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The original TARGET --
        I am very familiar with educational interviews, but am curious about those
outside of schools.  What types of general questions could one expect
during a public library interview?
    The HIT responses are listed below:

I remember the one I guess I flubbed up on--
The library air conditioning has failed and the temperature is going to
over one hundred and you have a group coming from a retirement housing area.
What will you do?
. It depends on the
job of course, but as a school librarian applying, I would prepare for:
1. Why are you applying?/moving from school to public?
2. What do you see are the differences and similarities of the roles of the
two types of library?
3. What experience have you had with - reference questions, story reading,
other programming things, teaching library skills?
4. What experience in dealing with the public?
5. Showing how familiar you are with children's literature - they'll be
looking for range of reading ages as well as up to date titles, evidence
that you read CYA literature yourself.
6. What experience you have with different age groups - because of course
public libraries cover the whole range.
My first interview was for a library in xxxx, they asked the
usual questions about philosophy, my stand on intellectual freedom, my
knowledge of children's and ya books. Then, they wanted me to actually do a
story-time program while they pretended to be little kids.
  Then was my xxxx interview. Again, questions about philosophy, I.F. issues,
how would I handle a parent who came in complaining about a book being
inappropriate. Asked about my favorite YA authors. Then there were a few
reference questions. One was on Genealogy from a librarian pretending to be
an elderly patron. One was pretending to be a little kid needing info on
the state bird.
    I had a nightmare interview in xxxx. Three women kept
asking me the same few questions worded differently. Then they started
asking if I knew my personality profile (you know, that Introvert/Extrovert,
Thinking/Feeling). Then, they sprung upon me the fact that I would have to
take some written
tests. The tests were those multiple choice. A brain teaser one, a math
one, one
asking me to list all the words beginning with "pre" I could think of, then
list words ending in "tion" , then words beginning with "pre" & ending in
Public Relations
What are your established goals/objectives/priorities/strategies to
be user friendly, readily available and pleasant to those entering
the facility as well as on cordiality and helpfulness inside the library
and among the public in daily living?
        Explain your specific plans for keeping the community/public informed
in regard to programs, activities, and free access for use of, the
library on a continuous basis.
        What are your specific plans to promote the library and its programs?
        What are your plans to orient the community and/or surrounding area
area as to the available resources of the library?
        Will you be able to develop, maintain, and manage a budget?
        Will you be able to arrange facilities to ensure a user-oriented 
        What specific management plans do you have for the arrangement
and circulation of resources?
        Do you have and can you explain your plans for conducting
program assessment, analysis of data, and modification of existing
programs for effective and full use of the facilities by the community?
        Explain your management criterion for weeding of and taking inventory
of the collection?
        Explain how you through management skills will support the curriculum
of the public school?
        How do you plan to provide leadership and expertise in the use of in-
formation and instructional technologies?
        What are your plans in regard to maintenance and repair of facilities?
        What are your plans for providing expertise in evaluating, using and
managing the technologies in a wide variety of formats?
        Explain your plans for participation in networks that enhance access to
outside resources.
My mom is an administrator in a P.L.- often interviews
potential librarians. She asks- what's your
philosophy of public service to every applicant.
the one that threw me was "What's on the NYT bestseller list
now?" Seems innocent enough, but I realized my entire repetoire has to
do with kids books. I don't even know the raging adult authors, except
for the ones I see in the supermarket!
I remember from my youth services interview:
-- Name favorite authors/ills (children AND adult)
-- How would you handle a 5th grade boy looking for a good fiction
-- What do you see as the primary purpose of X library?
-- How would you handle misbehavior during storytime?
-- Why do you want to work in X library's Y dept.?
-- How would you handle a patron interview and help him/her find
relevant materials?
-- Views on censorship
-- How comfortable are you/what is your level of expertise with
Were you interested in questions for a Reference Librarian generalist or a
Children's Librarian, who would do Readers' advisory and programming? Were
you interested in questions for Collection Development for adults or
Children's or Young adults? Perhaps the collection development department
position also requires experience in electronic acquisitions and there would
be questions concerning ordering with various vendors such as Baker &
Taylor, Ingram, Bookmen, etc. Would the position require experience in using
electronic resources such as NoveList or FISonline?
Our questions fit the position we have advertised. Some questions may be
the common ones you would expect. Some are more specific type questions that
fit the need of the particular position. I can give you some examples for a
Children's/YA collection development specialist who also works on the
Reference desk (which is the work that I do):
"What could you offer a parent who wanted information for
their Cub Scout den on finding the newspaper that was printed on their
"How would you begin to select materials for the juvenile
600s for a brand new library? Or for a burned/damaged library that has some
materials left but needs to be rebuilt?"
"Can you give me an example of a recent project that you
have completed and that you are particularly proud of the accomplishment?"
This is where candidates can be rated on the magnitude of the project and/or
the planning and timeline involved. Building a regional library from day
one with a budget of over $4 thousand dollars would give a candidate plenty
to talk about. However, candidates who have made a plan and timeline to
rejuvenate a school library of 10,000 items with a limited budget of $7,000
would equally have plenty to say about the planning to the final evaluation

School librarians and public librarians are not so far apart. The emphasis
should be on looking for the universal tasks (reference, public service,
reader's advisory, and collection building) and translating them for the job

Nancy Voltmer                           voltmern@netins.net
District Media Specialist, ICN/Distance Learning Contact
Saydel Community Schools
Des Moines, Iowa

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