Evaluating Our Institutions and Education
The posting of a job at Wayne State University Libraries back in January was worthy of note to me because it was the first time I'd seen Web 2.0 tools specifically mentioned in a job ad. The 2.0 meme was indeed unfurling into many facets of libraries. A few weeks later, Jenny Levine posted about another job—this time for a school media specialist with definite 2.0 duties.
As part of a team charged with updating and aligning all of the SJCPL jobs, I spent a lot of time one year rewriting and redefining various job descriptions, so these recent job offerings intrigued me.
From an academic standpoint I was intrigued too: Were the LIS schools offering the classes needed to educate librarians expected to perform these duties? I had introduced my section of LIS753 Internet Fundamentals and Design at Dominican to blogging and other tools and had required the group projects to focus on such things as wikis, podcasting, RSS, and 21st-Century Library Web sites. I was glad to participate in a panel discussion on the topic of technology in LIS education at the Ontario Library Association, and the topic would make for an excellent ALA or ALISE program as well.
When the Canadian Public Librarian 2.0 job went up, I posted again, and this time Chris Harris commented: "As the guy hiring for the School Media Specialist one, the real question will be what type of applicants did we get? The posting closes tomorrow, so I will have to see what this brings. I am worried that there may not be a huge applicant pool of candidates emerging from library school ready to step in and tackle Web 2.0...much less Library 2.0 ideas."
In my thinking, there are two charges here—one to libraries and another to library schools.
Libraries may want to evaluate and redefine certain jobs as we move more and more into a user-centered, user-driven environment, in which primary duties may include creating online tools for collaboration and creation, developing innovative programs, and serving as instructors and "strategy guides" for users. The dilemma: What duties and processes need to roll off job descriptions in order to make room for such tasks? What does this mean for our institutions?
John Blyberg has written about the flattening of library organizational charts, and I concur. Last fall at Chicago Public Library someone asked us, “What is the shape of the future library?" I responded that I believe it will be much flatter and made up of workgroups or teams that collaborate in many different permutations.
Library schools should evaluate the technology-focused courses they offer and make sure they are aligned with what is soon to be expected of recent graduates. Steven MacCall's health sciences-librarianship course, augmented with library 2.0/Web 2.0 principles and tools, provides a touchstone for how one LIS professor is answering this charge. Last summer at UNT, Dr. Samantha Hastings urged our cohorts to try out a wiki for collaboration and conversation. We built pages devoted to group projects, and all of us could watch the evolution of our digital reference papers.
I'm fascinated to see the next wave of job descriptions coming from libraries that are on the cutting edge of future thinking, that are driven by user needs. I'm equally fascinated to see how library schools respond to these tools as well.
LIS Students that read TechSource—what have you experienced so far to prepare you for a 2.0 world? Please comment or e-mail me!
Technorati tags: information science, information science studies, library education, library schools, library2.0, library 2.0, web2.0, web 2.0