Tag Archives: Search Committee

Further Questions: Who hires librarians and what do they do?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Who hires librarians and what do they do? Can you share with us the composition of the most recent search/hiring 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?

Paula HammetWhen we create a hiring committee for tenure track librarian positions, we include at least three librarians.  The hiring process (approving job descriptions and questions /criteria, accepting applications, sending out letters, etc.) is managed through our campus Faculty Affairs office.

Interviews for these type of positions typically last a very long day and include (it varies, depending on position):

  • Meet search committee chair at hotel for coffee & drive to campus.
  • Quick tour of library.
  • Setup and prepare for presentation (to all library faculty and staff, and occasionally other campus faculty).
  • Presentation (includes 20-25 min. for Q&A).
  • Discussion with Library staff (without the librarians).
  • Candidate Break.
  • Interview with Search Committee (at least 3 librarians).
  • Lunch with Library Faculty (usually 4-5 people).
  • Meeting with Director of Faculty Personnel (to answer questions about benefits, etc.).
  • Candidate leads an informal discussion with Library Faculty on a relevant topic of their choice.
  • Meeting with Library Dean.
  • Meet with search chair for followup and return to hotel.

For specialized positions (e.g., web services) we will include a meeting with staff with whom this person would be working directly.

The search committee solicits feedback from everyone and  considers it carefully. The search committee makes a recommendation to the Dean, who makes the offer to the preferred candidate.

We provide the presentation prompts and interview day schedule to the candidates a week before the interview.

Hope this is helpful in demystifying the process.

– Paula Hammett, Sonoma State University Library

Our hiring committees have a minimum of 2 people, more often it’s 3. The make-up of the committee varies depending on the job being interviewed for.

Examples off the top of my head:

  • Professional librarian (reference, public service, etc.): Branch manager or department head plus two others, usually other librarians or high-level paraprofessionals in that department/branch.
  • Department head or branch manager: Director and assistant director. Occasionally, other members of Library Administration, such as the Business Office Manager will be involved, depending on the position’s requirements.
  • Paraprofessional: Branch manager or department head plus two others, usually librarians or other paraprofessionals in the department/branch.

We don’t require presentations or take candidates out to lunch. The only people involved in the interview are the people on the search committee-they’re the ones who make the final decision. Stakeholders are directly involved in the process from start to finish.

– Margaret Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

Laurie Phillips

Our search committees are generally 4-5 people. We try to keep it small to facilitate getting the work done in a timely way. Our practice is for the search committee to be made up of the primary people in the position’s area, plus one librarian from another area of the library. We have had staff on our search committees, but with our new process it’s unclear how that would work. Our whole library faculty reviews all applications with a set of guidelines (based on the requirements) and give each application a yes, no, or maybe. We then meet as a faculty to decide who will be interviewed by phone or videochat. The smaller committee then does the phone or video interviews. Committee members take notes and post them in Blackboard for all of the librarians to read. We then meet to decide who will move forward in a reference check. The committee divides up the remaining candidates and calls references. No committee member calls more than one reference for any candidate. Committee members post reference notes. The whole library faculty meets to decide, based on all of the information posted, who will be invited to interview on campus. The committee takes the candidate to dinner, but the whole library faculty participates in the candidate’s interview day, through attending the presentation, lunch, delivering the candidate to various meetings, or participating in the formal interview. The Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, the Dean, and a group of interested staff also meet with the candidates. Some staff may be invited to lunch as well. Feedback is gathered from anyone not on the library faculty and is posted for the library faculty in Blackboard. The library faculty meets, reviews the feedback, discusses, and determines who they will recommend for hire. There are generally 2 candidates who are recommended, in priority order.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Most of our search committees for librarians are chaired by a librarian and composed of librarians, paraprofessional library staff, and depending upon the position colleagues from outside the library (teaching faculty or administrators depending upon the position – someone the hire will have a lot of contact with).  Usually 5 members.  While we would like to have students serve on the committees, their schedules make it difficult, so instead we do everything we can to invite students to participate in the lunch meetings, presentations and other opportunities to interact with candidates.

