Search Committee Procedures

Selection and Appointment of Librarians

(Based on the ACRL Model Statement for the Screening and Appointment of Academic Librarians Using a Search Committee, prepared by ACRL’s Academic Status Committee and approved by the ACRL Board of Directors on June 30, 1992.)

In colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education, the selection and appointment of librarians rank among the most important and consequential decisions to be made. To improve the decision-making process many library administrators use a consultative arrangement in the selection process. In some cases, the administrator chiefly responsible for the final decision simply requests comments and evaluations from the appropriate individuals. In others, this process is formalized by the establishment of a search committee. (1) Consultation through a search committee solicits a breadth and range of opinion, and it facilitates objective consideration of the candidates’ qualifications. It also promotes a sense of participation in the selection process by interested constituencies. Because selection is a two-way process, the benefits of using a search committee accrue to the candidates as well as to the institution. Candidates receive a clear and balanced view of the institution if they have the opportunity to be interviewed by several representatives of the institution. Search committees provide a forum for discussion, including an opportunity for the development of consensus among the interviewers and for the consideration of varied representative viewpoints.

University Library Search Committee Procedures

I. The Role of the Director of Library Human Resources

The Director of Library Human Resources serves on all search committees (Ex-Officio) as the Equal Opportunity Officer and provides administrative support and guidance through the search committee process.

II. Development and use of the position announcement

A written position announcement and a summary for advertising purposes is prepared by the supervisor of the position (with feedback from the Director of Library Human Resources and the appropriate Associate University Librarian) at the outset of the search and serves as the standard against which candidates’ qualifications are judged. The position announcement will include a full account of the responsibilities and will describe the educational background, experience, and competencies required or desired of the candidate. Qualifications should be written according to equal opportunity and affirmative action policies.

Each member of the search committee will receive a copy of the position announcement prior to the first meeting.

III. Formation of search committees

The Director of Library Human Resources appoints search committee members and the immediate goal in the formation of the search committee is to create a body representative of the constituencies affected by the position. Persons accepting appointment to the search committee automatically disqualify themselves as candidates and as references for candidates of the position. The role of the search committee chair is to establish and facilitate meetings. The responsibilities of all search committee members include being familiar with the position, reviewing applications, conducting interviews and making assessments of final candidates.

The Director of Library Human Resources will schedule the first meeting of the search committee, at which the Director of Library Human Resources Librarian, and the person to whom the position will report, will guide the committee as to the following:

  1. The approximate date for submission of a list of nominees and proposed date of appointment;
  2. The affirmative action/equal opportunity requirements;
  3. The unique concerns with respect to the position.
  4. The responsibility for documenting committee actions and for preserving those records;
  5. The need for confidentiality and discretion;
  6. The approximate number of finalists to be invited for interviews;
  7. The arrangements for financial and staff resources;

IV. Posting the position

The Director of Library Human Resources files notification of the position with the local institution and in appropriate publications, taking care that all groups protected by equal opportunity/affirmative action legislation are made aware of the vacancy. The position announcement will include a brief description of the department and the responsibilities, qualifications, salary, description of benefits, date position is available, application deadline, name of the person to whom applications should be submitted, and a list of items to be submitted by the candidate. The position announcement is posted on the ARL website, forwarded to the School of Information and Library Science jobs listserv, posted on the University Library website and listserv, and sent to a number of predominantly minority institutions. The position is also filed with the UNC-Chapel Hill Affirmative Action Office, at least 30 days in print before the closing date.

V. References

A candidate’s references are those individuals who the candidate lists to speak or write in support of his or her candidacy. References should be requested only for those candidates under active consideration. References should be solicited from individuals whose names are provided by the applicant, and the contents should be held in strict confidence by the committee. The names of references submitted by candidates should be limited to those individuals who can provide substantive information about the candidate’s professional qualifications and should include, whenever possible, an administrator in the direct reporting line. Prior to an on-campus interview, the search committee will speak with at least one direct supervisor. At the time of the request, referees should be advised whether or not the contents of the references would be made available to the candidate in accordance with local practice.

