When you start a new job, be nice to everyone (not just the librarians – everyone)

Rural school children, San Augustine County, Texas (LOC)This 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:

subject liaisons with key functional areas – i.e., outreach + subject area responsibilities.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town 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?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships

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)?

+ How to be a good colleague (can’t teach that – that’s why the pre-professional experiences are so key)
+ Community/campus-specific information – culture, programs, majors, etc
+ Refining of their research agenda – I wish LIS schools trained students in methodologies and statistics.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Other: conference presentation OR scholarly publication – either is a plus but not required in my opinion

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

University of Illinois

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


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

+ Find a job/internship that will give you practical experience and good, solid professional references who can speak to your collegiality, willingness to work hard, and flexibility

+ READ THE LITERATURE, especially if you want to be an academic librarian on the tenure track. Try writing and submitting your work.

+ Go to professional conferences to listen and participate.

+ Take research methodology courses if your LIS program doesn’t offer them – sociology or anthropology departments may offer something of interest.

+ Have people read your cover letters, practice doing phone interviews, practice your presentations for on-campus interviews, and send written thank you notes after on-campus interviews.

+ When you start a new job, be nice to everyone (not just the librarians – everyone), learn the culture and keep up your connections with your library school colleagues and faculty.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from 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, Academic, Midwestern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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