Reference, children’s, technical services coordination
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern 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?
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Verbal communication–the ability to give directions, whether regarding technology or driving directions–without constant use of jargon or slang.
Ability to work across generations, particularly working with library customers who are not digital natives.
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)?
Local information resources, purchasing regulations, working with community partners
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)?
Midwestern–Illinois, Dominican, Emporia, Wisconsin (Madison or Milwaukee), Indiana
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
Drexel, Michigan–not enough emphasis on working with actual people in public situations
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Get paraprofessional working experience or at the very least a practicum so that you have some experience of what the day-to-day operations of a library are really like as opposed to the ideal of how they should be.
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