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:
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a suburban of 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?
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
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)?
Specifics of searching the library’s catalog and placing holds; registering people online for library programs; creating required statistical reports; operating a reading incentive program (summer & school year & one thousand books before kindergarten)
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Other presentation
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
I would be reluctant to hire someone who completed an online-only degree.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Find opportunities to observe different library jobs and talk to librarians, and get whatever hands-on experience you can, whether volunteer, practicum, internship or paid position.