What are the library students of today learning?
I have been thinking about this a lot lately and starting to talk to some people about it. I am happy to have found out that Leslie Burger, current ALA President and Princeton (NJ) Public Library Director is also interested in this and is looking (I believe) into ways of assessing and addressing it…..
I just wonder what our current library students are learning and if they are learning about Web 2.0 technologies, customer service and the importance of these things to libraries. If we are spending time and effort to “catch-up” our current librarians, unless we are producing librarians who are “up” on these things, we will be fighting a losing battle.
I have been out of library school since 2003 (and that is even longer ago really than 4 years when you take into consideration how technology and the world changes even faster and faster as time goes by). None of these Web 2.0 things were being talked about then, but they really weren’t on the radar then. I had some wonderful professors. I am sure that there are some wonderful professors now who are teaching these things or who are open to them – maybe the library students are teaching them in some cases! – and I am not disparaging library schools or professors. I just don’t want us to focus all of our efforts on the current librarians only to find that the “new” ones also need such “catching-up.”
You might assume that all “new” librarians are “young” librarians. But this is certainly not the case, just as it isn’t the case that all “young” librarians and people know and embrace all of the Web 2.0 technologies and approaches or realize their necessity in the library world.
A colleague shared this (and he can identify himself, elaborate, or not, I have altered the quote a bit for privacy, and hope he doesn’t mind):
I did a talk for (a class) as recently as October 2006. By show of hands, maybe 2 out of 30 in the class had any idea what RSS is, or read any library blogs.
I found this upsetting (because) RSS IS an information literacy technology. Perhaps it is THE single best technology for allowing us to manage the flow, display, sharing, and consumption of information. As promoters of information literacy, librarians should be ALL OVER THIS.
You know, you could say that perhaps they are using RSS and don’t know it, like many “lay” people who are using it but if you ask them they have no idea that they are! Although I think the point is they should know… However, the part about not reading library blogs is just inexplicable!
I posted about it on another blog and got an interesting reply from a library student:
I’m in library school right now and I’d have to say that there’s a division of thirds in regards to the level of skill we future librarians have: a third of us are really up to
date on technology, web 2.0, and the like; a third don’t know a lot about these
things, but really want to learn more and take all sorts of tutorials and short courses from our IT lab (staffed by fellow students) to expand their knowledge/understanding/use of these technologies. The last third don’t have much interest in learning about these technologies, or perhaps don’t even know that this is something they should be teaching themselves… something that’s vital. Kind of like marketing 😉
… And maybe you’re right about needing to educate our professors. I think they also fall into the three categories: those in the know, those who want to be in the know, and those who think it’s relevant/unimportant or are unenlightened.
Let’s make sure we take an even broader view – look at the even bigger picture – and make sure that the librarians of tomorrow coming out of library school will truly be librarians of tomorrow and not librarians of yesterday!
(Maybe things aren’t as bad as I fear – can anyone help me out here?!)
I received this message from Leslie Burger –
I’ve just appointed an ALA presidential task force on library education to
take a look at what is being taught in library schools, consider core
curriculum, and how the LIS curriculum needs to match what we need in the
marketplace. ALA Past President Carla Hayden is chairing the TF which
reports back to the ALA Executive Board with the recommendations at the 2008