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Librarian Interview Questions with Answers

Josh Evan

Written by:

Josh Evan
librarian interview questions

What is the quietest and most peaceful place you have been to? For us, it’s always the libraries, with the lovely scent of books and amazing stories within them. Sometimes, we wish we could have worked as a librarian. We couldn’t do it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. 

Choosing to be a librarian as a profession or a part-time job is a respectful one. You get to be around thousands of books of knowledge and stories. How exciting is that?

It seems all fun, but being a librarian requires skills and preparation; loving to read books isn’t enough. If you’re interested in starting your career as a librarian, you must prepare for the interview.

There’s nothing to get worried about because, in this article, we have tried to cover everything necessary. So, let’s not waste any more time and get on to the librarian interview questions.

What Does a Librarian Do?

A librarian is a professional responsible for conducting daily functions in a public or private library. They are liable for keeping track of a large amount of information, managing books, organizing books, and, now in modern times, digital resources, such as audio and visual recordings.

Librarians can work at schools, local or government libraries, religious associations, or research centers, but wherever they work, they can easily assist with informational services and manage the library efficiently.

woman taking a book from the shelf in a library

The duties and responsibilities of librarians depend on where they are working. However, there are some common obligations in all libraries.

  • Help customers with library services
  • Suggest customers new books or help them find their preferred books
  • Check out chosen books by customers
  • Follow up on checked-out books
  • Distribute library materials
  • Maintain and update data on new reading materials
  • Update databases of the new library customers
  • Organize current and incoming books and other materials
  • Email library patrons about the arrival of new reading materials
  • Make catalogs for new entries and update the existing one
  • Have a friendly relationship with library users
  • Inform library users of new policies and amenities
  • Research and order requested information and books
  • Research new trends and topics for making the library more inclusive
  • Communicate with book suppliers for new inventory
  • Create and maintain an online information platform for library staff and members
  • Keep aside a budget for any repairs or book damage
  • Train newly hired staff and assist them
  • Distribute work among the library staff and provide library aids
  • Organize educational events for youngsters
  • Maintain a productive and safe environment for the library staff and patrons

Moreover, the duties of a librarian vary depending on the place they are working because different libraries require various maintenance and assistance.

Basic Skills Needed for a Librarian Job

A librarian's job qualifications differ from institution to institution. Still, in most cases, one must have a Bachelor’s degree in any area and preferably a Master’s degree specializing in Library Science (MLS). That is why 77% of librarians in the U.S. have a Master’s degree, and only 13% have a Bachelor’s degree.

Aside from the educational qualification, there are many other things one must be skillful in. It will help them adequately answer the library interview questions and acquire the job. We have discussed the skills, qualifications, and experience in detail below.

1. Educational Qualification

Yes, having a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree is essential for a librarian job, but there are also other requirements. Let’s start from the top, shall we?

  1. An Undergraduate or Bachelor’s degree acquired in any field over four years.
  2. A Master’s degree in the field of Library Science (MLS).
  3. The MLS degree must be acquired from an accredited institution by the American Library Association (ALA).
  4. A teaching certificate from any ALA-accredited institution so that one can participate in school research.

2. Librarian Skills (Must Haves)

Sometimes, an educational degree doesn’t certify a person’s ability to work in an environment. Many employers want certain skill sets necessary for a librarian to maintain the library properly.

  • Good communication capability in both oral and written forms
  • Have the desire to stay compliant with the users of the library
  • Have the ability to serve the user community by meeting their requirements, answering their queries, and helping them find and check out books
  • Must have good research and administrative skills
  • Must have skills in operating a computer, using the internet, and commercially obtainable library software
  • Skill in IT to maintain and update library information databases
  • Accurate and speedy typing skill
  • Ability to assist, teach, and handle the library staff
  • Must have independent and impartial judgment skills
  • Ability to handle any situation and initiate orders
  • Must be able to assign daily tasks for library materials flowing in and out
  • Have the knowledge to assist a special needs library user
  • Must have library resources and material knowledge

Bonus Skills

Although the skills are not must-haves, they are pretty important if you are going to be working in a library. Some bonus skills will definitely land you a librarian job. Many employers look for these bonus skills in applicants.

So, if you get an interview call for the librarian position, don’t forget to mention your different skills during the skill questions portion.

  • Knowledge of more than one language (besides English) to be able to understand non-native speakers
  • Ability to efficiently analyze and develop new library systems, revise the old ones, and keep the flow of work running smoothly
  • Proficient in philosophical and library service techniques
  • Capable of working without supervision
  • Ability to work with diverse people and maintain a friendly relationship with working members of the library
  • Have the ability to use creativity and organize various trending library programs
  • Have the skills to help, research, and write extensive reports
  • Good presentation skills
  • Knowledge about library policies and administrative systems to be able to make and initiate new policies and supervise library staff

3. Librarian Experience

Who doesn’t appreciate some previous experience when hiring someone for a job? Not that it’s necessary, but it is for the best to acquire some early experience working as a librarian.

