This anonymous interview is with a public 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:
librarians for a branch library (all levels – entry through supervisor and youth librarian)
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area in the Southern 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?
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Information Behavior
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Library Management is consistently lacking and was when I was in library school.
Reader’s Advisory – especially for public library-focused students – is important, especially in youth and teen areas and is not taught well in many places.
Technical skills are getting better, with many schools requiring blogging or web site development, but both Information Architecture and Knowledge Management aren’t covered well in many programs.
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 coursework 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)?
Customer service, staff interaction (especially as we’re seeing younger and younger LIS and IS graduates, for whom this is the first job), the specific ILS that the library uses
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
No real preference – it all depends on the candidate.
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
University of South Florida
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Do as many internships and get as much practical experience as you can. Theory is an excellent start, but nothing beats experience.
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