One for the books: Hundreds show up for library job opening

Wanted for hire: Library assistant.

Qualifications: High school graduate or equivalent.

Pay range: $15.81 to $19.23 per hour.

Posted for only a week, an entry-level opening for a librarian's assistant drew 309 job seekers to a crowded meeting hall Monday in South Tacoma, all vying to land a coveted city job with benefits during a difficult economy.

Among their ranks was a laid-off Weyerhaeuser information technology professional, an out-of-work paralegal and a struggling single mother of three in the midst of a career change.

"I'm one step closer," said Lori Warren of Tacoma, a former HVAC service technician who is struggling to keep her family afloat on a part-time Wal-Mart salary with no benefits. "Maybe one of us here today will finally get a job."

In all, more than 548 candidates applied when the City of Tacoma posted the job from July 20 to 26, said city human resources analyst Teresa Dent.

"That's a huge number of applicants," Dent said.

Of those, all but eight qualified to move on in the hiring process, receiving invitations to take an 89-question exam Monday at the American Veterans Hall. A total of 309 people actually showed up to take the test. At least one position — and as many as four — will be filled, Dent said.

Fostered by the dour economy, the turnout also likely was augmented by the city's efforts in recent years to make its hiring process far more accessible via online application submissions, Dent said.

The applicant pool was so big, the city pulled the job announcement after just one week — typically they're left up for two or three weeks, Dent said.

"I just had an inclination that we were going to get a big response," she said.

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