This anonymous interview is with an academic 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:
cataloguers, subject liaisons, jack-of-all-trades
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in an urban area in Canada.
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
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
No common traits come to mind.
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)?
Flexibility. It’s hard to teach the variations that are inherent in different libraries. A student who is a quick learner can pick up a these and become better adapted to the work environment.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Other presentation
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
University of Toronto has a longer program (2 years) which gives a student more opportunity for course work.
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?
Go to a school that offers co-ops. In school, real world experience looks best on their CVs.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
Don’t fret when you graduate and have trouble finding a full-time permanent position. There are plenty of contract positions that will make you more marketable and give you a better survey of where you’d like to be in the library world.
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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