This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban 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?
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ 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
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Soft skills like communication and interpersonal relations – people working in libraries tend to talk to the public/students/faculty and these skills are handy. Maybe consider hiring a Communication Studies adjunct to teach a course per semester – or just have webinars/short day classes on the subject.
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)?
Library circulation software (to the particular library), the culture of the library/community/school and how that reflects on reference and collection development for that particular library, handling money with some basic introduction to library budgets (in correlation to the school or community the library is a part of).
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Don’t try to pigeon-hole yourself – you never know what kind of library-job you’re going to get and you should have a range of basic skills.
Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.