The library literature is silent on the Machiavellian aspects of higher ed employment.

School No.2 Students in Dublin New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Generalists.

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)

4

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Grant Writing
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Instruction
√ 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?

At least when it comes to academic librarianship, I do not think that this should be someone’s first job. I value colleagues who have some experience working somewhere else; they know what it’s like to (1) work with others and (2) supervise others.

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)?

Reference interviewing.
Working with the several library platforms (e.g., ALEPH, Innovative, etc.)

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

√ Professional organization involvement

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

None.

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

Nope.

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

Learn how to get along with people. The library literature is silent on the Machiavellian aspects of higher ed employment.
Be curious about the world around you. There are too many introverts in this business.

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 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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