if they volunteer in a library chances are they will be offered a professional reference

Keene Grammar School Class, Keene New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee.

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a city/town 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)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships

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)?

Readers Advisory and Outreach- These tend to be learned by talking with and building professional relationships with library customers and in the community the library serves. I find that folks wanting to work in a public library seem taken aback that they should have solid people skills- communication, approachable friendly manners and a desire to meet and work with people. Many say they like working with and reading books, they don’t seem keen on emphasizing their people skills.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Schools that issue degrees that are ALA-MLS accredited

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

intern, volunteer or get a part time library job so that they can have professional library job experience by the time they graduate. Even if they volunteer in a library chances are they will be offered a professional reference if they do well in their volunteer/intern position.
Network like crazy with professionals in the field. Lastly keep up their skill sets. Attend conferences, take advantage of free workshops, tutorials and webinars.

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

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, City/town, Public, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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