Category Archives: LIS Education in the 21st Century

SJSU Associate Dean for Digital Futures, IT & Tech Services

Via Karen Schneider on Twitter comes this link to a job description at San Jose State University:

The Associate Dean for Digital Futures, Information Technology and Technical Services will provide leadership for the development of San José State University Library’s digital initiatives & the utilization of emerging technologies to better serve students and faculty.

The Associate Dean may be in charge of the Library in the Dean’s absence and work as a member of the Dean’s Senior Management Team. The Associate Dean will exhibit leadership, solid management skills, effectiveness in resource management, and the ability to build partnerships within the University, throughout the California State University system and with the community.

A little farther down are the requirements of the position:

Critical Success Factors
The successful candidate will have:

• Vision for the library of the future
• Ability to lead change
• Demonstrated effectiveness in planning and assessing technology-based projects
• Demonstrated effectiveness in organizational leadership within a highly participatory team-based
workplace environment
• Awareness of and sensitivity to the educational goals of a diverse population
• Excellent presentation skills
• Excellent oral, written and interpersonal communication skills
• Successful experience in administering budget allocations
• Academic library experience is preferred

I agree with Karen: it’s a neat job. I also see the list of skills as a roadmap, a justification and a set of standards for LIS education.Planning, and not just technology planning, is important as is leadership in a participatory environment. Also, presentation skills and the holy trinity or oral, written and interpersonal skills. That’s why I urge my students to practice their writing, to take every opportunity they can to speak in class and give presentations, and to be mindful of how they interact with each other, with faculty and with their future colleagues.

Now, how do I make the dreaded group project a useful experience?

Ever had to buy ridiculously priced text books?

CK12 Text Books

Assuming they acquire attractive data sources, CK-12’s next challenge will be spreading the word. The education system is not quick to adopt new technologies. I think that finding teachers able to use Internet-born text books will be their biggest challenge. They will have to communicate outside the tech channels that will give them initial buzz.

While the focus is K-12, I have firsthand experience at the beginning of every semester helping college students find their text books. We rarely have them. Way too expensive. Of course there are students who are just trying to avoid paying for those text books but there is another type of student. I’ve known students who struggle to pay for their text books. College text book costs are rising ever higher. Could there be a more cost effective way?

Maybe publishers are slow to offer electronic texts because they think students will just beat any DRM the publisher can install. I know students know who scan their entire text books. One student buys one of the Xnumber of required books and then they all trade scans. (Yes, I know what your thinking about the legality of that action). But, what if publishers offered electronic versions at lower costs than the outrageous prices on the 52nd edition of Introduction to Human Sexuality? Research in other areas like MP3 sales and pay-per-articles prove that people will pay a fair amount for reasonably priced products. But is twice the rate of inflation fair? (Here’s the report via I wonder about the hidden cost this drive for profit Capitalism extracts from all of us -mostly unknowingly.

It’s like going to Canada for prescription drugs: go overseas and you can get your text books for half the cost. Boo that. If there are any (LIS) students/Professors out there want to share thoughts on text book costs -feel free. Just be careful for a backlash if you feel those prices are justified.

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc

WordPress Screencast by Kyle Jones

WP Screencast


In my LIS753 and LIS768 classes, all of the students create WordPress blogs for journaling, reflection on readings and assignments. I asked my graduate assistant and TTW contributor Kyle Jones to give his new MacBook Pro a workout by creating a spiffy “How to set Up WordPress” screencast. For weekend classes where our time is precious, this screencast will be invaluable. Students can set up a blog before class so we can dive right in! Online classes will benefit as well.

Kyle gave me permission to share it here as well – I think it might be especially useful for any Learning 2.0 programs that get the participants started with a blog. Kyle has licensed it under the Creative Commons. If it is useful to you, please let us know.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Ranganathan Revisited Spring Semester 2008

In LIS70 this week, we looked at the foundations of the profession and at some LIS philosophers. It was once again that time to discuss Ranganathan and his five laws. Each semester I ask the classes to decide if they would rewrite the laws. Here’s what the Wednesday night group came up with:

Ranganathan’s 5 Laws-Edited to 4:

Information is for use and it’s for everyone.
Every piece of information is valuable and every user will find value in something.
Eliminate barriers between the user and the information.
The library is a growing and evolving organism.

What do you think?

