Office Hours: Goals of an LIS Educator

My new column is up at Library Journal online:

http://bit.ly/bD8ZOS

This exercise helped me clarify my philosophy of LIS education. Some of my goals include:

To prepare LIS students for a decidedly digital future in libraries. With titles like Digital Strategy Librarian, User Experience Librarian, or Strategy Guide, jobs being advertised speak to an evolving skill set that not only includes a solid understanding of the core values of LIS but a strong knowledge of information architecture, online user behavior, and the ability to build networked resources and services. We do our students (and programs) a disservice if they graduate with only a cursory understanding of library tech—emerging and otherwise.

To remember that 20th-century policies don’t always work in 21st-century learning/sharing spaces. I still post library signage on Tame the Web (www.tametheweb.com) that shows how backward some library policy is. There’s just too much competition from other third places for us to greet our user communities with placards proclaiming No this and No that. Beyond signage, do our user policies extend the library to our constituents in ways that benefit them? Is the library usable? (See Aaron Schmidt’s LJ column, The User Experience, for more on this.)

To promote truth and open communication. For over two years, Michael Casey and I wrote The Transparent Library column in LJ. Transparency—open planning and open communication—should be key in managing our organizations in this post–Web 2.0 world. Institutions bound in secrecy and controlled information flow cannot thrive. New graduates with different mindsets can be change agents—hire them.

To give students environments for exploration and experience. With Dominican GSLIS grad Kyle Jones, I’ve built online communities for each of my classes. I want my students to experience writing on the open web and not behind the firewall of Blackboard. New grads will find few jobs where all of their time will be inside a firewall or hiding in the back of the library. As a service-oriented profession, many of our services have, or will have, an online component. Other jobs/services will take the librarian physically beyond library walls into academic departments or the community.

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3 thoughts on “Office Hours: Goals of an LIS Educator”

  1. Michael — What are you using to build your online communities? I appreciate writing on the open Web but I also want them to be honest in their practicum situations which need to be discussions that are honest without putting them at risk of some kind of backlash. I very much want to move to a more transparent professionalism but with some protection as well. I think the same would be true in a professional situation as well.

  2. Floyd – I think you can have both transparency and protection. Reflective open blogging about day to day issues and learning is a good start. A paper shared between student and professor with honest details or constructive criticism would balance nicely. It might depend on the level of openness and transparency the hosting library has. Thanks for the comment.

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