Some of the younger people I’ve interviewed are painfully awkward in general conversation

South African Public Library, n.d. This anonymous interview is with a public 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:

Technical services, collection development, reference, public services (children’s and teen).

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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
√ Library Management
√ Digital Collections
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Outreach
√ 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?

Soft skills, but that may be a generational thing. I’m going to sound like an old coot, but some of the younger people I’ve interviewed are painfully awkward in general conversation. How can I expect good customer service from someone who is completely introverted? Also, the art of the reference interview/reader’s advisory seems to have diminished some.

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)?

Working with a diverse public. Often you don’t really get it until you experience it.


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)?

Any of the top 5.

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

I haven’t been blown away by students from University of North Texas. Of all my interviews, they’ve been the least-prepared for a career in libraries-unless they’re already working in one.

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

Diversify. Learn a bit of everything, especially technology.

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!

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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