Tag Archives: Work experience

Hired Librarians: Who doesn’t want a “…technically savvy and customer-focused librarian!”

This post continues the feature Hired Librarians, wherein we hear from both a successful candidate and the librarian that hired her.  This post features Catisha Benjamin, the new Digital Acquisitions/Collections Development Librarian at Jones eGlobal Library, and Scott Wiebensohn, Manager of Library Services, the hiring librarian.  

Jones eGlobal Library

Jones eGlobal Library is a special library, located in Centennial, Colorado but with clients all over the world.  It has 13 staff members, and it’s growing.

The Successful Candidate: Catisha Benjamin

Catisha Benjamin

Where are you in your career? When did you graduate, and how many years of experience do you have?

I graduated from the University of Denver August of 2006 with over 5 years of experience I am currently a Digital Acquisitions/Collections Development Librarian, working to create and enhance K-12 digital libraries. For the past three years I have been employed in the elementary and secondary field, which prepared me for my positions I currently hold. I have also been employed as a university librarian; my first job as a librarian out of library school.

Why did this job pique your interest?

I have built libraries since I started my profession and felt it would be a challenge to assist in building K-12 libraries in a digital format. Something new and different, but exciting!

How many pages was your resume? Cover letter?

My resume including my cover letter is now 5 pages.

What research did you do before submitting your application?

I researched the background of Jones eGlobal and the library. I was already a contract librarian for Jones as well (Education Doctoral Librarian for Jones International University) and asked my former supervisor about the position. Always make sure you network!

What did you wear?

I wore black slacks, a red blouse, a black jacket, and black boots.

Can you describe your process in preparing for the interview?

I researched Jones eGlobal Library and researched library interviewee questions.

What questions did you ask?

What are you looking for in a candidate?
What are the challenges in the position?

Why do you think you were hired? What set you apart from other candidates?

My K-12 background assisted in my hiring process and my library of science degree. I was exactly what they were looking for.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why you were chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

Make sure to let everyone in your circle know you are looking for a job. They may have a lead for a job. Also make sure you do your homework and research the company before you go to your interview. Interviewers love to see when applicants want to find out more about their company or point out facts about the company.

The Hiring Librarian: Scott Wiebensohn

scott wiebensohn
What stood out in this applicant’s cover letter?

We were looking for a unique individual with a blended background. This position functions as the primary resource for K-12 collection development and digital content curation. Her cover letter demonstrated that she had the ability to choose from an array of e-books, periodicals, and online resources that would strengthen our library and better our users’ experience. Who doesn’t want a “…technically savvy and customer-focused librarian!”

Did she meet all of the required qualifications listed in the job ad? How many of the desired qualifications did she meet?

Interesting question as I don’t know if a candidate ever truly meets all of the qualifications for a specific job posting. What a hiring team must determine is if the candidate does not meet all of the qualifications can he/she learn the basic and more complex tasks expected. Catisha met a high majority of the qualifications otherwise we would not have interviewed her for our opening. There is only so much someone can write down on paper, thus the traditional need to interview face to face.

In comparison to the rest of the pool, did the applicant have more, less, or about the same years of experience? What about for the other people you interviewed?

I can honestly answer that this candidate had more experience than the majority of the candidate pool. In comparison to the others we interviewed it was plus or minus a year or two.

What was the interview process like?

It was a two round process. The first was an interview with the HR representative who prescreened candidates to determine if they truly met the basic qualifications and if there were any immediate red flags. Then the candidate interviewed in person with the librarian team for about 45 minutes. Following this interview was a conversation with the research and development team and the company President. A discussion followed and a candidate was chosen.

What stood out in this applicant’s interview?

Not only did she have the desired skill set and applicable work experience. she was hungry for the job and had three years of work experience with one of our sister institutions. She also had a contagious smile and a warm personality.

Were there any flags or questions you had about this person’s abilities, and how did they resolve them?

