Tag Archives: Librarian

Demonstrate how roles in previous positions apply directly to library setting

Singer Marian Anderson (left) and Regina Andrews, Mahopac, New York. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Supervisory librarian, outreach librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

HR posts position, screens applicants, library administration choose candidates and arranged interviews, conducts interviews, recommend candidate for conditional offer to HR, hr background checks and tests

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

Great resume, spoke well in interview

What are your instant dealbreakers?

Not responding

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

Job rigor, personalities

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: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Underselling selves

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

Yes, test connection, do a mock interview with friend

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Demonstrate how roles in previous positions apply directly to library setting

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer 

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

Don’t know

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

Hierarchy, job duties, regular day scenario

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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

Further Questions: Who hires librarians?

Each week (or thereabouts) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Can you share with us the composition of your most recent search/hiring teams or committees – number of committee members, their roles in the library, etc.? Are there stakeholders in the hiring process who should be involved but are not, or are only involved minimally (i.e. attending a presentation or meal with the candidate)? How is their feedback treated?


Anonymous: I’ve just convened a search committee for a Health Sciences Librarian at a small liberal arts college. I am chair as Director of the Library, our tech services librarian is also representing the library and there are two health sciences faculty members on the committee as well. 

While the search committee will select the finalists, other constituents such as the library staff, members of the faculty library committee, health sciences administrators, etc. will be involved in the final, on-campus interview stage. Any one involved in this stage will be asked to share feedback with the committee, which will be used in the final deliberations.


Heather Backman, Assistant Director of Library Services, Weymouth (MA) Public Libraries: Applications for open positions are reviewed by myself, the library director, and the department head who will supervise the new hire. For department head openings, applications are reviewed by myself and the director. Interviews are usually conducted by the same set of people who review applications, plus an HR representative who serves in an advisory role (no decision making authority but she does share her impressions of candidates and we value her input). The director technically has the final authority to decide on a hire, but in practice he, I, and the department head all work together to choose someone, and he will often rely on the department head’s preferences.

Occasionally other library staff will sit in on interviews if they have a particular connection with the position being hired for, and their feedback is also taken seriously. For instance, when I was interviewed, the department heads were there, and when we recently were hiring for a position that would work very closely with one particular front-line staff member, that staff member sat in on interviews (though she didn’t review applications with us).

The other stakeholders involved in our hiring process are the Mayor and his chief of staff. The Mayor (usually via his chief of staff) must sign off on all new hires, and technically he could veto our choice or direct us to hire someone specific, though so far I have not encountered a situation where we were unable to make an offer to our preferred candidate. Neither of these people meets candidates. Usually their involvement comes down to signing an approval form forwarded to them from HR.


Elizabeth “Beth” Cox, Director, Cataloging, Metadata & Digitization Dept., University of Iowa Libraries:

The composition of the search committee and the interview schedule vary depending on the level of the position being filled.

  • For hourly staff, generally positions that don’t require an MLS, the supervisor and one other person from the department comprise the search committee. The candidates meet with the committee, with the other hourly staff in the department, with any other stakeholders, and with HR. Feedback is requested via our standard survey form. Department librarians or staff outside of the department are unlikely to meet with the candidate, unless they would interact with the person in the position.
  • For librarians or other salaried positions that require an MLS or other advanced degree, the search committee generally includes the supervisor (usually department director), a librarian from the department, and a librarian from another department. When possible that last person will be someone who would interact with the candidate if hired. Depending on the role of the position being advertised, the candidates may meet with employees from outside the department. I will often ask people from outside of the department to have a meal with the candidate or give them a tour of the library, so that the candidate can meet a variety of people. All of our candidate presentations are open to the entire library staff. Feedback is requested via our standard survey form.

Gregg Currie, College Librarian, Selkirk College:

As we are a small college and a small library, hiring committees are always the College Librarian and 2 other library staff members – a librarian and a library technician for librarian positions, or 2 library technicians for library technician or student work study positions.  This works well for us. 

Many years ago we did have HR involved, but as they don’t really know anything about library operations their presence didn’t really add anything to the selection process.


