This librarian works at a library with 0-10 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?
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
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Some lack refined speaking and presentation skills; Lack of an outgoing personality – you cannot be a successful librarian if you are introverted and are afraid to move outside of your comfort zone.
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)?
Practice or Subject areas unique to the organization.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Other presentation
√ Other publication
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
Online-only schools. Attending live class (with some online courses, of course) shows effort and a willingness to move outside one’s comfort zone.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Spend at least a year in a quality internship or practicum program. The experience is invaluable.
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