I Have Found MLS Holders to Be Well Prepared for Work in a Public Library

For 25 years, Kaye Grabbe has been the Director of the Lake Forest (Public) Library, a library with 50-100 staff members in Lake Forest, IL (a suburban area in the Midwestern US). She held two previous directorships, following positions as a youth services librarian in both public and school libraries. She began her career in libraries after working as a high school English and Social studies teacher. She has been a hiring manager. She hires the following types of LIS professionals:

reference/adult services librarians
children’s librarians
virtual/electronic services librarians

Ms. Grabbe has been active in the Michigan Library Association, the American Library Association and the IL Library Association. She considers her improvements to services for children at all the libraries above to be her greatest accomplishment, saying:

As teachers and librarians, we have to grow readers starting with infants and parents. Nothing is more important.

She also says:

My husband of 45 years, Ted Grabbe, has always supported my profession and has been my greatest supporter.

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
√ Digital Collections
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Outreach

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

I have found MLS holders to be well prepared for work in a public library.

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 coursework 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)?

program planning
knowledge of collections
knowledge of the particular community

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

√ Internship or practicum

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

for the midwest, Indiana University and Dominican University

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

a degree from a totally on line program

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

make sure to take an admin course-you may not use it at first, but you will later

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

AN mls is important for the understanding of the theories of library science.
Practical knowledge comes with job experience, as it does for teaching, nursing, etc.

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 50-100 staff members, Midwestern US, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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