Alan Smith, Director, Florence County, SC Library System: We use a three-person panel for almost every hiring decision, whether it’s for a librarian, paraprofessional, or support staff. The panel consists of the manager who will supervise the person hired, myself, and a third person. The third person is usually our Chief of HQ Library Services, but can also vary based on the position (like including our Children’s Services Manager if the position will be working with children at a branch). The odd-numbered panel is helpful if there’s a split decision, but in such cases the tiebreaking vote goes to the manager who will be directly supervising the new employee. 

If a candidate is applying for a promotion in-house or at another branch, we will talk with their current or former managers here to get input. Information gathered this way doesn’t go on a formal score sheet but does give us useful context and can help us narrow down what to ask in an interview. 

Finally, when hiring departmental or branch managers, I like to get input from the employees who will be working under the new manager. I don’t have them involved in the interview itself or have them review applications or anything (that gets complicated very quickly when almost every management-level opening has internal candidates, including current staff of the hiring department), but general preferences: would you rather work for someone with experience doing a certain type of program, with a background in a different type of library, with longer management experience, etc.? Even if those considerations aren’t ultimately the deciding factors, they help us know what to emphasize during orientation and training with a new person.


Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean of Libraries, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans: For librarian/library faculty, the search team is generally chaired by the faculty supervisor for the position. There will generally be three people total on the search. Our current search is chaired by the department head and includes the one other faculty librarian in the department, plus another librarian from outside the department. We try to include anyone who is a stakeholder, but it’s not always possible, especially if a staff member in the department is applying for the position, or may apply. The candidates generally meet with the other library faculty, any staff in the department, and the Dean. If it’s a staff position in a leadership role, it will include a mix of library faculty and staff who are stakeholders or who would collaborate with the new person (peers). If it’s a support staff role, it will usually be chaired by the department head or director, and include any staff in the department who are interested, plus another person from outside the department who works with the person in the role being hired. 


Jimmie Epling, Director, Darlington County Library System: It has been my experience that small and medium size public libraries do not have the staff, time, or resources to conduct extensive, multipart interviews for most positions. As an example, a circulation clerk interview will be conducted by two to three staff members. The interview committee may consist of the direct supervisor, a person who is not a direct supervisor but is on a higher level in the organization, and/or the director.

What has worked for us as a medium size library (by South Carolina standards) is to include a non-employee in the interview process for specific positions. These positions are ones for which require a degree of expertise not broadly found in a small to medium size library, such as branch manager, information technology manager, youth services librarian, bookkeeper, etc. This non-staff member of the interview committee could be a director from another library, a state library staff member with expertise in a specific area, or someone in the county’s human resources department.

For public libraries with branches, the inclusion of a “stakeholder” from the area can be a real benefit to the library and the community. Including a Board member who represents the service area of the branch can be helpful. The Board member is attune to the area served by the branch and can provide some useful insights into the community. The Board member has an opportunity to be involved, in a limited and appropriate way, in a personnel decision for their community. It provides a degree of management transparency for the Board member, and the Board as a whole, that can build Board confidence in the library’s management (which can pay off later when that inevitable difficult situation arises).

There are some very good reasons for doing this:

1) An outside expert can provide questions that can help determine the candidate’s level of knowledge or experience and not be dazzled by a lot of babble. This is critically important when hiring for say an IT position or a branch manager.

2) Especially if there are in-house candidates to be interviewed, a person from outside the library can be perceived as neutral or unbiased. This actually works to the committee’s benefit as it may require the staff who are on the interview committee to truly justify their ranking/choice.

3) A diverse interview committee may be easier to achieve by including someone from outside the library on the committee.

The inclusion of a non-staff person as part of certain interview committees can make a difference for a small or medium size library. I has for my medium size library.


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: 

Can you share with us the composition of your most recent search/hiring teams or committees – number of committee members, their roles in the library, etc.? Our Human Resources department has – for many years- been very strict about our hiring committees and all related processes including specifically – hiring committees for staffing table positions (all faculty, professional technical and all classified staff.) With the introduction of our newest Enterprise Management System, the same prescribed elements remain for committees but additional restrictions have been placed on advertising and hiring hourly employees (our hourly academic Librarians, our hourly instruction librarians and any hourly classified employees now have to be posted through the online system as well.)

