That reference class by Bill Katz not only taught me resources, but behaviors by librarians and our customers.

Blumengart School Children 1963This anonymous interview is with a special 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:


This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area. The respondent did not list a geographical location.

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
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Metadata
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ 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?

Project management is huge, no matter where you work, or what your job turns out to be. Being able to break down a project into the individual bits, delegating where possible, and seeing others’ strengths to use for your project are vital.

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 want to see the skill, not just hear about it.

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

individual site/group processes. I expect them to build upon what they learned in school. That reference class by Bill Katz not only taught me resources, but behaviors by librarians and our customers.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other: some experience with the tools they’ll be working with in their new job

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

learn some programming to understand IT, people skills to understand management needs later on, and expose yourself to as much as you can

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Be open to those ‘other’ opportunities that come up. Volunteer for all sorts of cross functional teams once you’re in a job, and learn from everyone. If you’re not an extrovert, try to channel one when you can. Smile.

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?”:

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Special, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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