Here’s the first response to the new survey, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School? You should recognize a familiar face!
This interview is with J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, founder and director of Special Libraries Cataloging (SLC). SLC currently employs about 20 cataloguers and indexers. Although SLC is in a rural area in Canada, most employees work remotely. Mr. Elrod worked with Michael Gorman to prepare AACR2 Rule Interpretations that facilitate its use for creating RDA compatible records. He also contributes to the profession as an active participant on the AUTOCAT listserv. Mr. Elrod filled out our original survey and has contributed regularly to the Further Questions feature.
Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?
√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate
Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)
What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Ability to catalogue. There should be basic skills imparted in order for the library school to be accredited.
When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?
√ No preference–as long as they have the skill, I don’t care how they got it
Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Other: Cataloguing practicum
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
University of British Columbia
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Take all cataloguing and programming courses that are offered, and attempt to have field work in those areas. Take a course in linguistics, and learn to read as many languages and scripts as possible.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
We should work toward ALS accreditation standards which demand the imparting of practical cataloguing skills.