Everyone who has contact with a candidate is asked to complete a feedback form, expressing what they think are the strengths of the candidate, any areas of concern or growth areas for the candidate, and any other observations they would like to share with the committee.  Feedback may be anonymous.  The chair of the search committee receives the feedback and shares it in aggregate with the search committee and the dean.  The search committee’s charge is to provide the following information for those candidates they feel are viable at the end of the process:  strengths and assets of each candidate, concerns or deficits for each candidate, any additional information they think is relevant to share to aid in the dean’s deliberations.

– Anonymous, from a medium-sized liberal arts college

Celia RabinowitzSearch committees I have formed for librarian searches have always included librarians (usually at least 2), one staff member from the library (often I try to rotate people so the area does not matter that much), and a faculty member from outside the library (often from a department that the new librarian would support).  I have been in two pretty small academic libraries (7 and 9 librarians including me as director/dean) so having a staff member from a specific area isn’t so important as including staff.
We ask members of our student staff to give campus tours, to have breakfast or lunch with candidates, and encourage them to attend talks or teaching sessions.  An open talk or campus session would probably be only for the director level.  Everyone has equal access to feedback forms or talks with a search committee member and I have used student feedback very seriously in helping choose among candidates.

– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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Further Questions: How Can a Candidate Ace Dinner with the Search Committee?

This week’s question is from a Twitter follower. I asked people who hire librarians:

Do you have any tips for acing dinner with the search committee?  If you do not work for an organization that includes a meal as part of the interview process, do you have any tips do for the more informal, social aspect of mingling or making small talk with your interviewers?

Samantha Thompson-FranklinI would recommend that if a candidate is having lunch or dinner with members of a search committee, that you do your best to act naturally and participate in the conversation. Do not sit in silence but be polite, well-mannered and engaging. The meal is a good time for more informal conversation and candidate can use this time to ask questions about the region, activities available to do outside of work time, general interests of your prospective colleagues, etc.  so that both parties can get to know each other a bit more. I think that it’s also the responsibility of the search committee members to initiate conversation with the candidate and to include them in the conversation.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Laurie PhillipsFirst of all, please please let the chair of the search committee (or the person who is your contact) know if you have dietary restrictions. We once unknowingly took a vegetarian to a restaurant that had no vegetarian option on the menu and we were horribly embarrassed. We would have been happy to accommodate had we known. If everybody else is having a drink and you want to have a drink, by all means, go ahead. I wouldn’t recommend it at lunch! Be open to new foods. We are always so careful to choose restaurants that have a lot of options but in a foodie city, we worry that candidates will be overwhelmed. If possible, ask for the name of the restaurant so you can have a look at the menu and be comfortable in advance. Above all, realize that this is a chance for the hiring committee to get to know you. Be sure that you talk rather than just listening. We want to see how you’ll fit with our group. If there is banter at the table, dive in!

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

scott wiebensohnA few years ago, I worked for a boss who did take potential candidates out to dinner.  His make or break decision was whether or not you added salt or pepper to your meal before tasting it.  If you altered your meal before tasting the way the chef had prepared it, he would not hire you.  Now this may be an extreme example, and yet he had his reasons and I respected him immensely.  I’m not advising anyone resist the option of adding salt or pepper to your meal!  Simply be yourself and be professionally comfortable in this type of interview setting.  I would encourage sharing a short story or two that would be both entertaining and memorable.  Your dinner companions would like to enjoy working with you knowing that you are a sociable person outside away from your desk.

– Scott Wiebensohn, Manager of Library Services, Jones eGlobal

Dinner–

Eat a light snack before you go–because you are not going to eat.

Wear clothing that will not drape or trail on the table (and in food)–and elbows off.

On best behavior.  Study up and then practice etiquette, sit up straight, what goes where, how to use butter (if common, take a bit and place on plate–if individual, more or less, the same), don’t forget where your napkin goes, don’t speak while you chew–listen as best you can when you are eating (if you can’t be sure not to eat much), and remember to place your silverware correctly when pausing (crossed on plate) or when done (aligned at 4:20 or 7:35 positions).  (God help anyone invited to a private home–although I am grateful to several professors along my career route who held dinner parties and let us all practice–and corrected–our youthful enthusiasm and rotten behavior–despite all our parents’ best efforts–or not.)

