Get a job in the library while in school and keep the job

School children learning to dance, Longreach, Queensland, ca. 1928This 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:

Instruction, reference, cataloging, archives.

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?

√ Other: For the most part, yes. But I believe most of what you need comes from experience.

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

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

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships

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

Communication skills, presentation skills, getting along well with others, troubleshooting, working with the public.

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)?

Probably supervisory skills, budgeting (unless I am hiring for a higher level position). Learning the culture of the institution.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

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

I get a bit concerned when all I see are short (1-4) month “internships” and no real library work experience. Get a job in the library while in school and keep the job. Attend staff development, library colloquia, etc.sessions. Learn how to network.

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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1 Comment

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

One response to “Get a job in the library while in school and keep the job

  1. sarahem

    I’m curious about how the interviewee would suggest that library school students “Get a job in the library while in school and keep the job,” particularly when the library job market is tight and many students are working full-time in other fields while attending school.

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