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:
Reference/Information Literacy Librarians
This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern 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?
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?
I’ve had several applicants who were seriously lacking in soft skills.
When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?
√ Other: I like to see that they’ve had some experience in a library, but I don’t care how they got the skill.
Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
Drexel University; University of Pittsburgh
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Make sure you get some Library experience through an internship/externship or volunteer!! Real experience will round out your educational experience and make you a more viable candidate.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
This is some advice for students or other job searchers:
Remember that a rejection letter/email is not a personal rejection. The Library that you applied to probably had a good number of candidates and you just didn’t make the cut. The person sending the letter doesn’t have enough time to send each person a detailed letter explaining why that person isn’t being interviewed.
Sending a bitter letter back to the contact person demanding to know why you weren’t interviewed won’t help you get this job. (They already sent you a letter telling you they hired someone else.) It WILL, however, result in your name being filed away in the “we never want to interview this crazy person” column in the contact person’s memory.
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