Tag Archives: library careers

You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

Civic library, Newcastle, 1957, Hood collectionThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager (you are hiring people that you will directly or indirectly supervise).  This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Interns, secondary school librarians and librarian assistants, teacher librarians, catalogers

This librarian works at a School Library with 0-10 staff members in an Urban area in Asia.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging

√ Budgeting/Accounting

√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Policy writing and the legal aspects of careers in libraries. It’s so important to protect yourself, your staff and patrons from legal situations that can be prevented with proper policies being written up.

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

Practical skills related to tasks can be learned on the job, such as book repair, book processing (i.e. new books, donations), office and desk organization and management (essential when working with a team), specific software skills (there are so many new types of software coming out it is not reasonable to expect this to be taught in library school).

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience

√ Professional organization involvement

√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

ALA accredited institutions, they have high standards. Library Schools from Europe, North America, or Australia. I would have to research certificates or degrees coming from lesser known institutions in Asia, Africa or South America.

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

Chinese institutions – Sadly, I have a hard time trusting that the standards of skills are a good fit for what I want candidates to be able to do in a North American style library. Many of the websites are in Chinese with no English option so I cannot verify what skills candidates have been taught, nor can I guarantee that the certificate is genuine.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Work or volunteer in a library at the same time! If you can’t get a library job, at least volunteer in one. You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, School, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

our communities might not fully understand what we do

Nevins Memorial Library First Librarians c. 1900This anonymous interview is with a academic librarian who has been aA member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Both librarians and staff

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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”?

Skills and experience were clearly defined and highlighted in the cover letter and CV to demonstrate the candidate was a good match for the needs of the position, whether through formal or informal experience.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applications used to be first screened by HR but now each search committee has access to all applications and does the first weeding of applications. There is a rubric and the search committee then ranks applicants to determine who will be invited to each stage of the interview process.

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

They are not qualified for the position, which can be determined through enough information provided pointing to this, or by omission of information. When candidates don’t develop their application materials for the specific job they’re applying for, they can appear as not as qualified as others if they leave information out that the specific job posting asks for.Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

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

√ Yes, if the candidate requests it

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

Be honest and thoughtful. Don’t try to hide information or puff up skills more than they are, the search committee will see through this. Candidates have scored extra points with me when they’ve honestly addressed gaps in employment, lack of experience in a certain area, or were straightforward about something they need to work on. The problem isn’t that someone is human, search committees realize things happen or maybe someone got more experience in one area than another–it’s when a candidate is insincere, and that sends a red flag.

I want to hire someone who is

open-minded

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?

√ 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 fewer 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?

√ Other: The work defining a librarian position has changed over the years, so yes and no

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

No, we truly consider candidates with no experience when we say something is entry-level.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Librarianship is a changing field and we are just as important as ever to our communities. The problem is not that we have “no identity” or are “replaceable” (according to a previous interviewee on this site), it’s that our communities might not fully understand what we do. There is so much information in the world that our students need to navigate, and that our faculty need for research. Our expertise is essential to organize this information, teach how to navigate this information, and connect our communities with the information they need.

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Filed under Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

I’m often unsure as to how much professional experience employers will see me as having

Woman with gun and hunting dogs Tallahassee, Florida by State Archive of Florida via Flickr CommonsThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic library, Public library at the following levels: 

I apply for anything I think I have a shot

at–I only recently got my MLIS, but have worked in libraries for 10+ years, so I’m often unsure as to how much professional experience employers will see me as having.

This job hunter is in a urban area in the Southern US and is willing to move: I have certain areas I’m more willing to move to, but for the right job, I’m not ruling any location out.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

An emphasis on user services, a comfortable salary range, and location that appeals to me.

Where do you look for open positions?

The big ones are ALA joblist, INALJ, and a weekly joblist email run by the program I graduated from. There are others I check periodically, but those are the big three.

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not.