Order something light, designed not to spill–so soup or spaghetti are out. Almost anything with melted cheese or needing to be wound on a fork is just a bad idea.  Unless everyone else is dealing with finger food–sandwiches and chips/crisps/fries are not ideal either–unless open faced and can be cut and forked.  Salad, while spillable, works.  Do I have to say–no alcohol!  Stick with water or tea (hot or iced) for a beverage. (Not coffee–it’s a breath killer)  And certainly not the most or least expensive on the menu.  No dessert, even if offered.

Oh, and be decently nervous and/or sufficiently concentrating enough NOT to finish dinner.

If something spills on your lap, pray it gets caught in your napkin, and return it to the edge of your plate if a solid.  If it hits the floor, leave it.  Caught in your teeth, do your best–but like your nose–no picking!  Flies across the table (heavens) apologize and then let your dinner companions excuse you.  Same thing for spilling beverages.  In all cases, try to be calm, it will minimize the likelyhood of any of this.

No wrapping the remains, either.

Small talk should follow the lead of the elders.  If questions are asked, respond courteously–but do not babble.  Even if you must rehearse, ask questions in kind–about pets, interests, hobbies, location, area attractions, the best local coffee shop, books, movies, and so forth–you can even ask after their careers.  It might be a good idea to stay away from families, children–as it opens the door for them to ask the same of you.  If you are still in the interview process, this is illegal.  But, to be honest, it’s whatever you’re comfortable with.

Good luck and bon appetit!

– Virginia Roberts, Director, Chippewa Falls Public Library

Marleah AugustineDo your research about the organization. It does wonders for a candidate when they can ask informed questions and talk about issues or activities that are relevant to the folks already at the organization. It gives you something about which to hold a conversation. Be natural when speaking with everyone. We aren’t looking for people to be completely scripted, but rather we are looking at the interactions and how that person fits with existing staff.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Dusty Snipes GresWe include a meal, usually lunch, as part of our interview process. It was set up as part of the process before I was hired and has remained as a tradition.  I think it provides a way for someone to relax a bit in a more informal setting, and show the ability to interact with different people in different surroundings. Particularly in a rural setting like ours where the librarian wears many hats, that ability is an important skill. But, it can be tricky. Folks aren’t really trying to catch your bad habits or find out secrets, but informal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious and remain professional.

I can tell you things some things to do and not to do – based on many of these meals I have attended through the years. All of these really happened, you can’t make this stuff up, and they all should be fairly obvious.

  • Don’t announce to the table that you are aware that the meal is a ploy to try and find out information that is illegal to ask in the interview.
  • Don’t ask for a doggy bag; especially don’t order two meals and ask for a doggy bag.
  • Don’t order an alcoholic drink, even if others in the party do.
  • Don’t be snarky to the waiter/waitress.
  • Be upfront before going to the restaurant if you have specific food requirements.  If you are a vegetarian or you don’t eat fish, say so.
  • If you are on a special/restricted diet say so and let it go. Do not explain about your strange medical condition. Particularly do not elaborate on what happens when you eat bell peppers (or whatever).
  • If you are a picky eater and have to change everything on the menu, or give extensive special instructions for how you want your meal prepared: don’t do it this time.
  • Now is the time to remember every rule of good manners and dining etiquette your Mother or Grandmother ever tried to teach you. No elbows on the table, close your mouth when you chew, don’t talk with your mouth full, use your napkin, don’t hold your fork like a shovel, don’t put dirty utensils back on the table, don’t start eating until everyone is served – if you don’t remember them, and you know there will be a meal as part of the process, look them up!
  • Say excuse me, please and thank you.
  • This is a hard one, but it has to be said – some folks say grace before meals, always and everywhere with anyone. Be prepared and if you don’t believe, be quiet.
  • Be prepared for conversation. Someone will ask, always, what you are currently reading and what do you think of X book or Y author. Don’t fake it if you haven’t read it or don’t like it; don’t elaborate, it isn’t a book review, it is conversation. They might also bring up movies, the weather, and the price of rice in China. It is conversation. Be on the mental lookout for the words I and me and how many times you say them.
  • Even if someone who should know better brings up politics or religion, figure out a good way to avoid and reroute the discussion. You can’t win, no matter what side you are on and this is also good practice for being a librarian who deals with the public all day. And, please, don’t you be the one to bring up politics or religion!
  • Don’t  say things like, “Wow. Who would have thought there would be a good restaurant in a town like this.”
  • Men – take your hat off, unless you are wearing one for religious reasons. Women – don’t fix your make-up at the table.

