This anonymous interview is with a librarian who hires for a special library and e-document/records management. This person has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee, and hires the following types of LIS professionals:
S/he works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a city/town in Canada.
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?
√ Vocabulary Design
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: Group facilitation skills, general change management
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Unless they’ve been a teacher, group instructional skills and facilitation –not just for teaching, but also for running focus groups, client engagement sessions.
Managing projects that require group user behaviour changes and organizational culture change. Business acumen that forces them to think very broadly and out of the box…library school tends to train students to analyze, develop options and make a decision after careful consideration. The business world nor even govn’t, is like that, especially when moving up through the food chain.
When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?
√ Other: It depends on the type of critical needed skills
Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?
Change management, managing client expectations.
Complex project management, risk analysis and change management.
Complex business process analysis and workflow.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Other publication
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement
√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
As long it’s ALA accredited.
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
If program was purely online courses.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Get to know some student colleagues well to share thoughts, idea. They will become valuable professional colleagues and friends –I value mine through the course of my career.
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 schools, 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