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Re: Letters of reference (Allison Mays) David Goodman 30 Aug 2002 16:57 UTC

To ask the all the candidates to send in letters with their applications
is an intolerable and disproportionate burden on them and their
referees. Those requesting it do so to save themselves the slight work
of themselves asking for letters about the two or three leading
candidates, at the cost of making dozens (or, in some fields, hundreds)
of people do unnecessary work. I think it so inconsiderate as to be

I do not answer such advertisements, because I would not want to work at
such libraries. Either the people there are too ignorant to realize what
they are doing, or too uncaring to be responsible supervisors.  There is
no defense for such unethical practices.

In any event, I share the feeling that such letters are almost
worthless, as compared to phone calls.

> Subject: RE:      Salary information in job ads
> Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 15:19:57 -0500
> From: "Mays, Allison" <>
> I agree that it's helpful to at the very least give a salary range. (I've
> enjoyed this discussion.)  But let me open another can of worms and ask: how
> about having to send 3 letters of reference instead of just giving their
> names? My husband and I have applied for many jobs between the two of us; if
> we're not sure about applying, and we see that - forget it. I would think
> you get a more honest response in a phone conversation because you can tell
> when a person's hedging or not very enthusiastic about recommending someone.
> A letter gives you time to get the wording just right: "Let's see, what's a
> nice way to say 'total loser'?" I realize it saves the search committee or
> whomever having to make phone calls, but it's a hassle for the applicant.
> It's one thing to put someone down as a reference and another to have to ask
> them to write a letter.
> I won't even mention having to send transcripts...oops, did I say that out
> loud?
> Allison P. Mays
> Acquisitions Librarian
> Millsaps College
> 1701 N. State Street
> Jackson, MS 39210
> 601-974-1083

David Goodman
Research Librarian and
Biological Science Bibliographer
Princeton University Library
Princeton, NJ 08544-0001
phone: 609-258-7785
fax: 609-258-2627