You can’t teach intuition or the desire to search and find things in library school.

New England Girls School, ArmidaleThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

subject liaisons

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ You can’t teach the job skills I need in library school

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

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

√ Cataloging
√ Vocabulary Design
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ 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?

Yes. I was trained as a reference librarian. Now that Google and other search engines have arrived I find that most newly minted librarians tend to rely on Google and Wikipedia for finding answers. This method detracts from intuition and how to find things. When librarians get stumped or can’t find answers they give up and stop searching. You can’t teach intuition or the desire to search and find things in library school. You bring this skill to the interview or you don’t.

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)?

Interest as a skill is expected. I supervise a subject specialty department. I expect a new hire to be interested in the subject at hand, and to want to look at the resources surrounding him/her. Oftentimes, after a few days of training, I find new hires sitting at the desk looking at Facebook while waiting for a phone call or for someone to come to the desk and ask questions.

I also expect new hires to shadow experienced staff. As the years go on I find that new hires don’t help or listen to other staff who are answering questions unless told to do so.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

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 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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