I think you can get my drift, here. I have never not hired someone just because of how they acted during one of these meals, but I have included my impressions in the overall evaluation of the candidate and his/her suitability for this system.

– Dusty Gres, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you’re changing color due to emotions engendered by something you read  here, you might be a comment-chameleon.  So comment, comment, comment-chameleon!

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Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Rural area

Further Questions: When and how should candidates check-in after an interview (if at all)?

This week’s question is related to last week’s, but about a later stage of the process. I asked people who hire librarians:

When and how should candidates check-in after an interview (if at all)? Have you ever told someone you’d get back to them by a certain time, and then not been able to do so?

Cathi AllowayWe give interviewed candidates an approximate decision date, but encourage them to call us if the date passes and they have not heard from us. I explain that deadlines are sometimes compromised because we sometimes need additional approvals from the library board or local government officials that may be delayed. We will also tell really good candidates that if they get an offer from somewhere else while they are waiting to hear from us, to feel free to call about it so we can work with them as they make their important decision.

– Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library

Laurie PhillipsOther than sending a thank you email, I don’t know if it would help to check in. I have had people send follow-up materials that were mentioned during the interview. Yes, there may be a reason why the final decision is delayed (the Dean is out, the Provost’s office hasn’t given us the final go-ahead, a committee member is ill), but in general, we meet to decide as soon after the final candidate as possible. A candidate should find out what the interview schedule is while they are interviewing (are they first, last, what is the schedule). That way they should know when to expect to hear. Otherwise, if the committee is still bringing in candidates, we’re fairly busy with that and may not have a lot of time to respond. Keep in mind, I cannot notify the unsuccessful candidates until I have an absolute yes from the successful candidate. At that point, I write emails to the unsuccessful candidates who visited campus. I have asked job seekers if they prefer email to a phone call and have been told that they prefer email because they don’t have an awkward conversation with me and don’t get their hopes up when I call.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

I agree with some of the posters from last week. I don’t think that an applicant should “check in” once they have submitted an application, unless they have forgotten to include something, they really want the search committee to know about.  The only other time may be when they are being considered for another position, but they prefer yours and really want/need to know if they are being actively considered, so that they can make a decision.  I have to admit that it is a tad annoying to me as a potential employer or search committee chair to receive phone calls, especially repeated calls from the same person.   I understand from many years of doing this, that the search process can take a long time, and it is frustrating for a candidate to be left hanging.  But the cogs move pretty slowly in academia sometimes, often due to conflicting schedules for meetings, and/or large candidate pools.  I’m afraid that I think it is best to just wait out the process, unless one of the two reasons above are the case.  I don’t mean to sound hard about this, because I, like most people, have been on both sides of the process.  However, everyone needs to remember that search committees want to finish their work and select a candidate as soon as possible too.  None of us is trying to cause hardships for candidates. Once the candidates get a job and serve on a search committee, I think they will better understand why the searches can often take an inordinate amount of time, as frustrating as that can be.

– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands

Marleah AugustineI think it’s best if candidates let at least a week go by. Sometimes the interview process is not even finished and I get calls from candidates. I appreciate their eagerness, but I just don’t have anything I can tell them at that point.
I’ve always (knock on wood) been able to get back to people on time.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
Manya ShorrIn my current situation, I’d rather people don’t check in at all within the first two-three weeks after the interview. I know it’s extremely frustrating to wait for a response and that it seems like nothing is happening, but I ask applicants to trust that things are moving forward. There are a myriad of things that could be happening behind the scenes. For example: a panel member may have gone on vacation right after the interview (recently happened here..with two panelists), we may be calling references (do you know how hard it can be to connect with references?), you may be our second choice and we’re waiting to hear if the first person accepts the position (in fact, we may be flying them out here to visit before offering them the position). I’m aware that it feels like torture and it is never our intention to make applicants suffer, but there are protocols in place that we have to follow. So, please, be patient. I promise we have not forgotten about you and we will be in touch soon.
– Manya Shorr, Senior Manager, Branch Services, Omaha Public Library

Randall SchroederI have never had that situation, but if I did miss a promised deadline a quick e-mail asking what is the status of the search would not be received poorly.

