This anonymous interview is with a public 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:
Catalogers, selectors, acquisitions, preservation
This librarian works at a library with 100-200 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?
√ You can’t teach the job skills I need in library school
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
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?
√ 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)?
Social services to homeless populations and people with mental health disabilities
How to use library specific tools such as specific databases, homework help and other specific resources
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Scholarly publication
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
I do not know specific schools except for the few that I have researched. I rely on ALA accreditation to handle the quality of education. For the field I hire in, the recruits basically cannot break in without paraprofessional experience. (Technical Services)
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
I am reluctant to hire from asynchronous all online programs
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
If they have to work full time, go to school part time. Do the most they can do (not the least). Expect duds in the group projects. If someone duds out and will not do the work, do it yourself anyway. You will learn and the dud won’t…pay attention to what you are doing and let other folks worry about themselves. Study writing before entering the program. Know the style guides used at the school and study them before beginning. Writing is important. Make connections with students and professors. Foster the relationships you make each semester. Use the library. University libraries are amazing whether virtually or physically accessed. Use the library many times per day. Be interested.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
I forgot to write before…if you have paraprofessional experience, share it with your fellow students. Mentor your fellow students if they do not have paraprofessional experience. Helping others helps you articulate your experience in your mind and for your resume.
Do you hire librarians? Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey