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, Reference Librarians
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern US.
Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?
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
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: Customer Service
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Dealing well with the public, both good and bad, sane and otherwise.
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 our policies, our rules, our catalog and databases.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Other: Customer service experience
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Be broadminded, get experience in all types of libraries and all kinds of library work. Be willing to enjoy a library career in any setting.
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