This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee, and a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
Only the Director is an MLIS holder in this library.
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a rural area in the Western US.
Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?
√ You can’t teach the job skills I need in library school
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?
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Web Design/Usability
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Business related skills are lacking, as are realistic and practical expectations of libraries and library patrons when new librarians come to their first place of work.
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)?
All a new hire should need to learn are the particular WAYS of doing things in a new library, and learning the patrons’ preferences and behaviors.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Work in a library first, as an aide, page, technician level 1, before going to library school. If you don’t know what you’re really getting into, you are making a huge and costly mistake.
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