Perils of Pages

Mary Kelly —  January 13, 2015 — 4 Comments

womanscreaming1The director of our very tiny library is on maternity leave and I have been “volunteered” to handle the pages. In the last 2 months I have interviewed, fired and hired about 5 people. Here is what I have learned, the hard way.

  • No one reads a job posting, looks at the requirements and THEN check to see if they have the necessary requirements.
  • Even if you tell someone (multiple times) that paging is often difficult and frustrating job, everyone seems surprised that it is difficult and frustrating job.
  • People think it is a good idea to wear flip-flops (or slippers!) to work-even when they have been specifically told to wear appropriate footwear.
  • One cannot assume that people know the alphabet.
  • Not everyone cares about the library as much as I do.

By the time I was hiring person number 3, I learned a few things.

  • Pre-screen with a phone call before wasting time with interviews.
  • Point out all the job “negatives” : kids/parents that constantly mess up the shelves, snow shoveling, weird patrons, etc. Emphasize that you are never “done” shelving or shelf reading. The books just keep coming.
  • Ask how a potential employee stays organized.
  • State, out loud and in the job description, expectations for dress/shoes, timeliness, and any other deal breakers.
  • Remind every interviewee that not everyone is cut out for library work and that you have no problem letting people go.

Even if you do everything right, you can still be wrong in hiring people. The best you can hope for is to minimize the mistakes. No one really ever shares their real self in a job application or an interview. Think of interviewing as going on a really questionable blind date.

In other news, I really want my boss back handling this stuff. I’m better at the reference desk.

I have mentioned these sites before, but it’s worth repeating. If you aspire or already are a manager/supervisor, you really need to read Ask A Manager and Evil HR Lady regularly!

Mary Kelly


Co-founder of and library utility player. Lover of: library data, spreadsheets, collection quality, cats and cardigans. Follow me on twitter @librarymary40

4 responses to Perils of Pages


    This really hits home! We used to see a steep dropoff rate for shelvers after the first week on the job.

    We started actually demonstrating the job during the interview to really show candidates what the job looks like, and that helped with the retention issue.


    Being organized is an illusive, subtle and silent art form. So is staffing the organization. As a Business Professional working in Human Resources, I seriously understand. I use a subtle Dewey Decimal style system of my own creation for remaining organized across platforms – paper files, email directors, electronic files and the Operations Manual.

    Hiring always includes the risk & responsibility of firing. Everyone puts their best foot forward in an interview. Then they forget to tie their shoes.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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    […] Found in reader, while searching Human Resources:  Peril of Pages on Library Lost & Found. […]

  2. How to Get Library Leadership Experience (Without Managing Employees) « Library Lost & Found - November 3, 2015

    […] is also the absolute best way to prepare yourself for that next step. When you supervise even a small group of pages, there’s a lot to learn about hiring, training, and performance […]

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