Tag Archives: librarians

First of all, could you please call it graduate school, not library school?

Blumengart School Children 1963This anonymous interview is with an employee who works in a special library who has been a hiring manager. When asked “Are you a librarian?” the respondent replied with “It’s complicated.” This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Researchers

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern 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
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Other: It’s impossible to answer this out of context. Different settings require different skills and background.

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)?

First of all, could you please call it graduate school, not library school? Let’s operate in the 21st century, please.

Again, this is very context-dependent. Can’t really answer. What someone learns in my legal research center is very different from your public library, or school library, for example.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Other: If, by “should”, you mean that this should be required of them, then I’d say none of the above – it’s not always reasonable to expect a student to meet such a requirement. However, if you mean that ideally a student should have this experience, then my answers are noted above.

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

Why are you asking this?

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

Get a job.

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

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

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

True to who librarians should be and not what corporate America is trying to push us into becoming.

Keene High School, (Keene Academy), Keene, New Hampshire

 

This anonymous interview is with a  library worker who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.

 

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

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

√ No

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
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Archives
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Field Work/Internships

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

Common sense. To work in any library you must have a feel for your work, that intangible feeling for the job as a librarian.
True to who librarians should be and not what corporate America is trying to push us into becoming.
Yes the job should evolve, but as with teachers, the basics never get old or outdated.
Learning how to garner information from secondary sources and books, is a skill. I thank Mark Schwartz formerly of West Thomson for all his seminars and training…

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)?

Everything! too many to name.

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

√ Library work experience

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

volunteer AND or do an internship in all libraries. And if you can, try both in corporate and public venues.

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

Try to like what you do! if not Don’t do it.

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

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

Leave a comment

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

Library schools need to update the curriculum for children’s and YA librarians

Blumengart School Children 1963

 

This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. 

This librarian works at a library with 200+ 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)

3

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

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Metadata
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other:  child development; business writing; public speaking; evaluation techniques, including community needs assessments;

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

Evaluation, including the whys and hows of community needs assessments; comfort in outreach to various racial and ethnic groups; public speaking; how to be an effective advocate with elected officials and policy makers, not just the general public who Loves us. (the professional needs more political hacks and I mean this in the best sense of the term)

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)?

How to adapt classroom learning to the policies and procedures of the hiring organization..best practices evolved in the field and evaluated locally or nationally, i.e. ALSC/PLA’s Every Child Ready to Read do not necessarily conform to some outmoded class work.

 

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Other presentation
√ Other publication
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

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

St. Catherine’s University
University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of Illinois, Champagne Urbana
San Jose State

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

Get involved in your state ALA chapter…great networking opportunities; follow what’s going on in ALA divisions in your area of interest; attend conferences if possible. Initiate a practicum or internship in your area of interest. Sumit an article for publicaton that’s related to your practicum.

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

Library schools need to update the curriculum for children’s and YA librarians. Less focus on programming and more intensive work on project management, budget, grant writing, etc…all the skills a manager needs to be successful.

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 200+ staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Digital Collections and Grant Writing are the biggest.

This 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:

Public services librarians

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern 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
√ Grant Writing
√ Library Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction

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

Digital Collections and Grant Writing are the biggest.

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)?

Budgeting and outreach.

 

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

√ Conference presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

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

URI
Simmons

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?

Do as much hands on work as you can. Put the theory into practice in whatever way you can find-internships, volunteering, part-time work.

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

Further Questions: What would transferable skills look like from an individual transitioning into librarianship from an unrelated job field?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

This week’s question is inspired by a recent reader question: What would transferable skills look like from an individual transitioning into librarianship from an unrelated job field? This job field could be anything from working in a daycare, to sales, to nonprofit management, etc. Any advice you could provide to adults seeking a career change by going back to school to get their MLS/MLIS/MIS would be appreciated.

angelynn kingCustomer service experience is always a plus, as is any kind of technical or expository writing. Experience teaching or training is also extremely helpful. Presented with equally qualified candidates with no library experience, I would definitely lean toward someone with one or more of these skills.

Having said that, I would not recommend going back to school for a library degree unless you are in a position to be very flexible about type of library, area of specialization, geographic location, or, ideally, some combination of those. If you are place-bound, think twice. If you are place-bound and only want to work in a certain department in a certain kind of library, think of another plan.

-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

I would highlight transferable skills in your cover letter. Working in public services, we frequently get applicants with no library experience but with a great deal of customer service so if the person was applying for a position working at our service desk they could highlight that they worked in retail for the last five years in the highest selling store in the sales district in a large metropolitan area (just as an example to show the person has experience working in customer service in a faced paced environment).

- Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas

J. McRee Elrod

 

There is no skill or knowledge which will not be useful sooner or later as a cataloguer or reference librarian.
- J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Marleah AugustineI come from a clinical psychology background myself, and I think that you can definitely make a case for all kinds of transferable skills from different careers. I’ve had colleagues who started out as teachers, newspaper reporters, and case workers before they entered the library world and I think that there are any number of benefits to that. Librarians joke about “things we didn’t learn in library school” — a day at the library may require plumbing, mediation, education, etc. If someone has the passion required to work in a field like librarianship (and it’s true, it does require a certain amount of passion), then they can make their previously acquired skills to their (and their organization’s) benefit.

As for career advice, I’d offer the usual suspects — volunteer or intern in a library or (even better) work in one part-time while you’re attending school. Join local / state / regional / national associations. Sign up for listservs that post job listings (get an idea for what kind of salary you’d get in different places) and issues that librarians deal with regularly to get an idea of what goes on behind the curtain. Be prepared to commute or re-locate.

- Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Laurie Phillips

I would say excellent communication skills (written and interpersonal), problem-solving, comfort speaking in front of a group, comfort/ease with learning and using new technologies, customer service training (retail experience is great!), supervision/training/mentoring skills or experience, project planning and implementation.

- Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Celia RabinowitzI think a creative individual could probably find something in almost any job that could be considered transferable to libraries especially when thinking about an application to library school or a first job.  Customer service, work that requires good organization skills, the ability to work independently and with precision, creativity, patience, flexibility, etc.  Someone looking for a career change should think about what they bring as they enter an MLS program or how they, as individuals with a work history, are going to be really good librarians because of their previous experiences.  Sometimes that doesn’t become clear to career-changers until they begin graduate studies.  One other suggestion would be to get to know the librarians at a local public or academic library and to talk with others who entered the field after doing other work.

- Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH

Jacob BergWhat I look for:
Retail experience. Customer service skills are very useful in many library positions.
Project management. If you’ve seen something through from start to finish, designed, implemented, tweaked, and completed, whether by yourself or part of a team, that’s a very useful skill in libraries. Michael Perry’s libraryproject.info has some useful information on project management in libraries.
-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University
Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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Filed under Further Questions

many have applied for a paraprofessional position that specifically noted that MLS holders were not being sought

Lagere school in woonwagenkampThis 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:

general academic librarians

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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)

2

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Reference

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

critical thinking

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)?

specific systems, programming languages, acquisitions, outreach, grantwriting

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)?

brick and mortar

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

fully online degree

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

fully comprehend the principles of librarianship and learn how to apply (good) theories; this is what separates professional librarians from paraprofessionals

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

In my locale there seems to be a glut of junior librarians; many have applied for a paraprofessional position that specifically noted that MLS holders were not being sought. I think there’s one or more online college nearby churning out librarians needlessly. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to recruit seasoned librarians with experience under their belts.

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

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

Leave a comment

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

Researcher’s Corner: Job Ads and Academic Standards and Proficiencies

I am pleased to bring you this look at the types of skills mentioned in ads for academic librarians.  I think that you will find the results illuminating, and that you will appreciate their analysis.  If you’d like to read about this work in it’s full scholarly glory, please obtain a copy of: 
Gold, M. L., & Grotti, M. G. (2013). Do Job Advertisements Reflect ACRL’s Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators?: A Content Analysis. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 39(6), 558-565. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2013.05.013


Background

Standards and proficiencies documents are one way library science organizations communicate key skills and general values to the profession and to the world. Our interest in examining the relationship between professional standards and job advertisements arose out of committee work that focused on revising and critically examining the Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators, one of the many sets of standards drafted by the profession. These standards help direct librarians’ professional development activities as well as guide those who are looking to fill positions with qualified applicants. Given the goals of such standards, we wondered if there was any clear relationship between the key skills identified by the profession and the skills deemed most important by those seeking to fill instruction positions. As new-ish librarians just emerging from the journey of the academic job market, this line of  inquiry was particularly interesting to us.

