graduates really should have a better understanding of the various library functions and their interaction.

School Children in Keene New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with a law firm 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:

Various law firm library positions

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Midatlantic 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
√ Collection Management
√ Research Methods
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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

I think many graduates tend to lack both specific practical skills and the overall picture of the different elements of library operations. Library operations (including cataloging, research & reference, collection management, and budgeting issues) tend to be remarkably similar no matter the size of the collection. I think there’s only so much that can be done in the classroom to provide practical skills and knowledge, but graduates really should have a better understanding of the various library functions and their interaction.

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)?

I’m in a law firm. I don’t expect new hires to have specific experience searching the various databases we subscribe to.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

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

Simmons is probably the only program that stands out for me, although I definitely consider the quality of the candidate far more than the reputation of the school.

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


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

Either have practical work experience from a full-time or part-time library job, or do multiple internships during library school. The real world work experience is absolutely essential in order for me to even consider a candidate.

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?”:

1 Comment

Filed under 200+ staff members, Special, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

One response to “graduates really should have a better understanding of the various library functions and their interaction.

  1. I think persons who do not have experience working in libraries should have to do some sort of practicum. This would help them to get some hands on experience before going out into the field.


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