We are not a typical library in that we have library users circulating throughout our building. Everything is based on a digital platform within a corporate business setting. Conveying this work environment to each of the candidates was a must and Catisha fully understood because of her prior work with our sister company. So the question was in a straightforward manner and answered clearly and concisely.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why this candidate was chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

The entire eGlobal Library team is truly delighted to have added Catisha to our library. Even in the short two weeks that she has been with us, she has expressed an eagerness to tackle a variety of level of projects. My best advice is that you have to put yourself in a situation to be mobile. It is also quite helpful to think outside of the box, be strategic, and apply for jobs that are at a level to push you to succeed!

If you’re part of a recent hiree/hiring manager pair who’d be willing to be interviewed for this feature, please contact me.  Or please pass along this request!
Thanks so much to Elisabeth Doucett for suggesting this series. Check out her blog, The Irreverent Librarian


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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Hired Librarians, Special, Western US

We are Generally Looking for People Who Will Be Able to Grow and Change with the Library We Now Work In

Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, ca. 1865-1885Here is another anonymous interview with a non-librarian! This person has worked in human resources and has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at an Academic Library with more than 200 staff members.
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

ability to work with others OR managerial and supervisory skills/experience
knowledge of and ease with technology

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

If it seems like someone is dishonest on their resume or in answering questions, or inflating their experience, it can really turn everyone off.

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

People who say they love to read, love books, have always wanted to be a librarian. We are generally looking for people who will be able to grow and change with the library we now work in. People who have a broad range of skills, are adaptable, and (often, depending on the job) with other work experience outside libraries will get more attention.

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

Numbers! How many people did you supervise? How many records do you catalog each month? What size budget were you responsible for? etc.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: depends on age, experience, position type

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ I don’t care

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

Be prepared. Show you did some research on our organization. Listen and ask good questions. Be honest about what you know and don’t know. Sense of humor!

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

Not preparing. Think about your past work experience and specific examples of projects you’ve worked on, problems you’ve solved, what you like and don’t like. You don’t know exactly which questions you will get, but if you prepare in this way, you can use different examples where you need them.
Presentations that go over the time allotted. Better to pick one area you know well, refine it, and be ready for questions. You can always say what else you could do with more time.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

I have been here in HR about 6 years. We receive more applications in the past few years, especially for entry level jobs. More and more aspects now go through electronic communication, including rejections (instead of doing them by phone).

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

Don’t take it personally when you don’t hear back after applying. You have no way of knowing who you are up against. Take time to write a cover letter and tailor your resume specifically and you will see more results that throwing in lots of applications all over. We want to know why you are interested and the right fit for that specific job. Also, networking is still a good way to get an in, so someone at least looks more carefully at your application.

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Every Accomplishment Isn’t Important Since Oftentimes Those Accomplishments Overlap

Botany Library, Field Columbian Museum, 1912This anonymous interview is with a librarian from a special library with 0-10 staff members. S/He has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.

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

Commitment to librarianship and the particular area of librarianship that I am hiring for.
Confidence in existing experience and in any learning that will be required in the position being hired for.

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

Not really but not applying your application to the job you are applying for makes me weary.  I work for a very specific type of library and many applicants apply to jobs I have available as if they were just any kind of library job.  While any library/librarianship experience will be important and relevant, for example if you’ve spent most of your time at a reference desk and you are applying for a cataloging position please tell me how your experience makes you a good candidate for the job, don’t just tell me that you worked at a reference desk and therefore can do any library job.

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

I’m tired of new librarians or those early in their careers leaving out other work experience.  You may not have a lot of library experience, but then you need to showcase how your other experience qualifies you for the job.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: This really depends on the applicant.  Early career librarians need not have a long resume, nor try to beef it up with  unnecessary material, theirs should be just one page.  But if you have more extensive experience, by all makes, more pages is fine but it should still be kept short and sweet, every accomplishment isn’t important since oftentimes those accomplishments overlap.

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Other: I’m inclined to say no.  They aren’t particularly useful, and are always quite generic.  I think the cover letter should focus on that.

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

√ I don’t care

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

Appear interested in the job you are applying for and conversational.  Don’t just repeat what you’ve written in a cover letter/resume.  Be yourself.

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

Talk in bullet points.  I am hiring a person, employee, not a resume.

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

Do what you can to connect to the job you are applying for.  Of course there will be times when you are applying for jobs that might not be your ideal employment, but find a way that you could make that job yours, what you can bring to it, what you can get out it.  Be honest, don’t just say what you think the interviewer wants you to say.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Original Survey, Special

Further Questions: Would you Hire Someone Without Library Experience for a Librarian Position?

Welcome to a new Hiring Librarians feature, which looks at a single hiring issue from multiple perspectives.

This week’s question, inspired by comments and tweets following this post, is:

Would you hire someone for a librarian position if s/he had no library experience? If yes, under what circumstances? If not, why not?

Barbara Stripling

I would hire someone without experience, but not without ideas.  I expect any new graduate to come to an interview armed with high-quality projects completed in school or at least firm ideas about beliefs, vision, goals, and strategies.  I expect anyone I am interviewing to have self-confidence that he or she can build an effective library program.  I also need to know that the applicant can get along well with others, so if there are no job references, then I would hope to see other references to contact, recommendation letters from college professors, volunteer or student teaching experience, or some other way to determine the applicant’s ability to work with others and contribute to an organization.

– Barbara Stripling, Asst. Professor of Practice at Syracuse University iSchool, Former Hirer of School Librarians

