Public Library Safety & Security Toolkit

Barrie Public Library – Early-Literacy



Recruitment and Selection decisions are some of the most important decisions that an organization makes in ensuuring that it is hiring employees who thrive, perform and grow. This especially true for service organizations with a strong focus on customer service. Library staff play a key role in the delivery of the customer experience including welcoming customers, supporting customers and delivering programs and services. They often play a critical role in effectively managing safety and security situations and incidents.

Where Recruitment Fits in the Library Journey

The skills, competencies, and attributes that library staff possess have a direct impact on their ability to successfully navigate, respond, and react to safety and security situations, during and after the event. Some of which are innate and not easily developed through employee training requiring libraries to acquire them through recruitment and selection processes.

The recruitment process ensures that the organization is attracting the right candidates. And the selection process ensure the best candidates are chosen.

Key Considerations

Things to consider when developing an effective Recruitment & Selection process include:

  • Clearly Identify Job Responsibilities and Accountabilities – Before posting thoroughly review what the position entails so you are clear on what you are hiring for. This provides the foundation for providing a realistic job preview which should include both the interesting and the challenging parts of the job.
  • Develop an Ideal Candidate Profile – Based on your top performers identify the competencies, skills, behaviors, and attributes that enable employees to thrive, perform and grow in the role.
  • Create an Appealing Job Posting – This communicates to candidates what the organization’s needs and expectations are. Create messaging for each role that will attract your ideal candidate and help others self-select out. It should provide a realistic job preview providing an accurate reflection of what the role will actually entail.
  • Know Where to Post – Figure out where your ideal candidates look for opportunities and post there. Ideally utilize multiple sourcing channels including your organization’s website, job boards, social media platforms, recruitment agencies, career fairs, and post-secondary career / job placement offices.
  • Develop and Conduct a Robust Assessment Process – Assess candidates based on the criteria in the Ideal Candidate Profile, including alignment with your organizational values and culture. Not all assessment tools are create equal. Scientific research supports that one of the best predictors of successful job performance are skills tests and/or job task simulations. Utilize multiples steps in the assessment process and involve multiple stakeholders.

    Structured interviews are better than unstructured, with behavioural based questions being the most effective. People rarely do what they say they will do, supporting that the best predictor of past behaviour is future behaviour. It is important to structure questions in a way that gets to the actual skills, competencies and attributes of the candidate. Some examples include:

    • Walk me through what you see as the day in the life of a Library Assistant in the public library.
    • Describe in detail for us the most challenging customer interaction you have had to deal with. How specifically did you respond?
    • Thinking about the previous roles you have had, what where the most challenging functions that you were responsible for? What made them challenging?
  • Conduct Background and Reference Checks – Background and reference checks are critical to confirm the candidate’s responses and to check for any red flags. It is an opportunity to tie up any loose ends.
  • Proactively and Intentionally Onboard – A positive well conducted onboarding process will help a a new employee transition into their role and the organization more quickly. It is also an opportunity to reinforce the organization’s values, culture, and norms, be intentional about who is doing the onboarding.
  • Robust and Ongoing Assessment During Probationary Period – The probationary period is your opportunity to assess whether or not an employee has the required competencies, skills, and attributes, so use it. Set clear expectations, provide ongoing feedback and coaching, and deal with issues early. If in doubt extend or end.

Examples & Templates

Core Competencies - Edmonton Public Library

The Edmonton Public Library has identified the following core competencies:

  • Adaptable – Adapts and responds to changing conditions, priorities, technologies, and requirements. Adjusts behaviour to meet the demands of a changing work environment. Works effectively in ambiguous or changing situations, and with diverse individuals and groups.
  • Approachable – Puts others at ease so they feel welcome. Establishes rapport, listens, shares,and seeks to understand.
  • Collaborative – Develops, maintains, and strengthens relationships. Fosters cooperation and teamwork while participating in a group. Works toward solutions which benefit all involved parties.
  • Continuous Learner – Enhances personal performance and contributions to EPL and our customers by continually identifying and focusing on learning and development needs.
  • Customer Focused – Dedicated to meeting the expectations and requirements of internal and external customers in a manner that provides satisfaction for the customer and fosters customer loyalty. Identifies the customer as the number one priority and focuses on discovering the customer needs and determining the best way to meet them.
  • Effective Communication – Expresses and shares information with consistency and clarity, using active listening techniques to effectively understand communication and feedback from others. Comfortable using a broad range of communication styles and adjusts as needed to effectively communicate to audiences in diverse situations.
  • Initiative – Deals with situations and issues proactively and consistently. Seizes opportunities that arise. Demonstrates the ability to identify a problem, obstacle or opportunity and uses good judgement to take appropriate action. Embraces a see it, own it, fix it mentality.
  • Resilient – Maintains a professional demeanor and deals effectively with stressful and difficult situations. Sustains performance under pressure and remains optimistic when faced with challenges or situations of ambiguity and uncertainty. Recovers quickly from and responds constructively to setbacks (e.g., identifies lessons learned, looks for other opportunities to succeed). Builds resilience through self-awareness and identifying when additional support is needed for self or others when setbacks occur.

Recruitment Philosophy - Calgary Public Library

We discuss how delivering good service to pleasant, polite people is easy. Service excellence is never more on display than when we provide the same exceptional service to those who may be challenging. We look for candidates who demonstrate a commitment to public service, a “servant heart” as it were, even if they don’t express it that way explicitly… The intent is to hire for “fit” rather than skills. The context given to candidates of the mindset we are looking for.

“We can teach you how to check out a book; We can teach you how to use NoveList or do a reference interview. We can’t teach you a happy disposition or a genuine love of serving the community; you have to bring that with you. Please tell us why you are the right candidate for this role.”