Library Schools and Libraries: Learning Labs

In a recent LJ article by Dr. Michael Stephens states:

End the disconnect between some LIS schools and the libraries in their institutions. Instead, LIS schools should partner with their institutions’ libraries to form learning laboratories. Professors, librarians, and students must work together to create new models of service and outreach. These models are evaluated and tweaked, and effective practice is reported to the greater community.

This got me to thinking.  I agree completely with Michael’s assessment.  Library schools need to work closely with their respective library institution.  Librarian training (as a profession) should strive to be more like medical education.  Med schools and the hospital in which they are a part of rely on each other.  The benefit is well trained doctors and better patient service.  The university hospital benefits from free (or reduced) labor.  Moreover, they have cutting edge research at their fingertips.  The schools strive to teach the most current and best medicine which works its way into the hospital.  Moreover, the medical students benefit from the hands-on, real-world experience.

Perhaps this is most easily accomplished by bring the two units under one department.  Thus the dean of the library school would also be the dean of the library.  By bringing the two units together, the rivalry that exists between the units would diminish.  Moreover, this would allow for better collaboration between librarians and library faculty.  By blending the lines, the theory-practice divide might also be quelled.

While this thought process has been around for some time, and is even found at some LIS schools, a renewal to the idea is in order.  The only con that is clearly evident surrounds a turf-war between the two units.  Each unit wants to protect their jobs and responsibilities, but at what cost?  If this type of education works in medicine, nursing, and other professional disciplines, perhaps it would be well-suited in LIS education.

The benefits of cutting edge research, reduced (or free) labor, improved educational outcomes for LIS students and a more personalized service for the other students is overwhelming.



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Filed under libraries, LIS education

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