Learn how to do the least desirable jobs (ie. instruction and web design)

school children in japanThis anonymous interview is with a special librarian.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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?

√ Cataloging
√ Grant Writing
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Reference
√ Instruction
√ Field Work/Internships

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

The vast majority of the jobs that are out there require skills in instruction and website management which are not usually required courses in library school.

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)?

Local procedural variations.

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
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
√ Other: All of the above are helpful.

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

I’m not familiar enough with the different options to say.

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

Not that I know of.

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

Work-study, internship, volunteer as much as you can and for as long as you can! Learn how to do the least desirable jobs (ie. instruction and web design) because that’s how you often have to get your foot in the door. Don’t believe the lies your schools feed you about the job market and how much demand there’s going to be by the time you graduate.

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


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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Special, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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