This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an city/town 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)
What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Research Methods
√ Information Behavior
√ Field Work/Internships
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)?
Institution-specific vocabulary, processes, tools, and customs can only be learned on the job. People forget how practices (and hence, expectations) can vary widely.
Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?
√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement
Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?
No, but I would be wary of any graduate that did not have practical library experience outside of coursework, whether an internship or employment. Ultimately, it would negatively influence my perspective of the program.
What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?
Get the degree as cheaply and as quickly as possible, and make sure that you obtain practical library experience before you go on the job market in a professional capacity.
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