Category Archives: Northeastern US

Personal Professional Websites: Systematic Review Librarian

Headshot of Stephanie Roth, who wears a black dress with white polkadots and a pearl necklace. She has long brown hair and is standing in front of a Magnolia tree.

Stephanie Roth is a medical research librarian and currently works in the academic setting where she serves as team lead of the systematic review service. She has over 10 years of experience as a co-authored systematic review librarian. In addition, she designed an open-access model for providing a team-based systematic review service and teaches the model to other librarians as an Medical Library Association (MLA) CE course, now webinar, Easy Steps to Building a Systematic Review Service. She is also the instructor for a Library Juice Academy course, Systematic Review Essentials and is currently serving as the Caucus Chair for the MLA Systematic Reviews Caucus. When she is not working she enjoys running, surface pattern design and spending time with her husband and two daughters.

What is your site’s URL?

www.systematicreviewlibrarian.com

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To share my systematic review work all in one place and to highlight my course. I also wanted to keep some of this work separate from my job so the two don’t overlap. My webinars and course must be worked on outside of work hours so it made sense to move it away from my job and have it live in its own place.

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

I bought the domain name before I knew what the purpose would be but the domain name was the inspiration. It was sort of ironic because I had hoped for an official systematic review librarian title at work so essentially I gave myself the title before anyone else gave it to me.

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

√ Other: I am always looking to grow and I am open to new opportunities whether that be internal or external.

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

I have gained email subscribers and some interest in my course and the new self-paced course that I now have. Having that list was recently really helpful and allowed me to use my own internal network to find volunteers for my July webinar.

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)?

√ Descriptions or list of services you provide 

√ References, testimonials and/or press

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo 

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

√ Contact Form

√ Form for people to subscribe to your content

√ ORCiD 

√ Twitter 

√ Instagram 

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?

If I have a change in a date a course is offered or once in a while I get the urge to change something.

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

√ WordPress.com 

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

√ $20.01-$50 

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ No 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ Other: It ranges from 50-300+

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?

No, I don’t share a full resume. I am very careful about how much private information I share. I try to stick with keeping the website and social media platforms strictly professional.

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

Don’t wait for perfection to launch. Get it done and then you can work on improving it over time. 

This is funny but I was once asked to design a website for a previous job and I didn’t know how to code so I used a basic Weebly account to design what looked like a more expensive and complex website. Librarians are usually pretty good at figuring things out! 

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

This is actually my secondary website. I recently upgraded my primary website (for surface pattern design) to WordPress Pro. I love all the features with Pro and I would love to upgrade this one at some point. The Pro version integrates much better with my email service provider and it would make signing up for my newsletter much easier.

What is your job title?

Biomedical & Research Services Librarian

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

√ Academic Library 

√ Other: Medical Library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

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

I haven’t had my website for that long, it is still very new. It only took minutes to create on WordPress and I do most of it from my phone. I was able to create it and then leave it which is nice. I also feel like I lucked out with the domain name! I love to search for domain names and once in a while something will stick. 

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Filed under Academic, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Personal Professional Websites

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!

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Filed under Academic, Northeastern US, Personal Professional Websites

It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian

Gemma Doyle is currently the Collection Development Manager at EBSCO, managing a team of other collection development librarians for the Books program. She spent over a decade as a paraprofessional in various library systems in the US and Canada before becoming a librarian. She worked in public and special libraries before moving over to the library vendor sphere with EBSCO. 

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

The application is screened by HR for bare essentials (MLS, etc.), phone screen by hiring manager or HR, first full interview by hiring manager, second interview by members of the team (2-3 people)

Titles hired include: Collection Management Specialist 1/Collection Management Specialist 2

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

The candidate had extensive experience in library work: had worked in different kinds of libraries, had supervisory experience, had handled a large budget used over multiple library departments, and had extensive achievements under each of these points of experience.  Their wide breadth of experience meant that they were comfortable doing just about any aspect of librarianship.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Someone who is inflexible and doesn’t have the ability to self-motivate will not last in this environment.  We work with so many stakeholders, and the work has such a fast pace that flexibility and motivation qualities in candidates really are necessary.

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

What they work like under pressure; how they really handle conflict.

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?

