Interview in SLA IT Bulletin

Last spring, I was interviewed for the SLA IT Division:

http://units.sla.org/division/dite/bite/2008/bITeSummer2008.pdf

One of the question was about LIS education, and I thought I’d include it here:

Question: As someone who is involved in library education, how are you helping to develop the next generation of librarians?  What do you believe the future of library education will look like?

One thing that brought me to Dominican was the emphasis on truth and service in the university’s mission and philosophy. I think it fits well with my personal philosophy of teaching. Preparing new graduates to deal with constant change, use emerging technologies to further the mission of their institutions, and meet the needs of library users while never losing sight of our foundational values and principles is very important to me as an LIS educator.

I just wrote about this at TTW as part of a meme that asked educators to share what they want for their students. I want my students at Dominican and any of librarians I talk to to realize what great opportunities there are for libraries and librarians in this ever-changing world if we pay attention to these skills:

If we learn to learn, it doesn’t matter that this week’s hot technology is Twitter and next week’s even shinier tool is something else. We can still figure it out, use our foundational knowledge to make sense of it and decide if it works in our situation. I teach blogging in many of my classes but the real skill I want my students to get is that they can master any technology/system I put in front of them or their new employers may put in front of them and make it work. Blogging is just the vehicle, like using any of the tools we cover in tech-based classes. If we look at current job descriptions right now, some employers are asking for experience with  social tools, open source software, and “emerging trends.” If I can give students a learning laboratory or sand box to try some technologies in the context of meeting a library’s mission or designing a new service (complete with planning, implementation and evaluation), then I’m preparing them for what they will encounter in practice.

If we adapt to change, we aren’t thrown every time the world shifts. That’s one of the most important things I think we could do for students in LIS education – show them that everything will change. What we’re doing in now in libraries is similar but still very different than what folks did 50 years ago. Think about the next 50 years. What’s going to happen when models like the Maricopa County “Deweyless” library or user-based tagging in the catalog really go mainstream. Should we still be teaching curriculum from the 80s? The 90s? I think not. So this  one goes double for LIS educators. I need to stay on the curve (hopefully ahead of it) to keep changing course specifics to adapt to each shift we go through.

If we scan the horizon, we’re trendspotting for the future. I am so inspired by the librarians who try new things, who look outside the field and bring things back.  If we become trendspotters, we have a good chance of creating the next big thing.  We might simply ponder, for example, what the popularity of a certain technology might do to library service.  Or what bigger trends will mean to libraries in the next 10-20 years. I watch Apple, Starbucks and Borders right now amongst many others. Couldn’t we have a genius bar in our libraries (I know the library in Delft does!)? Couldn’t we tap into marketing the “third place” the way Starbucks does so well. And isn’t there a place for the new concepts Borders will be offering: digital downloads, media creation, etc.

If we make sure to be curious about the world, it makes all of the above super easy. Ask questions. What are things going the way they are?

If my students leave my classes as curious librarians ready to figure out the next big thing and make it work in their libraries, then I am doing my job.

The future of LIS education? Great question that I often wonder about myself. We go in cycles: an ALA president or two will make it a focus for their year in office and then the next president is on to something else. A library school will make great inroads into a new area of tech (like San Jose State University’s SLIS Island in Second Life) or improved distance education. And along the way we’ll have lots of conversations about the impact of technology on education in general. What does this mean for LIS education in 10 years? Library school needs a shake-up. Let’s do a complete review of curriculum. If we’re starting to rely more on outsourcing, do we need a full semester of AACR2? We should integrate ever-evolving technology into our courses and teach the students how to manage that change

Download the PDF to check out the whole piece. Thanks SLA IT Folks! :-)

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