Reference, Instruction, Access Services
This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area 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?
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ 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 what teamwork is and involves – how to be a team player and support co-workers in creating a successful department. We’ve had both employees and applicants tell us “what I want to do”, “what I think is good for you” – a personal agenda – without consideration of the work setting, co-workers…
Likewise, the ability to go beyond “what I want to do” to help the team be successful – coming in early, staying late, covering a lunch break when someone is running late, pitching in when it’s busy – consideration and respect for other team members. We are seeing some entitlement issues with the younger librarians.
Ability to actively listen to supervisors and understand what they are asking of you as an employee.
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 a student job 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)?
The specifics of our location, clientele, how we work within our academic setting.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
√ Other: Customer service experience
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?
University of Arizona – we hired one young librarian from the University of Arizona who came poorly prepared – little knowledge of collection development, how to conduct reference interview, no exposure to students in a classroom setting.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Ask questions – shadow other librarians – volunteer at local libraries