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:
Reference/Instruction, branch unit heads, tech service/cataloging, web librarian, digital humanities/scholarly communication, instructional design.
This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members 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?
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Field Work/Internships
Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?
Project & Budget Management, Interpersonal skills, Cataloging (which amazes me that so many LIS schools now do not require it)
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)?
Collection Development, ILS usage
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)?
The ones that enforce a more holistic curriculum. I want to know candidates at least learned about different aspects of librarianship.
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
The ones that crank out graduates who then bemoan that they should have gone to trade school.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Learn the history & theory behind WHY things are done certain ways in the Library world. It’s a lot easier to enact change when you know the whole story. Just coming into an interview or job and saying your new theories are better… you are basically just creating antagonism.
Also, have some sort of customer service work experience, library or no.
(These both are basically people skills)
Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?
We often get several hundred applicants for each job and most are of equal experience. Don’t take it personally that you can’t b a finalist for each one.
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!