Tag Archives: librarians

If they can’t sell themselves, they are not going to be able to sell programs or services

Blumengart School Children 1963This 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/instruction librarians, tech services librarians, archivists.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an rural 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?

√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ 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?

Yes, public speaking skills tend to be lacking. I also wish they were savvier about how to sell their skills; if they can’t sell themselves, they are not going to be able to sell programs or services.

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)?

I expect them to master the specific software and hardware we have on the job, although I expect them to be familiar generally with how those types of programs or equipment work. Ditto for databases and collections. I think it is hard to learn to do instruction in library school, so that is on the job, too.

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

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

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

Any of the top schools

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

I would be reluctant to hire alumni of schools that aren’t ALA-accredited. I also am more inclined to hire people from schools where the particular aspect of librarianship is a specialty rather than where there are only one or two courses in that area.

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

Take the challenging professors and courses. Work in a library. Always try to understand how your coursework and the theories you learn are applied in real life. Try to learn about many different types of libraries, and go to conferences to broaden your horizons. Put together a portfolio. Talk to people who work in the kind of jobs you think you want, and find out what they consider the most important skills or training for their jobs.

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

Get a balanced education

Sydney Primary Schools (N.S.W Rep. Team), 1922 who beat Q'ld [Queensland] Reps. 2 Matches to 1This 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 “all” types of LIS professionals.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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?

√ No

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

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

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

Organizational procedures and specific software packages.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Scholarly publication
√ Other: Depends upon type of library

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

University of Pittsburgh, Michigan, Drexel

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

Clarion university

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

Get a balanced education so you have a base knowledge in a variety of subjects to supplement your focus area.

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

Further Questions: How many people have been hired by your organization in the last fiscal year?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

How many people have been hired by your organization in the last fiscal year? What is the breakdown of roles (i.e. librarians, paraprofessionals, student/hourly, etc.)? Subjectively, is this figure standard or does it fluctuate year to year?

scott wiebensohnGreat question for this week!

As a growing company (Jones eGlobal Library) http://www.egloballibrary.com/ , we have tripled our librarian staff from 2 to 6 over the last calendar year. Everyone is full-time and salaried employee. The specific roles are blended and it seems that there is a primary and secondary librarian for every task. We also have lots of cross-training opportunities to even out the workload and fill in gaps if a specific team member is out sick or on vacation. It is difficult to say if the number fluctuates from year to year, and yet with our current workload and collaborative projects, five is a healthy number.

- Scott Wiebensohn, Manager of Library Services, Jones eGlobal

Samantha Thompson-FranklinThis past fiscal year we hired one librarian for a newly created position of Instruction/First Year Experience Librarian, and we hired two library assistants/paraprofessional staff. We have a small library staff (director, 5 librarians, 5 full-time support staff) and not a lot of turnover so it was unusual for us to hire 2 staff positions this past year. We normally hire approx.. 12-15 student workers throughout the course of the year, depending upon the students’ schedules from semester to semester.  Our student hiring numbers is typical for us.

- Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Lake Forest (public) Library with 29.2 FTE’s hired 2 paraprofessionals for the new positions of Tech Instructors and hired 2 others to replace 2 who had retired and moved away; we also hired 2 part time professionals to replace 2 who moved on to full time positions at other libraries. This was not a standard year with a number of people retiring and 2 new positions; it does fluctuate.

- Kaye Grabbe, Lake Forest Library

Laurie PhillipsWe had staff cuts this past year, due to lower than expected enrollment. We were not able to replace staff who left and we chose not to fill a faculty librarian position that had been open. We’ve had some staff turnover since then and have been able to fill those positions. We did hire a part-time librarian to fill in for two librarians out on parental leave in the spring. We generally only hire when someone leaves. When faculty are tenure-track or tenured, turnover is less common. In the coming year, we have an interim dean of libraries, so we have an extraordinary faculty position to replace her. We will also have an opening for an entry-level tenure-track position coming up soon. Stay tuned if you’re a job hunter!

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

J. McRee ElrodWe have 20 cataloguers, two of whom have training other than the MLS, e.g, IT for one. Turnover is slight, only about two replaced per year.
 
 
 
- J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Jacob BergWe hired two part-time staff, both of whom are in MLIS programs. We plan on hiring two more this fiscal year, and our hiring fluctuates based on our budget and current needs.
 
 
 
- 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.