But depending on the focus of committees and time of year we are trying to hire, things vary and – with special permission from HR – we can substitute levels of employees, locations or the number serving given the past two years. But if no exceptions are needed, at least six representatives to sit on committees are:

  • Faculty Librarians – Members to include the direct manager, representatives from the staffing table classified staff with whom they might work, at least one and maybe two peer faculty librarians, the campus manager (if available) and in addition and based on availability – a classroom faculty member either from the campus where the opening is located or based on availability. If the timing is not good for finding a classroom faculty member, we try to ensure that the peer faculty librarian who serves is also – for example -also a teaching adjunct for the college or someone with expanded curriculum experience/classroom instruction.
  • Classified Staff – Members to include – depending on their functional areas – a classified staff member representing public or technical services, administrative assistant w\ork or secretarial work – where the opening is AND – if possible – representatives from several campuses – since – at certain times of the year – classified staff move among campuses to assist as needed.
  • Professional/Technical – Members to include professional/technical employees with similar or exact expertise in specific or related areas or roles and responsibilities as well as the specific or related departments (such as both instructional and institutional technology experience.)
  • Administrative Assistant – Membership in the committee also always includes an administrative assistant – from either the campus with the opening or an available one – to manage communication and paperwork, etc. They are also counted as a member of the committee.

All committee membership must include membership that is: balanced in gender, ethnicity, race, and until last year – all members needed to have been with the college at least 6 month – but as of last year, that is now not required. Members; however, must go through a training (or have attended the online training within a year) and if requested by the Chair – online training AND a HR representative will present to the committee on the need for confidentiality, consistency needed, legal vs. illegal questions, etc.

Are there stakeholders in the hiring process who should be involved but are not, or are only involved minimally (i.e. attending a presentation or meal with the candidate)? This is the disappointing part to me….faculty librarians have had and continue to have the requirement to present to the committee (and then any observing attendees complete an evaluation form.) A few years ago – they decided the teaching presentation was no longer open and I think that is a big loss. The committee; however, can take the candidate to lunch – but my approach is any shared meal needs to be after the interview.

My disappointment stems from the fact that I think the broader teaching audience was an integral part of the process. I liked the fact that we could then invite others (faculty librarians, staff from the campus where the vacancy is located, etc.) and then a small reception after the presentation to meet and greet. It is a loss to lose it as part of the process.

How is their feedback treated? As a committee, we choose the questions and the order in which we will ask them – based on recent question sets which – at some time – were approved by HR. Committee members then get copies of the questions with spaces between each one so that notes from each member can be taken in a more standard format, then discussed uniformly. Members also decide in advance of the interviews the weight or importance of each question/answer so that we can compare not only the answers but based on the importance of the question, how individuals answered the most important questions.

We use feedback and discussion to choose and rank three candidates. If the Dean is the chair (and we are hiring a head librarian) references are checked and we indicate rank but after we discuss and rank, we then each complete an online form.and why and send the list to HR. If a frontline faculty librarian is the focus, the three finalists are turned over to the Dean/me and I interview (with the committee chair) the top candidates asking the finalists the most important questions identified based on the opening. Then we rank or re-rank, references are checked and forms are completed and the packet is sent forward.


We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, over at Mastodon @hiringlibrarians@glammr.uson Twitter @HiringLib, or hidden on a slip of paper inside a carnitas burrito. If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Filed under Further Questions

Hiring Better: Reaching Out to iSchools

Hello!

Do you have an open position? Would you like to be able to get the word out to new grads, current students, and iSchool alumni?

Do I have the resource for you!

Hilary Kraus (who you may know as an occasional respondent on the Further Questions series) has created a wonderful spreadsheet that lists the ALA accredited library schools, their career center or job posting site, and notes about requirements, alternatives, etc.

The Posting Jobs via iSchools spreadsheet is here.

I think Hilary did a great job putting it together and it seems like it could be very helpful.

Your Friend and Colleague,

Emily

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Filed under News and Administration

Across 20 different independent libraries there are over 300 people employed

Isabel Miller hugging a librarian as Barbara Gittings looks on. NYPL Digital Collections.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: District Consultant Librarian

Titles hired include: Director; Youth Services District Consultant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ Other: Library Board

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References 

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ 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:

I assist public libraries and their boards in my district on the hiring of library directors and other personnel. I also assist the district administrator in hiring positions for the district, such as the YS district consultant

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

passion, job knowledge, knowledge of library and area they were interviewing for (they did their research)  

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

misspellings on resumes, condescending attitude toward interview team, bad talking/dissing previous employers 

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 doing their homework to know about the organization and its role in the community it serves

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

yes; I always say somewhere toward the beginning of the interview that it’s the most awkward conversation anyone ever has, made worse by zoom/teams/etc. We’re all nervous and out of element, so relax as much as you can

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?

show (not tell – words can be extremely descriptive) how their experience translates. If they’re going for their degree, show (see above) how the background in the theory of our profession grounds them for the real world applications of that theory.