One reason that this situation has not been my experience is if I give candidates a ballpark idea of when they will hear back, it is usually a simple matter to send out an e-mail explaining, in general, what the delay is about. If I am down to a few on-campus interviews, it is no hardship to send out a couple of e-mails. If it is more global than that, our new HR software allows me to send out group e-mails quite readily.

My general feeling is that people’s imaginations will come up with much worse explanations in the absence of information. It will save all us much anxiety if I can give candidates an honest answer about the timeline when possible.

In short, I want my candidates, especially my finalists, to feel valued. Why start off a potential collegial working relationship with preventable hard feelings?

– Randall Schroeder, Department Head of Public Services, Ferris Library for Information & Technology Education

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Thank YOU for reading!

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Filed under Academic, Adult Services, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, Information Literacy Instruction, Public, Public Services/Reference

Further Questions: Who has input on hiring decisions at your organization?

This week I have another question suggested by a reader.  I asked people who hire librarians:

Who has input on hiring decisions at your organization? (e.g the hiring manager, the person’s potential department members, an external committee, etc.) We often hear that it’s important to be polite to everyone you meet when going in for an interview – do you solicit feedback from non-interviewing staff members?

Laurie PhillipsWe have a search committee, which will generally include those librarians and staff who will work directly with the new hire. We try to keep it small – no more than 4 people. Our policy is to also include one person outside of the person’s general area. The committee has the most input and makes a recommendation to the Dean and Associate Dean, who will have met with the person and reviewed applications of top candidates. We also invite everyone in the library to attend the person’s onsite presentation and we have a small group who are not members of the search committee take the candidate to lunch. We gather feedback from everyone who had contact with the candidate, but obviously, the search committee makes the decision to recommend a candidate to the Dean for hire.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Emilie Smart

In our system, we operate a little differently in branches as opposed to the main library.  Hiring decisions for branches are made by the branch manager and the branch dept head with input from the branch services liaison and division coordinator.  At the main library,  senior departmental staff and the division coordinator make the decisions.  It is important to be polite to everyone you meet in the interview process.  It’s also important to listen in the interview.
When we conclude each interview we tell the candidate that he or she will be hearing from us once we have completed interviewing all candidates.  We also tell them that we may not be able to complete the process in a timely manner (through no fault of our own) and that they may need to be patient for a week or so, but we WILL get back with them.  I don’t mind it when a candidate calls after a week to inquire, but I have had candidates who called every other day.  I always tell candidates the first time they call what the status of the interviews is and that we will call them when we are finished.  If they call me back again, I generally take them off the consideration list.  If they can’t be patient, how can they help frustrated patrons?

– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library

Marge Loch-WoutersThe manager in a department has primary responsibility for hiring decisions and initial selection of our interview pool. We always use a team for interviews made up primarily of other managers at our library. There may also be other staffers involved. The interview team then meets to compare notes and make a recommendation to the manager. But that person ultimately has the final say.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library SystemHere at Shortgrass all the hiring is done by our management team. We do all interviews as a team (of three) if possible and then make a decision together. Depending on the position we then let the manager who will be directly supervising the position be the one to extend the offer.
Generally, most non-interviewing staff members don’t even meet the candidates, due to the lay-out of the building. Often the Executive Assistant will be the first one to make contact as people walk in the door and if there was anything remarkable (lack of friendliness, etc) about the candidate, I trust she would mention it to me.

– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

On most academic search committees on which I’ve served and/or chaired, those who have input into the actual decision as to who is hired is somewhat restricted.  The “restricted” group usually includes the members of the search committee, the Dean or other “official” of the college , and the department head of the department in which the new person will work.  However, I have always solicited feedback from anyone who has been invited to interview the candidate one on one,  in a small group, or a larger group as when a presentation is required.  That feedback isn’t always in the final decision category. But it could be if many people provide similar, or the same,  pros or cons about a candidate.  In that case, I would hope that the search committee or other final decision maker would take that feedback into consideration.  Being polite to everyone a candidate meets on an interview should be pro forma, whether or not the candidate thinks that the people he/she meets has input into the hiring process. If a candidate can’t be polite to everyone for one or two days,  and it is noticed, that candidate should not be the one selected for the position IMO.

– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands

Samantha Thompson-Franklin

At my library, candidates are introduced to all of the library staff (we are a small staff) and are asked to make a presentation that includes the entire library staff as well as members of the search committee. My library director solicits feedback from all members of the library staff on their view of the candidate(s). In some cases it has confirmed whether the person should or should not be hired for the job.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Marleah AugustineWhen hiring support staff, in our library, the decision rests with the department head. When both the youth and adult departments are hiring at the same time, the two department heads sometimes interview candidates together, but the individual department head is the one who makes the final decision.
In some cases, front desk staff members will have an initial impression of a candidate, and I do take that into consideration. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s nice to hear what kind of interaction the candidate had and whether it was positive or negative.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
Colleen HarrisAt our library, all librarian presentations are open to all staff and library faculty, as is the meet & greet, and the candidate spends time with various folks both in and outside their home department. We solicit feedback from everyone in our organization who was able to spend time with the candidate; that information is usually collected via a survey where folks have open-answer slots to comment on the person’s qualifications, skillset, and whether they are an acceptable candidate.
– Head of Access Services & Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Lupton Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re interested in participating in this feature, email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!

I won’t dance in a club like this. All the girls are comments and the beer tastes just like comments.

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Filed under Adult Services, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, Public Services/Reference, Youth Services

Author’s Corner: The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook

This week, Ulla de Stricker and Jill Hurst-Wahl have been kind enough to tell us the story of how they wrote their book, and to detail  what’s inside the covers.  


Picture two members of Special Libraries Association having a chat in a coffee shop during the annual SLA conference.  The two colleagues go back a long way and enjoy meeting each other when professional events make it possible.  This time, they get on the topic of how, throughout their careers, they have acted as mentors to colleagues at all stages of their careers and to students just starting out.  As the conversation went on, they verbally compile a long list of the career challenges prompting those colleagues and students to seek advice … and jointly reached the conclusion “why don’t we just write it all down!”. Information and Knowledge Professional's Career Handbook: Define and Create Your Success

Thus, The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook:  Define and Create Your Success was conceived.  Here’s how we articulated its purpose:

Information Professionals and Knowledge Managers deal with significant career challenges for a number of reasons associated (for example) with common misperceptions of their expertise and roles. In environments where they must often justify their work and value over and over, those already in the profession and those just entering need to prepare for a reality that may differ from expectations.  Based on the authors’ own extensive experience, the book is intended to give readers a set of tools and techniques with which to secure a strong career, build an effective brand, and succeed as professionals.

Here’s how we went about organizing the messages we wanted to share:

We discuss how the information profession involves an enduring need to others why it is worthwhile investing in its practitioners.

We outline the need to know one’s own “work personality” and show how insight into it could be crucial in helping to deal with the inevitable challenges in the workplace.

For those who may have had a previous career, we talk about how to translate earlier expertise into a new professional role.

We address head-on the need to develop a professional brand and to market oneself the way any product or service is promoted.  In particular, we stress on the power of professional associations as career builders.

We get practical with a look at job hunting, the strategies for applying for jobs, handling the job interview, and succeeding in the critical first few weeks on a new job.

The notion that “career planning” may be a contradiction in terms is next: “Give chance a chance”.

We take a look at the reality of organizational life:  Technical proficiency does not guarantee success! Political savvy is paramount for navigating organizational culture.

The essential skill of constructing compelling proposals and business cases is the focus of attention as we stress how advocacy and getting support for change and investment requires compelling arguments – regarding of the sector or industry.

Our readers do not have to make the mistakes we did!  We share candidly the lessons from our own careers and show how important emotional resilience and strength are. Work occupies a huge role in our lives, and it would be unrealistic to expect a clinical, detached attitude toward it.  We focus on strategies for coping … and on knowing when to quit.

Of course, money must be discussed.  We look at salary and other aspects of compensation and suggest resources to prepare for negotiation.

