Tag Archives: library job

some of my colleagues also ask “why do you want this job” and it irks me because we’re IN A SCENARIO.

Original caption: The Librarian Carefully Enters the Consignment Into Her Books, 12/1952. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library  

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

√ Cover letter 

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

For librarians (faculty): search committee, of which I’ve been a member and a chair

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

Well thought-out, well-written cover letter that was exactly what we were looking for. It showed the candidate really, really understood the role and would be amazing in it.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not understanding, in the foggiest, what the role entails. Things like talking about an aspect of library work that isn’t within the realm of the position. I understand that you can’t know what it is for sure, but if I’m hiring for an instruction librarian and all your examples/things you’re excited about are technical services, I’m a bit concerned.

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

How well they would actually fit the position. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ 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?

A personal pet peeve: if we give you a presentation topic and fake audience, pretend we are the fake audience. Do not talk librarian shop if we are supposed to be faculty in a different college. To be fair, some of my colleagues also ask “why do you want this job” and it irks me because we’re IN A SCENARIO. This is petty, I know. 

Getting basic facts (the name of the institution) wrong!

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

Yes! When I’m on the committee, I advocate for the first round to be a phone and/or no video meeting. That way candidates can look at their notes. Rehearse so you can highlight your strengths without reading. You got this – we contacted you because we think you could be the person we need. This is a conversation where either party can say “yes” or “no.” For video-on calls (portions of the all-day academic interview during covid), we planned breaks and the like. Turn your camera off, mute yourself, or leave the room during breaks. It’s awkward. Interviews are awkward, Zoom is awkward, together it’s really awkward. Try to make the best of it. We’re trying too. Remember that the committee wants you to be the answer to their open position. Have your examples ready in your mind, be yourself, and be curious about the folks talking to you. 

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

I had success couching it in librarian-type terms. I love when folks have been paraprofessionals or worked in tough customer service jobs, because that means they will handle the weirdness of an academic library likely quite well. 

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?

It depends on the search committee chair. We redact names & identifying information up until phone interviews, we require a good diversity statement (beyond “libraries are for everyone!” and more along the lines of “neutrality isn’t real and libraries can be racist so… here’s what I’ve done to get better”)

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

Whatever you want to know! Do you want to know things about living where we are? About the culture of the library? If there’s something that would be a dealbreaker for you, ask about it. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 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, Academic, Suburban area, Urban area, Western US

There is a level of expertise required that can only be filled by a trained librarian.

Push cart market -- New York (LOC)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:

Circulation Managers, Adult Services Managers, Youth Services Managers.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in a suburban area in the Midwestern 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 the education and qualifications for the job.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

The person who will be the supervisor receives the applications from HR and determines who will be interviewed. This person handles everything up to offering the position.

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

Doesn’t have the proper education or skill set required for 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?

Be detailed, but truthful; no grammatical or spelling errors.

I want to hire someone who is

the best.

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 the same number of 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?

For some positions, yes.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

There is a level of expertise required that can only be filled by a trained librarian.

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, Midwestern US, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

Job Hunter Follow-Up: Sarah Deringer

Sarah Deringer took the Job Hunter’s survey on 12/29/2012. Her responses appeared as Make Sure That the Candidate Knows That You Really Want Them to Apply.

Background and Situation

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

I will receive my library degree on December 20, 2013. I have been looking at library jobs while also earning my degree.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

I have been working at a small public library since 2009. For the first two years (2009 and 2010), I just had summer internships during June and July. But after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and moved back home in summer 2011, I started working part-time. Right now I’m a substitute aide for the library, and I have been since December 2012.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

None. I went straight for the library because I knew it’s what I wanted to do in life.

How old are you?

25 years old

What’s your current work situation?

Part-time work. Looking for a job. Almost graduated from library school. 🙂

Are you volunteering anywhere?

I volunteer at my church with a children’s bible school class.

Your Job Hunt

How long have you been job hunting at this point?

I have been actively searching since January 2013.

What kinds of jobs are you currently applying for?

Public, academic, and school libraries
Librarian, social media specialist, Teen and / or youth librarian, User Experience Librarian, Web Resources Coordinator, Marketing Assistant, Small public library director
Also, outside of libraries where the jobs are similar in nature and internships that would expand my skills.

Approximately how many positions have you applied to?

25 jobs. I knew that I didn’t have to apply to as many until I graduate.

Approximately how many interviews have you gone on?

2 interviews. I also had an interview scheduled for a paid internship, but they suspended the position.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I look at often asked questions during job interviews. I think of ways to describe myself and how I would best fit the job.

Have you traveled for interviews? If so, who paid?

I have traveled up to an hour and a half. I paid for the gas.

Have you declined any offers?


What do you think is the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How are you working to overcome it?

So far, the biggest obstacle has been that I don’t have my library degree. To combat that, I am honing my skills and branding myself to fit the job I’m looking for.

Have there been any major changes in your job hunting strategy? Are you doing anything differently than from when we last heard from you?

There’s not much that has changed, but I’m getting more and more serious about my job hunt.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I saw listed under the benefits a part-time job: “great parking space.” It made me giggle. 🙂

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

Fave interview question: We’re looking to remodel the children’s and teen’s areas. What would you like to see included in the plans?
Worst interview question: So if this full-time library director job were offered to you, what would you do for health insurance since that’s not part of the benefits?

Any good horror stories for us?

The “worst interview question” made it feel like they were taunting me with the fact that they weren’t offering health insurance. The position was for a library director at a small public library. I knew that the board of directors were probably trying to be funny, but with today’s economy, it’s not funny.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

For the most part, it’s been a positive experience. I’ve learned a lot from just the two interviews I’ve had, and I know I’ll learn a lot more as I have more interviews.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

I think it’s still having passion and enthusiasm for the career, but I also feel it’s about endurance. Don’t give up on your job hunt. There will be times when you feel like you’re not good enough, but the right job will come along if only you will keep looking, applying, and learning.

Anything else you want to tell us?

As always, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or even my blog. 🙂

If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.

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Filed under Job Hunter Follow Up

Are You Blogging Your Job Hunt?

Dear Readers Who are Also Bloggers,

I’d like to make a list of the blogs of job hunting LIS folks.  If you’d like to be on that list, please post your URL in the comments. If job hunting is not your primary content, please include the tag or category that encompasses your job hunting posts.



Christchurch library



Filed under News and Administration