I am a big proponent of ML(I)S degrees but completely understand how they don’t really prepare you for real library work. Therefore, practical experience of many kinds (customer service is a big plus) can and does translate well into libraryland.

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?

working on this. we recently raised minimum wages to $15 hour and our state allows for provisional hiring for 45 days while waiting for clearances. 

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

culture, a day in the life of the position, outreach, biggest challenges facing the org, biggest opportunities (basically a SWOT analysis)

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 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ Other: across 20 different independent libraries there are over 300 people employed 

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, Northeastern US, Suburban area

Baristas, retail, restaurant experience is relevant to dealing with difficult behaviors

Traveling Libraries, Prince George’s County Memorial Library. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: archivist

Titles hired include: Information Services Librarian, Reference Librarian (full time and substitutes), Assistant Director, Library Assistant, Paralibrarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

MLS level are by committee with the director having final say.  Paralibrarian and substitute level are done by the department head and peers.  We have asked for a live teaching demo or story time or they can submit a recorded one or link to something in a previous position.  

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

enthusiastic, innovative ideas, creative

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

people who answer why did you became a librarian  or your favorite thing about public libraries with I like to read.  People who answer questions about working with diverse populations are just about race ignoring age, gender, religion, culture, sexual identity, economics, education, family/household definitions

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

customer service, think quick on feet/in the moment, public service commitment,

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

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

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

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

they have not even visited the about us page on our website and know nothing about our collections

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

as a screening/first round for upper level positions and for all stages/levels during the pandemic

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

include any and all experience related to people and customer service.  Baristas, retail, restaurant experience is relevant to dealing with difficult behaviors 

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?

our community is 75% white and we are working hard on this 

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

management style, supervision style, board and staff relationship

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 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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

Folks looking to break in, you must know how the libraries really work.

Retirement of supervising librarian Leah Lewison of 115th Street Branch. Left to right: Regina Andrews, Carolyn Trumpass, Rosa Zubilaga Montera, Leah Lewison, an unidentified woman and Tiffany (?) NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Head of Childrens and Teens

Titles hired include: Library assistants, Children’s and teen librarians 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References 

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?

Personable, chatty, had good experience. Almost finished degree. Made you feel like they would be fun to work with.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Very short answers are not enough. Please take your time and elaborate. 

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

Their work ethic; how much energy and enthusiasm they have. Whether or not they initiate projects or just wait around until they are assigned something.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Only One!  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

When people are too brief. We want to hear you talk a bit with each response.

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

We do not conduct virtual interviews.

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?

Folks looking to break in, you must know how the libraries really work. Study up on wherever you are applying. Have good follow up questions. Run a program, volunteer with any group of people. Find a way to relate normal activities to the library world. Talk about customer service from both viewpoints.

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?

Nothing that I am aware of.

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

Ask about the most important qualities for the candidate. Ask about library climate.

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 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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

About a Decade Later: Former Job Hunter Greg Bem

Back in 2012/2013 I ran a survey of job hunters (co-authored by Naomi House of INALJ). It had over 500 responses, including 117 people who were at least initially willing to be non-anonymous. In this series, we check in with these respondents to see where they are about a decade later. 

Greg Bem filled out the original survey in 2014 and his answers appeared as Full time schedule, room for innovation, digital responsibilities. At the time, he was working as a coordinator for a student media center at a college in Washington and looking for work as a librarian or digital preservationist. We followed up with him in early 2016 and learned he had moved to a part-time librarian faculty position.  

I was interested to learn he’s still at the same institution, but now with full-time work. He was kind enough to answer my questions below:

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take to get where you are?

I am currently the library coordinator at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, in addition to being tenured faculty. Since I last responded, I moved from part-time to full-time (annual renewable), and then entered the tenure-track process. The former library coordinator left the college and I inherited the role. 

Were any parts of your journey completely unexpected?

