Career Strategies for Librarians
Table of Contents & Foreword
What Do Employers Want?: A Guide for Library Science Students
by Priscilla K. Shontz and Richard A. Murray
(Libraries Unlimited, 2012)
Foreword by Kim Dority
Chapter 1 – What Employers Want
Section 1 – The Student Experience
Chapter 2 –Your MLS Education
Chapter 3 –Practical Experience
Chapter 4 –Your Professional Identity
Chapter 5 –Additional Skills
Section 2 – The Job Search
Chapter 6 – How Employers Hire
Chapter 7 –Your Job Search
Chapter 8 –Resumes
Chapter 9 –Cover Letters
Chapter 10 – Interviews
Chapter 11 – Your New Job
Every year, more than 5,000 students graduate from North America’s 63 ALA-accredited master’s
programs in library and/or information science (LIS). They may go into fields as diverse as taxonomy
development, school librarianship, special-collection archives, information architecture, adult services
for public libraries, competitive intelligence, community information services, online content
development, or literally hundreds of other career directions.
What they all have in common, however, is that they are going to be seeking jobs in what may be one of
the most daunting, competitive employment landscapes any of us have ever seen (including those of us
who have lived through a couple of recessions already). Needless to say, any competitive edge you can
lay your hands on to more effectively position yourself with potential employers is a good thing.
What Do Employers Want? is a very good thing.
Based on interviews with a wide range of employers who’ve hired (or not) many LIS graduates over the
years, the practical, proven advice authors Priscilla Shontz and Richard Murray provide in this book will
help you start building your job prospects in graduate school and then give you a fighting chance to not
only identify where the good jobs are, but also successfully land one of them.
Correctly assuming that most LIS graduate programs are strong on teaching information skills but a bit
weak on what it takes to get hired in a difficult job market, Priscilla and Rich lay out the “while-you’re-a-
student” basics. What should you be doing in grad school to start creating job opportunities? What are
the key elements of networking you need to understand and master? What about building a professional
brand while you’re still a student? What other skills can you develop in grad school that will help you
differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other job applicants you may be going up against once you’ve
gotten that diploma?
The result of this wise counsel: every tuition dollar you’ve spent (or are currently spending) is much
likelier to lead directly to a career payoff.
The second half of What Do Employers Want? is equally valuable, and equally important. In teaching a
graduate course in Alternative LIS Career Paths for ten years at the University of Denver, I’ve found that
while my students are almost always excellent at being students, the effort they put in to achieve this lofty
goal distracts them from a critical insight: the purpose of being an MLIS student for a year or two is to
then get a job (or, more likely, a series of them) and support themselves as information professionals.
Priscilla and Rich effectively address this issue in the book’s second half. Calling on their personal
experience as LIS professionals as well as insights shared by those interviewed employers, the
authors’ advice is practical and knowledgeable. The fact that it reflects the preferences of your potential
hiring managers makes it just that much more valuable.
Pretty much everyone now realizes that while an MLIS can guarantee you many, many career options, it
in no way guarantees you job opportunities. You have to create those for yourself. This book will help you
understand what steps you need to take to start creating those opportunities, and then how to
successfully turn job opportunities into job offers.
President, Dority & Associates, Inc.
Author, Rethinking Information Work
For more about the book, see the bookstore page.
About the Authors
Priscilla Shontz and Rich Murray co-edit LIScareer and have collaborated on 2 books dealing with library
careers. For more about us, see the About page.
Article published July 2012
Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in LIScareer articles are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily
represent the views of the LIScareer editors.