We are Seeing Some Entitlement Issues with the Younger Librarians

School No.2 Students in Dublin New Hampshire 2This anonymous interview is with an academic 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:

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
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Instruction
√ 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

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


Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Instruction, Public Services/Reference, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

4 responses to “We are Seeing Some Entitlement Issues with the Younger Librarians

  1. Todd Pierce

    This is one of the most useful and insightful post that I’ve read. Though I take issue with any writer who uses the term “teamwork” (for its ambiguity), I did like reading how she defines her concept of an ideal librarian, one who is responsive to the needs of both working environment and library staff. Thus, what this librarian is really emphasizing are the importance of interpersonal skills, which are listed at the bottom of her and his list. It always perplexes me–if we generally agree that interpersonal skills are so important (and I think they are), why do we call them “soft skills”–when these are actually more difficult to develop than the more technical (or hard) skills?

  2. Sarah

    I guess they are called “soft skills” because they are hard to define and very dependent on context. Which is why the idea of creating a useful course on them is laughable.

    I think this particular hiring manager might have a few entitlement issues of their own. Why was it a surprise that the hiree from U of AZ had no collections development, reference, or exposure to working in a classroom? Did she not have a resume, and did nobody look at it? Did the hiring managers bother to ask about her coursework? If they had been doing their job properly, they wouldn’t have hired her.

    • Todd Pierce

      I wouldn’t say that creating effective courses on developing interpersonal skills is “laughable.” In fact, one of the reasons that the San Francisco Public Library is successful in dealing with patrons who are mentally ill is because they have a full-time social worker on their staff. Her name is Leah Esguerra and her training as a Marriage and Family therapist enbables her to deal with difficult people. Equally important, Esguerra often conducts workshops for library staff on how to deal with difficult patrons. Thus, I would argue that teaching those “soft skills” is realistic; in fact, I would argue that Library schools need to make this make this a priority–because as it is–most librarians do not have the necessary training to deal with these situations.

  3. StayingAnnonymousForThisOne

    The entitlement thing is huge. If I have to choose between a greener librarian who will take on any task I ask or someone more seasoned who says, “That’s not really an interest of mine” when I ask them to develop the country music collection/teach a boring class/do any other menial-ish task. Our job descriptions are broadly written and we make it clear that with our staffing issues, everyone has to pitch in with everything. It’s definitely going to make a difference when I’m giving out the coveted assignments or when someone calls for a reference check.

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