At Duke, we have removed any specific degree requirements for our technical positions, not just library degrees. We have found this greatly increases diversity and quality of applicants.

But I would suggest you go even further and remove as many buzzwords or very specific technology requirements as possible, too. We learned these would lead to applicant self-selecting out and not applying. Instead, we focus on experience, techniques, and broad lists of exemplar technologies, programming languages, etc.

As someone who holds a MS in Information & Systems Engineering (yet earned this degree after I started working in libraries), I find it frustrating to be fully qualified for positions aside from a specific library degree. When recruiters reach out for my assistance in finding applicants, I immediately point out the instances when a library degree is being specifically required, and I encourage them to change this.


Tim McGeary

Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies and Technology

Duke University Libraries

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Schedule a meeting with Tim:

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From: Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Hammer, Erich F <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2023 9:20 AM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Systems - to librarian or not to librarian?


I am the "Head of Systems" here, and I don't think I would have been considered for the job without my MLIS.  I had 20 years experience in IT (during which I worked through the degree) before being hired, and my supervisor and team recognized that I had no actual Library experience.  They were willing to guide me because of my technical abilities, but the first year was completely overwhelming. The complexity and lingo had my brain struggling to comprehend how it all fit together.  I believe I'm doing OK at the job now, but I have to give enormous credit to my incredible and dedicated employees and also recognize that the pandemic shutdown -- when I was the only person in the building for several months -- afforded me the opportunity to catch up and resolve problems that couldn't be managed in short, 15 minute segments between meetings and other crises.

What I'm saying is that I honestly don't think the courses I took for my degree did all that much to prepare me for this job.  What it may have done though is tell the hiring committee that I was/am interested in the concepts and philosophies of libraries and information science and am willing to continue learning.

Maybe the MLIS degree should be an alternative to x years of library experience (along with demonstrated technical skills).


On Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 18:24, Will Martin eloquently inscribed:

> All,
> We're considering taking our Systems Librarian position and removing the
> requirement for a library degree, making it a technician position instead.  The
> job's primary focus is in working with Alma configuration and troubleshooting
> the perennial off-campus access issues.  The hope is that removing the
> library degree requirement will make recruiting easier. In past we've had
> difficulty getting candidates who had both the library degree and the
> requisite technical proficiency.
> I am curious to hear from other universities: do you require your systems
> person to hold a library degree?  Why or why not?  If you do require one, do
> you find you have to do extensive technical training with new hires?  If you
> don't, do you wind up having to train people on library-related stuff?  Either
> way, how has your approach worked out?
> Will Martin
> Head of Digital Initiatives, Systems and Services
> Chester Fritz Library
> University of North Dakota
> he/his/him
> 701.777.4638