Previous Semesters:

Education & Employers

Karl Fisch, at the Fischbowl (a staff development blog for high school teachers), summarizes the report “How Should Colleges Assess and Improve Student Learning?”

This stuff always intrigues because I want to make sure we are doing the right things in class. Fisch provides his summary via a multiple choice question:

So, let me summarize (bias alert! bias alert!) via a single multiple choice question:

1. According to this report:

a. Grades are pretty much a non-factor in the hiring process.

b. Multiple choice tests are an unreliable predictor of success.

c. Employers are pretty much satisfied with the content knowledge of their employees and think assessments that cover content are relatively meaningless.

d. Employers want their employees to be more globally oriented, to take charge of their own job, and they must be able to communicate effectively through writing.

e. Employers prefer meaningful, relevant, experiential learning over an isolated, content-focused-only approach.

f. All of the above.

I think it fits to ponder these conclusions in light of graduate library education. A wise librarian once told me during my masters work: “No one will ever look at grades in libraries.” I don’t think anyone ever did when I turned in my transcripts at SJCPL when I graduated. I think the report and Fisch are on the right track: maybe instead of a GPA and a series of 12 letter grades for the coursework, a history of guided and self-directed exploration as evidenced by projects, papers and critical thinking as well as siezed opportunities for experiential learning better tells the story of a an LIS student’s potential for library work. Maybe that multiple choice test is not the way to go. :-)

TTW Mailbox: Heretical Ideas in Library School

Dear TTW:

I’m taking a little one-credit class called “The Thoughtful Professional” in my library school. One of the requirements of the class is to send the professor a short email with a “Heretical Idea” about libraries. During the last 30-minutes of each class we discuss the idea. The author remains anonymous.I wanted to share mine with you because a photo you put in your Flickr stream inspired me. Here it is:

Throw away the library policy book; toss aside the library rules!

Most library rules and policies serve no one, except the ineffective managers who implement and administer them. Managers who aren’t trained to be effective leaders create rules to deal with difficult situations instead doing the tough work required to really solve them. Most rules create walls between people. Most rules establish an “us vs. them” situation. How do patrons/users/clients feel when they see a sign like the one attached?

Instead, hire the best people for the job. Train and empower them to provide the best customer service they can provide. Establish procedures and guidelines, including “these procedures and guidelines have been made to be broken or bent.” Hire people who are kind and compassionate. Hire people who are confident in themselves and their ability to make decisions. Hire people who are optimistic and who possess integrity. Give them the tools to do their job, and set them free to do the best job they can do. And then reward the creative solutions that will undoubtedly arise when they have been empowered to do something greater than fall back on weak-minded rules.

Signed, LIS Student

Wowza, LIS, that is heretical! You make some good points. I hope the class discussion went well. I like the format – it gets people thinking outside of their comfort zone to examine what at first might be heretical or forbidden thinking. Thanks for the note.

We know every library has its own unique circumstances, and certainly large libraries in big cities have a certain set of issues that others do not. How can even the biggest library evaluate the rules?

And, TTW readers, what is your heretical idea?

Oh My! How those LIS Jobs are a-changing!

Some synchronicity:

Kathryn Greenhill notes her new job title:

Emerging Technologies Specialist — Actually, the contract says “Librarian – Emerging Technologies” – but we’re still sorting that bit out… I’m still at Murdoch University and based in the library. The position is funded 50% by the library and 50% by central IT, and covers more than just the library.


I report to the chair of the Learning Technologies Steering Group . The LTSG is a University Committee that looks at existing systems like WebCt and Turnitin, but is also the group where Web2.0 types of technologies are examined for pedagogical use. They are the mob that supported our proposal to set up Murdoch University Island in Second Life. It’s made up of people from the Library, Teaching and Learning, the IT department, Academic staff and students.

I’m impressed – especially with the sense of campus-wide collaboration and planning.

Next, Brian Mathews notes that he and Amanda Etches-Johnson are not going to be the only User Experience Librarians out in library land, pointing to a couple of new job ads:

Position: Information Services Librarian, User Experience Librarian

Miami University Libraries, Oxford, OH, has an opening in the Information Services Department for a User Experience librarian. We seek a self-motivated, energetic, service-oriented, flexible team-player with a can-do attitude who is technology savvy, interested in enhancing the quality of the user experience using Web 2.0 technologies, and teaching about information technology; someone who can embrace an environment of continual improvement and change in an organization that strives to stay close to the cutting edge of technology. This position reports to the Head, Information Services, Interim Assistant Dean.

