4 May 2022

Reflections on LAI CDG 202

Guest Post by Lisa O Leary, Library Assistant at UCC Library

On the 30th of March 2022 I attended the LAI CDG ‘Ace the Interview: All Things Applications and Interviews for Librarians!’ event on Zoom. 

The Library Association of Ireland’s (LAI) Career Development Group (CDG) “represents both existing library and information professionals and new graduates looking for job opportunities” (ABOUT CDG, 2022). This was my first CDG event and I found the topics covered both interesting and informative for future applications and interviews. 

Below is a summary of the event and the key points that stood out for me. 

After an introduction by Laura Ryan (@LaurNiR) of UCD Library, Marie O'Neill (@marie_librarian) of CCT College Dublin, began her presentation ‘Job Seeking and Interview Tips for Librarians’ and shared her tips on CVs, Cover Letters and Interviews. 

  • Roles that suit MLIS graduates might not be found in a library or may have very different names, but they still utilise the same skills. As the saying goes ‘A rose by any other name...’ And the same is true for MLIS graduates! So, think about non-library organisations that need information management specialists, these can be anything from data protection officers to taxonomists. 
  • Work experience is always worth it. Whether it’s giving you valuable experience to add to your CV or providing a steppingstone into a new job, the skills you gain from work experience will only benefit you. 
  • Marie highlighted how important it is to ask for help and advice, particularly from those already in the role or area you’re applying for. They know the area and what to look out for, and they may be able to review your CV and/or cover letter for you. 
  • Never underestimate the importance of mock interviews and putting in plenty of interview prep work. Not only will it give you confidence, but it will also help iron out any issues or stumbling blocks. 
  • Marie gave us a classic STAR format but with a new twist – STARSS (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Library Strategic Plans, Institutional Strategic Plan). It’s important to, where you can, link your examples with the Strategic Plans of the library and/or the institution, demonstrating how you can contribute to these goals. 
  • Always reference any MOOCS or Digital Badges that you’ve completed or are doing. They show personal and professional development and can really help you stand out from the crowd. 
  • One of the biggest surprises and takeaways for me was to do with the final interview question - “Do you have any questions for us?” Despite what interview, and internet, lore tells you it's not necessary to ask a question at the end. If you feel that everything has been covered satisfactorily in the interview, then there’s no need to ask a question for the sake of asking one. 

The next presentation was by Emma Doran (@tumbling_tomes) of Kildare County Council Library, called ‘Through the Looking Glass: Demystifying Public Library Interviews’ with a focus on public libraries. 

  • Emma went over the Public Library Grading system clarifying each grade and how they relate to one another. This was very helpful for anyone (like me!) outside of public libraries to gain a better understanding of how things work. 
  • Emma also went through the steps of the Selection Process, breaking them down into an easy-to-follow roadmap. 
  • It is critical to tailor your application to the job description, that way you highlight how you are the best candidate for the job. 
  • There were some very useful STAR examples, providing a perfect springboard to get people thinking about their own experiences and what their answers could be. 
  • When in an interview and using the STAR format remember ‘I.’ While it’s important to highlight good team working, it’s your interview and you need to shine and to sell yourself to get the job. So remember ‘I.’ 
  • When applying for a position in a public library it’s important to do your homework and read up on Local Government plans and projects. For example, ‘Our Public Libraries 2022: Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities’; and the Council’s current Library Development Plan. 
  • It’s important to stay positive both in and outside of the interview. Don’t worry about your position on a Panel, you may be called sooner than you think. Particularly for Councils they could be hiring for multiple different branches and make their way down the panel list very quickly. 

Once the two keynote speakers had finished their presentations the floor was opened to both speakers and the panellists — Johanna Duffy (@Johanna_speaks) of AIT Library, Linda Fennessy (@lindafennessy) of the National Library of Ireland, and Martin O'Connor (@martinoconnor3) of UCC Library — to answer the Padlet questions sent in by attendees. 

  • Part of the discussion was on transferable skills, and not forgetting about them. Even if you don’t have much or any library experience there are plenty of skills that you find in retail, customer services, and sales that match library roles. These can range from digital skills to customer services skills to teamworking skills. 
  • Don’t stress about keeping your CV to two pages. If something is relevant and shows how you meet the job criteria, then put it in; and if your CV goes to three pages don’t worry. 
  • One of the Padlet questions sparked a very important discussion on diversity and inclusion. If you’re neurodivergent and have been called for interview don’t be afraid to reach out to the HR department and discuss how to make the interview as comfortable as possible. Don’t feel that your differences will hold you back in an interview; you have unique insights and ideas and libraries, both public and academic, are calling out for this. 

Thank you to the LAI CDG committee for organising the event and to all speakers and panellists for sharing their knowledge and experience. 

References: LAI CDG. 2022. ABOUT CDG. [online] Available at: https://laicdg.wordpress.com/about/ 

[Accessed 4 April 2022]. 


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