VI. Fair and uniform treatment

All candidates, whether external or internal to the institution, should be accorded equal treatment in the screening and interview process. The search committee should be aware of institutional guidelines when developing questions to ask the candidate before the screening and interview process.

VII. Selection and interview procedures

  1. Selection Process
    Each committee should establish its own plan for screening and evaluating nominees and applicants consistent with library and institution wide policies. Members of the search committee review applications and will convene to discuss applications and decide on contacting references, either by phone or letter. All applicants should be screened with reference to the qualifications and requirements stated in the position announcement. The purpose of initial screening is to identify and eliminate, early in the search process, nominees and applicants who are clearly unqualified. A letter will be sent to unqualified candidates stating that they will not be considered. The list of persons who remain under consideration after the initial screening will be those to whom the committee will be giving further consideration and from whom it will be seeking additional information. Fair, objective, consistent, and equitable processes should be used to narrow the field of candidates to the desired number of finalists, who will be invited for interviews.
  2. Interview Process
    After references are contacted, the search committee will meet to decide on whom to invite for an interview. Based on the candidates and the institution’s need for information, the search committee will determine the composition of the interview schedule and compose a draft of the schedule. The Library Human Resources Office will contact candidates and make arrangements for the interview. Prior to the interview, the Library Human Resources Office will send candidates an interview packet, containing the interview schedule, a list of search committee members and information about the department (i.e. organization chart, annual report), the library (Structure for Ranking and Promotion, library organization chart, mission statement), and the University (benefits summary, campus map, visitors packets). A map of North Carolina and additional information about the Triangle area may also be included in the interview packet. The search committee members are responsible for all transportation and accompaniment from meeting to meeting during the interview.The interview schedule should be sent to the candidate several days before the interview occurs. Both the candidate and the interviewers should recognize the constraints of time during the interview process and should follow the schedule as closely as possible.The Library Human Resources Office will also send interview packets to members of the search committee and others involved with the search. The packets will include the position announcement for the position, and an interview schedule, cover letter and resume for each candidate. The Library will cover the cost of travel, meals, and lodging for candidates invited to the campus for interviews. If an off-campus site is selected for the interview, the Library will also cover the candidate’s expenses.

VIII. Recommendation of candidates

Upon completion of the interviews, the search committee will reconvene to discuss the outcome. The committee should consider and evaluate in a timely manner the information gathered regarding the candidates. The Chair of the search committee will write a report of the committee assessments to the Library Director. The report is a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate; the report is not to rank, but to qualify in terms of acceptable/unacceptable. The Library Director makes the final decision.

IX. Communications with candidates

Once a decision has been reached to offer the position to a particular candidate, the Director of Library Human Resources or Associate University Librarian will convey this information to the successful candidate. While the initial form of this communication may be oral, the official offer will be in writing and will include the specifics of the offer (i.e. start date, salary, rank). The successful candidate should be allowed a reasonable period of time, acceptable to both parties, to reach a decision on the matter. (2)

A letter will be sent to all unsuccessful applicants thanking them for their interest in the position and indicating that the candidate selected possessed attributes that are more congruent with the needs of the Library.

X. Extending searches

If the committee is unable to reach a decision based on the applications received or if the position is re-advertised with a new set of desired qualifications, all active candidates will be notified of the intention to extend the search.

XI. Announcement of appointment

Upon receipt of the successful candidate’s formal written acceptance, the Director of Library Human Resources will coordinate the announcement of the appointment with the successful candidate and will notify all other interviewed candidates by telephone.

XII. Reports, files, and records of proceedings

The Library Human Resources Office will complete the necessary reports promptly and accurately. The Library Director will discharge the committee and thank the members for their service. The files relating to the search will be stored in the Library Human Resources Office according to the regulations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  1. See “Model Statement of Criteria and Procedures for Appointment, Promotion in Academic Rank, and Tenure for College and University Librarians,” College and Research Libraries News (May 1987).
  2. Ibid.