Responsibilities: The successful candidate will:
• Possess a clear understanding of current trends and new technologies for delivering research
assistance and instruction;
• Demonstrate skills, knowledge, interest in, and dedication in investigating, designing, developing,
adapting and integrating Web 2.0 applications such as social software, virtual worlds, and
handheld devices to improve delivery of research and other assistance as well as enhancing
communication with students and faculty;
• Work with the Libraries web site team to incorporate and deliver user-centered library services;
• Have familiarity with and an interest in usability testing;
• Develop and teach credit/non-credit courses and workshops for librarians, students, faculty and
• Participate with research help in-house and via email, chat, and IM (evenings and weekends
• Participate actively in the Libraries’ team organization.


A stellar opportunity to craft proactive changes for an already successful library exists at Agnes Scott College in Decatur/Atlanta, Georgia. McCain Library seeks a User Experience Librarian to provide leadership for digital initiatives and services in the user, reference, and instructional programs of the library. Responsibilities also include user education, research assistance, and some collection development.

The successful candidate for this position will develop innovative services for students and faculty; manage the library website (taking advantage of Library 2.0 tools where practical), enhancing pages that support reference and instructional activities; oversee the information literacy program with teaching assistance from two other librarians; assess users’ experiences for data-driven improvement; and collaborate on collection development.

Requirements: ALA-accredited Master’s degree. Minimum of 3 years post-Master’s experience required, including significant reference and instruction (group and one-on-one) experience in an academic library. Applied knowledge of emerging information technologies, including learning objects, web-authoring tools, and social networking software. Clear knowledge of current trends in library instruction/information literacy; and ease with teaching groups. Positive, enthusiastic approach to public service in an academic library. Initiative and ability to conceive and carry out projects on a deadline. Ability to collaborate and communicate effectively with faculty and with staff in all areas, particularly instructional technology, assessment, and student services.

Preferred: Programming experience (UNIX – for minor SFX work). Familiarity with liberal arts and sciences curricula. Experience with print and electronic collection development. Demonstrated ability to work both independently and in collaborative teams.

What interests me most these days is looking at the requirements and skills for these jobs and wondering if our program and LIS education in general is fitting the bill for these libraries to have a pool of possible candidates.

And don’t miss Amanda Etches-Johnson’s bio page at her library. I really appreciate the  glimpse into her worklife and the online CV. What a great way for folks to learn about their librarians.

John Berry on the Future

Excelent piece from John Berry at LJ. He mentions that he teaches at Dominican (!) and sums up very well what I’ve also observed in library school and in our realm here: 

Like those who came before them, the current cadre of librarians bring new tools for the job ahead, technologies that make access to information much easier but just as corruptible. They bring that vitality and spirit that, in themselves, are enough to force change and even shape its outcome. At first, those in power will hang on, as they did decades ago. Ultimately, if we remember the future we so enthusiastically envisioned, we’ll make sure the next generation are enlisted, well received, and take what little power there is to share in our chronically impoverished but permanently crusading profession.

We’ve begun to make it easier for change to come and for them to have a stronger voice in our march to freedom of information and enlightenment for all. We’d like to pick and choose among these new librarians, through our programs for “emerging” leaders and other institutionalized indoctrination. But they have already begun to organize themselves, singling out their own leaders and demanding of us only that same access to the profession that enabled us to make some of our future dreams into today’s realities.

Almost done with the semester!

Almost done with the semester!

Originally uploaded by leah the library student

Leah the Library Student posts a nice photo and update that she is almost done with the semester. And she links to a post about her survey concerning the perceptions of librarians:

And still, the best answers can even come from librarians themselves:

“Stuffy and boring, book-centric out-of-touch old lady with applique sweaters of teddy bears holding balloons. Sadly, I know this isn’t true, nonetheless it is the first thing that comes to mind. Mainly due to the root of the word “libr,” meaning book, and the oh so many Nancy Pearl connotations of a “shusher,” yet the term has come to not encapuslate the demands of the position. Viva la revolution.“

And checkout this picture she includes of the Information Commons at the University of Kentucky’s library:

Information Commons

There are so many good things going on here – wowza.

Happy end of the semester to Leah, all the Dominican University GSLIS students, faculty and staff, the Crown Library librarians, and library students and faculty everywhere!