Category Archives: LIS education

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

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