Ivory Towers and the Great Divide

I have been pondering and grappling with something lately.  Many people have commented on the theory-practice divide in LIS.  This ivory tower approach to our profession, in which LIS faculty and practitioners seldom cross lines, seems to only hurt us.  In the last three months I have been to three state association conferences.  At each of these, LIS faculty seemed to be not present.  They seldom present at state conferences, and do not seem to attend at all.  This has been bothering me a lot.  I have engaged in conversations with friends of mine outside of LIS, and asked if their profession experiences the same thing.  From accountants to doctors, the resounding answer is always the same, NO! They argue that the faculty need to know what is going on in the field, and they gain this knowledge from state and local conferences.

This is not to say that professors in LIS never join in the practitioner conversation, some professors are great at informing us, and listening to us.  Michael Stephens, and R. David Lankes come to mind.  However, they seem to be the exception to the general rule.

I think we practitioners need to contact our respective LIS schools and request that they join in our conversation.  I also think that we need to enter their world.  For example, a quick glance at the upcoming ALISE conference reveals a similar lack of participation on the part of practitioners.

I exist is some in-between world.  As many of you know, I am rapidly approaching completion of my Ph.D in LIS.  I am still unclear if I will enter into the world of academics, or administration, however I know that either way I will fight to open conversations between LIS faculty and LIS practitioners.

Perhaps I am wrong, and if so, please let me know.  I just can’t see how a divide profession serves us, the schools or most importantly, the patrons.  I long to see collaborative articles and presentations between faculty and those of us in the field.


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Filed under LIS education, rant

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