Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The (Mis)Education of Future Digital Librarians?

"The problem" with technology classes taught in library schools today "is that there is often a one size fits all approach to the classes," says JLY in the article "What Is Needed to Educate Future Digital Libraries." As someone currently enrolled in library school, I have to ask: Is this approach to library science education really problematic? Is it, in fact, resulting in the miseducation of soon-to-be digital librarians?, as the author of this article seems to be saying.

A library science class at Connors State College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1964.
photo source: http://www.connors.cc.ok.us/gallery

Before I address these questions, I have to commend JLY for asking us to consider the quality of the current state of library science education. Any action that prods educators to update their programs in order to better prepare students for an increasingly high-tech workforce is a positive, in my opinion.

But I don't agree with JLY's critique. I think that at the core-class level of library science education, a general approach to teaching technology skills is not a detriment - it's a necessity. At that level, the purpose of a one-size-fits-all approach is to give students of various backgrounds and abilities an overview of a subject that they can delve deeper into as they progress in their education. And at my library school, there "are different levels of technology classes that students can build upon" after completing a general course on technology as it applies to librarianship. Maybe that's not the case at the library school that JLY went to/is attending. If so, perhaps his/her article on the matter will nudge that school into the 21st century.


WeAreLibrarians.com * November 28, 2011

What Is Needed to Educate Future Digital Librarians

By JLY

In Young Choi and Edie Rasmussen's What Is Needed to Educate Future Digital Librarians; A Study of Current Practice and Staffing Patterns in Academic and Research Libraries, they studied and surveyed 48 librarians from 39 insitutions. Here are their results:

  • While there are emerging units and positions within digital libraries, the working environment of digital libraries is collaborative in areas that range from computing systems to traditional library functions.
  • Professionals working in those areas tend to be young and are relatively recent graduates. Because many libraries will eventually be transformed into digital libraries, and require professionals educated in this area, digital library jobs will be very attractive to the next generation of the library profession.
  • Major tasks in which digital librarians are involved include management, leadership, and website-related tasks. Managerial tasks emphasized planning and oversight of digital library projects, while providing leadership and expertise in digital library areas contained elements of collaboration with other members of the library staff and with users. Trend analysis, such as monitoring the practice and standards of current digital libraries, is critical in these jobs.

I definitely think that library schools need to promote technology in their programs as most libraries are digital. The problem is that there is often a one size fits all approach to the classes. There are students young and old who have different skill sets and backgrounds that may or may not have prepared for the technology classes. Everyone knows which professors are the most challenging. What student is going to want to take a particularly challenging class when they don’t have the background for it? What library schools need are different levels of technology classes that students can build upon.

What are your thoughts? What do you think is needed to educate future digital librarians?

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