catalogers, reference, instruction, tech, reserve, ILL, media
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Midatlantic 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
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Basic programming skills — librarians should not be put off by a command prompt. Familiarity with technical terms is a major plus. In addition, knowing information policy is often not addressed: both typical institutional policy as well as relevant state/federal laws.
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)?
Specific tech skills, eg database software, beyond basic understanding of the underpinnings. Some reference and instruction, since patrons are often different between libraries. Some project management, since in school a student is mostly working with library-focused young people, rather than the ‘real world’ of many offices/depts and people of many generations.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
R1-level schools — UIUC, UMich, UT, UW
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
Small, traditional schools that don’t teach new technologies and require cataloging classes
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Polish your web presence (including your own domain name); spend time in different public- and information-oriented places, not just libraries; take classes in database and basic coding; when looking for jobs, read hiring blogs, both library-focused and not
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