Don’t believe the myth about the large number of librarians retiring and the impending librarian shortage

Keene High School, (Keene Academy), Keene, New Hampshire


This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Public services librarians

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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?

√ Cataloging
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Digital Collections
√ Research Methods
√ Outreach
√ Marketing

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

How to market the library as in developing meaningful relationships with other departments, the community, etc.

The importance of interconnectedness between various library departments. It is not “us” vs. “them”.

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)?

Library instruction
Library programming (Events)
Perfecting the reference interview
Some soft skills

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

√ Internship or practicum

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

It depends on the requirements of job but generally none.

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

My own alumni school. I checked their curriculum recently and it hasn’t changed much since I graduated 10+ years ago.

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

Try to become as well-rounded as possible to be more marketable to potential employers

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Think very hard before entering the library professional. Don’t believe the myth about the large number of librarians retiring and the impending librarian shortage. There is high supply (job seekers), low demand (jobs) and in many areas the pay is abysmal. Be willing to explore alternative job opportunities, your perfect “library job” may not be in a library.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”:

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!


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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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