some of the applicants/interviewees I get are awful and clueless.

Keene High School, (Keene Academy), Keene, New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Young adult librarians

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an 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?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ 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?

Outreach, understanding what outreach is, how to reach out to underserved parts of the community etc. Keeping up with technology and how to use it. Marketing, not every library has a graphic designer or PR person you may be making your own flyers and writing your own blurbs have a bit of knowledge of the software you can use, basic graphic design and how to approach different when you’re writing really helps. Some interview coaching would be nice too. (This a public library perspective)

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)?

How specific software/online tools work at the library. How programming/events cycle works. I would want person to have basics/background and then would fine tune through additional training/experience. Knowledge of different types of tech and would expect them to keep learning more and keep up to date. Ordering/selecting/weeding is much easier to understand when you take a hands on approach.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

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

I don’t care where they went. It’s what they’ve done or hope to do.

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


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

Get a job in a library, do field work, volunteer, know about the area you want to go into, be up to date on it. Stay up on trends, try new things out. Just because you like to read doesn’t mean you should be a librarian.

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

It’s great what you guys are doing because some of the applicants/interviewees I get are awful and clueless.

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?”:

Leave a comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.