Tag Archives: hiring librarians

Tiring a Librarian

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for reading, sharing, supporting, and ranting about Hiring Librarians.

I started this blog in February 2012, so we have been going for nearly 4 years.  The first year, I found the topic so interesting that I was happy to spend a good deal of my free time working on it.  The second and third years, I had a bit more going on in my professional life, a bit less interest in the topic, and it was only with the help of volunteers that we stayed robust.  This last year, I have had some upheavals in my personal life, I’ve been much less interested in the topic, and I just really want to do non-blog-things with my free time.  My involvement has been a bit auto-pilot this year.

So what does that mean for year 5?  

I don’t have a new survey to post.  I’m interested in exploring hiring and diversity, but I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out how to frame a survey that would end up illuminating the problem in a constructive way, rather than just providing a lot of potentially pain-causing confessions.  

And I really don’t want to spend time writing this anymore.  Frankly.  I want to spend my free time on bike rides, hanging out with my friends, listening to music, and doing other fun stuff.  And maybe writing an article or two, or serving on a committee or whatever.  Just not this blog anymore.

So I’m turning out the lights.  

I will keep the content up, and continue to purchase the domain.  There are a few survey responses still to be posted, and we will post the final Further Questions question on the 29th. But after that, no new content will be posted (although of course you can always add to the Interview Questions Repository).  

I want to say a big THANK YOU to the current active volunteers, who made this last year possible:

  • Sarah Keil has been writing the weekly Further Questions feature since June 2014.  
  • Jen Devine has been transcribing surveys since March 2014.  
  • Sherle Abrams has run the crowd-sourced resume/CV review service since May of 2014, and was a Further Question respondent for a while before that.

And I also want to say a big THANK YOU to all of the people who have helped with this project – all the previous volunteers, my co-authors for various surveys: Jill from Librarian Hire Fashion, Naomi House from I Need a Library Job, Brianna Marshall from (at the time) Hack Library School, the pool of Further Questions respondents, LIS career authors and researchers, the people who run LIS career sites, the people who run library school career centers, the tattooed librarians, job hunters who let me follow up with them, sometimes for multiple years, people who’ve added interview questions to the interview questions repository, candidates for ALA and other presidencies, anyone who responded to a survey, and of course YOU.  

Thank YOU, reader. 

You’re awesome.  I know you will find a job you love and make the world a better place.  GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING!

Your Pal,

Emily

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Filed under News and Administration

Tech skills are absolutely needed.

Outdoor urban market sceneThis anonymous interview is with an employee who works in an academic library employee and has been a member of a hiring or search committee. When asked, “Are you a librarian?” the respondent said “It’s complicated.” This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Research services, scholarly communication

This employee works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Have the technical knowledge and soft skills required to do the job.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR weeds out initial applications, search committee ranks remaining applicants, first round invited for Skype interviews (top 5-6) , second round invited for in person (top 3).

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Poor application (eg no cover letter, materials not customized to position).

Application does not demonstrate skills related to position

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: Not sure

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Apply for jobs actually qualified for. Continue professional development and show evidence of skills ( certification, etc)

I want to hire someone who is

Dedicated

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ I don’t know

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

What happens in practice.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It is changing but not dying. Tech skills are absolutely needed.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

HR can, and has, refuse to hire the candidate we recommend, without explanation

Man selling artichokes at vegetable market in Stockholm 1951This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

subject librarians, reference and instruction librarians, electronic resources and serials librarians, access services librarians, archivists

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 51-75 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met all the qualifications (education, experience, skills) for the position. This particular position didn’t require very much experience, yet we had 25 applicants and 12 were put on the “do not consider” list.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

We have a search committee for each librarian position consisting of 3 or 4 librarians and sometimes faculty or professional staff. Each search committee develops their own rubric for evaluating candidates. The search committee is solely responsible for evaluating the resumes and deciding who to interview. None are pre-screened by HR. (However HR can, and has, refuse to hire the candidate we recommend, without explanation). We have to document everything very thoroughly for HR using a software program called TechnoMedia. Notes from interviews are scanned in to the software to be archived.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Not meeting one of the key qualifications, such as not having the MLIS, or not having cataloging experience or science librarianship experience that is needed for that particular position.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Make sure you are qualified for the position you are applying for, and if you think there might be any doubt, explain explicitly in your cover letter how you meet all the qualifications.

I want to hire someone who is

competent

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 50-100

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are more positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Other: only temporarily

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

No, but we rarely have entry level openings. The Provost keeps insisting we hire at a higher level (I’m not sure why) though it’s not always really necessary. The one we are hiring now is basically entry level though it does ask for some type of science experience either as a librarian or as a scientist or health professional. We are flexible enough to count experience outside of the specific job description though (in other words you don’t have to have experience doing the exact job you’re applying for). In my opinion this attitude should be more widespread.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

There are still a lot of opportunities to add value as content becomes hosted electronically (in e-books, e-journals, and digital repositories).

