While Non-library school, A High Level of Competency with Microsoft Office products

School Children In ParaguayThis 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:

Instruction and reference librarians who also have other responsibilities such as circulation, cataloging, or collection development.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 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
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ 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?


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)?

A specialized skill or two that one hadn’t taken in library school – can’t have them in school for 4 years! – such as archives or metadata.

I expect them to have these skills: instruction, instruction, instruction including the preparation of audio, video and online tutorials, reference, collection development, the basics of cataloging (i.e., about LCCS, LCSH, RDA, and how the automated system affects the user), the basics of serials management, and, while non-library school, a high level of competency with Microsoft Office products.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Student organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

Can’t answer this. Haven’t had to hire enough people over time to identify schools in one camp or another.

In the end, the school doesn’t matter. The demonstrated ability of the candidate is what I use to determine whether to hire.

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

Get as much practical experience as possible. If not within a library, in positions where the work skills transfer to a library situation: requires the ability to teach effectively, to find information and evaluate it, to make a case for a particular product/method/process, and to work well with many types of people.

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Well done. I hope it gives you and readers helpful information.

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 0-10 staff members, Academic, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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