This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Southern US.
Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?
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
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ 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?
If you’re going into an academic library, please, please, PLEASE have a basic idea of how to put together an instructional session and direct a class. We typically hire new grads, so I don’t expect an applicant to have a lot of actual teaching experience, but it sure is nice to see that she has at least some understanding of theories and practices related to information literacy instruction, instructional design, etc. If I’m interviewing you tomorrow, and you don’t have a clue what the new IL Framework is or how it differs from the old set of IL Standards, that’s a red flag.
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)?
The first thing that comes to mind: I don’t expect new reference/instruction librarians to know every database inside and out on Day One. I don’t even expect them to have “favorite databases” (a frequent interview question during my first job search) so much as I expect them to understand how databases work: how to execute basic and advanced searches and how to use filters/refiners/facets in an efficient and effective manner.
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)?
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Simmons College come to mind immediately. And it seems like a lot of the smart and insightful young librarians I’ve come across online and at conferences recently came out of Indiana University.
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?
Skip the reader advisory class if you’re interested in academia. Take that cataloging class, if for no other reason than to understand how it all works. Learn a little bit about teaching. HAVE FUN.
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