Methods

Specifically, our research examined whether the areas of focus within the Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators were represented in instruction librarian job advertisements from US academic institutions. We used a content analysis approach, in which we scrutinized job advertisements that appeared on ALA JobLIST during a six-month period (January 1 to June 30, 2012).

Proficiency Categories from the Standards:

1) Administrative skills

2) Assessment and evaluation skills

3) Communication skills

4) Curriculum knowledge

5) Information literacy integration skills

6) Instructional design skills

7) Leadership skills

8) Planning skills

9) Presentation skills

10) Promotion skills

11) Subject Expertise

12) Teaching skills.

Using these categories, we examined about 50 job ads in a pilot study in order to develop the coding guide for our analysis. The creation of the coding guide and the many spirited discussions that it sparked between us was one of the most difficult, fun, and lengthy portions of the project.

Results

Our results included an analysis of 230 job advertisements for words or phrases relating to the 12 proficiency categories. Institutions posting ads ranged from doctorate-granting universities to associate’s colleges and special focus institutions. Ads represented jobs in 46 states with the majority of ads (54%) indicating no requirement for years of experience.

  •  Administrative skills were mentioned in the highest percentage (82%) of job ads and were mentioned consistently across institution types.
  • Subject expertise (56%) and Leadership skills (52%) were also mentioned in the majority of job advertisements.
    • However, a much smaller percentage (19%) of associate’s colleges’ job ads mentioned Subject expertise compared to other institution types.
  • Instructional design skills were mentioned in 46% of ads.
  • Presentation skills were mentioned the least, in only 8% of job advertisements.
  • Teaching skills were only listed as a required skill in 13% of job ads.

Implications for Job Seekers

Though exploratory in nature, our study can be informative for job seekers interested in discovering which skills are in-demand. It is clear that employers place an emphasis on Administrative skills, which for this study meant working well in a team and communicating instruction goals. A high percentage of ads also mentioned the importance of professional development, scholarly research, or seeking out instruction opportunities, which were classified as Leadership skills. Though the desire for these skills may not be surprising, the explicit mention of them in these ads highlights the importance for job seekers to incorporate these qualifications into their application materials.

Also of note for job seekers, Subject expertise was mentioned in a higher percentage (65%) of ads from institutions offering doctorates than those not offering advanced degrees. Additionally, most ads that mentioned Subject expertise listed it as a required or preferred qualification rather than mentioning it generally in the body of the job ad.

It was surprising to see Instructional design skills (e.g. experience with lesson planning, developing learning outcomes, or course content) mentioned in more job ads than Teaching skills. However, this was likely related to the recent emergence of librarians as instructional designers and our strict definition of Teaching skills, which required knowledge of pedagogy or learning theory and was beyond mere teaching experience.

Conclusion

We feel that it is important to note that the low frequency of mentions for some skills in job ads is likely not due to employers valuing these skills any less. We believe a lack of mentions may have been due to the limited space available within job advertisements and the inclusion of institutionally prescribed language, as well as the fact that certain skills (e.g. presentation and teaching) are more effectively evaluated during campus interviews rather than through application materials. Thus, it is important to remember that job ads are only one indication of the skills that may be important for a particular position. We suggest that professional standards can provide additional guidance regarding specific competencies that go above and beyond the language of job ads. These can help applicants to articulate and identify key abilities that they have when writing cover letters or responding to the general language found in these ads.


Grotti_Meg-2013-06-- smiling only

 

Meg Grotti, Coordinator of Library Instruction, University of Delaware Library

Meg Grotti’s research interests include instructional technology for libraries, information literacy pedagogy, and assessment of student learning.  Meg has served on numerous professional committees at the national and local level, including work for the ACRL’s College and Research Libraries publication and the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries initiative.

 

profilepinkMelissa Gold, Assistant Professor and Science Librarian at McNairy Library, Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

Melissa Gold’s research interests include information literacy pedagogy, using professional standards in practice, and the value of the library building. She serves on committees within the instruction section and science and technology section of ACRL and regularly presents at national conferences. Melissa has also served on multiple search committees and enjoys giving feedback to job seekers. Feel free to contact her about academic job searches.

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Filed under Guest Posts, Information Literacy Instruction, library research, Researcher's Corner