This interview is with Terry Lawler, who is a Children’s Librarian and and the Assistant Manager at a branch of the Phoenix Public Library, a system with more than 200 staff members in an urban area in the Western US. Ms. Lawler was a 2011 ALA Emerging Leader. She has been a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees. She was a featured respondent to our original survey, and is a regular contributor to Further Questions.
Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?
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?
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ 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?
Programming (events), Outreach, Reader’s Advisory, Library Management, Dealing with difficult customers
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)?
task prioritization, our website/software/ etc., storytime, class instruction (computers, etc)
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Other presentation
√ Student organization involvement
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?
you will learn most of what you need on the job, so: intern, volunteer, get involved in student organizations and national organizations, try new things, present, present, present, get a portfolio, learn new things, publish your school papers
This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!