Reference, subject liaisons, instruction, web services, digital collections
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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?
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Instruction. Many library schools still don’t offer this or offer it as an elective. If you are going into academic libraries, you need this. Unless you are in a very specialized, technical position in an ARL library, you will have to teach.
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)?
Outreach and how to be a good liaison are the top two. I expect new hires to advance quickly on most of the core concepts they learned in library school. For example, I don’t expect someone to come in an excellent teacher, but I expect them to come in with the basics and the dedication to work to improve so they become an excellent teacher.
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 some outside of the classroom experience, whether it is paid or not. We always look at what experiences candidates have outside of coursework. This serves as a good gauge of not only their knowledge, but also their interests and dedication to continuous learning and to librarianship in general. I have never hired an entry level candidate that did not have some practical work in libraries to enhance their coursework. In other words, the degree alone is not likely to get you a job.
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?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey