Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Growing a Young Adult Librarian: Recruitment, Selection and Retention of an Important Asset for Your Community

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Growing a Young Adult Librarian: Recruitment, Selection and Retention of an Important Asset for Your Community

Article excerpt

Staffing is the largest cost in an organisation but the investment can go wrong at so many stages. From job description design to recruitment, from induction to professional training, there is a need to plan, to communicate, to support and protect to ensure that the young adult librarian is given the opportunity to develop into a mission critical asset for a library service and the community served. Edited version of a paper presented at '12 to 24s @ your public library in Australia and New Zealand conference' Beenleigh Qld 11-12 June 2010.


Staff are the most expensive asset in any organisation--this is true in the public library environment as much as it is true in any workplace. As Harry Chambers states 'you live or die professionally on the performance of your people'. (1) A good young adult librarian is a wonderful investment for the organisation and for the community. This paper is not about the formal processes and legal requirements in recruitment, selection and retention. Each organisation, each council, will have its internal processes which must be adhered to. It is about your personal preparation for recruitment, selection and retention, both as a manager doing the selection and the candidate aspiring to the job.

A new staff member is an expensive acquisition. The costs mainly derive from the time that recruitment and selection consumes.

* the time to review the position and to determine if it still fits within the organisation

* the time to review the job description to ensure it still reflects the current role and the future role

* the time to write the job advertisement and answer the questions from potential candidates

* the time waiting for the potential candidates to decide on their potential and to write their application

* the time to review and weed the applications according to the selection policy

* the time to prepare for the interview

* the time of the interview panel in preparing for the interview and the day of the interview

* the time the panel takes in selecting the best candidate and getting on the phone to check if they told you the truth in their interview

* the time waiting for approval for your choice

* the time to await the candidate's acceptance and notifying you of their starting date

* the time for induction and training them in understanding the organisational culture

* the time to get them to know the local networks of other like minded youth orientated organisations

* the time to move from unproductive team as the organisation copes without essential staff to become a productive team again.

With all this time taken, it is vital it is well used. Once the person is employed the costs continue, whether you made the right decision or not. When employing a person the time it takes to make them a contributing member of your team depends on the clear understanding of what support this new person will need. The manager must ensure that the person has several mentors--a professional mentor, organisational mentor, and a service mentor (sometimes this can be the same person).

If the selection is wrong then the costs continue--in low performance, the hindrance of not achieving your strategic plan, the cost of maintaining your own motivational drive and the cost of doing it again when the wrong decision actually leaves.


The recruitment process is about the identification of what would be the best candidate for the job. This process enables us to move away from what some people would call 'selecting on a gut feeling'. (2) The concept of choosing the right person for the job on instinct undermines the concept that recruitment and selection is a justifiable process, because anyone can challenge your recruitment decisions. The process must be clearly structured and logical. So, to identify the best candidate, the organisation must invest a lot of preparation time. …

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