Category Archives: Hiring Better

Hiring Better: Disability Accommodations & the Hiring Process

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

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 and “it was not given, app withdrawn.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Who are the instructors? 

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

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

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

What is it? Tell us about the course. 

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

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

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

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

Who is the target audience? 

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

What topics are covered?

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

What are some of your participants’ takeaways?

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

How can we contact you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 (, 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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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?


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. 


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). 


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: 

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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Hiring Better: Search Advocates

A group of men sit on the floor if a room, drinking. There are framed images on the wall behind them, which they have been judging.
Image: Society of Artists’ Selection Committee, Sydney, 1907 / Henry King. From the State Library of New South Wales via Flickr commons

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. 

In the Return to Hiring Librarians, I’ve been looking for ways to help mitigate harm, both in the posting and in the practice.  So I was really intrigued to read Larry Eames’ survey, because he talks about his work and training as a Search Advocate.  I asked him:

Will you tell me a little more about your experience as a Search Advocate?

I found it a really effective training to equip participants with skills to both diversify hiring and push back against bias in the process. Because it’s designed for a higher ed setting, I found it broadly applicable to library hiring. But even beyond higher ed the tools and skills the program teaches are useful and easily tweaked to be locally specific. Once you’ve been through the program, you remain a member of the Canvas Course so you can return to the materials you develop and discuss during the foundations series, which is definitely something I’ve found myself doing especially during my first search as a committee chair.

He said that the training had been conducted by Anne Gillies, who runs the Oregon State University program. Her program has trained somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 people nationally and she is a go-to contact for many institutions looking to start their own program.

Anne graciously met with me for an hour on a Friday night so that I could ask her some more questions. Parts of the interview are below, and additional parts have been published as:

Weak, E. (2022). Using Search Advocates to Mitigate Bias in Hiring: An Interview with Anne Gillies. Library Leadership & Management36(2).

Do you have any “getting started” recommendations for organizations looking to reduce bias in hiring?

One of the things that we know is a big problem for search and selection is that we are in a hurry. To improve search and selection, we have to slow down. The only way to change the processes is to approach them more slowly and thoughtfully, and really pay attention. 

If an institution were launching a program like [Search Advocates] themselves, I would say they should start by pulling together a team of key people (administration and faculty and so on) that could be involved in piloting. They should be people who will be honest and who also have the respect of the community. The pilot is to see whether you’ve got it right or whether it’s really not quite what’s needed yet. You need to show that you’re learning from the pilot experience, continuing to change and grow and evolve to address your particular institutional context. 

They also need to bring a focus on being facilitative learning partners and flexible thinking. To do this work, we don’t see the world in binaries, we see nuance, and that’s a hard thing for people to do – we’re conditioned to do the opposite. It’s hard for people to use neutral, non judgmental, objective language, we are a culture of judgment and judgment words are what flow freely from people’s mouths. It’s very hard to interrupt.

There’s this thirst for tools. I have a question in my survey that asks, “What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?” Some folks have great answers, some have cursory answers like, “we have a diverse search committee,” and a lot of folks say things like, “I don’t know what to do about this” or “I would like to do something, but my boss doesn’t want to do anything.”

It’s so hard to create change. If the administration is not a champion of the process, it won’t work. We were fortunate that, when we started, our President said, “this shall be.” I would imagine that this program might not launch in quite the same way today; our circumstances are different. Our former President put us on the map by launching the program ahead of its time, so now to some extent we’re the go-to place. And so if we hadn’t been positioned that way, OSU wouldn’t now be taking the lead. Another institution would have.  I think this kind of program was inevitable. Part of the reason our program has remained sustainable is that we developed it at OSU, for OSU, attending to our particular context and challenges. A “one size fits all” kind of approach isn’t terribly popular in this environment.

