Subject Experts Need Not Apply

From the The Chronicle of Higher Education, Chronicle Careers, July 1, 2008:

Recent job postings and hires suggest that many academic libraries are losing interest in hiring humanities Ph.D.’s


Job candidates with M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s in the humanities have become increasingly drawn to the idea of earning a master’s in library and information science (MLIS) and pursuing careers as academic librarians. Read more


  1. Todd Gilman, you are scaring me!

    What do others think of this?

    I have a question: if libraries are indeed ignoring subject expertise when hiring, where is that coming from? Other librarians on the hiring committee? Administrators higher up?

    We recently hired a new librarian at my institution. We picked a candidate fresh out of library school (and without a graduate degree) over another candidate who had a relevant graduate degree. But we had very good reasons for doing so (which I probably shouldn’t divulge here).

    Anyone else have thoughts? Been through a hiring process recently (from either side, employer or potential employee) and have insights to share regarding the issues Gilman is discussing?

  2. Do you think hiring new graduates (without subject expertise) is related to their familiarity with new technology? Is a general tech knowledge becoming more important than subject knowledge?

    In my opinion the column is called “First Person” for good reason. Gilman doesn’t give much supporting evidence for his claims.

    On the other hand, if a school like Yale is worried about the quality of collection development, then maybe there is a problem. They have a much larger budget than many other humanities libraries, and so, it seems, they wouldn’t have to be quite as selective about their purchases.

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