Finally, we advocate for a life long mentoring orientation in encouraging our colleagues to take advantage of the wisdom of more experienced colleagues and pay it back. 

We hope the book will be a constant companion for our colleagues.  At different career stages, different chapters will be relevant.  More than anything else, we hope our colleagues will join us in our never ending efforts to support our fellow professionals.

Availability and Reviews:

Publisher:  Woodhead (Chandos) Publishing

To rent the book online at a much lower cost than the list price, go to http://bit.ly/Iv0Fkz; click on the PDF link below the image of the book.  Under “Offerings”, click the desired “Add to Basket” option (72 hours or 14 days). Click “Purchase” and then at the Log In page, register under the Individual Registration option in order to complete the transaction.

Amazon / Neal-Schuman / In Canada

Reviews:  Kim Dority  / Robyn Stockand / Carol Stahlberg, SLA /

Interviews: Dennie Heye, SLA Europe (one more here ) / Henrik de Gyor  / Neal-Schuman

And you can join the conversation, or get in touch, via Facebook 


Jill Hurst-Wahl

 

 

Jill Hurst-Wahl, MLS, is a digitization consultant and owner of Hurst Associates, Ltd. She also an Associate Professor of Practice in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and the director of the iSchool’s Library and Information Science Program.  Jill’s interests include digitization, digital libraries, copyright, web 2.0 and social media.

Ulla de StrickerUlla de Stricker is a knowledge management consultant whose practice (www.destricker.com) focuses on addressing a wide range of challenges and opportunities in the area of information management including strategies for information support to knowledge workers.  She has been an active contributor to the library profession and a mentor to colleagues since the late 1970s and is a familiar figure at information related conferences.

Ulla and Jill currently serve on the Board of Directors of SLA.

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Author’s Corner: A Guest Post on Recruiting and Hiring in Academic Libraries

Teresa Neely is the editor of How to Stay Afloat in the Academic Library Job Pool, a collection of essays about various aspects of the academic search process.  Dr. Neely is the director of Learning Space Initiatives at the University Libraries of the University of New Mexico. She has been a hiring manager, and a member of hiring committees. She also edited the book In Our Own Voices, which presents the experiences of 25 librarians of color transitioning from school to career. She graciously agreed to share her understanding and experience of the academic hiring process with us.


Recruiting and hiring practices in most academic libraries are governed by the rules and regulations of the parent institution, the state, and the federal government. I have worked in academic libraries my entire professional career and have served on and chaired many faculty search committees over the years.

Higher Education Hiring is not like the For-Profit Sector

There is a distinct difference between higher education and the for-profit sector in terms of how searches are managed. For example, academic searches take a long, long, long time. You generally have four or five committee members and a chair which means work moves as fast as the busiest person on the committee. In the for-profit sector, searches are probably not conducted by a committee and decisions are reached much faster.

At my current institution, in addition to the search committee, there is a search coordinator who is very experienced with the university’s human resources procedures and requirements. She keeps the search committee on the right [legal] path throughout the process. This means, if you meet the minimum requirements for the position you are applying for, then your application is moved on to the next step in the process.

Evaluating Candidacy

A scoring rubric of some sort is usually employed to evaluate the application based on the preferred qualifications, once the minimum qualifications have been met. At this stage, rules could require the search committee to do a “second look” for self-identified applicants from protected classes, and females to bring up into the pool, with appropriate justification of course.  If your application makes it through this stage, next stop is the telephone interview; Successful completion of this stage usually nets you an on-site interview. However, that is dependent on the number of people in the pool with successful telephone interviews and the cutoff point for how many candidates you want to bring on-site.

Competition and Fairness

Search committees bound by rules and regulations and federal and state laws should ensure that every application submitted in the required manner is treated to the same rigorous review process and every applicant meeting the minimum qualifications has an equal chance. And as in any process, every applicant meeting the minimum qualifications has the same chance to excel by writing a cover letter that addresses their qualifications for the position, submitting a curriculum vitae which clearly indicates the experience and education needed as spelled out in the position description, preparing for the telephone interview as if it is a “real” interview because it is, and putting their best foot forward during the in-person interview if they make it to that level. Competition is fierce for positions and the closer to entry-level you get, the more applicants you could be competing against.

