Aug 04, 2023 Four New Librarians Hired through Innovative Cohort Program
This summer, the J. Willard Marriott Library welcomed four new Liaison Librarians: Dorothy Terry, Marina Narvaez, Jasmin Kirby, and Annika Deutsch. While these four come from a variety of backgrounds, they have one thing in common—they were hired together as a cohort.
The cohort model is a key component of the Marriott Library’s Strategic Diversity Faculty Hiring and Retention Plan, which was submitted to the SVPAA’s Office for Faculty in 2022. One of the long-term goals articulated in that plan is to “establish a national reputation as an employer of choice for faculty who have a strong commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” The library has developed a comprehensive set of inclusive hiring practices aimed toward that goal, many of which center on eliminating artificial barriers in the hiring process and creating more opportunities for applicants to show their strengths.
The cohort model had previously proven successful in generating a high level of interest from extremely well-qualified candidates for several staff Archivist positions the library needed to hire simultaneously in 2021. At that time, Associate Dean for Special Collections Todd Samuelson and Melanie Hawks, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Director of Human Resources at the library, collaborated to craft a position profile and recruitment approach that was as open as possible—allowing candidates with diverse interests and skill sets to demonstrate how they would be an asset to the organization both individually and collectively. “Applicants were more intrigued by the position not only because there were more opportunities to get hired, but also because of the transparency involved with the process,” explains Samuelson.
The success of the Archivist cohort hire served as motivation and proof of concept for including a specific strategy within the Strategic Diversity Faculty Hiring and Retention Plan: “Move toward hiring the majority of new faculty through a cohort model to increase the size of applicant pools, counteract the “status quo effect,” and “provide peer support to encourage retention.”
When the library needed to hire several Liaison Librarians in 2022-23, Associate Dean for Collections and Scholarly Communication Joel Thornton was eager to collaborate with Assistant Dean Hawks. They applied lessons learned from the Archivist cohort and further expanded the inclusive hiring practices to focus even more on supporting applicants through the entire recruitment process. The new process led to more organic diversity in the pool in terms of applicants’ career objectives, backgrounds, institutional experiences, and more. “Conducting hiring in this way enabled us to assess a candidate’s strengths better and determine how those strengths might complement other applicants and the library department,” says Thornton, “We broadened our perspective and candidates responded positively.”
The process involved much collaboration, including the former Alice Sheets Marriott Dean of Libraries, Alberta Comer. She supported the time and effort needed for this innovative approach, and even approved the hiring of a fourth Liaison Librarian (when the initial search was only for three). Additionally, the hires could not have happened without the support of the SVPAA Office for Faculty, the Marriott Library senior leadership team, and the search committees involved.
“With the new Liaison Librarians fully onboard, it’s exciting to see them actually here, in the library, working together,” comments Hawks. “As an example of what they are bringing to our campus, two of them have lived and worked at universities outside the United States in regions where many of the U’s international students have called home; one is just embarking on librarianship as a second career, having worked in private industry in a STEM field; another has extensive prior experience as a business librarian. All four have relocated from outside the Intermountain West. While the new process took extra time and coordination, the results are very much worth it.”
Want to know more about the cohort hiring process? Reach out to Melanie Hawks, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Director of Human Resources at the Marriott Library at email@example.com