professionalism (ie: how to act and dress in the workplace)

View of a Pine Crest School student reading in the library Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1966 or 1967This 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, 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?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Portfolio/ePortfolio
√ 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?”:

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Rural area, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.