Category Archives: What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

I will admit to sounding like an old biddy when I say that I am horrified by the lack of writing skills

HM Queen Mother at the formal opening of the new library in the Lionel Robbins Building, 10th July 1979This anonymous interview is with an 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:

Catalogers, children’s and teen librarians, reference librarians and archivists.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban 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)

4

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)
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: Interviewing

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

I’ve found that a lot of candidates who don’t have previous library experience and whose school (usually an online program) didn’t require a practicum are woefully unprepared for actual library work. Their expectations are not grounded in reality. Also, although I’m not long out of library school myself, I will admit to sounding like an old biddy when I say that I am horrified by the lack of writing skills (spelling, grammar) displayed by a lot of the younger candidates I interview.

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)?

Learning the ebb and flow of their new library is an on the job thing. Library school can’t prepare you for the reality of your workplace, all the little fiddly things that each library does differently, the population you’ll be working with, the expectations of your management team, etc.

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)?

If I’m being honest here, I like to see students from the University of Illinois-Champlain, Syracuse University’s iSchool and Texas Women’s University. However, and this is a BIG caveat-although I am happy to see candidates with those schools on their resumes, if they have no practical experience, have a bad interview, can’t write to save their lives or drop in a lot of meaningless buzz-words without understanding their context, I will cross them off my list.

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

University of North Texas. I admit it. I have interviewed dozens of their alumni and I haven’t been impressed with any of them. Some UNT alumni that I work with that I have been impressed with attended just to get a degree, they already had years of library work under their belt.

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

Pay attention to the theory, but throw yourself into the practice. If your school doesn’t have a practicum requirement and you don’t have much library experience, volunteer on your own.

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

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, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

I find finishing a masters program while juggling a job, family and other commitments very impressive,

Geraldine Fain Browses in the Free LibraryThis 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:

research support librarians, teaching librarians, library assistants

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a city/town suburban area rural area in the UK.

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)

2

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ 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?

instruction skills. Nearly all librarians need these skills, whether it’s one to ones, group classes, lectures or staff development

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)?

Local policies and procedures

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

√ Library work experience
√ Conference presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Distance learning – I’ve seen that others disagree with this, but I find finishing a masters program while juggling a job, family and other commitments very impressive, especially if the candidate has worked in libraries while completing their qualification. They often have a better understanding of course content because they are actually applying it and reflecting on it while studying in a way that’s not possible when you do a full-time masters

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

no

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

Get experience

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

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 0-10 staff members, Academic, City/town, UK, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

It’s as if library schools have given up on public libraries altogether

Library Staff, c1990s, LSE LibraryThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee a human resources professional, Library Director. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

technical services (cataloging) librarians, children/teen librarians, adult librarians, outreach librarians

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area  in the Midwestern 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)

2

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ 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 find that the most basic library skills are lacking in MLS/MLIS holders. It’s as if library schools have given up on public libraries altogether. It is exceptionally rare that I find an applicant who has any practice with general reference/reader’s advisory or library programming and outreach, which are the bread and butter of the public library. I don’t expect a new graduate or rookie librarian to be an expert, but I do expect that they will know how to use reference tools (beyond Google) and understand that the majority of their time will be spent at the reference desk working closely with patrons.

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)?

Situational cataloging (the nuances of how my library does it), fine tuning the reference interview (learning to get to the heart of the matter), programs/outreach that works in this community

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 student who went to a live, in person (not remote) program. The difference between on campus and distance ed students could not be more stark. There is so much to be gained working with your peers in a physical classroom setting that cannot be mimicked by an online class. Librarians have to work closely with one another and the public all day everyday, and having the classroom experience to show that they can do that gives them a huge advantage in my mind. As far as I’m concerned, the school doesn’t matter, but the format absolutely does.

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

I have not been impressed with graduates of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. They are way too focused on online education and niche academic topics. They have no real world skill when the degree is finished.

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

Get as much actual library experience as you possibly can. Take a clerk job, do internships as often as possible, volunteer in different areas of the library. Even if you believe you are called to be a Children’s (teen, adult, outreach, fill in the blank) Librarian make a point of working in areas outside of your comfort zone. Most libraries in the United States are small to medium sized public libraries where librarians are expected to not only be generalists as far as librarianship goes, but also to pitch in where ever and whenever necessary to get the job done. Be realistic about how difficult the degree is. The last staff person I hired worked 40+ hours a week at two different libraries while getting their MLIS. Not only did this person have broad academic underpinnings, they had the experience to be able to hit the ground running and succeed early and often in the new position.

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Please make sure you are doing the degree for the right reasons. I meet so many library students who have never worked in a library or have any experience with a library other than “liking books”. Getting a Master’s degree in any field should be done because it is a passion, not because you don’t have anything else to do. I see many more applicants for positions who fit into the second camp. I will never, ever hire someone for a professional job who has never worked in a library before. That is a sure recipe for disaster for both the library and for the applicant. Library schools need to wake up and train students to do what needs to be done in the real world.

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

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 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

a willingness to get their hands dirty – sometimes books have to be moved and we have to do it.

school children in japanThis anonymous interview is with a special 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/systems librarian

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Northeastern 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)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Library Management
√ Research Methods
√ Instruction
√ 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?

Soft skills, time management, and a willingness to get their hands dirty – sometimes books have to be moved and we have to do it.

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)?

our particular catalog, as long as they have the ability to learn that is fine.

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Professional organization involvement

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

Not sure, the majority I see here are Simmons.

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

Get some experience – doesn’t matter how, volunteer, intern, filing service job, just get in a library.

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?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Northeastern US, Special, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

get some experience even through volunteerism

Rural school children, San Augustine County, Texas (LOC)This anonymous interview is with an academic library worker who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

graduate assistants

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban 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)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ Archives
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ 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?

marketing, instruction, information behaviors, web design, project 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?

√ Other: Important to have the skill, but also theory and best practices behind the skill.

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

specifics or the library organization

 

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)?

n/a

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

n/a

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

get some experience even through volunteerism, learn to present and instruct, gain good technology skills, and join professional groups and interact with other professionals

Do you hire librarians?  Tell us your answer to, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Talk to your references and make sure they know who you are!

Library, 1959This 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:

all

This librarian works at a library with  100-200 staff members in a multi-type cooperative 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)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: common sense–but you can’t teach that

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

Most of the people I interview think that cataloging is the ideal job. I hate to tell them this, but we’re about public service and everyone works the front desk/reference. We outsource as much cataloging as we can, and that’s no longer a professional level job for the most part. Lacking often are the presentation skills, the ability to speak coherently to a group, the ability to get an idea/s across. Can you tell a story? Can you present budget ideas? Can you write a grant proposal?

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 of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Student organization involvement
√ Other: Direct public involvement

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

NA

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

No but I hesitate from those who do online programs only as they miss a lot of the intellectual discussion of ideas and theories. These online programs are fine to a point.

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

Get involved in your community. Participate in some of the activities be it book sales, sports team coaching or whatever you’re interested in. And by all means, talk to your references and make sure they know who you are. Lately, I’ve had people use references that have claimed they didn’t know the person. Fatal flaw!

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

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 100-200 staff members, Public, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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)

4

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?

No.

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?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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