Have a sister-in-law who’s a library director.

Westmoreland School House Number 9, New HampshireThis 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:

electronic resources trainers, reference librarians

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?

√ Other: I’ve never interviewed someone who did not also have library work experience, so I don’t know

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?

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Research Methods
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Field Work/Internships

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

some didn’t have the office productivity software skills they claimed to have, not enough spreadsheet or desktop publishing experience.

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)?

class instruction can be learned on the job. readers’ advisory. programming. most of that stuff has already been created and might be library specific as in, “our patrons love mysteries” or “we don’t do music programs here.”

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

√ Student organization involvement
√ Other: all I had was student organization involvement when I got my first job, so that’s the least anyone should have, I guess.

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


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

never thought about it. but I guess I might avoid distance MOOCers.

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

try to get a line on a job asap. be willing to relocate. have a sister-in-law who’s a library director.

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, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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