Marleah AugustineI do more hiring for librarian assistants (more of a page/clerk/shelver/desk work position). If the individual had previous customer service experience, I would consider that in lieu of library experience. Additionally, if they had no library experience but they answered the library-specific questions in the interview well, then I would consider them. Now, for an actual librarian position, I would expect at the very least some library work experience at a lower level, or an MLS.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Yes, I have hired someone for a librarian position who had no library experience. It was for a part time position at an institution that most librarians from outside the province may not even have heard of. It actually ended up being the one of those “beggars can’t be choosers” situations.  We received applications from a lot of under qualified librarians (including a hand-written one from a member of the community who felt he was suitable for the position because he loved to read) and it was a very difficult decision because the budget did not allow for more than the 40% part time hours, we were desperate to fill the position and hoped that the relatively new grad without experience would be able to grow with us. And it actually worked out nicely.
 – Anonymous (Public Libraries)
Colleen HarrisIt depends, and having no library experience is a definite severe hurdle. To impress me enough to make it into my pile of maybes, you would have to very clearly and concisely demonstrate to me that the experience you do have is utterly translatable to the library position you want in terms of being able to pick up new software and processes quickly, customer service experience on a front-line service desk, and you would have to have a really, really good reason for never having stepped foot in a library as a volunteer or unpaid intern. You need to do this concisely (cover letters shouldn’t run overlong), with personality, and while connecting yourself to every single one of my required qualifications. It can be done, but it’s rare, and difficult. I’ll also note that it may be easier to land a staff level position with no library experience than a professional librarian position (at least in academic libraries, in my experience across four of them).
(Some background for discouraged seekers with no library experience: The problem nowadays is that the economy is so poor still that you are competing with folks with tons of experience. For instance, a recent  poorly-paying open ILL staff-level position garnered more than 50 applications, at least half of whom had the MLS, there were a handful of MLS/JD and MLS/PhDs, many were from out of state and willing to move – for a  staff level slot! – and there were at least 7 people with significant and immediately transferable ILL experience which is both rare and hard to beat as a non-experienced candidate. All of this stacks up against the no-library-experience candidate in a big way. I don’t mean to discourage, but having an accurate picture of your competition is really important when you’re on the job hunt.)
– Colleen  S. Harris, Head of Access Services & Assistant Professor, Lupton Library,University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Toby Willis-CampI would hire someone with no library experience if they could showed a good customer service work ethic, a dedication to learning new skills, and the demonstrated ability to commit to something (a job, volunteer experience, degree program, etc.)  Sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk on someone that doesn’t have all the skills on your list, but they come to the interview with new ideas and a true passion for the organization’s goals and how they would work within those goals.  I’ve had people take chances by hiring me for jobs I wasn’t exactly qualified for so I feel that I should pay it forward where appropriate.
– Toby Willis-Camp, Director of Libraries for The Law Society of Saskatchewan
John StachaczThe answer is depends….I’ll gamble on someone who I think may be very good.
– John C. Stachacz, Dean, Farley Library, Wilkes University
I would definitely hire someone with no library experience for a library assistant position. I would not rule out hiring someone without library experience for a librarian position, but in this environment it would be very difficult for them to be successful. We work in a high stress, short deadline kind of environment and sometimes there are just no spare seconds to answer questions. There is also a steep learning curve. In order to be considered, the person should be smart, willing to learn, be customer service oriented and be committed to working as part of a team. I would not hire someone who had no library experience and no MLS even if they had a JD unless I was forced to do so. If you want to work in a law library, work as a library assistant, so you can see how the processes work and learn the terminology.
– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP
Marge Loch-WoutersI would consider hiring someone who has no library experience (and I am assuming no MLIS) if their skill set closely matched what we are looking for and I felt that the candidate would bring something to the position that we were sorely lacking and were not finding in our MLIS candidates applying.  I would be aware that the training for the new hire would be much more time and information intensive to help them develop library skills/philosophy (intellectual freedom; information access; service equity; programming and service philosophy; daily oversight/understanding of library processes and reference and reader’s advisory, etc etc). They would not be paid at the level of an MLIS hire – the degree definitely improves the wage no matter how much MLIS librarians complain about low salaries.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
Photo of Daveta CooperOur library requires the MLIS degree, although some institutions will accept work experience in lieu, so the degree would be a requirement. Most degree programs now require some kind of coop or intern experience in order to graduate, so I would consider that library experience. I would hire someone with the degree but without library experience if they had experience that demonstrated an ability to solve problems through research, or deal with people in difficult situations, or if they possessed technology expertise that the organization lacked. In hiring customer service paraprofessionals I have observed that the best employees often have had successful retail rather than library  experience.
– Daveta Cooper, Library Manager,Technical Services, Benicia Public Library
Yes, if they are able to produce acceptable AARC2/MARC21 records in English and French.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Terry Ann Lawler
Yes, I would hire someone with no library experience.  There is a wealth of experience to be had at other jobs in other industries.  If, for example, I was looking for a storytime presenter, I might pass on someone with 15 years of cataloging experience in favor of someone with 15 years of grade-school teaching experience, MLSs being equal.  It all depends on two things: 1) what I need as far as job duties and 2) who you’re up against.  I certainly would pick someone with 15 years of actual library storytime experience over the above two examples.
– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library
Laurie PhillipsI would, in general, not hire someone who had no library experience. I think it would be odd for someone to decide to become a librarian if he or she had never worked in a library. That said, we did not require library experience for the position I recently posted. We would have looked at someone who had publishing experience or had worked for a vendor, but a person in that position would really have to work hard to sell his or her experience and skills for the position. That is key. Too many people use the cover letter to reiterate their resume. What they need to do is to use the cover letter to show how their skills and experience fit the position being advertised.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
Thank you so much to these Hiring Librarians for answering my question!
If  you would like to participate in this feature as a manager, the manager or director of a manager, a member of a search committee, a hiring committee member, a human resources professional, or a hirer of librarians in some other capacity, please contact me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.
If you are a job hunter with question suggestions, send ’em to me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.
Thanks for reading!  The comments are open and waiting for your opinions.


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, School, Special