The quality of the school counts, but you’ll get out of it what you put into it.

school children in japanThis anonymous interview is with a special librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

cataloging, government documents, outreach, interlibrary loan, periodicals, and everyone does reference and classes.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Western US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Other: Depends on which job I’m hiring for

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?

√ Project Management
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ 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?

Collection development

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)?

Local policies, local reference materials. I mostly expect them to learn collection development locally, but it would be lovely if that weren’t the case.

Everyone I’ve seen has had to learn something locally besides local-specific information, but what has varied from person to person.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation

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

No

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

When I was looking at library school, some local librarians told me that library school was mostly pointless except the piece of paper. Maybe theirs was, but mine was invaluable. Take classes that strengthen your weak areas, and give you what you need for your career, but take enough fun or more general courses for flexibility, but most important, put all your effort into each class. Work hard, talk shop with colleagues, have fun. The quality of the school counts, but you’ll get out of it what you put into it.

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 10-50 staff members, City/town, Special, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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