Writing and Communication Are Not Taught in Library Schools

school cafeteriaThis 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:

Reference, Serials, catalogers

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a rural area in the Northeastern US Midwestern US.

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

√ Other: Writing & communication are not taught in library schools

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?

√ Cataloging
√ Library Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods

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

Based on the last batch of candidates: writing and communication skills were desperately needed. Just the ability to write a good cover letter.

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 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)?

University of Illinois

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

Work in a library! Even if it is just a student job, it will give you an edge.

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

1 Comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

One response to “Writing and Communication Are Not Taught in Library Schools

  1. Todd Pierce

    This academic librarian is absolutely correct–writing and communication are not taught in LIS programs–but they should be. As a former English instructor, I find that many students in the SLIS program are unable to write with precision and complexity. Thus I believe that the SLIS program should require that their students demonstrate their reading and writing skills before they are accepted into the program. In other words, simply having the required BA is not enough to demonstrate these skills. But sadly I do not believe this situation is going to change anytime soon–especially in a program that emphasizes the following insipid slogan on their website: “Technology is at the forefront of everything we do.”

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