Academic Applications have Unique Requirements

Books, websites and tips abound on what to do and what not to do when preparing a packet to submit for employment; however, for those seeking the academic track, things tend to be a bit different. I believe one of the biggest differences in faculty library positions and jobs in the for-profit sector is the former wants a curriculum vitae that spells out exactly what your experience is in as many pages as that takes. The latter wants the one to two pager.

 Timing

Apply early and often, but only once for each position, as academic searches can stretch over months, and remember, during the summers and between Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Day, very little gets done.

Good Luck!


Dr. Neely has agreed to come back for an interview on the topic: Hiring Librarians of Color. If you have questions about this subject, either as a job hunter or a hirer of librarians, would you please email me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail?  Now’s the chance to find out what’s really going on with that affirmative action form or to figure out how you can increase diversity in your organization. 

 Thanks for reading!

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Reader Request: Greensboro Libraries

This interview is with Kathy Bradshaw, the Human Resources Librarian at The University of North Carolina Greensboro.  The University Libraries have 100-200 staff members. This interview was requested by a reader who is interested in their Diversity Residency.   These responses are not specific to the Diversity Residency posting, but are responses that are applicable to all positions. Ms. Bradshaw has been part of the hiring process as a manager, a member of a hiring committee, and in a human resources capacity.

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

  • Good writing skills.  The majority of the librarians at my institution are hired as tenure track faculty,  and publication is  expected.  Poor writing skills will not reflect well on your application.
  • A cover letter that outlines why the applicant is suitable for the position advertised.  The cover letter should tell us not only why you are a good candidate for the position, but how your skills and knowledge will benefit the organization, and how those skills are applicable to the advertised position.
  • Previous experience or education that matches the advertised position.  For entry level positions, internships and/or practicums, even volunteer  experience in a library is crucial.

Do you have any instant deal breakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

  • Our professional librarians are required to have an ALA accredited MLS.  We always get applicants that don’t have the required degree.
  • Having an objective for a position that I didn’t advertise.  (I had an application from a person who gave her objective as “To obtain a position as a school media specialist.”  I work in an academic library-we don’t have any positions for school media specialists.)
  • Being unprepared for the interview (this happens more with telephone interviews.)
  • Applicants that send cover letters to the wrong employer (It happens more than you think; this is common because many people looking for a job, recycle both their resume and cover letters and use them for every job application.)
  • A poorly written cover letter.
  • Excessive typos (especially when they say they are a detail oriented person) in the cover letter or resume.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

Letters with long descriptions of how hard working, industrious, etc. the applicant is, but fail to address the position requirements.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

Hobbies are usually not relevant to the position advertised.  Listing your hobbies takes up precious space that could have been used to describe additional skills or accomplishments.  Applicants should also remember to put their full name and contact information (email, phone number) on every document that is submitted.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√  Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√  Other:  We are an academic library, and it is expected that the experienced librarians we hire would have an extensive CV, detailing publication and presentation experience.  The exception would be for entry level positions.

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√  Other:  I actually prefer PDF, but what really matters is that the applicant follow the specific instructions outlined in the posting.

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Other:  To me, an objective is a waste of precious real estate on a resume/CV.  Hiring managers know that your objective is to get a job.

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ Other:  Again, it is crucial to follow the instructions in the posting.  In our current system, sending me the cover letter in the email means I have to copy that info and create a Word or PDF document.

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

An applicant that is prepared for the interview and demonstrates to the Search Committee that they have done research on the position, the library, and our institution.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Not showing enthusiasm for the position and for the interview, talking too long in response to a question, not providing well thought out answers to common interview questions,  not having any questions for the interviewers.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

We request that references be submitted with the application.  Candidates should not only provide the name of their reference, but the full contact information for the reference (postal address, email address, phone number) and outline the relationship of the reference to the candidate.  Please let us know if this is your former supervisor, colleague, etc.  I have received reference lists with only a name and telephone number, a name and email address, etc.  I have no idea if the reference being provided is a former supervisor or your next door neighbor.

Please ignore this code, which is just some blog business: CECMZK72S3ZG

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Reader Request