This anonymous interview is with a public 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:
children’s librarians, reference librarians, teen librarians, catalogers, circ librarians, computer savvy librarians
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?
√ Other: I find they teach theory best. And theory is needed! Day to day skills are either there from the beginning or will be taught on the job.
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?
√ Vocabulary Design
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Unplugging toilets!
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
It depends on the student but frankly I am constantly amazed at what some schools graduate in order to fulfill mandates.
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)?
how to unplug toilets; weeding; programming; hiring staff; firing staff; ease in using various software as opposed to knowledge of how to use the software; supervising
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Other: Other skills are fine to have but not necessary. Most can be learned on the job.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Visit your local libraries often and volunteer even for a couple of hours a week if you can.
This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!