Many institutions have available library job openings for students with impressive educational progress. You can also try out for an internship before applying for any job opportunities. It will give you the opportunity to learn while you work and gain experience. If you perform well, the institution may even offer you a permanent position.

Common Questions Asked in the Interview for a Librarian Job

You have submitted your resume and filled out the librarian position application form. Now you got a call for an interview. Congrats! You are almost there. But, the most important part is still left: the interview.

The interview gives you a chance to make a first impression on your employers. Usually, employers commonly ask organizational, community service-related, and bookish interview questions for librarians. If you just get the essence of the answers, you will be able to ace the interview and achieve your cerebral dream.

We have narrowed down some common librarian interview questions employers ask potential employees. Let’s jump into it!

Question#1: Which skills will help you flourish in your librarian profession?

(Through this question, your employer will want to know how your skills would be a good match for the librarian position. Your response has to be strategic and should explain more than one skill.)

Sample Answer: I believe I will be able to use my three interlinked skill sets to flourish in the librarian profession. First, my administration skill set can help me manage the various databases of the library. I will be able to handle both physical and online resources methodically. 

My second and third skill sets, analytical and communication, go hand in hand when helping out users with their desired information. With my communication skills, I will clearly understand the patrons' problems or inquiries. Then my analytical skills will help benefit the members and patrons by giving fast and accurate services on the spot.

Question#2: How can you, as a librarian, impact our community?

(The question will define how you feel about the profession and how willing you are to help the community. Your answer should be short but direct.)

Sample Answer: Librarians have access to vast helpful information that can help the community to thrive. I always loved reading books, and sharing the experience with others was my favorite part. To think that I will be able to serve as a librarian, educate people, assist students, and collect resourceful information, is like a dream come true. 

As a librarian, I will be able to guide students to resources for new skill sets, create opportunities to provide career assistance and help the community grow to be a better place for succeeding in life.

Question#3: What do you know about customer service? How do you plan to provide top-notch customer service?

old librarian lady helping students with information

(This is a conversation starter that helps employers learn about your mentality towards customers and check your management skills when dealing with customers. Remember to make the answer customer-centric.)

Sample Answer: Customer service, to me, is all about giving importance and helping the customer resolve their issue, even if other challenges are blocking it. People are always first, and I believe in it. 

So, I like to understand the patron’s queries and provide adequate assistance in finding the resource they require, and I always do it with a positive attitude, a cheerful smile, and great patience.

Question#4: How will social media help a library thrive and help establish a learning media online?

(Employers ask the question to learn about your competency in handling social media that will directly affect the library. They want to know if you have the skills to handle the library’s online presence. The answer should be straightforward and on point.)

Sample Answer: Social media platforms are an important key to engaging different demographic populations about the importance of the library. When social media is strategically handled, it can help promote the library to various audiences. 

I can efficiently use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote upcoming library events, update the audience about new reading materials, increase audience reach by creating fun and lively posts, and decrease membership cancellations.

Question#5: How will you engage the newer generation into reading books instead of scrolling online and watching videos?

(This question will define your ability to make the library a more learning-oriented area and how it can be more appealing to the youth.)

Sample Answer: I myself am passionate about reading books. They take to a different dimension where I can enjoy the book using my imagination. And, I know children have more capability of imagining things than anyone else. 

To engage children in the library, I will arrange book clubs, make a separate section for kids with lively colors, bring in local authors to read out their books, host book fairs, and arrange reading hours for parents and children.

(Employers get to know your vision for managing vast reading materials both offline and online through this question. Moreover, they want to determine how much you value the user’s feedback.)

Sample Answer: A clear and concise strategy can help make the daunting task of maintaining the collection more accessible. My approach is to perform a complete inventory check and mark the collection gaps I find. I will then create an online survey for the patrons to put down their favorite genres of books.  After a few days, I will review the survey, find the popular options, and establish a strong relationship with the publishers, suppliers, and digital contributors. 

I will be able to cover the collection gap using this strategy by obtaining books from the providers based on the users' interests.

Additional Library Job Interview Questions and Answers

Aside from the questions above, employers can also ask you library tools-oriented or straight-up academic interview questions if you apply to an academic institution. You have to be prepared to be able to answer any questions. So, we have briefly discussed some academic interview questions below.

Question#7: Do you know any library classification systems?

Answer: Well, yes, I am proficient in both the Dewey Decimal Classification (DCC), and the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) approaches. I would like to add that I am also familiar with Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) and Colon Classification (CC). 

Question#8: How will you help students with their research?

