Very few people are capable of even decent copy cataloging

School childrenThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

I use the titles “Assistant Librarian” and “Reference Librarian,” but we are so small that they differentiations are pretty meaningless.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 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?

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Reference
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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

Cataloging. Very few people understand the structure of a MARC record. Very few people are capable of even decent copy cataloging.

Interpersonal skills. Speaking skills. If you’re a woman under 30, don’t “uptalk.”

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)?

Well, cataloging, since they don’t learn it in school. Reference skills that are specific to the needs of the library.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Other: Speaking in public. Often.

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

I think graduates of F2F programs have an edge over online programs. They benefit from deeper learning, and better social experiences.

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. 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?”:



Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

4 responses to “Very few people are capable of even decent copy cataloging

  1. ursulamccartney

    What is ‘uptalk’?


  2. hmm

    Interpersonal skills. Speaking skills. If you’re a woman under 30, don’t “uptalk.”

    …ouch. This comes across very poorly and needlessly gendered. “Under 30” is dubious too.


  3. Anonymous

    I hate cataloging and would rather leave it to the people who enjoy doing it.


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