For jobs with us in particular, I would say making assumptions about the job even after we explain its requirements.  Library vendor work can be very different from working in an actual library, and it’s hard to convey fully to candidates what a corporate, for-profit environment can be like to work in as compared to working in a library, even if the job is for librarians. Some candidates may find that’s not an environment they thrive in if they’ve never experienced it.

In general, I think candidates want so much to sell themselves to the interviewer that they forget that interviewing should be a two-way street.  They should be asking a lot of questions to determine if they job is actually right for them, too. 

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

Yes – every position on our team is permanently remote, so we do all interviewing virtually, even if they are local candidates.  As for shining, mostly the same things in a face-to-face interview – preparation, double-checking time zones, etc. but also try not to let any technical difficulties throw you for a loop.  Interviews are nerve-wracking for everyone, including the interviewer, but dealing with issues as they arise and being flexible around them is going to give everyone a good impression.  

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?

I spent a lot of my early career as a paraprofessional, so I understand some of the nuances of making that transition. Mostly, I think it comes down to mindset.  It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian.  While you can answer the “tell me about a time when” questions using paraprofessional examples, you should also throw in “as a librarian, I would” answers. I’m going to want to know that I don’t need to train you on how a librarian should handle certain things, or even explain that there are differences there.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview (in the phone screen)

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

Every candidate is asked the same questions in the same order (with follow up questions relevant to them, of course); all interviewers attend anti-bias classes before hiring begins. The training is only as good as the intentions of those doing the hiring, and HR doesn’t really monitor the actual hiring process or ask candidates for feedback on the process, which I think would be helpful.

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

What’s the day-to-day job like? Is there an onboarding and training plan in place? What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job and the organization? are the ones that I think will give candidates insight on what it’s really like to work here.  The most important thing for them to know is that working for a for-profit company is going to sometimes be at odds with the ideals of librarianship, mostly in small ways but some big ones.  We try to stress that in interviews with candidates, but culture shock still hits hard whenever we hire anyone new. Candidates should definitely try to get a feel for the organization so they can make a choice that feels good for them.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions (our team is all remote)

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, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Suburban area

Personal Professional Websites: Allie “Book Historia” Alvis

Allie Alvis is a book historian, and rare book cataloguer at DC antiquarian bookseller Typer Punch Matrix. They are the former special collections reference librarian of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, and hold masters degrees in book history and information management from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow. They are passionate about bibliographic communication, and maintain popular social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (among others) as Book Historia.

What is your site’s URL?

https://www.bookhistoria.com/

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To act as a hybrid dynamic CV and central point of contact, with a place for miscellaneous pieces of writing not published elsewhere

Are you actively looking for work? 

√ Yes, for speaking gigs

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

Yes! I’ve received a number of media inquiries and speaking opportunities through the “contact” portion of my website, and orders for book supports through my links. 

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

√ Descriptions or list of services you provide

√ Blog about professional topics

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations

√ References, testimonials and/or press

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo

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

√ Email

√ Contact Form 

√ Twitter 

√ Instagram 

√ TikTok

√ Tumblr

√ YouTube 

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?

Generally whenever I give a new presentation or get new press, or get around to writing a blog post; frequency depends on how often those things occur

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

√ Squarespace 

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

√ Other: $144/year

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ Yes 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes 

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ Other: Depends on if I post a new blog; 0-50 if no new posts, 51-250 if I’m promoting a post on social media

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?

Since I’m kind of a bibliographic “public figure,” there’s not much on my website that isn’t on my various social media presences, so I don’t feel any less comfortable having info there

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

That’s a hard one – I’m able to have an (I think) attractive website because I’m not *so* early career that I can afford to pay for it. If you don’t have the money to spend, Tumblr or WordPress can be a sort-of alternative.

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

I’ve been thinking about good web design since I had a LiveJournal back in 2002, so I’m a bit picky! But there are lots of nice templates out there that you can use as-is with very little additional work.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Rare Book Cataloguer

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

√ Other: Rare book seller, formerly (and likely future) special collections library

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

√ Yes 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Eastern US  

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

This is a cool project, good luck! 🙂


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Filed under Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Personal Professional Websites

Not thinking about EDI even though it is in the job description

men move crates of records
Unloading War Department Records at the National Archivee. From the National Archives Catalog.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

Title: Processing Archivist

Titles hired include: Distinctive Collections Head, Archivist for Collections, Metadata Operations Engineer, [Project] Archivist, Metadata 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

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ Other: Presentation, some positions may be a half day of interviews

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

Applications get narrowed by HR, hiring committee decides who gets phone interviews and conducts these interviews, committee decides who comes for in person (or virtual) final round interviews, candidates meet with committee, stakeholders, peers and/or reportees, higher library admins, and may give presentation to the entire libraries. A casual lunch is usually part of the interview day, but feedback isn’t given for that session. Assessment forms go to anyone that participated in the interview or viewed presentation. Committee assesses feedback and makes recommendation. Ultimately committee chair makes the decision on who to recommend (committee chair tends to be the person that will be reported to) which has to get approved by the library director. I have served as a hiring committee member or stakeholder in searches.

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

They had been actively involved with professional development through volunteering on committees, despite being relatively new to the field.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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 thinking about EDI even though it is in the job description. (Or having too narrow a view of diversity)

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

Yes. When giving a presentation, be aware of how you look when delivering it. (Please don’t be obviously reading from the screen, when it is easy to do it surreptitiously.) Understand the platform, test it out beforehand if possible.

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?

I think by tailoring how you describe these positions to play up the relevant experience. If you understand what is relevant and show it, it helps.

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?

Generally we try to have feedback forms that quantify how well a candidate does as compared with the job requirements. We also are encouraged to read an article on bias before starting reviews. We also try to give every candidate the same experience, from questions to schedules. Some decisions are very much up to the opinions of a small few. Phone screens are subject to the greatest bias.

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

Questions that show interest in the position or are aimed at better understanding expectations. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Archives, Northeastern US, Urban area

I’ve also received resumes that list a spouse and children as accomplishments, and the person’s ability to crack jokes in the office

11/30/44 Librarian – Elizabeth Edwards. doe-oakridge, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Senior Reference Librarian 

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Visitor Services Assistant, Assistant Reference Librarian, Vice President of Development, Reproductions Coordinator 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Most hiring is done at the department level. In my department we typically circulate the job description internally, post externally on our website and relevant listservs and job aggregator sites, and accept applications by email/post. The hiring supervisor reviews the applications and shares a short list with the hiring committee. The hiring committee decides whom from that short list to invite for interviews. Interviews are typically about one hour and either happen in person or virtually (during the pandemic we switched to Zoom). Questions are offered in advance (in my department). We then follow up by calling references and finally selecting our top candidates to whom an offer is made.

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

I always appreciate specificity and the ability of a candidate to narrate how their resume experiences brought them to this point in their career and how these experiences connect to the job description. I like evidence that the person has done some homework on our organization and thought about reasons it would be a good fit beyond wages (obviously important). 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If a person fails to write a substantive cover letter I am unlikely to move their candidacy forward. I also dislike overly personal details on a resume, for example I received a resume recently where the applicant included details about their exercise routines and health. I’ve also received resumes that list a spouse and children as accomplishments, and the person’s ability to crack jokes in the office. These feel like inappropriate content for a resume. 

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

Because I am personally interested in hiring candidates who come from varying backgrounds and minoritized communities I often want to know things about personal identity that are not generally safe for candidates to share (chronic illness, queerness, religious background, socioeconomic status for example). I absolutely understand why people choose not to share these details; what I do try to do is be a little vulnerable in interviews about my own identities (mentioning my wife; referring to a chronic health issue) to make it more possible people will share some of those aspects of their own lives. 

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?

Speaking in vague generalities instead of concrete, specific responses. I also dislike over-use of industry specific jargon which can be a cover for simplistic or rote answers that don’t help me understand the candidate’s thinking. 

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

We have since the pandemic began. I don’t find these very different from in person interviews (perhaps since so many of my work meetings happen virtually now too). Being calm in the face of tech glitches and patient with small delays is helpful and demonstrates that the applicant is willing to roll with unexpected changes. 

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?

