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:
Reference librarians, children’s librarians, teen, programmers, assistant directors
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a mixture of suburban/rural regional library system 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
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
The ability to write and speak well and also the lack of common sense when it comes to want is appropriate attire to wear to both an interview and once on the job. I know MLS schools can’t be responsible for the common sense part, but they can educate a bit about professionalism.
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 of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
While the course work is fine, I am leery of total on-line course work. There is no sense of team-work or social skills involved and I have found that many people with a totally on-line degree have little/no library experience.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Get a broad overview of librarianship. You might think you have no desire to be a cataloger or children’s librarian but a time might come when having some practical knowledge in those areas might land you the right job. Also, try and avoid the whole face/neck/hand tattoo thing….yes, librarians are liberal but many of our patrons are not and don’t understand that trend.
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