1 Comment

Filed under Further Questions

Researcher’s Corner: Experiences that Influence the Outcome of Recent Grads’ Academic Library Job Searches

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this with you for a while!  I caught the authors’ call for participants on the NMRT listserv – although I didn’t fit the demographic, I knew the results of their research would be fascinating.  And they are!  I think this will be very useful for job hunters across the board, but particularly for students looking to go into academic libraries.


As three recent Library and Information Science (LIS) graduates, we know finding a position in an academic library can be challenging for new graduates. LIS students are frequently encouraged to seek out experience, network, and improve upon their technology skills in order to have marketable skills when they apply for positions, yet little research actually supports such advice. We decided to test the advice given to students and determine what academic and work experiences of recent LIS graduates most significantly influence the outcome of their academic library job searches.

Survey

In 2013, we sent out a survey that asked questions about seven primary categories: basic information, job search, professional effectiveness, professional development, service, technological competency, and previous careers. We asked about student’s graduate program, parameters of their job search, their academic and work experience, as well as other skills or professional involvement that could influence their ability to land a first-time academic library job. The link to the survey was emailed to 2008–2012 graduates from the LIS programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, North Carolina Central University, and Dominican University. We also emailed the survey link to members of the ALA New Members’ Round Table (NMRT) listserv, distributed links on index cards to ACRL 2013 conference attendees during a related poster presentation, and electronically posted the link on the ACRL New Member Discussion board.

Results

Our results included the expected and unexpected (from our points of view). There were 360 total respondents to our survey and 56% (N = 201) reported they wanted to work in academic libraries. These 201 respondents represented 33 different LIS programs with the highest number of students graduating from the University of Illinois (56) and Dominican University (39).

We used our results to compare successful and unsuccessful job seekers to discover trends. Overall, we found the two groups to be fairly similar. Only certain factors in job search, professional effectiveness, professional development, and service made a significant difference in improving the odds of success in securing a job. Briefly outlined below are our key findings:

  • Applying for jobs four to six months before graduation were nearly seven times more likely to obtain a job than candidates who did not.
  • Having any academic library experience increased the odds of success for a job seeker and those who had participated in an internship or practicum improved their odds of success by 2.75 compared to those with no internship or practicum.
  • Attending conferences increased the odds of success by 3.33 when compared to candidates without this experience, attending workshops and seminars increased the odds by 2.05 and publishing increased the odds by 4.83.
  • Completing committee service work increased an individual’s odds of securing a job by 3.

Conclusion

If you’re an aspiring or current LIS student, on the job market, or are looking to help out new librarians, we have some advice. Advice backed up by our research. Start applying for jobs around the start of your last semester in library school. While in school, look for any opportunity to get some experience in an academic library, even if you don’t get paid. Join some committees, and attend some local or, if you’re able, national conferences. And, even though it’s extra work, take that professor up on the offer to co-author an article with you

To read our full findings and analysis, please take a look at our open-access journal article published by The Journal of Academic Librarianship available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0099133314000123

 


rosener_ashley-1Ashley Rosener, Liaison Librarian to the School of Social Work, School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration, and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University

Ashley Rosener graduated with her Masters from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is excited by all things related to library instruction.

 

LindyheadshotLindy Scripps-Hoekstra, Liaison Librarian to the Area and Religious Studies programs, Grand Valley State University.

Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra graduated from Dominican University’s Library Science program and, as a former high school teacher, is particularly interested in reaching students through library instruction.

 

Eckard_Max_MovemberMax Eckard, Metadata & Digital Curation Librarian, Grand Valley State University.

Max Eckard is a [relatively recent] graduate of North Carolina Central University, and is passionate about digital preservation and librarianship as service.

2 Comments

Filed under Academic, Guest Posts, library research, Researcher's Corner

Any that are not accredited

School Reading RoomThis anonymous interview is with a special 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:

research librarians; technical services

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?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior

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?

√ Library work experience

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

any that are not accredited.

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

Take advantage of free online resources and learn to code

School at Pie Town, New Mexico is held at the Farm Bureau BuildingThis 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:

Cataloguers, reference work, marketing

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a city/town in the UK.

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)

3

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ 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?

Yes, particularly ‘non-traditional’ ones. I would like to see MLIS holders with some knowledge of communications, marketing, fundraising (e.g. grant writing), web design/usability (even if just basic), and teaching skills.

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)?

I expect that the practical skills will often come on the job – cataloguing and classification (though theoretical knowledge is helpful), collection management, building budgets, reference work.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Conference presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

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

Sheffield, UCL

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

Go beyond the classroom! Take advantage of free online resources and learn to code, get marketing or social media experience, give presentations, etc .

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 200+ staff members, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Further Questions: Traveling for interviews: who pays?

This week we asked people who hire librarians:

Traveling for interviews: who pays? Does your library pay for the interview expenses of a candidate such as airfare, hotel, meals, or mileage? Are candidates reimbursed or do you pay up front? Has anything changed in this realm due to the economy, such as a focus on local candidates, paying for travel but not meals, etc.?

Laurie PhillipsWe pay all of our candidates’ travel expenses. We book them in a hotel that the university has a relationship with, so they don’t see a bill at all. We will also book their plane ticket for them on the library’s credit card, if they would like us to do that, but will also reimburse if that works better. We are well aware that some candidates who are in graduate school may not have credit card space for their travel expenses – especially when they’re booking for a trip that’s somewhat last minute (booked only a week or two in advance). We reimburse for extra meals, mileage and airport parking. No, we have not changed anything due to the economy. We are faculty so we do national searches and will sometimes have local candidates, but that’s not a priority. We are permitted to interview 4 candidates on campus rather than 3 if one or more are local (costing less to the university), but we rarely do that because of the extra time commitment. We want to narrow to our three best possibilities.

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

Petra MauerhoffAt our organization, we reimburse travel expenses for the successful candidate. We conduct the first round of interviews via Skype and then invite a very limited number of shortlisted candidates for a 2nd in-person interview. Travel expenses in our case include everything, from mileage to meals to accommodation.
We have been fortunate that candidates have no come from too far away.
- Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

Marleah AugustineIn recent years, we have not had the opportunity to pay for travel for candidates, nor do we have a policy in place. We have had candidates travel through on their own and visit the library when they submitted their application, and we have had candidates Skype or do phone interviews with us. We try to make those interviews as much like in-person interviews as we can.

- Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Celia RabinowitzWe have always paid all travel, lodging, food, and incidental expenses for candidates regardless of their location. We pay for airline tickets up front and make hotel reservations so the candidate does not have to pay out of pocket. We can make rental car reservations but not pay for them so we reimburse for that, mileage, parking, etc.

The economy has not had an impact on faculty searches which are always advertised nationally. We have been lucky to be able to continue to search broadly and support candidates’ visits so that we can focus on hiring the best people.

- Celia Rabinowitz, Director of the Library, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Further Questions

As this ties up two thirds of budgets in most research libraries, its kinda vital.

School Children In AlgeriaThis 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:

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

4

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

√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?

lack of experience with online resource management – subscriptions, knowledgebases, and a general understanding of the whole online resource space and online resource management. As this ties up two thirds of budgets in most research libraries, its kinda vital.

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)?

Local system use, teamwork, soft skills, finance, some specific skills around technical work (metadata, cataloguing)

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Student organization involvement
√ Other: Online publishing

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

Sheffield in the UK is the only one to watch

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

UCL still creates 20th century librarians. Bright ones, but 20th century ones in terms of skillset and approach.

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

Get some great experience beforehand, afterwards and on the side.

Don’t stress out on coursework and exams, most employers are not looking for that distinction. Do enough for a solid pass, thats all.

Have a great time and network with other students, they are your future colleagues and contacts!

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

Rethink the whole thing along with the MCILIP. The profession needs a serious upheaval and that starts with professional development.

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 200+ staff members, UK, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

I see library school as a shortcut to a much better paid job

School No.2 Students in Dublin New Hampshire 2This 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:

Cataloguers, library assistants, assistant librarians, archivists

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

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

√ Other: Some, but most of those could be learnt on the job

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
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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 specific LMS, local cataloguing rules, customer service and how to write emails

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?

Relate as much as you can to real world experience, and if you can get work in a library, even shelving, do it.

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

I see library school as a shortcut to a much better paid job, and a way to ensure a smooth progression up the career ladder if wanted. It is also a shortcut for recruiters if they have a lot of applications – though if you have all the skills except the certificate you might still get an interview.

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 0-10 staff members, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

The library literature is silent on the Machiavellian aspects of higher ed employment.

School No.2 Students in Dublin New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Generalists.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban 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)

4

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

√ Grant Writing
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ 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?

At least when it comes to academic librarianship, I do not think that this should be someone’s first job. I value colleagues who have some experience working somewhere else; they know what it’s like to (1) work with others and (2) supervise others.

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)?

Reference interviewing.
Working with the several library platforms (e.g., ALEPH, Innovative, etc.)

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

√ Professional organization involvement

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

None.

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?

Learn how to get along with people. The library literature is silent on the Machiavellian aspects of higher ed employment.
Be curious about the world around you. There are too many introverts in this business.

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