as recent work completed by the RIG teams such as the Diversity Residency Toolkit, created by the subgroup on Diversity Residencies. RIG accepts volunteers to serve on one of our teams on an ongoing basis, and as we receive them, we also publish job postings for both residencies and early-career librarians. We do not post everyday, but folks can feel free to consult the site as needed. 

Does your site provide:

√ Job Listings 

√ Answers to reader questions 

√ Interviews

√ Articles/literature 

√ Links 

√ Research 

√ Event Information

What requirements do you have for job listings on your site (e.g. must include salary)?

This has been an ongoing discussion for us over the last few years as we’ve seen increases and decreases in the number of residency positions. First and foremost, we require job postings to include salary information as part of our commitment to the RCF’s principle of transparency. Salary transparency can be especially important for job seekers who may be considering relocating for a term limited position. Additionally, if the position is a diversity residency position, salary transparency can help job seekers identify whether the institution has committed to the ACRL Diversity Alliance’s principle to “provide a salary for the resident commensurate with the salaries of equivalent entry-level library professionals.”

Rather than reposting a job link, we ask that individuals share the job posting copy as they want it to appear on our website. Since we’re volunteer run, we do not have the bandwidth to write or rewrite copy for our postings. If you would like us to post on our Twitter profile, please provide the required character count.

Finally, we prioritize postings of residencies and/or early career positions since our target audience includes LIS students and recent graduates, as well as resident librarians. We may accept postings that require extensive prior experience on a case-by-case basis. 

Should readers also look for you on social media? 

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Do you charge for anything on your site?

No, the RIG website is free to access. There are no paywalls.

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?

Our site is as much a resource as it is a community. Back in 2020, residents worked to write an open letter to library administrators asking them to continue to support residency positions during a time of budget cuts, hiring freezes, and an ongoing health crisis. Over 300 people signed onto this letter and anecdotally we are aware that some institutions extended their residencies an additional year so that residents could obtain the full benefits of their experience and to allow them to enter a more active job market. This was work created in conjunction with residents both affiliated and not affiliated with RIG. Though this doesn’t directly impact job seekers, we’re proud of the advocacy role that RIG has fulfilled in directly supporting library residents.

Anything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

Please join us for a webinar hosted by RIG’s Programs and Proposal team titled What’s Next? Starting the Job Search for Resident Librarians set to take place July 14th, 2022 at 1p ET/12p CT/11a MT/10a PT. Registration is required.

This panel features Tarida Anantachai, Director of Inclusion & Talent Management at North Carolina State University Libraries, Sheila García Mazari, Professional Programs Liaison at Grand Valley State University, and Juliana Espinosa, Student Success Librarian at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, who are all former resident librarians with recent experience job searching and/or chairing job searches. The panel will be moderated by Alyse Jordan, Ed.D. Lamar University, Head of Research, Engagement & Learning at Lamar University. The conversation will touch on how to evaluate job ads and best prepare application materials for the job search process.

Thank you!

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Filed under Academic, Job Hunters Web Guide

Nobody cares how long you sit at your desk, you are judged by what you accomplish

An older white man with an interesting striped coat sits in front of a book. A picture of a woman and vase of flowers are behind him.
Joseph C. Rowell, retired librarian of University of California. From UC Berkeley Library Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Professor

Titles hired include: Subject specialist librarian (assistant prof rank)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Other: the committee may include a faculty member from the area the librarian will be supporting

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

√ Other: Prior to a formal job offer, the proof of degree is just a copy of unofficial (free) transcripts. Official transcripts are only required from the person who gets the job offer. We also require a presentation, but not in the form of a demonstration

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: We use an online system, but we haven’t been approved to hire since we got it. I think that’s an option not a requirement.

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

My role depends on the committee, which depends on the position we’re hiring for. We also haven’t had a position approved since the pandemic started. If we get approved, we will explore virtual options to replace the on-campus interviews.  

A committee is formed, generally consisting of 5 people, including 2-4 people from the department the position is in, one staff member, and maybe one faculty member from another discipline, as appropriate for the role. The hiring committee drafts the job ad, including requirements, and gets approval from the dean. And then the ad is posted to various job sites and email lists. After the deadline, we review applications and select 6-9 candidates for a round of phone interviews. Of those, we select 3 candidates to invite for on-campus interviews, which are full day interviews. The candidate usually flies in the day before and rents a car to drive to the area (1 hour from the airport), which gives them more freedom to explore the area. The interview day was grueling for all of us, starting around 8 or 8:30am, and ending with dinner around 5:30 or 6 – how that conversation went determined how late it would be when the candidate would be dropped off back at their hotel. And then the candidate traveled home the following day. 

After all interviews, the committee would discuss the candidates and agree on who to make the offer to and how to proceed if that person turned the offer down (would we be happy with another candidate as the second choice or would it become a failed search?). If the supervisor is NOT on the committee, then the committee outlines its decision to the supervisor. The supervisor conveys the committee decision to the dean, who then gets whatever higher approvals are needed. And then the supervisor calls the candidate to make an offer. 

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

In the last search I chaired, there was one candidate who really wowed us on paper and on the phone. Honestly, I don’t remember why, though. There was another candidate who looked good on paper, but seemed a bit awkward in the phone interview – timing was off since nobody could see body language. Both were invited to on-campus interviews. The first candidate was good with the short answers and small talk, but the second candidate stood out as really thoughtful, asking questions that showed they were really listening to what we said and putting pieces together, and thinking strategically about things. We made the offer to that second candidate. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

poor understanding of how structural oppression works; poor treatment of anyone “below” the rank they’ll be hired into; microaggressive behaviors

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

I can’t think of anything now

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?

Failing to interview us as well

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

We haven’t, but we plan to explore this in the future

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?

The complaint I hear most about people transitioning from parapro work to faculty positions is that they don’t really understand the difference between the two. It may not be as significant in academic libraries where librarians are staff, but here we are tenure track faculty, which entails a lot more self-motivated work on your own schedule. Nobody cares how long you sit at your desk, you are judged by what you accomplish, including publications and conference presentations, serving on committees at all levels (university, system, prof org), in addition to core functions within the library. 

For a position as a subject librarian in my department, experience as a school teacher is more visibly relevant than work at a circulation desk. So what did you do at that circulation desk that connects with what we do? Did you answer reference questions? Did you take initiative to build your knowledge of resources available to support students in particular subject areas? How did that prepare you to build relationships as an equal (not providing a service to them but collaborating as a peer) with faculty across campus? 

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?

I’ve written too much and am running out of time! We attend conference presentations and keep up on current literature on best practices to reduce bias as much as possible. 

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

Read up on suggestions for questions to learn about the climate (is this a toxic workspace?). And think about all the info you get thru the day in order to ask questions that show you’re thinking strategically about how you fit and how you could succeed in this role. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

√ Other: About an hour from a good sized city, many faculty commute, but the uni is in a small town.

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

It’s a good process, no complaints

Robert Stanley Dollar, Jr., Robert Stanley Dollar, Sr., and Jeanne Nichols, Librarian at Capt. Robert Dollar World Trade Library. From UC Berkeley Library Digital Collections.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Campus Librarian

Titles hired include: Reference & Instruction Librarian, Campus Librarian, Dean of Library Services

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Other: VP of Academics & President of College

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

√ Online application

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ 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:

Hiring committee of peers & Dean of Libraries

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

They were confident, knowledgeable, and direct/professional with their answers

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If they’re confused easily, stress out over simple questions, or say something racist/sexist in the interview

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

it’s a good process, no complaints

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?

underestimating the job responsibilities

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

Yes. Speak clearly, repeat the question to make sure you’re answering correctly, other than that… good luck. Virtual interviews all suck.

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?

If you sound like you don’t have any idea what we do, you’re not getting the job. If you sound like you understand what you’re in for, any application of your personal experience can help you.

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?

HR reviews the first round of on-paper candidates and requires certain protected-status candidates to get an initial interview in the 2nd round.

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

Relevant questions that are unexpected are always good. Asking about the working relationships & culture is good too

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern 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?

