children and teens (understand how they operate differently, and thus how services must be delivered differently to provide equity of access)

School Children In Anzac AlbertaThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager.

This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Children’s Librarians

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ No

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
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ 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
√ Other: Writing publicity, blogs, presentations; Child Development (i.e. a basic set of understanding to understand how 0-18 operate psychologically)

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

Project Management (how to set goals, schedule, involve stakeholders, evaluate); Leadership/Supervision basic techniques (not theory, but actual techniques); Understanding of how to adapt library theory and techniques to children and teens (understand how they operate differently, and thus how services must be delivered differently to provide equity of access); Budgeting; Design (this could be web design, print design…but also even more: space design…how the physical features of the library and collection affect usability).

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ No preference–as long as they have the skill, I don’t care how they got it

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

Ideally, they learn it all at school; some things are better developed on the job but need the theoretical framework; programming, outreach, leadership/advocacy, etc, fall into this category.

Grant writing is best taught on the job as different organizations approach this differently; but to write a good grant you need to have project management skills, so I’d rather they come with that.

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Other publication

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

Have no idea. I don’t pay much attention to what school they came from, I really care about the interview/experience.

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

Have no idea. I don’t pay much attention to what school they came from, I really care about the interview/experience.

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

If you want to work in public libraries, take children/teen related coursework. You will need it, even if you don’t think you want to work with young people. (And if you don’t, you should either get over that feeling, or reconsider public librarianship).

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 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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