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

many applicants do not answer these truthfully, in order to get their cvs to the committee

Man selling dill at vegetable market in Stockholm 1951This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

subject liaisons, special collections librarians and archivists

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Having any experience at all in the areas we need.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

The HR application software asks questions that are supposed to weed out people who do not have our minimum requirements, though many applicants do not answer these truthfully, in order to get their cvs to the committee. We use search committees as well as a matrix based on our required and preferred qualifications.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Not having one of the required qualifications.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Demonstrate interest in this particular library.

I want to hire someone who is

curious

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are more positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Yes, we do, but only 6 months for most positions and we accept internship or student jobs

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

The field has changed.

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

— It is very obvious when you send one cv or cover letter to many jobs, even if you change the name of the university.
— Do some research into the library you are applying to, and demonstrate your knowledge in your cover letter.
— If something is listed on the job announcement as required, we are unable to hire someone without that requirement without closing the search, getting approval from HR, and starting a new search.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

Leave a comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

Traditional librarianship is not so much dying as out of fashion

Market before PassoverThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Subject liaisons, data managers, information literacy specialists, user experience specialists

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in a rural area in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met basic requirements, had required experience, knowledge & skills

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applicants not meeting educational requirements are weeded out by HR. We can give HR other rubrics but have not. Then the search committee compiles a very basic “yes” and “no” list. After that it gets more difficult. The search committee comes up with 3 to 5 applicants to contact by telephone; then we like to bring in 2 or 3 candidates for on-site interviews. However, in some cases our administration will allow only 1 on-site interview.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Not enough of the right kind of experience – or less of that experience than others who are invited to interview

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Tailor resume and cover letter for each position applied to rather than sending the same thing to all employers. Become familiar with the requirements and be sure the employer knows you can meet the requirements. Give concrete examples to demonstrate experience, knowledge & skills during interview.

I want to hire someone who is

intelligent

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 7 or more

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ I don’t know

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Yes, we usually require 2-3 years of experience, which is listed in the official job ad. We are generally so short-staffed that we can’t really provide training, so experience is important.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ I don’t know

Why or why not?

Traditional librarianship is not so much dying as out of fashion, it seems to me. We feel the need to use different terminology and “prove” we’re relevant because we worry so much about being a dying profession. It seems to me that we worry too much, which causes us to abandon traditional library functions even when they are still useful. Then we hire multiple people to redesign websites every year with new bells and whistles but little improvement in accessibility to information. New search capabilities can’t find data or metadata that has not been created in the first place or has been poorly created.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

Librarianship is changing into a community connections field, where we connect people with other people or services that can benefit them

OUTDOOR MARKET AT HAYMARKET SQUARE. PUBLIC PROTEST KEPT THE SQUARE FROM BECOMING PART OF AN EXPRESSWAY, 051973This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Catalogers, Adult Services Librarians, Youth Librarians, Managers

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ more than 100, but less than 200

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Experience!! I see far too many LIS degree-holders applying for professional, supervisory roles who have no idea how to even shelve a book. I also see too many lazy mistakes, such as leaving the name of the previous library system on the cover letter, rather than my system’s name – this earns an automatic trip to the trash can without further review.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

In my system, we can ask that HR weed through the initial glut of applications if we feel we will be overwhelmed, but they certainly don’t automatically weed them. The rubrics for weeding are the base qualifications listed in the job posting: years experience, possession of a degree, etc. A hiring committee is formed for each position, usually consisting of the Library Manager, the supervisor for the position, an Admin employee, and sometimes a Library Manager from a neighboring library.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Another applicant has a particular skill set that we are looking for, more experience, or we simply feel they articulated who they are in their cover letter/resume better than the eliminated applicant. We are not only looking for hard skills (MS Office, Overdrive experience, etc) but also soft skills (customer service, experience defusing difficult patron interactions, etc) AND if they will be a good fit for our organization (personality).

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Ask others in the profession to critique their cover letter/resume and participate in a formal mentorship program.

I want to hire someone who is

passionate

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 200+

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 7 or more

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 7 or more

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ I don’t know

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

We do not require experience, but it is just what happens in practice.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Librarianship is changing into a community connections field, where we connect people with other people or services that can benefit them (whether connecting a bunch of knitters together for a craft group or helping the homeless find food, shelter, and jobs). However, if we aren’t smart about how we maneuver into this change, we can quickly be deemed irrelevant or useless.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Public, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

libraries are not quiet :)

Market scene in ParamariboThis anonymous interview is with an public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

library associates and shelvers

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a suburban area in the Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

able to perform duties required

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

I evaluate all applications by reading them all and sorting those with potential to be called in for interview and actual test.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

poor resume writing

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

make resume pop

I want to hire someone who is

passionate

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ Other: none

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ Other: none

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are fewer positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

none required

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

will always need librarians just have to be flexible to change to the requirements

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

libraries are not quiet 🙂

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Public, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area