We keep running into graduates who haven’t even taken a reference desk course and 50% of their work week is on a public desk!

Opening of schools (LOC)This anonymous interview is with a public 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:

part-time and full-time children’s and reference librarians, library assistants in reference and children’s, and also assist with management team hiring processes

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in an suburban area 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?

√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Marketing
√ Field Work/Internships

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Practical reference desk skills so they have a solid basis for working the public services desks when they begin a job. We keep running into graduates who haven’t even taken a reference desk course and 50% of their work week is on a public desk!

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)?

In-house procedures, enhancement of their reference and readers’ advisory existing skill set, library-specific computer troubleshooting, supervisory procedures and processes if pertinent, how to work most successfully with programming and program providers.

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

√ Internship or practicum

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

Seattle iSchool

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

Some of the folks Drexel has admitted are known to us to be problematic on the job. We’re wondering what the screening process is.

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

Focus on practical skills and, if you know what specialty you’re interested in, take appropriate electives; but in order to focus on a specialty, you’d better have practical experience in that area so you know what you’re really getting into and whether it truly appeals to you. For instance, we’ve interacted with students who think they want a job in Technical Services because they ‘like working with computers,’ not even realizing it’s cataloging and acquisition that is truly TS work

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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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Suburban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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