I am not impressed with students who went to library school full-time

School No.2 Students in Dublin New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with a special 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:


This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ No

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?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Reference
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ 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?

How do you teach tech-friendliness? I need someone who’s accustomed to keeping up with technology, not someone who took one programming language that is soon to be out-dated.

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)?

The culture of my library/organization

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

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

I am not impressed with students who went to library school full-time. It make a much bigger impact for me to see you balanced school and work, even if that work is not directly in a library. Maybe you worked retail and are excellent with dealing with complainers, maybe your office job helped you message yourself to disparate groups/cultures. Build those soft skills, and get comfortable presenting in front of people and speaking up for yourself– vital in all libraries.

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. 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


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

2 responses to “I am not impressed with students who went to library school full-time

  1. Anonymous

    This interview has typos and this employer sounds bitter – I would not want to work for this person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous

    The tech-friendliness comment is interesting because if you study Computer Science, you are taught one language. In being taught that one language, you learn the basics behind any computer programming language. Also I should note that there aren’t many languages that have disappeared completely from use although some gain favor as time goes on. I think if someone took one computer programming language then they are ahead of the game.


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