Category Archives: 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!

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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

I will admit to sounding like an old biddy when I say that I am horrified by the lack of writing skills

HM Queen Mother at the formal opening of the new library in the Lionel Robbins Building, 10th July 1979This anonymous interview is with an 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:

Catalogers, children’s and teen librarians, reference librarians and archivists.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban 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)

4

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)
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: Interviewing

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

I’ve found that a lot of candidates who don’t have previous library experience and whose school (usually an online program) didn’t require a practicum are woefully unprepared for actual library work. Their expectations are not grounded in reality. Also, although I’m not long out of library school myself, I will admit to sounding like an old biddy when I say that I am horrified by the lack of writing skills (spelling, grammar) displayed by a lot of the younger candidates I interview.

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)?

Learning the ebb and flow of their new library is an on the job thing. Library school can’t prepare you for the reality of your workplace, all the little fiddly things that each library does differently, the population you’ll be working with, the expectations of your management team, etc.

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)?

If I’m being honest here, I like to see students from the University of Illinois-Champlain, Syracuse University’s iSchool and Texas Women’s University. However, and this is a BIG caveat-although I am happy to see candidates with those schools on their resumes, if they have no practical experience, have a bad interview, can’t write to save their lives or drop in a lot of meaningless buzz-words without understanding their context, I will cross them off my list.

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

University of North Texas. I admit it. I have interviewed dozens of their alumni and I haven’t been impressed with any of them. Some UNT alumni that I work with that I have been impressed with attended just to get a degree, they already had years of library work under their belt.

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

Pay attention to the theory, but throw yourself into the practice. If your school doesn’t have a practicum requirement and you don’t have much library experience, volunteer on your own.

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, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

I find finishing a masters program while juggling a job, family and other commitments very impressive,

Geraldine Fain Browses in the Free LibraryThis 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:

research support librarians, teaching librarians, library assistants

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a city/town suburban area rural area in the UK.

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)

2

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

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ 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?

instruction skills. Nearly all librarians need these skills, whether it’s one to ones, group classes, lectures or staff development

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)?

Local policies and procedures

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

√ Library work experience
√ Conference presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Distance learning – I’ve seen that others disagree with this, but I find finishing a masters program while juggling a job, family and other commitments very impressive, especially if the candidate has worked in libraries while completing their qualification. They often have a better understanding of course content because they are actually applying it and reflecting on it while studying in a way that’s not possible when you do a full-time masters

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

no

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

Get experience

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, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

It’s as if library schools have given up on public libraries altogether

Library Staff, c1990s, LSE LibraryThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee a human resources professional, Library Director. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

technical services (cataloging) librarians, children/teen librarians, adult librarians, outreach librarians

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area  in the Midwestern 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)

2

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Outreach
√ 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?

I find that the most basic library skills are lacking in MLS/MLIS holders. It’s as if library schools have given up on public libraries altogether. It is exceptionally rare that I find an applicant who has any practice with general reference/reader’s advisory or library programming and outreach, which are the bread and butter of the public library. I don’t expect a new graduate or rookie librarian to be an expert, but I do expect that they will know how to use reference tools (beyond Google) and understand that the majority of their time will be spent at the reference desk working closely with patrons.

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)?

Situational cataloging (the nuances of how my library does it), fine tuning the reference interview (learning to get to the heart of the matter), programs/outreach that works in this community

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 student who went to a live, in person (not remote) program. The difference between on campus and distance ed students could not be more stark. There is so much to be gained working with your peers in a physical classroom setting that cannot be mimicked by an online class. Librarians have to work closely with one another and the public all day everyday, and having the classroom experience to show that they can do that gives them a huge advantage in my mind. As far as I’m concerned, the school doesn’t matter, but the format absolutely does.

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

I have not been impressed with graduates of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. They are way too focused on online education and niche academic topics. They have no real world skill when the degree is finished.

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

Get as much actual library experience as you possibly can. Take a clerk job, do internships as often as possible, volunteer in different areas of the library. Even if you believe you are called to be a Children’s (teen, adult, outreach, fill in the blank) Librarian make a point of working in areas outside of your comfort zone. Most libraries in the United States are small to medium sized public libraries where librarians are expected to not only be generalists as far as librarianship goes, but also to pitch in where ever and whenever necessary to get the job done. Be realistic about how difficult the degree is. The last staff person I hired worked 40+ hours a week at two different libraries while getting their MLIS. Not only did this person have broad academic underpinnings, they had the experience to be able to hit the ground running and succeed early and often in the new position.

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

Please make sure you are doing the degree for the right reasons. I meet so many library students who have never worked in a library or have any experience with a library other than “liking books”. Getting a Master’s degree in any field should be done because it is a passion, not because you don’t have anything else to do. I see many more applicants for positions who fit into the second camp. I will never, ever hire someone for a professional job who has never worked in a library before. That is a sure recipe for disaster for both the library and for the applicant. Library schools need to wake up and train students to do what needs to be done in the real world.

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, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School