Answer: I think I will be able to communicate and learn about the students’ needs with my analytical skills. I will look through potential online and offline resources and forward them to the students. Moreover, I will keep the students updated about new relatable books or resources that arrive at the library.

Question#9: Which Library Software are you familiar with?

Answer: During my education, I had the opportunity to learn SirsiDynix Symphony Library Software and Koha Integrated Library System. I am efficient using both software.

SirsiDynix offers online databases to find reading materials, and Koha can be customized according to the library’s requirements. I prefer using SirsiDynix and Innovative Interfaces Sierra Circulation System together because they work great for easy online database access and management of resources.

Answer: Yes, I have noticed many changes in recent years. First, there is the replacement of paper materials with online databases. It has made access to information so much easier. Now, the resources and materials are more organized and less time-consuming to find. 

However, the most fascinating change I noticed is the addition of virtual reality to various places. I think VR can open many doors for the library, and I hope the library considers my suggestion.

Career Path of a Librarian

Wait up! Before you jump into applying for librarian jobs, you have to decide on which path you are going to take. Most people think that all the librarians of different institutions have the same duties, but the concept is not quite right.

There are many different sectors you can apply to in a librarian’s job. It can be either public or private or research or academic; it depends on what career path you want to go in. For better understanding, we have briefly described each librarian's job sector.

1. Public Librarians

Public librarians work in the local libraries of a town, city, or state, where they serve the public of all ages. The public libraries have various materials for children and adults, which the librarians keep organized.

Usually, public librarians perform tasks such as organizing the shelves, entering new reading material details into the database, updating the catalog, etc. They also often organize community programs in the library, like reading events, book clubs, and educational puppet performances.

2. Research Librarians

Research librarians are only engaged in providing materials and resources for research. They help identify useful reading materials, organize articles or papers, and help find references for the research. As research is based on a precise subject, research librarians help by giving guidance for adequate databases and locating any technical resources.

3. School Librarians

School librarians work in private or public schools to help students and teachers attain the latest and most accurate information. They educate students, familiarize them with the different library systems, and motivate them to read more books.

School librarians are sometimes required to teach lab classes, including educating about the library database and technology use and providing knowledge on encyclopedias, thesaurus, and dictionaries. Teachers also get help from school librarians to update or create curriculums.

4. Medical Librarians

Medical librarians usually work in hospitals, insurance companies, medical schools, and other medical information-related institutions. They offer information on Medical Sciences and Health Care.

5. Catalog Librarians

A catalog librarian’s main job is to note down the author, book title, publication date, place, edition, ISBN, subject, etc., to input into the Machine Readable Cataloging format (MARC format). It will later help the users find the books just by typing two or three pieces of information in the library database.

6. Archivists

Archivists are specialized librarians who maintain official or unofficial documents, manuscripts, and audio, video, or written records.

Current and Future Market Demand for a Librarian

Libraries were quite popular in the early days when technology was not so vastly present everywhere. However, at the current time, libraries are not in demand, minimizing the job opportunity for librarians.

The librarian job sector is likely to see a growth of 6% from 2021 to 2031, although CareerExplorer considers the profession a weak one that may not last many years. They also gave it a grade-D, which is relatively low.

Is it a good career choice?

Technology has come a long way and replaced many things. Among them, the profession of librarians is one, because users can now access information on personal computers or mobile devices.

Moreover, the government is limiting library budgets to finance online and electronic materials. It is thought that the U.S. will only need 16,100 librarians over the next ten years.

Libraries are replacing many traditional librarians with assistants who work at a lower wage, leading the librarians to join private firms, consultancy firms, NGOs, etc. Their profession is changing from librarians to analysts, Local Area Network coordinators, database specialists, etc.

There are still opportunities for new librarians because it is estimated that 3,700 librarians will be retiring in the next few years and job positions will be open. Although previously, it was a good career, we would not call it a promising profession today.

Salary Range of a Librarian

A librarian’s salary depends on their degrees, location, seniority, and work performance. In 2018, the U.S. states of Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Indiana had the lowest average yearly salary of a librarian, which ranged from $36,870-$39,353.

However, the salary range of a librarian can start from $36,000 to a maximum of $93,000 annually, with the average annual income being $59,050. Then again, the salary depends on many factors, and it may take ages until one reaches a fair yearly wage.

The librarian profession is respectful, and if you dreamt of being a librarian, don’t let a small hiccup stop you. The job market changes every year, and maybe you will find a good librarian job offer that pays well also.

Josh Evan

Written by:

Josh Evan

Josh Evan is the professional career counselor and career development writer at When Work Works. He loves to see people from this field succeed through initiating the right thing in the right way. He never tells; he shows the way. We appointed John not because of his impressive CV. It was his counseling charisma which stood out of everything. He can implant idea, confidence and productive thoughts into mind almost effortlessly. His pen and mouth both speak for the greater good.

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