MLIS Do Not Apply Small Public Library

School group, Culp, ArkansasThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee, and a member of the Board of Trustees personnel committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

We have not had any apply. Our director and staff tend to be local persons who learn on the job.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a city/town in the Midwestern US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Other: N/A MLIS do not apply small public library

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

√ Programming (Events)

√ History of Books/Libraries

√ Reference

√ Marketing

√ Other: Staff management; Technical skills is always a must: troubleshooting computer issues might be helpful.

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)?

Check out, customer service; laws pertaining to a library district or municipality

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

√ Library work experience

√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

U of I

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

Learn all you can, you don’t know what job(s) you will end up with.

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, Midwestern US, Public, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

5 responses to “MLIS Do Not Apply Small Public Library

  1. Rachel

    Why should I not apply to a small public library? It’s easy to say not to, but I would like to know why. Also, why are you reluctant to hire U of I students? The GSLIS program there has been rated the top in the country (although just like any other school, it has it’s problems, too). Please elaborate.


    • I think this person is saying that MLIS holders *don’t* apply to small public libraries, not that they shouldn’t. There’s actually a discussion about this on PUBLIB right now.
      The people who answer these don’t generally check back in – I’ve only had a few respond to comments. So I’m sorry, but you probably won’t get any elaboration on the U of I thing.


  2. Nancy

    I think MLs don’t apply for small public libraries because usually the salaries are so dismally low in these libraries. And it’s a shame because these small libraries could use MLS graduate leadership and it’s a great addition to the MLS, even if you don’t stay very well. The choice is frequently – small salary – great experience OR better salary – experience everybody else has. The other issue is the training of non-MLS library directors (52% across the country) and how to make that standard and quality.


  3. Some complete sentences would be very helpful for discerning what the interviewer meant. When reading the title/question as an admonition/directive, I was baffled by the answers pertaining to library school and preferred course experiences in applicants.

    This was definitely one of the more spartan surveys I’ve read on here. Further clarification would be really great (if it were possible, or even likely). Are followup questions a possibility when respondents are more vague? Or would that undermine the anonymous nature of the interview?


    • Only people who are interested in doing a non-anonymous interview leave contact information, otherwise I don’t have any way of contacting the interviewee. S/he would have to see the post and click through to find these comments. It’s possible to comment anonymously, so there’s nothing to stop that happening, but I don’t think it ever has.


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