catalogers, metadata, eresources, digital services, subject librarians, administrative/management
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 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?
√ 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?
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Information Behavior
√ Field Work/Internships
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)?
Anything that is specific to the job, really. For example, it would be good for a job candidate to know basic principles of collection development and I would expect them to be able to apply those ideas to the specific collection environment, but I don’t really care if they know how to use gobi specifically. They have to be able to learn how to, though!
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
When I have served on committees, I haven’t really cared that much, but I do personally have a bias against online programs (having worked for a different online degree program). We haven’t had many candidates with those degrees, though, and in my department we do often ask for a second master’s.
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
If they did well in the phone interview and on-campus interview, no.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
We always have on-campus interviews with presentations, even if it’s a cataloging job. You need to be able to give a coherent presentation and answer questions. This is definitely not something taught in most library schools, but if you bomb your talk, that’s kind of it. Our recent metadata, e-resource, and digital services hires *all* gave good talks. The other aspect you need to cultivate is flexibility/adaptability; do not be one of those people who freak out if an interface changes and you have to teach it tomorrow. Finally, if you are interested in going into academic libraries, you need to specialize in something. If you can kind of teach, kind of catalog, and kind of code, but don’t have enough ability in any of these areas, it’s not very attractive to us (we are a small research library).
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?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey