Children’s librarians, children’s paraprofessionals, student shelvers
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area 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
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Customer service skills–thinking on your feet, dealing with irate patrons.
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)?
Individual library policies. The nuances of dealing with library management/library boards/Friends of the Library groups. The neverending broadening of familiarity with the collection (whether it’s popular fiction, databases or other research materials, depending on the environment). For younger new-hires: basic workplace functioning that takes a bit of trial and error to get used to, such as personal organization, planning, how meetings work, scheduling, etc.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
No matter your area of focus, do not neglect technology and instruction. Explore outside your area, rather than picking predictable or “comfortable” paper topics and projects. Candidates who are able to wear multiple hats are more desirable.
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