Everything has been unexpected. I didn’t think I would be in academic librarianship after a year or two. The journey has been rewarding. Every year I look back and think about how much my commitment to the role and the library I serve has also supported my growth and development.

Looking over your past answers, what pops out at you? Has anything changed? 

I think I was very optimistic given my circumstances, but had little perspective on the flow of the job market. Now that I have been in the profession for almost a decade, I know how little changes across the most coveted (and best paid) positions in librarianship. It is a very challenging time for folks who want to enter the job market and get positions, both entry-level or otherwise. 

Have you had a chance to hire anyone? If so, what was that like?

We have hired five people since I’ve been at the college and two were during my time as coordinator. It’s an engaging and important experience, one that asks a lot of everyone on the committee.

Do you have any advice for job hunters?

Volunteer, and try to get as much experience in customer service, technology, or education before it’s time to enter libraries. These skills translate directly and, in many cases, will put you above the rest. 

Do you have any advice for people who hire LIS folks?

Be open to folks who are coming from non-library backgrounds. Be open to folks who bring new and fresh perspectives. Radical change is usually necessary in libraries. If you aren’t adopting that lens to improve services for your community, then you are missing out. 

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I hope that job-seekers continue to think about where libraries and library work is headed and find the challenges worthwhile. We are far from a golden age when it comes to fiscal support for libraries and library workers, but I think we will get there. Stay positive and keep growing!

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Filed under Job Hunter Follow Up

Further Questions: Does a candidate’s social media presence ever influence your hiring decisions?

Each week (or thereabouts) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

A lot of the interaction I get with blog readers nowadays has been on Twitter, and with all the upheaval (in other words, the terrible new owner) I’m exploring other options such as Mastodon. This leads me to this week’s question:

Does a candidate’s social media presence ever influence your hiring decisions? Do you Google applicants, or look through Twitter or LinkedIn, etc? Any hair-raising stories or do you think it’s not something for people to worry about?


Jimmie Epling, Director, Darlington County Library System: Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, and other social media sites have allowed us to, in a sense, share ourselves freely with the world. By making such information readily available to the public, you should expect it to be examined as part of the hiring process.

Social media technology has allowed all of us to share ourselves with others in ways not possible a few decades ago. There is no ethical dilemma I can see as the information was made available by the candidate for anyone to see. The burden is on the candidate to control their social media presence and content.

What you discover in a search could solidify your decision to interview or not interview a candidate. You never know what you will discover about a candidate.

A candidate for a high level position in a library I worked for submitted an application in which the candidate indicated current employment in a particular management position. When a routine look at that library’s website revealed the individual was not employed by that library, a red flag was raised. Further investigation, via a Google search, revealed a single reference noting this individual was employed in the top leadership role in a library in the recent past. That job was not included on the applicant’s application or resume. A second, and more serious, red flag was raised.

Because that candidate had all the proper credentials on paper, an interview was offered. Knowing about the previous, unnoted job going into the interview, the candidate was asked some questions in such a way the candidate realized we knew of the job. The candidate then admitted that as we knew about the short stint, six months, at that job, “this is what happened.” When the candidate’s references were called, it was revealed the candidate wasn’t totally candid.

The lesson learned here was, “yes, sometimes jobs just don’t work out.” Many have gone into a job only to leave after a short time, going on to success in another job. My advice to a candidate is don’t try to hide a previous job, hobby, activity, or belief in this age of Google and social media because it will likely be discovered and come out in an interview resulting in an awkward moment when you have to explain it on the fly. Interview situations like this do no end well for the candidate.


Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: The HR department at my college is very clear in instructing search committees not to look for job candidates’ social media presence. Obviously that doesn’t mean people don’t ignore the instructions and check anyway. I’ll admit that I don’t think I have ever checked on the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media presence of a candidate. I’m just not that interested. Of those, a peek at Twitter might be the most tempting. It (for now) is the most open. People opt in to follow without any gatekeeping so anyone with an account knows they can be read or followed by anyone they don’t block. But really I’m not sure it’s the best use of my time when considering candidates.

I’d like to be able to say it’s not something people should be concerned about but I am not sure that’s true. Which is why it is probably a good idea to have a policy or practice in place of not checking social media for candidates. I don’t want to read their diary and I’m really not interested in what they had for dinner last night or where they went to party last weekend.


