Subject librarians, reference librarians, catalogers, access services, special collections librarians, technical services librarians, etc.
This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern 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?
√ Project Management
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ 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?
Instruction and services to special populations
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)?
Depends on the position. Perhaps leadership and “soft” skills such as that. They should definitely have some of this before then (and demonstrate it), but especially for those that are fresh out of school, it’s understandable if they need to develop these a little more and are just showing signs of potential.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
No real preference, so long as they are from ALA-accredited schools. If someone happens to have graduated from my same school, I might take notice of them, but not to the point of giving them preferential treatment over another candidate from another school. I’ve certainly been on committees in which we’ve considered and then hired candidates from other schools even though some graduated from my own.
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
Not in particular.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Get transferable experience! Even if it is not specifically in libraries, as long as they can demonstrate its applicability towards the position to which they’re applying, that is what will likely grab our attention.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
The job market is tough, but stay strong!
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