Recruitment of Employees in Academic Libraries: Advice from the HR Perspective

Dennis R. Defa


Top performing competitive organizations, including Academic Libraries have a number of traits in common. Among these is a “library culture” that empowers people and gives them the freedom to make decisions and act; establish strong, meaningful values; supports and develops a shared identify and sense of community. The Academic Library that includes these traits will attract exceptional people with an attitude of accomplishment who fit the culture. These individuals are engaged and involved in the workforce and help create a safe and secure environment that allows people to do their best work.

The first step in either becoming a top performing, competitive organization or to remain one is to review and update the recruiting and hiring practices. Academic Libraries are no exception as they struggle to compete in today’s ever changing market place. Many libraries are losing their top candidates and limiting their ability to become innovative, trend-setting organizations. Traditionally conservative and risk averse in their hiring practices, many Academic Libraries keep positions open for long periods losing top candidates and limiting the quality of their internal talent. To remain, or become, competitive, Academic Libraries need to look internally to their own organizational lethargy to reassess and improve their recruitment structures.

Because Academic Libraries are part of the larger college or university environment they need to understand the role of the central Human Resource (HR) function in institutional recruitment and create opportunities to have more control over library recruitment. HR needs to be an ally not a hindrance in this process. Academic Libraries must also look externally to embrace new technologies and innovative recruitment concepts from other industries and modern human resource management to identify and attract the candidates that improve their operation.



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