A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

I’m Not Actually a Librarian: Human Resources Director

by on July 27, 2016

Ever stop to think about what a “human resource” really is? Your library runs on them! And it’s the human resources director’s job to negotiate the tricky task of keeping all employees, managers, and the government happy with each other. From the moment you start working at the library until years after you’ve parted ways, your human resources director makes sure your job goes smoothly so you can concentrate on your public. Here’s how:


Whether your library has its own human resources office or goes through your local government, finding the right employees is the one of the most important building blocks of a good library system. Human resource directors are in charge of not only advertising open positions and overseeing the application process but also discussing and negotiating the best hiring practices for the general system. Is your library going through hierarchy shakeups, rapid expansions, a wave of retirements? The human resources director works with upper management to negotiate the right solutions and coverage for upcoming changes.

Salary and benefits

If you enjoy pay raises and health insurance, thank your human resources director. Each year they research the best-case scenarios your library can afford: They perform salary studies of libraries of similar size and ranking, stay updated on your third-party insurance company for any hikes in price or changes in coverage, find more perks to share with all employees, and keep your best interest in mind way beyond your open enrollment period.

Government regulations and library policies

The human resources director acts as advisor, instigator, and administrator for any changes he or she sees need to be enacted in the library. The Affordable Care Act, for example, has gone through hundreds of changes both big and small—but all significant—since being signed into law. Your human resources director tracks each nuance and how it applies to your library so you don’t have to. They bring the same level of attention to detail to every bit of legislation that’s used to regulate your part of the employee industry, including whatever notice, paperwork, and permissions are legally needed. Library policies also fall under this scrutiny. Any changes to how your library works goes through the human resources director to make sure it’s airtight, legal, and exactly how the library wants to operate.

Employee relations

We realize that 98 percent of your coworkers are awesome and you wouldn’t part with nine out of ten them. Right? Well, for those 2 percent or one out of ten who rub you or the public the wrong way, don’t get along with their supervisor, or act as antagonists instead of the model public servants your library needs, the human resources director has you covered. They know how generous to be with second chances, how to coach supervisors on molding major changes in an employee, and when it’s time, legally and professionally, to let someone go. They are there to cushion the blow of leaving staff, referee interpersonal conflict, and make sense of hiring and discrimination regulations.

Human resources directors may seem out of touch, behind the scenes of everyday life facing the public, but trust us—they have your, and all your coworkers’, backs.

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