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Infopeople Webcast Series: Strengthening the Library Workforce: Finding, Keeping, and Developing Great Employees. Effective Library Job Descriptions An Infopeople Webcast . December 19, 2005 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. Presenter: Paula M. Singer, PhD [email protected]

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Infopeople Webcast Series: Strengthening the Library Workforce: Finding, Keeping, and Developing Great Employees

Effective library job descriptions an infopeople webcast

Effective Library Job DescriptionsAn Infopeople Webcast

December 19, 2005

12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

Presenter: Paula M. Singer, PhD [email protected]

Agenda job descriptions
Agenda: Job Descriptions

  • Why Important

  • How to Write

  • What to Include

  • Compliance

Why job descriptions are important
Why Job Descriptions are Important

Help applicants, employees, supervisors, and HR

  • Clarify responsibilities

  • Understand what’s needed

  • Prevent misunderstandings

  • Objective and impersonal

  • May describe expected outcomes

And what are they exactly
And What are They, Exactly?

  • Most important features

  • Required tasks, knowledge, skills, abilities, responsibilities, and reporting structure

  • Physical requirements (ADA compliance)

Components of a job description

Job title

Exemption status

Reporting relationships


Essential duties & responsibilities

Nonessential duties

7.Job requirements

8. Supervisory responsibility

9. Working conditions and physical demands

10. Disclaimer statement

11. Dates and approvals (supervisor and HR)

Components of a Job Description

1 job title
1. Job Title

  • Realistic, descriptive

  • Acceptable and “politically correct”

  • Avoid title inflation

  • Consider internal and external status issues

    Published resources can help libsupjobtitles.htm


PR Specialist

PR Specialist

Senior Staff Librarian

Senior Librarian

Sr Catalog Librarian

Sr Librarian

Program Specialist, Children’s Services

Senior Librarian

Automated Systems Librarian

Senior Librarian

Community Network Specialist

Coordinator, YA Services

Coordinator, Sub Pool

Senior Librarian

Senior Librarian

Senior Librarian

2 exemption status
2. Exemption Status

Pertains to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

  • Exempt:

    • not subject to overtime pay requirements

  • Non Exempt

    • 1 ½ x hour over 40


  • Executive

  • Administrative

  • Professional

    • Learned: Requires highly advanced knowledge & education

    • Creative: Artistic, creative or original

    • Computer: Application, design, development, analysis and/or modification of systems, networks, database, and/or programs

3 reporting relationships
3. Reporting Relationships

… reports to the Circulation Supervisor

4 job summary
4. Job Summary

1, not more than 2 sentences

Performs professional librarian services by assisting customers in locating and using library resources & providing timely and accurate information and answers to research questions; develops and presents programs; selects/orders materials as directed; performs other duties as assigned.

5 essential duties
5. Essential Duties

  • ADA Compliance

    To be successful

  • knowledge, skill, and/or ability required

    Note: Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions

Characteristics of essential functions
Characteristics of Essential Functions:

  • % of Time = more than 20%

  • Frequency = Performed regularly – daily, weekly, monthly

  • Importance = Impacts other parts of the job as well as other jobs, and there is no one else to do it

Level cutters
“Level Cutters”

  • Information which differentiates one level of the position from another

  • Sample level cutters:

    Education/Training Contacts with Others

    Work Experience Supervisory Responsibility

    Technical Proficiency Working Conditions

    Computer Skills Complexity

    Mental Effort Independent Judgment

    Direction Received


Library Associate I and II

  • Level I: Entry level work assisting customers in performing reference searches and locating materials; requires Bachelor’s degree and no previous experience.

  • Level II: Assists customers in performing reference searches and locating materials; oversees an assigned program such as Head Start; trains Library Assistants; requires Bachelor’s degree and 3 or more years of public library or related experience.

7 job requirements
7. Job Requirements

To be successful

  • Education

  • Experience

  • Specific skills

  • Competencies

8 supervisory responsibility
8. Supervisory Responsibility

Supervises all circulation clerks in the branch

9 working conditions and physical requirements
9. Working Conditions and Physical Requirements

  • May be required to lift up to 25 pounds

  • May be assigned to the Central Library or to a Branch

Disclaimer and sign offs
Disclaimer and Sign-Offs

  • Approved by:


Disclaimer: other duties as assigned

How to get this info
How to Get this Info

  • Job Analysis: process of collecting relevant, work related information as to the nature, scope & responsibilities of your library’s jobs.


  • Direct Observation

  • Individual Interviews

    • Open-ended to highly structured

  • Questionnaires

  • Group Interviews

  • Work Diary or Log

General guidelines in drafting job descriptions duties responsibilities
General Guidelines in Drafting Job Descriptions – Duties & Responsibilities

  • Include - 5% +

  • Present in logical order

  • Write in standard format: use present tense, action verbs

    Typically contains three parts:

  • oVerb - should be action-oriented

  • oObject - what the verb is performing action on

  • oPurpose - what result is achieved?  

Verb object purpose
Verb/object/purpose Responsibilities

  • Example: Library Clerk: Assist customers by locating and retrieving materials and demonstrating and providing instruction in the use of library equipment, including computers.

  • Identify essential functions of the job

  • Focus on the job itself – NOT any specific individual who might fill the job

Tip on language values

Be smart! Responsibilities


“Right” terminology

Customize to your values

Tip on Language* Values

Developing a Responsibilities

Job Worth Hierarchy

Salary Survey


Job Descriptions

Assigning Employees to

Appropriate Jobs




Legal Defense




Establishing Career Paths/

Succession Planning

Think beyond the job
Think beyond the job Responsibilities

  • Think tasks and responsibilities / library goals

  • Determine which competencies and skills are necessary

The future of job descriptions narrow

+ Pro Responsibilities

Clearly outline expectations

Determine compensation levels

Address legal issues

Address union concerns

Guide employees in “other duties as assigned”

- Con

Lack flexibility

May not promote job growth, development

May get outdated quickly

No time to maintain them

Too narrow; not enough focus on pitching in wherever needed

The Future of Job Descriptions? Narrow

Additional resources
Additional Resources Responsibilities

Handouts:Job Analysis Questionnaire

Job Description

Designing a Compensation Program for your Library, by Paula Singer (ALA)

Thank you
THANK YOU! Responsibilities

Paula M. Singer, Ph.D.

The Singer Group, Inc.

12915 Dover Road

Reisterstown, MD 21136


[email protected]