It’s a big undertaking. And it’s an especially big undertaking in higher education; the way that the so-called merit and reward systems are structured in higher education really does not acknowledge the importance of this kind of work. Equity work may be recognized as service, but the kind of university service that doesn’t count very much compared to other kinds of service to the discipline. So for faculty the P&T systems can serve as incentives not to engage in this work. For this reason OSU changed our promotion and tenure guidelines to recognize the importance of equity work in teaching, research, and service back in 2016. Most recently institutions like UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) are setting new standards by mandating that equity work be included as a separate category in faculty position descriptions and be evaluated separately as another component of faculty work (in addition to teaching, research, and service).

You’re making me think of the people who say, “we should run the library like a business.” There’s this focus on the bottom line and it really, really doesn’t have to be that way.

There’s a moral problem with that. It’s like the “business case” for diversity, that diversity is only worth doing if it changes the bottom line. Absolutely not. And libraries, like public institutions of higher education, are about providing access to people who otherwise would not have it. That’s hugely important, especially in a society that’s as stratified with discrimination and barriers as we are in the US. Organizations like libraries are absolutely crucial.

Will you walk us through how it might work in practice for a Search Advocate to be part of the hiring process?

We suggest that the Search Advocate should join the process before the job is ever posted. Together with the search committee, they should review the job description and posting for barriers and for opportunities to make it more inclusive and attractive to a wider range of people. They look for unintended messages about who the committee is looking for and other obstacles that may limit the pool. 

We have a tool called the Criteria Matrix which is our primary debiasing tool, an in-depth, inclusive rubric for screening. The Search Committee works together to broaden their understanding of what it means to meet each qualification, while doing justice to the qualification as written and to the needs of the position. We’re essentially setting up a tool that will screen people in instead of screening people out. It’s also prioritizing the qualifications for which we seek strength as a predictor of better performance (beyond just meeting the qualifications), so people will make decisions based on position needs rather than based on feelings of affinity for particular candidates. Strength isn’t a relevant consideration for every qualification.

Advocates are charged to suggest the committee do personal outreach recruiting with a focus on building a more diverse applicant pool. Personal outreach (or network recruiting) always happens, but happens really informally. When it happens informally, we access our usual networks, and they tend to be very much like us, whoever we are. So it doesn’t really create change. 

The Search Advocate works with the Search Committee throughout the process. They do everything that the search committee does and more. We’ve done a lot of thinking about what the bias risks are at each of the stages of the process. Advocates try to front load information and agreements with the committee to build awareness of these bias risks so the committee can be cognizant and think about ways to head those off. The advocate collaborates with the Search Chair who is responsible for facilitating the search process; if the advocate wants to bring additional tools or discussion to the process, the advocate and chair need to plan time for this. I want advocates to read the applications and ask questions that help committee members test their thinking when they begin the screening process, whether or not they are “voting members.” 

We want the advocate to come from far away from the hiring unit, from a different discipline, and be outside the power dynamics, stakeholder relationships, and other complicated relationships within the hiring unit. The mission of the Advocate is to advance equity, validity and diversity in the search and selection process. If they’re embedded in the unit, they have some sort of a stake in who’s going to be hired, or they’re embedded in the power dynamics, or the practices of the unit, or connected in some way to the unit or its stakeholders, they have another interest besides the Search Advocate role, and that becomes a conflict of interest. 

In screening, the advocate is trying to apply the agreed-upon criteria despite not being experts in the subject area; it’s a good way to test the clarity of the criteria the committee has developed. If it makes sense to somebody who doesn’t know your field, then you’ve probably done a pretty good job of articulating it in an inclusive, clear sort of way. 

I want Search Advocates to be engaged all the way through the process. For every search committee meeting. I want them to be providing tools and resources, but mostly asking a lot of facilitative questions, open ended questions, questions for understanding, and maybe moving into the realm of some more assertive communication, if needed, if they see something that they think is really a problem. Our approach is to use the least power interventions possible. A lot of that starts with things as simple as affirming the things that people are doing well. We want to shape a change in behavior as needed, and we want the advocate to be a resource for the committee. And so far, that’s what we’re hearing, that people are appreciative of what the Advocates bring to the process. That it makes the process better for them; it may not be shorter, but it’s better.

