This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a city/town 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)
What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Digital Collections
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Practical experience. I think each student should be able to work for a quarter at a library to see what the day-to-day is like and get some experience answering questions and dealing with real patrons. It’s not the same in a classroom. That would prepare them for the types of questions and tasks that they will face daily.
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)?
As a children’s librarian, I look for the ability to do storytimes. I also look for someone who doesn’t talk down to kids. I want someone who, even if they have very little or no storytime experience, can show me in an interview that they have the skills and the techniques to be a good storyteller for large groups (we get 100-200 people at storytimes). The person needs to be able to project and “perform” well. I appreciate enthusiasm, but also an easy-going manner. What is really impressive is when a candidate comes into an interview having looked at our website and familiarized him or herself with our policies and what we offer.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
I feel bad for students who have to do everything online now. It’s difficult to really learn effectively without being around other students and having personal interactions with instructors and peers. Get practical experience. Shadow at a library and see what it’s like. If you want to do children’s services, talk to children’s librarians. Ask about the job and find out what it’s like. Read children’s books! ALL kinds! Knowing some literature is impressive and shows that you are interested in putting the right books into kids’ hands.
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