catalogers, collection development, special collections
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Southern 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
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ 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?
Understanding the bigger picture (perhaps that only comes with experience). Understanding the importance and significance of cataloging and our online catalogs — those are our most frequently used reference tool, and frequently new MLS/MLIS grads don’t have enough respect for and knowledge of the design and vocabularies behind those catalogs.
Also, print resources are still valuable in many fields–print resources may be the ONLY way to obtain information! Unfortunately students rarely get exposure to a really fine reference collection anymore, particularly with so many online MLS/MLIS programs. 😦
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)?
*local practices (for example in cataloging, database management, policies, etc.)
*local collections (non-electronic and electronic)
*local management hierarchy
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
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
University of Missouri
Florida State University
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
*work in a library
*get practical experience — something you can call your own and that will set you apart from other applicants
*do more than the minimum required for courses in your area of expertise
*map out your coursework carefully so you don’t resort to taking something to fill out your hours that may not be the best choice for your path.
*listen to practicioners. Find out which professors have practical experience and take their courses.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
*read job postings BEFORE you go to library school
*look at the requirements and compare your qualifications and skill set against the desired jobs
*then assess how you will obtain those qualifications — if it’s not possible, then reassess your career path
*TALK TO A PRACTICING LIBRARIAN!!! Preferably more than one!