If you said to ‘the public’*

‘those doctors only employ qualified doctors with some experience of hospitals’,

you would get a ‘well, yeeeees’ look. Similarly if you talked about teachers, nurses etc.

I guess people think ‘the public’ wouldn’t react that way if you said ‘public librarians’ because you don’t need qualifications or experience to work in a public library. ‘The public’ think that all you really need are smiley service skills and, ooh, a passing liking for books.

I don’t doubt that good service is vital. My centre recently got praise from an External Verifier for its service to and support of students, and student surveys consistenly rate our staff highly. But why is it so odd that some experience to go with this service is seen as a good thing in libraries? It shouldn’t be the only factor, but all things being equal it is very important. If you can get somebody into the ‘front line’ as soon as possible, that is better for service surely?

The issue of whether public libraries are difficult to get jobs in is one which regularly comes up. That they put too much emphasis on the unique character of that sector is an issue, but this doesn’t make them a cabal serving only the interests of librarians.

* I make no claim to represent, know the feelings of, much less speak for ‘the public.’ Except in so far as I am a member of the public, where public libraries are concerned.


3 Responses to Recruitment

  1. Miriam Palfrey says:

    I predict a reply which claims that public librarians are not frontline staff.

    It might also disregard the comparison between librarians, doctors and teachers…

  2. Pete says:

    Well, I know. That’s why I highlighted the fact that ‘the public’ perception is that librarianship can be done by pretty much anyone.

    I used to be a teacher, so know whereof I speak. Lest we forget, public schools (fee charging schools for my US readers 😉 ) do not demand a teaching qualification, just a subject one. So they see teaching as a graduate profession, but not a specialist one as such.

    But, whisper it soft, a lot of teaching isn’t that hard, given the right school and support. And a lot of doctor and nurse work is mechanical and routine.

    Yes, teachers face danger and have a lot of prep work to do. So do school librarians, only with much less of the recognition

  3. Stephen says:

    Just came across you by accident and as you have an interested in libraries I thought you may like a post of mine on recruitment views of a couple of recruitment videos on the subject the url is
    other than that keep up the good work

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