Reference, Library Instruction, Cataloging, Electronic Resources, Public Services, Access Services
This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a rural 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?
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ 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?
Good writing, professionalism (ie: how to act and dress in the workplace/communicate with others via email in a professional way, etc.), project/task management
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)?
If he or she has some basic cataloging knowledge, I feel like I can teach them the rest. Most institutions have their own local way of altering records, anyway. Ins and outs of databases can be taught, but search strategies and the importance of the reference interview should be covered in school.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Student organization involvement
√ Professional organization involvement
Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?
University of North Texas, University of Alabama, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Kent State University
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
SJSU, Valdosta State University
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Get any practical experience you can–volunteer, do a practicum/internship even if your degree does not require it and even if it is unpaid. That experience will boost your resume and give you work experience necessary to gain employment. Gain a variety of experiences–you never know what jobs will ask you to do and even if you think you would never want to complete a certain task or aspect of librarianship, you may find it useful in the future. Be flexible, teachable, and motivated!
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