This 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:
Electronic Resources, Serials, Cataloging, Acquisitions
This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Southern US.
Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?
√ Other: Both yes and no – of course the basics are taught in library school, it’s the day to day tasks that need more attention.
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?
√ Collection Management
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ 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?
Basic knowledge of serial publications, including journals (both print and online); Knowledge of the publishing industry; Research and writing for publication.
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)?
ILS system (too many to teach); Budgeting; Vendor relations; Day-to-day management of projects; Web-based systems and software
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
I don’t have a broad enough experience with candidates to answer this question. We generally only get applicants from the closest library schools.
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Don’t limit yourself to one specialty, you never know where a job might lead you.
This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!
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.