Practical experience and scholarship are nearly required for any entry level academic librarian job

Keene High School (old) Graduating Class of 1875, Keene, New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

instruction and reference librarians, library assistants (for circ)

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Midwestern 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
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Instruction
√ Field Work/Internships

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

Research methods, assessment, practical experience

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)?

soft skills, collection development, interacting with patrons

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

√ Library work experience
√ Conference presentation
√ Student organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
√ Other: (for an academic library)

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

Library schools that have strong academic library concentrations and programs:
-Indiana University
-UW Madison
-UNC Chapel Hill
-UI Urbana Champaign
-University of Iowa

(but it all depends on the individual candidate of course)

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

UW Milwaukee

(but it all depends on the individual candidate of course)

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

Gain experiences beyond coursework, practical experience and scholarship are nearly required for any entry level academic librarian job

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshallfrom 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 10-50 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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