Since 1995, T. Scott Plutchak has been Associate Professor and Director of the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), which has 10-50 staff members and is located in an urban area in the Southern US. He says,
We hire bright, creative people and then give them the tools, the support, and the freedom to be innovative and to have fun. It works.
Prior to this current position, he was Associate Director and then Director of the Health Sciences Center Library at St. Louis University. He received his Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin in 1983, and was a post-graduate Library Associate at the US National Library of Medicine. He has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. He is a frequent speaker to publisher and library groups on topics ranging from intellectual property to scholarly communication to the future of librarianship, and leads the international librarian rock band, The Bearded Pigs. He believes that this is the best time to be a librarian in 500 years. You can read more of his views in his 2011 MLA Janet Doe Lecture..
Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?
√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate
√ You can’t teach the job skills I need in library school
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?
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?
√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience