many have no knowledge of higher Ed administration, including governance and budgeting.

School group, Culp, ArkansasThis 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:

Public services

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern 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?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Instruction
√ Field Work/Internships

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

I work in an academic library. Even if they hold an MLS and another advanced degree, many have no knowledge of higher Ed administration, including governance and budgeting.

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)?

Collection development and management. Outreach and liaison responsibilities.


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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Conference presentation
√ Other presentation
√ Scholarly publication
√ Other publication
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement

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

UNC Chapel Hill
U Illinois
U Michigan
U Washington
Indiana Univ

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

San Jose State
Clarion Univ
Kent State

Any from a conditional ALA accredited program

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

Do research on the job prospects in your chosen field of librarianship. Look at current job ads and look to acquire the skills of both entry-level and experienced positions through coursework and work experience. If you have no substantial work in a library setting, your chances of getting hired in my library are nil.

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

Be sure to refer to the language of the job posting in your cover letters. And, do not apply for a job for which you have no relevant skills aside from an MLS – it really is just wasting your time and the time of the search committee.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”:

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

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