I appreciate hearing from these candidates how they see this previous experience building toward what they hope to do in their library career and/or at our specific institution. Hearing them crosswalk their learning helps me understand how they reflect on their work and make decisions about their skills, workplace culture, etc. as they look for compatible work. On some level, we do have t go back to the job description and assess whether a candidate meets required/preferred criteria, but we do try to be flexible and reflect on a person’s full range of experience. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Our department lists the salaries in the job ad. It is inconsistent across the institution. 

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

In our department we try to be transparent and consistent in the hiring process (not ghosting candidates) and we avoid doing outside research beyond the application (e.g. LinkedIn, Google search, etc.) We assess applicants based on their submitted materials in the first round. As we move through the hiring process the committee has active discussions about how to weigh various kinds of diversity of experience in our hiring, understanding how cultural “fit” can shape our priorities in unhelpful ways. 

We are a majority-white, majority straight, majority-abled, professional class staff and in the midst of reckoning with the way our institutional culture is not necessarily equitable or inclusive. We shouldn’t (in my opinion) hire candidates we cannot enable to thrive once in the door. A lot of our current work in this area has to do with making our workplace inclusive for existing as well as future staff. It is slow going. 

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

I am always happy to hear questions from candidates about labor conditions and workplace climate. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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 

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, Northeastern US, Special, Urban area

Libraries are about people so relevant customer service skills regardless of industry is highly important

African-American children line up outside of Albemarle Region bookmobile. Photographer not indicated., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Director

Titles hired: Childrens Librarian, Teen Librarian, Library Assistant, Custodian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ 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:

Applications are accepted via email only. Must include resume and cover letter. Applicants receive a reply notifying them that their application has been received and if they are chosen for an interview they will be notified by a certain date. Candidates are interviewed. 2nd interviews are done if necessary. If there is a qualified candidate a job offer is made. Our interview process generally includes a panel of library staff that will work with the new hire but the ultimate decision is the library directors.

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

They brought examples of the work from prior positions and explained how they would implement those programs and procedures at our library

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If they don’t include an email address on I won’t interview because that is how I communicate with staff.

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

A bit more about their work ethic and and commitment to an organization and their need for support by administration

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Asking questions about time off scheduling et cetera before even having an offer. Or saying they like reading and that’s why they want to work at the library

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

We haven’t, but I would be open to doing so although in fairness to all candidates if one candidate needed a virtual interview I think we would virtually interview all

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?

Libraries are about people so relevant customer service skills regardless of industry is highly important to me when hiring. For desk staff I look for people with either library or retail experience.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

√ Other…

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

We try to solicit diverse candidates but find it difficult and are constantly looking for ways to improve the process.

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

I assume they have reviewed our website for as much information about our organization before the interview. I would hope they would ask questions about what they see there and how the position they are filling would would interact with those goals

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

They had questions pertaining to the work of our specialized library although they had no background in our type of librarianship.

A white man with glasses sits at a desk holding an open booklet
Folger Library. Mr. Slade, librarian at Folger Library. From the Library of Congress.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library 

Title: Library Director

Titles hired include: Medical Librarian; Library Tech

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Online application including screening questions. We are in a healthcare system so applicants must agree to vaccination willingness. Screened applicants are sent to the library director for review, then informal phone interviews where schedule, salary, any questions are discussed. Applicant then moved to interview with other library staff, also done online as we are geographically separate. Chosen candidate then offered the position through HR.

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

They had done research on our organization, asked questions about how the library fit into the overall goals of the health system, and had spent time looking at clinical databases. Mostly they had questions pertaining to the work of our specialized library although they had no background in our type of librarianship. 

What are your instant dealbreakers?

Lack of curiosity. Very few of our candidates have experience in our specialization and showing no interest in the resources we use (freely available) is a quick end to an interview. Lack of professionalism as well. We work with high level administrators, nurses, research scientists and physicians. They all must be treated respectfully and kindly, mostly through emails and we will judge the emails you send us as a preview of what will be sent to our patrons.

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

How well a candidate handles day to day variability. When we are a little slower will they look for other tasks that need to be completed or take on expanding their own education.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

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 showing any natural curiosity about our organization or work.

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

Yes. We do not turn on cameras so it is more like a big phone conversation. Just take a minute and breathe. We do a lot of virtual teaching and need candidates to be comfortable in this format.

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?