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

A few hours to a few days, depending on the job. I’ll usually look over the job posting a few times and look up the institution if I’m not already familiar with it, and I have a couple of form cover letters I’ll tailor to the job posting.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: I’ve exaggerated, but never outright lied.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage

√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be clear in the posting about what the job entails and what the salary/benefits are, try to communicate with job seekers clearly and promptly.What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Be sympathetic to the strain that jobhunting in earnest can put on a candidate. We’re constantly asked to demonstrate our enthusiasm for the job and sell ourselves as the best candidate, while at the same time knowing it might be weeks, months, or never before we hear anything back. It’s exhausting, and anything employers can do to make that easier is appreciated, even if it’s just touching base to let us know we’re still in consideration for the job.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with luck. Judging from the number of library people I know who are currently jobhunting right now, there seem to be no shortage of qualified candidates for jobs, so I think there’s probably an element of being the one who says/does the right thing at the right time to catch and hold the employer’s interest.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Urban area

try volunteer work to pad your resume and show you’re serious

Astor Market - Demonstrating CoffeeThis 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:

Reference and public service librarians, branch managers, technical service and collection development librarians, archivists

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Has that difficult to describe mix of experience, knowledge, personality and practicality.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR weeds out people who don’t meet the minimum criteria. Once those applicants are pulled, the hiring committee gets the applications and resumes and each person chooses 5 candidates. Then we all get together, see who we chose (usually it’s a mix of the same people) and choose 5 final candidates to interview.

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

Lack of relevant experience.

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

√ Other: Upon request

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

Apply for jobs you are qualified for. If you don’t have experience in an area, then try volunteer work to pad your resume and show you’re serious. I have hired people who didn’t have paid work experience, but had volunteer experience, so it does work.

I want to hire someone who is

adaptable

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

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

√ 2

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

√ 2

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?

√ No

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, just an MLS, although when we look at resumes, we do tend to interview people who have had some experience in public libraries-even if it’s volunteer.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It’s changing, not dying.

 

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 10-50 staff members, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

Creative, easy to work with, a self-starter/proactive, and tech savvy.

Market scene in Paramaribo This 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:

Reference Librarians

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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?

√ 75-100

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applications are screened by the interview committee which consists of librarians, staff, an equity officer and administrators.

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

Lack of appropriate experience.

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?

Get relevant experience.

I want to hire someone who is

Creative, easy to work with, a self-starter/proactive, and tech savvy.

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

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

√ 1

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 the same number of 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

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Libraries are changing, but they are still relevant.

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 10-50 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

Experience is always required.

Paramaribo market scene. Woman seated with baskets of produce. 1922. This 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:

Public Services Librarian, Technical Services/Electronic Resources Librarian, Serials Librarian

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an suburban 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”?

Met the minimum qualifications.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

By the Director of Library Services.

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

Didn’t meet the minimum qualifications.

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

√ Yes

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

Apply for jobs for which you qualify.

I want to hire someone who is

appropriate

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?

√ 1

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

√ Other: 0

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

√ There are the same number of 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?

Experience is always required.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It’s a rapidly changing profession.

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 0-10 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

had experience with technology and people of all ages & ethnicities

Pike Place Market looking north, Seattle, Washington This anonymous interview is with an 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, selectors, reference, children’s, managers, web content

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area city/town suburban area rural area in the Midwestern US.

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

√ more than 200

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Had current degree, had experience with technology and people of all ages & ethnicities, had customer service experience, performed well in interview, had professional cover letter resume.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Evaluated for education, appropriate answers for supplemental questions, professionalism.

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

Answered no to a supplemental question which means they either don’t have experience working with people of all ages & ethnicities or they don’t have experience with technology.

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

√ Yes

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

Have customer service experience, enthusiasm for technology, and be approachable, professional and outgoing.

I want to hire someone who is

friendly.

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?

√ 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?

They do not need to have professional experience but they should have some work history.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It’s evolving. We need librarians to lead services and staff, not to staff reference desks.

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, Suburban area, Urban area