Do not whine on listservs about your internships.

School Children in Keene New HampshireThis 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:

Academic Librarians and Archivists

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?

√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ 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’m amazed at the number of candidates who dislike or are not knowledgeable about basic technology needs in libraries and archives.

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)?

To some extent, soft skills may be learned on the job, but it helps if the student at least recognizes they matter before starting a job. Every institution is different and a flexible, well educated new employee will pick up on institutional culture and adjust.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Michigan; Illinois; UNC Chapel Hill.
however, I do not think it truly matters. I have hired people from all sorts of institutions. I may think the above are the best but I do not think it influences it my decision. I may be more likely to look closely at a candidate from one of those schools.

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

I wonder about online degrees from any institutions.

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

Find excellent library related jobs or internships. Pay your dues. Do not whine on listservs about your internships. Take group projects in school seriously. Take advantage of every opportunity to explore and learn about the career from visiting speakers, your professors, and your fellow students.

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?”:


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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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