You should understand technology on a basic level and not be afraid, this includes social media and website development

School Reading RoomThis anonymous interview is with a public 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:

Children’s, Adult, Teen, Supervisors for Collections, Children’s, Information and Community Services.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 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)

4

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ 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?

Creativity and innovation, commitment to continuing education, comfort with dealing with difficult situations, problem solving, seeing the bigger picture, and patron/customer service skills.

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)?

Functions of the organization, specific software, library resources and tools used for the job, corporate culture, advance skills in reference, collection development, programming, etc.

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Other: Conference Attendance

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

San Jose State, University of Washington, UCLA, University of Arizona, Texas Women’s University, are those I am familiar with.

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

No.

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

If you do not have experience, do an internship or two or volunteer. Working in the profession is critical. Take classes that truly interest you, but do not be afraid of trying “new” or “different”. Cataloging is not dead, though metadata is important. You should understand technology on a basic level and not be afraid, this includes social media and website development. Keep an open mind. Stay abreast of the profession, don’t think what you learn in library school is the end all be all. So do some self continuing education at all times, even during library school. School won’t cover everything. Good Luck!

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?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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