We take on candidates with very little experience in our type of librarianship. Having a background in ILL is great, but someone coming from retail is always helpful as well. Show me that you are interested in what we do, that you have initiative by learning about our work and the resources we use and we can have a great conversation. Someone that shows they are truly interested in our field will always outrank someone with experience but is just looking to get out of a library they dislike. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: I usually bring it up at the beginning of our phone interview. As in, this is when I need you to work and this is the salary range, does that work and would you like to proceed? Our pre-screen from HR asks for a range, we can usually meet or beat it. 

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

All of our interviews are virtual, but we keep cameras off. 

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

What role does the library play in the organization? Do you see your library growing in the future? Do you participate in research? Can I do my own library based research?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ Other: 6 library staff members; 9,000 associates

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

I would add a question about how you think your library pays in relation to similar systems in your area.

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 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area, Urban area

Unable to articulate what they will bring to the job

View of researchers using the Schomburg Collection From the New York Public Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Assistant Director

Titles hired: Librarian, Library Assistant, Supervisor

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

We post the job ad, review resumes, conduct interviews with 3 to 5 candidates, possibly conduct second interviews with two or three candidates, select one.

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

Well-written cover letter that addresses the specific job, well formatted résumé, solid relevant job experience. Understanding of library work.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of required skills, experience, or education.

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

Whether they plan to stay long term or if this position is just until something better comes along.

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?

Being late, unable to articulate what they will bring to the job.

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

We have, due to Covid. They should be sure to check out their technology before the interview starts to make sure it is working properly.

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?

What I look for in this situation is that they have solid customer service experience, such as retail, restaurants, and the like. Showing us that you understand that Library work is fundamentally customer service-based is important.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: We often mention in the ad that we need the states salary guidelines.

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

We are currently working with a DEI consulting firm to improve in this area.

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

They should ask what a typical day looks like, and what the management style of their supervisor is.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Northeastern US, Urban area

It is always better if your reason for making such a transition is that you are moving toward something you want

Ellen Mehling's face. She is wearing a cloth mask

Ellen Mehling has been assisting job seekers, both librarians/info pros and the public, for over 15 years. She has worked in academic libraries, special libraries, and archives, for an organization that serves libraries, as director of a library school program, and works currently as a job search advisor/instructor and for Brooklyn Public Library’s Business & Career Center. She is founder/writer/editor of BPL’s Work Life blog. 

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

Serve as hiring manager and/or on hiring committees, reviewing resumes, on interview panels (at current and past workplaces)

Titles hired include: Librarian, Archivist, Marketing Manager

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR 

√ 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 

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ Other: interview (usually a panel)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

An archivist hired at a past job – she had done her homework about the organization, and presented herself as calm, confident, and professional, in her interview. She turned out to be a great employee.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Dishonesty, including exaggeration of skills and experience.

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

What really happened at a past job, the real reason someone left a past position, and how things went with former supervisors and colleagues. Applicants are not always honest about these things(!), and if references aren’t checked properly and thoroughly, you can end up with a big problem. I have seen this happen more than once.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Not preparing and practicing! This includes doing some research about the employer. Also, applicants trying to take over the interview and steer the conversation to what they want to talk about and things they want to share. The interviewer(s) is/are conducting the interview – I have learned that it is a huge red flag when an applicant is pushy and tries to take over the interview. AND dishonesty! (did I mention that already?)

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

Yes. Practice so you are comfortable on camera, and remember that “eye contact” = looking at the camera, not at the people on your screen. Being interviewed via Zoom or Teams or whatever is very different than just attending a meeting or presentation. Make sure the light source in the room is in front of you so you are not a faceless silhouette.

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?

Think of which skills you have already that can be applied to a different kind of work (transferable skills). Figure out what skills you may need to improve or acquire, and how you can do that. NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK! Explain (briefly) anything that needs explanation, in your cover letter and interview. It is always better if your reason for making such a transition is that you are moving toward something you want, rather than running away from something you don’t want (or a bad situation in current position).

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad  

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

How is success measured in this position? What are the first things they will need to get up to speed on if they are hired? They should know the job description thoroughly and know about the organization too. Their knowledge of the organization doesn’t have to be comprehensive but knowing nothing is a bad look.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

I am so happy Hiring Librarians has returned. It is such a helpful resource!

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, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area