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 all types of LIS professionals and works at a library with 100-200 staff members in a city/town in the Western US.
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?
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Social media marketing-communications, community assessments, data analysis
When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?
√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly
Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?
knowledge of organizational culture; further development of reference skills / interactions; further development of readers’ advisory; networking; building community relations
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
get practical experience; it will give the candidate an edge over someone else with none, especially when there are 150 applicants for one librarian position. promote your bilingual skills if you have.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
sell yourself; the resume opens the door but the interview gets you in. even if you don’t have much or any library experience, sell yourself based on the experiences you do have — teamwork, customer service, marketing/promotions, handling challenging situations, communication skills, volunteerism… and, always have an answer for every question asked even if you don’t have direct experience.