It is so important to learn how to give back to our communities.

School girls in AlgeriaThis 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:

Subject liaisons, copyright/open access specialists, collections librarians, etc.

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an city/town in Canada.

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
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Field Work/Internships

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

I am not sure whether this is a skill or an attribute, but recently I’ve noticed an alarming lack of curiosity/ability to ask questions about assigned tasks from new graduates. They have great reference interview skills but don’t seem to translate this to other areas of their work. Communication skills like conflict resolution, interest-based negotiation, and empathy, which are all key to successful collaboration/group work, are also needed.

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ Other: it is candidate dependent. A candidate with lots of initiative will take skills they learned through coursework and apply them in useful and novel ways. A candidate with no initiative will not utilize skills no matter where they gained them.

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

How to use our specific ILS, and other computing systems specific to our workplace, including vendor software for ordering books.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Canadian library schools with the exception noted below.

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

University of British Columbia

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

Librarians work collegially. Get to know your fellow students, what their areas of specialty are, what their ambitions are, etc. Having a strong network before you leave school is vital. Approach group work enthusiastically. Almost everything I do in my workplace is team-based. Good skills in working in groups (in all roles: leader, worker, finisher, etc.) is extraordinarily vital. Find something humanitarian/charity-based in which to volunteer. It is so important to learn how to give back to our communities.

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

Library school students need to tailor their cover letters more to show me they have, indeed, read the job ad and to show me, briefly, they have something to offer my organization. It is not self-evident from their CV, as many seem to think. Students should attend as many professional conferences as possible while they are still students, and they should be asking a wide variety of librarians about the actual work they do in their positions. Be curious.

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.

Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”:

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, Canada, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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