√ 201+

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Suburban area

Hiring Better: Core Best Practices for Academic Interviews

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. Alison M. Armstrong said in her survey

I try to avoid using the word “fit” (based on the Core Best Practices for Academic Interviews – check out this webinar) because it can be used as a way to say “people who look like me”. Diversity is important. 

In working with her to create her post, she emphasized the importance of this document, and made sure that we provided a link for readers. I wanted to learn more about this document, and to share it with you. While it is targeted to Academic Interviews, I think there are applicable principles for all library types. I approached the authors, Xan Arch, Lori Birrell, and Kristin E. Martin, and they graciously agreed to write about it for us. 


Why did you decide to write the recommendations?

Our team came together in 2020 through a discussion of a blog post written about shorter academic librarian interviews. This post started a chat on the CORE lists and several of us expressed interest in investigating further. Ultimately, rather than focusing on shorter interviews in particular, we ended up exploring how to reduce bias and create more candidate-friendly interviews. As we talk in our libraries and universities about how unconscious biases influence how we judge others, it is more important than ever to examine traditional interview processes to see if they are effective in evaluating candidates or if they serve to reinforce these biases.

Can you talk about the ‘dangers of fit’?

This is one area we really want to highlight in recommendations. It came up frequently in the literature we reviewed, and I think it’s an understandable and common short circuit to move from “I like this person because we share similar manners/have similar interests/have the same alma mater” to “let’s hire this person because they seem like they’d fit in well.” Hiring candidates who seem comfortable at the interview and to whom you can quickly build a connection may indeed mean that a new hire is easier to work with initially, but may also risk the growth and innovation of your organization. Hiring based on fit risks homogeneity and the reproduction of a culture that, in many organizations, centers on dominant identities.  Many of our best practice recommendations are designed to counter this tendency by replacing subjective impressions with a thoughtful and intentional review of how the candidate meets job qualifications and can perform in the position. Examples include starting with unconscious bias training, providing structure and consistency throughout the interview process, and using a rubric for evaluations. 

What recommendations have you implemented at your own institutions?

Kristin:

In searches over the past few years, we have moved toward providing the search committee members with an opportunity to approach the search with intentionality, openness, and transparency with one another. This has included providing unconscious bias training at the beginning of each search process, both through a video and follow-up discussion. Use of a rubric for the hiring process has become standardized, particularly in librarian searches. What’s been so interesting about this change is how it’s affected all parts of the hiring process. By using the qualifications in the position posting to build the rubric, it’s helped us tighten up our language of the qualifications and have conversations within the search committee to explicitly clarify the meaning of those qualifications. For example, if we have a position that requires supervisory experience, we’ve been able to discuss questions like: Is supervising only students sufficient? Is being responsible for the training but not the hiring and termination of employees sufficient? By having these conversations in advance, we avoid situations where search committee members make different assumptions in determining which candidates are qualified. By using the rubric for evaluation of the initial application, we can also identify areas where we want to ask candidates targeted questions because their initial applications didn’t provide enough information for us to evaluate them. For example, in one position we had a question regarding experience and understanding around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion where we didn’t get sufficient information from their applications, so we knew to develop an interview question to cover this area. Finally, the rubric has also helped us focus on those qualifications that allow for us to differentiate candidates, and eliminate vague requirements that could allow for more subjectivity and judgment of “fit” to enter in the conversation. 

Lori: 

For many searches, we send questions to candidates ahead of time (about 24 hours) to signal that we’re interested in the content of their responses and not in how quickly they can think on their feet. In my experience, this strategy removes some of the performance aspects of interviewing that can be all too easy for the search committee to focus on when evaluating candidates. The list of questions should clearly indicate any questions that are non-evaluative (like the typical ice breaker question).

When deciding what interview format to use, consider how the format may enhance or hinder the evaluation process. Virtual interviews can greatly speed up the search timeline and can expand the number of stakeholders who can participate as they don’t have to be on campus. However, virtual interviews require just as much planning, if not more, as in-person interviews. Regardless of the format, I always carefully consider what sessions will be included on the schedule and treat each search as unique. For example, does a rare books cataloger need to give a job talk? Is presenting to the public a core job responsibility? If not, perhaps that session could be rethought as an open forum on a topic specific to that role and duties. When developing the schedule, it’s important to communicate to candidates any sessions that will be non-evaluative (like a meal). 

