Library managers for small/medium rural area libraries. Some of the hires manage up to 3 or 4 libraries — so some practical work experience in a public library setting is essential!
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in an rural 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)
What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?
Customer Service, dealing with a diverse public, Managing staff!, budgeting, collection development/weeding!, working with boards – city/county officials,
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)?
Technical skills such as using various ILS systems, copy cataloging, some budgeting etc.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
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?
Get some practical work experience! Concentrate less on the ‘philosophy’ aspect of libraries -although I do feel that a basic knowledge of theory/practice is needed to get the background and to buy into the core beliefs of library service – it is much more helpful to have the ‘practical’ knowledge of budgeting, managing people, customer service, collection development/how to weed.
Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.
Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey