This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee and a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
for a small public library – all departments
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area rural 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
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Budgeting and promoting one’s self as a professional
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)?
Specifics of the Library they are hired by. What is taught in Library school does not always apply to a specific community/library. Library school is to understand why – practical work gives you the full rounded how and why together.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
I am reluctant to hire online only students. There is an important dynamic missing when one does not have to interact in person with other students and the instructor. I consider those who are currently working in a library as usually a better hire.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Volunteer or get a part time position – even if it is as a page reshelving books – in the type of library you think you want to work in. Too many decide it is not what they wanted to do after all – especially in public libraries.
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