I don’t see much real application for most of the “core” classes that are generally required in MLS programs.

School Children Visit State Capitol (MSA)This anonymous interview is with a special 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, Technical Services Librarians, Competitive Intelligence Specialists.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern 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?

√ Cataloging
√ Vocabulary Design
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Copyright

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

I don’t see much real application for most of the “core” classes that are generally required in MLS programs. I also think it’s disappointing and frustrating that almost all programs are designed and geared towards public or academic libraries. Specialized libraries are overlooked for the most part. While there may be a few classes on specialized libraries here and there, it’s not nearly enough for someone to leave their program prepared to work in a corporate (or other specialized) library.
I also think there should be more management classes. At my school there was only 1. Not everyone wants to go that direction, which is fine, but for those of us who aspire to that it would be helpful to have more early instruction.

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)?

Research techniques and highly-specific research database proficiency.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Scholarly publication
√ Professional organization involvement

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

I am, of course, preferential to my own alma mater – Pratt Institute. I haven’t found or heard of any other school that do things so drastically differently in their instruction that makes them better.

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

I stay away from degrees earned from strictly online programs.

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

While it’s important to study the material and adhere to curriculum, go after that real world experience. Also, keep an open mind as to what kind of library you want to work in. Don’t just take one track of classes, try a variety of classes covering all kinds of library (archivist/museum libraries/corporate and special libraries). It’s important to be thinking of your future and where you want to take your career, so think ahead and try to structure your classes around that goal while learning and experiencing a variety.

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

1 Comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Northeastern US, Special, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

One response to “I don’t see much real application for most of the “core” classes that are generally required in MLS programs.

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