Anonymous: As a library director, I almost never checked somebody’s casual social media presence unless there was something really in my face. We all make mistakes when talking to friends and I never felt it was relevant. I would, from time to time, look at a Linked-In profile in case there was a detail that might be illustrative. It never, to my memory, disqualified anybody.

There was one time, however, that was outside of librarianship. I am on the Alumni Board of my Alma Mater. We had voted to give a “Young Alumni Citation” to  who we thought was a deserving recent grad. I hadn’t heard of this gentleman and I wasn’t on the committee for that award. So I did a quick Google Search to satisfy my curiosity. I was certain that I would read of great things that would be a credit to our college. That day there were headlines in the local paper that he had been arrested for defrauding the city he worked for. We quickly withdrew the award. At least he hadn’t been notified of the award yet.

Protip: Don’t steal from your employer.


Anonymous: I don’t think a person’s social media presence (unless it has some murder-y, rape-y, or blatantly hateful stuff to it) should matter or influence anyone’s hiring decision. This all looks good in writing, but who is to say that I wouldn’t look someone up on Linkedin or FB/Insta/Tweeter/TikTok/ETC.

I mean if one is posting to social media and their accounts are not private, I say it is totally acceptable.

At my first library job someone discovered that I was in a bunch of rock bands. I was not hiding it, nor had I left it behind; it just wasn’t something I wanted to bring up to my new colleagues. Some folks gave me grief about it.  There is nothing on social media that I am aware of that I care if people see. I think that to use social media (even LinkedIn) one must have their thesis statement, thought process, intention, whatever you want to call so that the way you are represented works for them. My kid is very sophisticated with the way they use social media. Nothing is put up without consideration and they are very aware of what they support or criticize. I was in college when FB became a thing and I watched people expose themselves to this faceless platform and share painful and embarrassing secrets to whomever they had “friended.” 

If there is something upsetting about the candidate then maybe it does matter. But maybe it doesn’t matter if there is a drunk photo of them at a college party from 9 years ago. 

Personally a candidates social media presence has never been an issue, even the (over) 40 student workers that I have hired in my tenure as a librarian. 


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: 

Does a candidate’s social media presence ever influence your hiring decisions? 

Speaking as a Dean and as a college manager who abides by the college’s hiring guidelines, we do not include a social media search be conducted in the vetting process or during the committee process as part of the vetting or hiring decisions. AND – a social media presence absolutely does NOT and has not – for me as Dean or for me as an individual committee member – contributed to any final decisions.

Do you Google applicants, or look through Twitter or LinkedIn, etc? 

I do review the application and resume content closely (obviously)… AND if I have questions I can’t answer, I will do a more thorough web search to find answers if at all possible. Examples:

  • I visit any links on the applicant’s resume or application (ex. blog, websites, an organization’s website they may reference.)
  • I compare titles if they are unclear – by going to – if there is one – their current place of employment.
  • I try to – if there is a question in my mind and I require supervision for the position – see if anything is in the resume, etc. specifically says the person/their position supervises people and – if possible – how many. (If I can’t tell, and it is required, we will email to ask a possible candidate if and if so how many people they supervised (ex. signed timesheets.)
  • If a candidate’s email address does not indicate their name in any way, I will try to match the email addresses to make sure the content I am looking at is for the specific candidate. 
  • Although professional association activity is not required, it might be important for aspects of our position such as leadership experience, project management, training, etc. so I might look to see if a membership also includes activity.
  • Although publication is not required, I will read any publications based on citations or links on an applicant’s resume. 

If selection committee members wish to share information about an applicant with me or the committee, I typically ask them to wait until we are through with our first round of interviews. I also ask them to – if at possible – limit their information to content that will help us match a candidate to the job. 

Any hair-raising stories or do you think it’s not something for people to worry about?

Not for our hiring processes, no!  


We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, over at Mastodon @hiringlibrarians@glammr.us, on Twitter @HiringLib, or via old fashioned postal mail. If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Can’t remember a wow yet.

Rivington Street, line waiting for easy books, 1923: Librarian holds up book and those who want it raise their hands. NYPL Digital Collections.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Technical Services Manager

Titles hired include: Technical Processor, Paraprofessional Cataloger, Library Receiving Processor, Bindery Associate

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

 √ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

 √ 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:

As manager I:

1. Decide on posting position and update job description if necessary.

1a. Create screening and interview questions.

