This page is provided to help libraries progress through the often difficult tasks of writing and updating position descriptions, which is outlined below. The tabs above provide links to resources to help libraries plan and conduct recruitment for existing and new positions. There are sample position descriptions from many libraries within the South Central Library System, examples of library interview questions, and information about where to advertise library openings.
Writing Position Descriptions
- General Description -- This is a brief explanation of the duties to be performed, and where it fits into the library's organizational structure.
- Essential Functions -- These are the primary duties to be performed, and it is the heart of the position. You may define one or more general areas of duties, which are followed by lists of specific tasks. How many general areas of duties and specific tasks under each will be determined by the particular position for which you are recruiting. Try to be as specific as possible so everyone (trustees, library staff & applicants) is clear about the responsibilities of the position. We also recommend that you include in the duties language something like "Perform other duties as required," which covers those things you may have overlooked, or duties that come up over time.
- Qualifications -- This should begin with a list of "Required" qualifications, and may include items like a college degree, years of work experience, experience with specific equipment or software, and specific work skills that you want all applicants to possess. You should then develop a list of "Preferred" qualifications that can be used to distinguish applicants from one another. These are often skills, abilities, and experiences that are not required, but may be helpful in the daily performance of the position's duties.
- Requirements -- This should include things like the ability to travel independently, have a car and be able to provide proof of insurance and a copy of a valid driver's license, be able to work nights and/or weekends, or be able to lift so much weight or stand for a defined period of time.
Once you've finalized your Position Description (see template), you should turn your attention to the Job Posting (see template). The job posting uses much of the information from the position description, but adds information about salary, benefits, and the application process and timeline.
Critical to this process is in-depth discussion about the position and its duties, and the kinds of skills trustees, director, and other staff believe are most necessary to ensure success. Position descriptions should be reviewed anytime there is a vacancy, but also on a regular basis to ensure they match the jobs as they are today.
Guidelines for Writing Descriptions
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- University of Pittsburgh
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)