Xan: 

In our last search, we piloted asking candidates to keep their cameras off during the first-round virtual interviews. The intended purpose was to reduce the search committee’s ability to evaluate based on candidate appearance and the appearance of their home, office, or virtual background. Our search committee kept their cameras on so the candidates would be able to read body language and get a sense of their potential future co-workers. One thing I did not anticipate was that several candidates had profile photos that showed while their cameras were off. This meant we did have a visual element that might factor into our evaluation. However, even with this unexpected issue, I felt that the strategy was effective overall and we plan to do it in the future. 

In the same search, we tried reducing the evaluative aspects of candidate meals. As we move towards structured interviews that focus on stated job qualifications, reducing the influence of unstructured mealtimes is aimed at reducing our ability to judge things like the candidate’s food preferences or desire for a glass of wine at the end of the day. The candidates had lunch with library student workers, and we asked library staff taking candidates to dinner to complete candidate evaluations before dinner. Neither meal time produced feedback for the search committee, helping focus our deliberations on interview segments that directly related to job qualifications.

Do you have any best practices that are format specific for online interviews? 

If you’ve decided to do virtual interviews, the search committee chair or hiring manager should delegate someone to coordinate the logistics of the interview day. Who will be on call for tech troubleshooting? Who will monitor the chat for questions? Will you use one link for the whole interview, or different links for each session? 

Especially important is considering the start and end times for the day. When scheduling the first virtual interview I hosted, I didn’t consider the different timezone of our candidate and mistakenly started the day at 7am. It can be tempting to try and make the virtual interview schedule mirror an onsite interview. Resist this temptation! Can you schedule the interview over 2 days? Can some meetings take place before the interview day? Even with breaks throughout the day, sitting in front of a screen is taxing in a different way and you should construct the schedule to be sure you can gather the information you need to evaluate candidates without padding the schedule with unnecessary time.

What advice would you give hiring managers who would like to review their interview processes?

At many organizations, significant changes and decisions around the hiring process require review and approval by the organization’s human resources office or the provost’s office. However, as a hiring manager or even member of a search committee, you may have more opportunity than you realize to effect change in the interview process, and take steps to provide a candidate-friendly process that reduces bias. Just starting the conversation with others at your organization and stepping back to review what you’ve always done can make a big difference. Small steps, like adding more structure to the search process, working with the committee to evaluate based on a rubric, asking the question about the purpose of each meeting in a day-long search, can add up to make a better process. Maybe you can’t share the questions with the candidate in advance, but you can at least internally develop a list of questions to be asked of all candidates to improve consistency during the interview. Work within your sphere of influence as opportunities come up to bring additional ways to improve the interview process. Even if your institution doesn’t feel ready to implement some changes now, by keeping the conversation going, additional changes can happen over time.


You can read the full recommendations, which are posted through the American Library Association/Core: https://alair.ala.org/handle/11213/17612 


Headshot of Xan Arch

Xan Arch is Dean of the Library at the University of Portland. As Dean, she has developed initiatives that promote student success and sense of belonging within the library, and in support of this work, she has researched and published on first-generation student experiences in libraries, as well as academic library hiring practices. She holds degrees from San Jose State University and Stanford University. She has also trained as a search advocate through Oregon State University.

Headshot of Dr. Lori Birrell

Dr. Lori Birrell is the Associate Dean for Special Collections at the University of Arkansas. In this role, Birrell provides strategic leadership of the division and its stewardship of archives and rare books to best serve the needs of researchers at the University and across the globe. While at the University of Rochester, Birrell completed a Doctorate of Education with a focus on higher education administration and leadership. Her dissertation became the springboard for a monograph published by the Association of Research Libraries, Developing the Next Generation of Library Leaders. Dr. Birrell earned a Masters of Library and Information Science from Simmons University, a Masters in History from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, and a BA from Mount Holyoke College.

Headshot of Kristin E. Martin

Kristin E. Martin is Director of Technical Services at the University of Chicago, managing a department of over 40 staff at all levels. She has over twenty years of experience working in libraries and archives, covering a wide range of technical services activities, including metadata management, acquisitions, and electronic resources management. She is engaged professionally with the FOLIO project, to build an open-source ILS, and with Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a division of the American Library Association. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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We often have tight scheduling for interviews and wasting 10 mins while an applicant gets their microphone to work is problematic

A white lady in sunglasses and 1980s sweater smiles
Esther Johnson. Arbor Day Celebration – 1984. Photo by Norden H. (Dan) Cheatham From UC Berkeley Library Digital Collections.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: User Experience Librarian/Head of Access Services

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Student Assistant, Research & Instruction Librarian, Systems Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ 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:

HR posts the job and all members of the hiring committee can see applicants. We use a rubric/metrics tailored to the job to assess all applicants and then meet to sort them into categories including yes, no, maybe. Depending on the job we will either have one round of on-campus interviews (assistants) or for librarians we will have two rounds including a first round phone interview. My role depends on whether or not I am head of the search committee, if I am head then I work with HR to post and market the position, create the rubric and interview questions, and do all of the work to contact and arrange interviews and follow-up references and then submit the decision and paperwork for approval. If I am a member of the committee I complete the necessary reviews and take part in the interviews as directed and then attend meetings to discuss applicants. 

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

Their cover letter was perfectly tailored to our position. Every requirement we listed they specifically addressed how they met it or how they might meet it. During the interview they were very articulate and had a student-centered view of instruction. They also didn’t shy away from discussing tough topics surrounding inclusion and social justice. Additionally, they asked very thoughtful questions about our institution that showed they had done some prior research. All combined, it gave the sense that they really wanted this specific position. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not necessarily, if someone has the wrong library listed in their cover letter I tend to put them into the “no” pile and that does happen in our library assistant searches fairly frequently. 

I am also hesitant of PhD holders and former faculty members who are seeking to switch into libraries as their cover letters don’t often show a full understanding of the work that libraries do. 

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

While this can change as people develop, I wish I had a better sense of what candidates are looking for long-term. Is this position a stepping stone to something else? Do they really want to work in public libraries and are just applying to everything that comes along? 

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?

Not owning up to something that they aren’t familiar with and instead having a rambling non-answer to a question. I appreciate a person saying that they don’t have a ton of experience with a specific product or situation and asking for clarification about how we would handle something. 

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

Yes we do. I think testing the technology ahead of time is a good idea. We often have tight scheduling for interviews and wasting 10 mins while an applicant gets their microphone to work is problematic. Also, if cameras are on they should be looking at the screen the same way we would expect them to be making eye contact with us in an in-person interview. 

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?

For library assistant positions, we’re looking for people who have customer services and supervisory skills. Library experience is helpful but we’d prioritize a person who knows how to manage people and handle a fast paced environment. The same is true when we hire Systems or Technology positions, the systems might be different but if you can demonstrate that you have competence in managing data or working in networks, then we assume that you can extend those to library products. 

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?

HR collects demographic information and will specifically tell us if there are certain candidates that they would like us to reconsider based on this information. We also send applicants copies of our questions ahead of time to reduce any issues for those who need more time to process information. We try our best to overlook simple grammatical and spelling errors that could be attributed to language barriers but we could stand to improve on that. 

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

I usually like for them to ask what a typical day/week is like. I want them to ask what we like about working for the library. Questions about the tenure process are usually helpful. I think that they should know about where we are geographically and how that impacts the types of students we encounter. I think they should have a sense of how large (or small) our staff is and what the work environment is like. I also think they should know about our tenure process and the criteria that they will be evaluated on. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

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, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area, Suburban area

Search committee reviews all applicants using a matrix

Three tables each with people studying special collections
Image: Researchers at MSU Special Collections Library via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Head of Special Collections

Titles hired include: University archivist, archivist, processing archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Search committee makes recommendation to dean

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Search committee reviews all applicants using a matrix, selects first round phone interviews (8-10 people usually), selects 2-3 people for on campus interview (full day), makes hiring recommendation to dean

 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?

Not doing any research on the hiring institution, not having any questions for interviewers

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern 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?

√ 101-200

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Academic, Archives, Southwestern US, Suburban area