2. Review applications.

3. Screen applicants by phone.

4. Conduct in-person interviews.

5. Make final decision.

6. Offer position.

7. Complete hiring paperwork for HR to do their background check.

7. Schedule start date.

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

Can’t remember a wow yet. Very good candidates were able to explain intellectual freedom and to have questions ready to ask about the role and the library.

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

Nothing. 

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?

Only saying what they think the interviewer wants to hear. 

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

We don’t for these positions.

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?

Having that direct experience myself coming into the library, I am cognizant that non-library experience can translate well into libraryland, it is just a matter of nomenclature and environment.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

HR is working on updating gendered language to neutral language in Job descriptions and policies. HR is also retraining and working closely with managers on avoiding hiring bias. Stories abound of managers using home addresses to decide if a person lives too far from the job location or what kind of neighborhood the applicant lives in.

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

What does retention look like in the department/branch? What is positive about the library? What is the library working on for the community?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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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About a Decade Later: Former Job Hunter George Bergstrom

Back in 2012/2013 I ran a survey of job hunters (co-authored by Naomi House of INALJ). It had over 500 responses, including 117 people who were at least initially willing to be non-anonymous. In this series, we check in with these respondents to see where they are about a decade later. 

George Bergstrom filled out the original survey in 2013 and his answers appeared as Doing the Research. At the time, he was a part time Instruction Librarian and Adjunct Instructor and had been looking for full time work for more than 18 months. We followed up with him in 2014 and found that he was still looking for full time work, but had slowed his search due to having multiple part time jobs. 

When I checked in with him recently I learned that he is currently working in professional development at his State library. He was kind enough to answer my questions below:

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take to get where you are?

My current role is Southwest Regional Coordinator, Professional Development Office – Indiana State Library. I assist any library in my region of the state with professional development and other statewide services. All public libraries have to engage with myself and the other coordinators (since there are certification statutes in state law) and academic and school libraries can choose to engage with us. I also work with the correctional institutions in my region to provide services to the inmates. Since the last interview I have worked at a private for-profit university as well as the transition to working for the state library.

Were any parts of your journey completely unexpected?
My time at the for-profit was a bit unexpected. For the first few years it felt very similar to both my past experiences in public and academic libraries, and it was different from my perceptions of what for-profits are like before I began working there. It was smaller (only five locations in two cities) and family owned/run, but after the first few years I began to notice/experience some of the negatives of the for-profit side of the industry. On the positive side I did gain experience in working with using games in education, which prompted me to join ALA GameRT and I am now the president-elect for the roundtable.

Looking over your past answers, what pops out at you? Has anything changed?
I noticed one of the questions asked about salary listings in job ads, which seems to be an issue that is again in the job hunting zeitgeist. I still feel that these should be required, especially as I again begin to contemplate a new job search. In the past I had been unwilling/unable to move, but I am now very interested in moving and not knowing the salary range makes it a big gamble to apply for a job that might not pay enough to justify the move.
 

Have you had a chance to hire anyone? If so, what was that like?
While at my previous job (for-profit, academic) I was on a few search committees. This allowed me to work with a group of colleagues to do the initial review of applicants and make recommendations on which candidates to move to the next phase of the interview process. This is an interesting experience as it allows some input without having the responsibility of making the hiring decision. Knowing who this side of the hiring equation works has provided some valuable insights for my on job searches. It has helped reinforce the importance of customizing both resume/CV and cover letter to best match the position applying for.

Do you have any advice for job hunters?
As always, do as much research as you can about each position. Learn what you can about the library, the unit/department (if the library/system is large enough to have units), the larger institution the library is within (university or the like) if applicable, and any of the coworkers/possible supervisors. Knowing what they already do can help you position your skills and abilities within their situation and explain how you would benefit their institution. Now even more than 10 years ago, you will also want to research the area you might be working (city, region, state, etc.) to make sure you will feel comfortable in this new location. It may be a great job, but if you won’t feel comfortable in that location then ultimately you may not be successful. Work-life balance is very important and should be considered when job hunting.

Do you have any advice for people who hire LIS folks?
Same advice as last time, please communicate as much as you can with your candidate pool. Let them know when you are reviewing, let them know if they have made that first cut, and let them know after all interviews are complete as well as if they were selected or not.
 

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