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THE PIPELINE: Teacher-Librarian Education--Time for a Rethink?

By Stephen Abram - Posted May 1, 2013
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Warning: Opinions Ahead

It’s February as I write this column, and over the last few weeks, I have had the wonderful opportunity to speak at four library and information science schools that prepare future librarians and information professionals to enter our field. It was a treat to visit and give lectures or keynotes at the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, and the University of Alberta. I have also had the privilege to sit on advisory boards over the years at a few schools such as San Jose State University, the University of Buffalo, Clarion University, Dalhousie University, and the University of Toronto. I have visited and spoken at many more. As the Special Libraries Association (SLA) president, I have visited a number of SLA student chapters as well. I’ve also been lucky enough to participate in leadership institutes for mid-career librarians.

I mention all of this because I’ve had the great opportunity to be in the front row as library and information science education has evolved to meet the needs of a changing future. Some schools focus their efforts on certain sectors of librarianship and keenly focus on producing librarians for schools, public libraries, academia, or industry.

At the outset, let me assert that I am not one of those people who derides new graduates or complains about the quality of LIS education. Frankly, I am very impressed by the vast majority of new students, graduates, and teaching faculty. They’re more diverse, highly committed, and ready to join the profession at large than I’ve ever seen.

I can never understand those who publicly complain about the quality of LIS education, who disrespect their own school or education or other LIS graduates, and who do little to provide substantive input in a usable way to LIS faculty, to directors or deans, or to ALISE, the Association of Library and Information Science Educators (alise.org). I know a lot of other professionals—lawyers, nurses, accountants, dentists, doctors—and I can’t remember a single one who stood there and asserted that the rigor of their education was substandard, prepared them poorly for their work, or was just “lite.”

And yet, in our profession I hear and read this so often. It’s the proverbial gunshot to the foot! Indeed, librarians have an anonymous (sorry, pseudonymous) columnist who regularly publishes her/his/their contempt for LIS education and serves up the myth that grads are unemployable or will fail. I am appalled. I see none of this as an informed and experienced observer. I see people working hard to steer the ship of LIS education while suffering under the burden of an antiquated and less than visionary or flexible accreditation system that limits innovation and experimentation.

NOT YOUR MOTHER’S LIBRARY SCHOOL

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This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-to-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.


 
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