Assistant managers (and any other public library professional positions)
This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Southern 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
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Research Methods
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: Technology basics (how databases work, how internet works, troubleshooting computer problems, common terminology, etc.)
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
1) Technology: Many of the grads I’ve seen struggle with troubleshooting computer/equipment problems or figuring out mobile devices/ereaders on the fly. (On the other hand, some are very tech-savvy; it just depends.)
2) Marketing: The library profession attracts introverts–and they’re not very good at promoting library resources and bringing in people!
3) Balance in intellectual freedom issues: They often jump into battle mode if a patron questions our materials. Nothing spoils a patron-library relationship like refusing to listen/understand/explain in terms they understand when a patron asks a question out of genuine concern. They immediately yell “censorship” and spoil a perfect opportunity to educate without unduly offending.
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)?
People skills–how to deal with mentally ill, for example. It just comes with experience.
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)?
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
Drexel, South Carolina
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Get practical experience–a job in a library, internship, practicum, anything hands-on. Classes are inadequate.
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
If you’re thinking about going into libraries and don’t have a BA yet . . . please, do NOT pursue an English degree!
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