Category Archives: What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

Civic library, Newcastle, 1957, Hood collectionThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager (you are hiring people that you will directly or indirectly supervise).  This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Interns, secondary school librarians and librarian assistants, teacher librarians, catalogers

This librarian works at a School Library with 0-10 staff members in an Urban area in Asia.

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)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging

√ Budgeting/Accounting

√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Policy writing and the legal aspects of careers in libraries. It’s so important to protect yourself, your staff and patrons from legal situations that can be prevented with proper policies being written up.

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 skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

Practical skills related to tasks can be learned on the job, such as book repair, book processing (i.e. new books, donations), office and desk organization and management (essential when working with a team), specific software skills (there are so many new types of software coming out it is not reasonable to expect this to be taught in library school).

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience

√ Professional organization involvement

√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

ALA accredited institutions, they have high standards. Library Schools from Europe, North America, or Australia. I would have to research certificates or degrees coming from lesser known institutions in Asia, Africa or South America.

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

Chinese institutions – Sadly, I have a hard time trusting that the standards of skills are a good fit for what I want candidates to be able to do in a North American style library. Many of the websites are in Chinese with no English option so I cannot verify what skills candidates have been taught, nor can I guarantee that the certificate is genuine.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Work or volunteer in a library at the same time! If you can’t get a library job, at least volunteer in one. You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, School, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

it’s dismaying when I encounter those who could have used a course in cataloging

Interior of Townsville library, ca. 1948This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

catalogers, reference, instruction

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an suburban area in the Western US.

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)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ 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?

Soft skills are problematic. MLIS students would benefit from learning more about public speaking and presentations, about networking in professional functions, and about writing ranging from a good cover letter to effective e-mails. I hear more and more that cataloging isn’t being taught, or that it’s only an elective. Organization of information is the backbone of so much library work, and it’s dismaying when I encounter those who could have used a course in cataloging.

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)?

Actual application of skills, such as when to make local decisions for cataloging materials so as to meet the needs of the users rather than what a classification system suggests. Organizational culture. You can’t interview for that precisely, but it is something that can be shared and inculcated after hire.

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

No preference. The candidates I see are usually from a small pool based on the programs that are geographically closest.

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

I am wary of alumni from the larger online programs, but I would judge candidates on the merits each puts forward.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

You can often tailor assignments to your career goals, so try to do so. Work in a library as a student worker if you can, or do a practicum or internship. Do not overlook management courses – all too often librarians get promoted because they have the most seniority, and having some course work to back that up is helpful.

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Your program or university should ideally offer career advice and workshops on applying for and interviewing for jobs. Seek out these resources and use them!

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Suburban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Some of the younger people I’ve interviewed are painfully awkward in general conversation

South African Public Library, n.d. This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Technical services, collection development, reference, public services (children’s and teen).

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

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)

4

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Library Management
√ Digital Collections
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Outreach
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Soft skills, but that may be a generational thing. I’m going to sound like an old coot, but some of the younger people I’ve interviewed are painfully awkward in general conversation. How can I expect good customer service from someone who is completely introverted? Also, the art of the reference interview/reader’s advisory seems to have diminished some.

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)?

Working with a diverse public. Often you don’t really get it until you experience it.

 

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

Any of the top 5.

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

I haven’t been blown away by students from University of North Texas. Of all my interviews, they’ve been the least-prepared for a career in libraries-unless they’re already working in one.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Diversify. Learn a bit of everything, especially technology.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

We typically hire new grads, so I don’t expect an applicant to have a lot of actual teaching experience

Interior of Townsville library, ca. 1948This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference/Instruction
Access Services
Technical Services
Systems

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Southern US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Yes

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

If you’re going into an academic library, please, please, PLEASE have a basic idea of how to put together an instructional session and direct a class. We typically hire new grads, so I don’t expect an applicant to have a lot of actual teaching experience, but it sure is nice to see that she has at least some understanding of theories and practices related to information literacy instruction, instructional design, etc. If I’m interviewing you tomorrow, and you don’t have a clue what the new IL Framework is or how it differs from the old set of IL Standards, that’s a red flag.

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)?

The first thing that comes to mind: I don’t expect new reference/instruction librarians to know every database inside and out on Day One. I don’t even expect them to have “favorite databases” (a frequent interview question during my first job search) so much as I expect them to understand how databases work: how to execute basic and advanced searches and how to use filters/refiners/facets in an efficient and effective manner.

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Simmons College come to mind immediately. And it seems like a lot of the smart and insightful young librarians I’ve come across online and at conferences recently came out of Indiana University.

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

Nope

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Skip the reader advisory class if you’re interested in academia. Take that cataloging class, if for no other reason than to understand how it all works. Learn a little bit about teaching. HAVE FUN.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, City/town, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Take a class or two that you would not normally take

Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Dan Fenn, Jr., 1971This anonymous interview is with an academic public special librarian who has been member of a search committee a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

This librarian in an urban area city/town  in the Western US.

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)

4

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Digital Collections
√ Reference
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: vendors, vendor relationships

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 of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Internship or practicum

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Take a class or two that you would not normally take. It could broaden your outlook and give you some experience for the future that you had not planned on.

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Some classes should be required in library school: one cataloging class (should you have to catalog anything, ever!); library management- whether it’s a public, academic or special library; collection dev/mgmt- print, media, and electronic PLUS different vendors, relating to vendors, buying savvy; budgeting; supervising 101- you may never be a supervisor but the people skills learned WILL assist you in all relationships.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

professionalism (ie: how to act and dress in the workplace)

View of a Pine Crest School student reading in the library Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1966 or 1967This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference, Library Instruction, Cataloging, Electronic Resources, Public Services, Access Services

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a rural area in the Southern US.

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)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Portfolio/ePortfolio
√ Field Work/Internships

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Good writing, professionalism (ie: how to act and dress in the workplace/communicate with others via email in a professional way, etc.), project/task management

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 skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

If he or she has some basic cataloging knowledge, I feel like I can teach them the rest. Most institutions have their own local way of altering records, anyway. Ins and outs of databases can be taught, but search strategies and the importance of the reference interview should be covered in school.

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

University of North Texas, University of Alabama, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Kent State University

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

SJSU, Valdosta State University

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Get any practical experience you can–volunteer, do a practicum/internship even if your degree does not require it and even if it is unpaid. That experience will boost your resume and give you work experience necessary to gain employment. Gain a variety of experiences–you never know what jobs will ask you to do and even if you think you would never want to complete a certain task or aspect of librarianship, you may find it useful in the future. Be flexible, teachable, and motivated!

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Rural area, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

The reality of working in a library is very different from what you expect it to be

Work with schools story hour in the open, librarian and ch...This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Children’s Librarians and para-professionals

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

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)

5

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Soft skills, project management, time management, ethics

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 skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

Daily working skills at our particular library.
Our particular policies – however they should have a background knowledge of general library policies

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Get actual library experience either in a University or Public library setting. You need to know what you are getting into before you actually go on the market. The reality of working in a library is very different from what you expect it to be. The demands of the field are incredibly broad and you need some knowledge and experience in your chosen area before you go on the market.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School