One question I ALWAYS ask is “what did you do to prepare for this interview?”

School Children In ParaguayThis 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:

Managers, Adult Services Librarians & Associates and Youth Services Librarians & Associates.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an inner-ring suburb 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)

4

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Other: Customer service

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

Customer service

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)?

How to customize services for that library’s community.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

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

None

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

None

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

Get as much practical experience as possible. Failing that, get some kind of customer service job. I hired 28 people last year. Some of the most successful employees had previous jobs as: a bartender, a Disney World staffer, counselor to special needs children and retail.

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

Before any interview, research the library as much as possible. Also, if possible, visit the library prior to the interview. One question I ALWAYS ask is “what did you do to prepare for this interview?”. The variety of answers is vast and there are many ways to answer this well. However, most candidates that we hire have done their homework and end up doing great work for us.

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 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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