This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
Reference, research, contractors, interns
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area 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)
What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?
√ Vocabulary Design
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?
Everyone will already tell you this, but more technology and systems experience. If our systems librarian is away, our candidate should be able to do maintenance on a website in a variety of content management systems and also be able to use our ERM. Instruction is key for us, so they need to have the confidence, grace, and humor to present in front of large groups of adults. This can be practiced more in library schools. If you’re a wallflower during your own interview, I’m going to assume that I can’t be safe putting you in front of 60 adult learners.
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)?
Anything having to do with our unique operating procedures – how we handle the details of our client interactions, our systems, etc. But they should be prepared to know the basics and to know how it all fits together.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Internships, internships, internships. Take as many techie classes as you can. Join a club where you’re required to do a lot of public speaking. Library school is painfully easy, so you need to be the one to take the initiative to turn yourself into someone we feel we can’t live without.
This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from 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