I Haven’t Noted Any Uniformly Lacking Skills in our Candidates

School Reading RoomThis 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:

Subject liaisons

This librarian works at a library with 200+ 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?

√ Cataloging

√ Budgeting/Accounting

√ Grant Writing

√ Project Management

√ Library Management

√ Web Design/Usability

√ Metadata

√ Research Methods

√ Marketing

√ Instruction

√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

√ Portfolio/ePortfolio

√ Field Work/Internships

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

Not sure – I haven’t noted any uniformly lacking skills in our candidates.

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)?

Familiarity with our particular databases and resources.

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

√ Library work experience

√ Internship or practicum

√ Professional organization involvement

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

Make sure that you obtain library experience, if you don’t have any already, and join professional groups (many given either free or highly reduced memberships to students). I hope to see candidates with a variety of skills and who are technologically savvy. If a student is uncomfortable with computers or web applications, they should take extra courses in school to prepare for a job field now that is increasingly moving everything online.

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 200+ staff members, Academic, City/town, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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