This anonymous interview is with an academic 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:
systems librarians, subject liaisons
This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern.
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
√ Project Management
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Project management skills, time management skills, soft skills like communication and interpersonal skills, how to write and manage e-mail, presentation skills, instructional design and familiarity with educational psychology
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)?
Public services, how to troubleshoot computers, local policy knowledge, collection development skills, subject-specific knowledge for liaison work
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
UNC Chapel Hill, Rutgers, Drexel, Syracuse, University of Pittsburgh, UT Austin, Illinois, University of Washington
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
Clarion, San Jose State, Louisiana State
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
They must gain well-rounded work experience while in school, whether this means finding an employer that lets them try on several roles and take on many different projects, or patching together a number of different internships or jobs to build a well-rounded resume. In my opinion, students should have basic familiarity with IT, Web design, and social networking tools.
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?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey
This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!