If we want to create a culture change, then we don’t want advocates to be communicating with people in a way that produces defensiveness or anger. We want them to be collaborative, and to facilitate awareness of the unintended impacts of the practices they’ve used in the past. I want advocates involved in the interviews; they should introduce themselves to the candidates as the search advocate. They should be involved in asking questions like everybody else, because otherwise they become a weird looming presence sort of sitting off on the side – everybody thinks that’s creepy. 

I also want them involved in planning for equity considerations for site visits. Sometimes public presentations, etc. can become problematic if people just ask whatever comes into their heads, whether or not it’s actually related to the job.  Being expected to field inappropriate questions is a nightmare for candidates. Advocates can help the hiring unit prepare these events such that this is less likely to happen. I suggest that the advocate or moderator say at the very beginning, “we’re all here because we’re interested in getting to know this person and their ability to do the job. The focus is on their ability to do the job. But in our desire to make a deeper connection sometimes we ask questions that segue into the personal and we actually can’t be doing that. If that happens, it’s understandable, but I’m just going to interrupt and ask the candidate not to answer and then move on to a different question.” We set it up in such a way that they know what the parameters are and we also aren’t shaming them for asking those questions. Because once you shame people, they get defensive. And people often forget that there are so many limits defining appropriate and inappropriate questions at the interview stage.

After the interviews the search practices vary between units and disciplines. Some search committees are involved in reference checking, some are not. Some submit a written report to the hiring manager, some provide a verbal report, and some just forward a list or recommendation. It’s kind of all over the map at that point. 

What I want is for the advocate to be there and paying attention to equity measures all the way through. The equity focus of advocates is both equity for candidates in the process and equity for committee members, because committee members can sometimes be silenced or their perspectives overlooked. Part of what advocates are charged to do is to make sure that all those voices are heard, and that the strengths that people bring to the process are being leveraged. Advocates are not rigid, inflexible compliance enforcers; they’re not the HR police. They have to recognize nuance, they have to be flexible, they have to be strategic, they have to pick the most important things and not go to the mat for everything, or they lose their audience. And they must be committed to equity and inclusion.

Do you know how many libraries use the program?

Orbis Cascade Alliance is having a workshop series that’s actually coming up next week. Beyond that, I think most of the librarians I’ve seen either participate when their institutions have contracted a workshop with OSU, or when the librarians have registered to attend the OSU series individually as our guests. I’ve seen a real upswing in university librarians, and others who work in libraries. And I’ve seen that at our institution as well, that there’s a real push for and focus on social justice and inclusion that wasn’t as clear 10 years ago. 

When I first got in touch with you, you suggested that I take the workshop and I would like to, but I’m just trying to figure out where I could fit it in with my life.

Actually, all the workshops I have published right now are full. The next ones I’ll be posting start in July. In the fall I’ll be trying a different way of scheduling. Usually I schedule them every other day (MWF or Tues/Thurs) to accommodate teaching schedules. But in the fall we will try spreading some of them out over four weeks, every Friday or every Tuesday, to give people a little bit more rest, recovery, and processing time between. We’ll see how that goes – It’s just a trial run. Non-OSU organizations can send two people to our workshop series for free; after that limit has been met the cost is only $200/person for the whole four-part 16 hour series. If we do it for another institution, they can invite up to 40 people for $3,000. This rate is low because we’re about access. As a land grant employee I also see this as one small way to start giving back by addressing our history of structural racism. Land grant institutions derived tremendous financial benefits because the federal government granted non-ceded (stolen) indigenous lands to us as endowments. 

If you’re interested learning more, signing up for a workshop, or bringing Anne to do a training for your organization, visit She currently has a waitlist of institutions wanting workshops, but is scheduling for 2023.

As always, we’re interested in your thoughts! Consider commenting below or on Twitter.

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