Cynthia Landrum has worked in academic, health sciences and public libraries for over 20 years. She is currently both a public library administrator in Illinois, and a doctoral student in the Managerial Leadership in the Information Profession (MLIP) program in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston. She hires the following types of LIS professionals:
I am directly involved in the hiring of library managers, but may be involved in the hiring of frontline librarians.
Ms. Landrum’s library has 100-200 staff members and is located 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
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?
Assessment & Evaluation
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)?
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
I’m partial to the iSchools, or programs that have a research component to their programs
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
No. I generally see library school as a formality. I look at the candidates overall experience, including their non-library experience.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Please take some classes outside of LIS if possible. Take courses in the schools of business, education, or social work. Even if you don’t intend on becoming an administrator or manager as a professional you need to have a fundamental understanding of management principles.
For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.
Do you hire librarians? Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey