Sample Librarian Interview Questions and Answers

Dazzle your interviewer with detailed responses about library classification systems, community engagement, and a summer reading list for children.

Sample Librarian Interview Questions and Answers

Ace your library interview by preparing in advance.

While librarians may be positioned in workplaces ranging from public libraries to schools, law offices, courthouses, and museums, their role typically includes the following duties: Cataloguing books and conducting audits; facilitating access to information and resources; and curating social, technical, or instructional programming. But before attaining your cerebral dream of becoming a librarian, you'll need to make the right impression during your interview rounds. Employers will ask a potential librarian interview questions to gauge their bookish sensibilities, organizational skills, and appreciation for community service.

Two interviewing rules of thumb: Do your research before going in and listen attentively to your interviewer before responding. If you want to shine brightly enough to receive a library job offer, go into your interviews with confidence—readily able to respond to queries about your knowledge of literature, your classification and referencing abilities, and your desire to help the community. Read through our list of common librarian interview questions and sample answers to get started.

Librarian Interview Questions

  1. Which of Your Skills Will Help You Succeed as a Librarian?
  2. How Would You Positively Influence Your Community?
  3. What Library Classification Systems and Referencing Styles Are You Familiar With?
  4. How Relevant Are Technology and Social Media for Librarians?
  5. How Would You Develop a Summer Reading Program for Children?
  6. What Is Your Vision for the Future of Libraries?

Question #1: Which of Your Skills Will Help You Succeed as a Librarian?

Your first round of library interview questions may vary, but employers will likely want to know whether you possess salient skills that will contribute to your success. You'll want to respond strategically here since any productive librarian will need quite an assemblage of skills. Here's what to consider in your answer:

  • Are you fully cognizant of the responsibilities involved in this role?
  • Which of your skills are most useful to this position?

How You Could Answer

"Three interrelated skill sets should bolster my success as a librarian. First, my analytical skills—to make sure the services we're providing are working properly and benefiting our members and patrons. Then, my communication skills—to make sure I can effectively help members find what they need and issue notices and updates to stakeholders in a clear and efficient manner. Last (but not least), my management skills—to make sure I can methodically manage both our physical and digital collections (and continually check on whether they're meeting the needs of our users and community)."

Question #2: How Would You Positively Influence Your Community?

A key aspect of a librarian's job is to be an information beacon—or guiding light—for their communities, so be sure to highlight any volunteer work you already have on your resume. At a library, you may help members with Internet access or computer-technology training; offer children a supervised, yet leisurely-paced reading session with educational comic books; coordinate an augmented-reality book review; or oversee dog-friendly Fridays during the summer months. So, for community-oriented librarian interview questions, think about the following when responding:

  • Why do you want to help your community?
  • What are your specific ideas for community programming?

How You Could Answer

"Besides my love of books, I've always wanted to become a librarian because I have an innate sense of fellowship and have been involved in community activities since early high school. I'm very aware of how important community outreach is. Besides advocating for literacy programs, I've come up with some concepts that I'd love to help implement. These include a lounge area dedicated to seniors, with comfortable armchairs, shelved periodicals that would interest them, and a soothing ambient soundtrack; monthly meetings where we would create personalized reading lists for any member who signs up; and coat donations for the homeless during the winter season."

Question #3: What Library Classification Systems and Referencing Styles Are You Familiar With?

If you're looking for sample library reference interview questions, you should pay attention to this one. Employers will want to test whether you have a solid understanding of the essential tools of library classification, referencing, and cataloging, so you should expect a similar inquiry during any librarian interview questions round. Prepare yourself by researching:

  • What are the most popular library classification systems?
  • What referencing styles are most popular today?

How You Could Answer

"Regarding the first portion of your question, I have a strong grasp of both the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and the Dewey Decimal Classification (DCC) systems. However, my familiarity extends to faceted classification as well, with some knowledge of Colon Classification (CC) and Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) systems too. As for referencing, I have an advanced grasp of the most prevalent styles, including Chicago, Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), Oxford, and Harvard, but I'm always willing to learn new styles and adapt to in-house preferences."

Question #4: How Relevant Are Technology and Social Media for Librarians?

This may come up as part of a group of library assistant interview questions (although it could appear within a series of library manager interview questions too). Employers will want to evaluate your awareness of current trends. You should mull over these topics before responding to any librarian interview questions related to tech:

  • How has technology evolved vis-à-vis the librarian career-topography?
  • What role does social media play in today's libraries?

How You Could Answer

"I am first and foremost passionate about physical books and sources. I love the tangibility of physical objects, and I always have a few good books of both fiction and non-fiction on my nightstand. But I'm very sentient of how technology has become interwoven with our everyday lives—and libraries are no exception." 

"Computers, catalog programs, and database software are all integral to contemporary libraries, and I'm comfortable using that technology. I'd also be happy to help members conduct research using online databases and encyclopedias, if that's what they need. Social media can be an extension of the organization's marketing arm. Given the ubiquity of social media—and the massive number of users on those networks—we can make use of it prudently and shrewdly to promote library events, announce new collections, and even launch virtual happenings where members can log in and participate remotely."

Question #5: How Would You Develop a Summer Reading Program for Children?

This one may arise if you're responding to interview questions for children's librarian positions, but you may be asked about providing services for kids for general librarian roles too. Mention any experience you have working with children—even college breaks spent as a counselor at summer camp—to highlight your adequacies during this segment of your librarian interview questions:

  • Why do you like working with children?
  • What is the significance of motivating children to enjoy reading?
  • What books would you have in your summer reading program?

How You Could Answer

"I want to initially point out how much I enjoy working with children—and the opportunity to introduce them to books and the joys of reading is something I can truly rejoice in. I love giving children the chance to learn through reading—to open up their imagination and discover the possibilities."

"Here's an example of a summer reading list I would recommend (composed mostly of classics, but with some newer books too): We'd start off adventurously with Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, then move on to the fun poetics of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, followed by the fantastical antics of The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. Then it'd be The Very Hungry Caterpillar to admire Eric Carle's beautiful stained-glass illustrations, and we'd finish off with a more recent title—say, Jacqueline Woodson's illuminating This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration or Tameka Fryer Brown's gently rhyming Brown Baby Lullaby—to promote respect for people from diverse backgrounds and experiences."

Question #6: What Is Your Vision for the Future of Libraries?

Librarian interview questions may seek to not only ascertain your skills for the specific position you're applying to, but also to glean some of your general views on the field and how you see it evolving. For this question, contemplate the following:

  • What is the ultimate role of libraries in our society?
  • How can libraries make further progress down the line?

How You Could Answer

"Chiefly, I really think libraries should play an ever-growing—even fundamental—role in their communities. And that can elongate to non-traditional services, such as activating dedicated areas for "makers" to use self-publishing tools and 3D printers. Physical objects should remain as the crux, but libraries should also keep up with the times, incorporate new digital forms of books and research, and harness new technologies as they emerge—but only if they enhance library services. And all libraries should fully embrace inclusivity—all are welcome regardless of income, race, or creed. Libraries are neither homes nor workspaces. Rather, they will continue to be their own dynamic entities with services that empower people with knowledge, benevolence, creation, and information."

Can't Wait to Find the Perfect Library Job?

Now that you've perused our list of potential librarian interview questions, you can start applying to librarian jobs. Monster will give you a head-start once you create a profile—with free, personalized job alerts and crucial career advice delivered straight to your inbox.