Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Educating School Librarians in the English-Speaking Caribbean:: The Case of the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Educating School Librarians in the English-Speaking Caribbean:: The Case of the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Article excerpt

School library education in the English-Speaking Caribbean is offered at the undergraduate level at the Department of Library and Information Studies (DLIS), University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. This research describes the programme and the challenges faced by the Department in its delivery. A survey was conducted during the 2011 academic year and the results indicated that the DLIS needs to restructure its undergraduate B.Ed. School Librarianship programme to include recent trends in school library education. It was recommended that the DLIS develop a two tiered programme to be delivered using the blended-learning mode in order to increase its student in take. In addition to this, DLIS needs to include courses that will allow its graduates to possess the necessary knowledge and competencies to function effectively in school libraries in this Information Age.

Introduction

This paper describes school library education in the English-speaking Caribbean within the context of current trends. It highlights the nature of the problem in the delivery of the programme at the DLIS. The main problem experienced by the Department is the decline in enrolment in the B.Ed. programme which arises from the failure of potential students to meet the matriculation requirement of the university and the deficiency of the full-time face-to-face only delivery mode to meet the demands of present day students. The paper also presents the findings from a brief survey done in the present academic year by graduates assessing the Department's B.Ed. (School Librarianship) and one of the past Heads of Department (HOD). It concludes with recommendations for improving the programme. This research is significant in that DLIS is the institution that trains school librarians in the Caribbean and there needs to be empirical evidence to support anecdotal evidences and observations in order to effect changes in order to preserve the B.Ed. programme.

Library Education in the Caribbean

Library education was first available within the Caribbean at the Eastern Caribbean Regional Library School in Trinidad which closed its doors in 1962 and it was not until 1971 that a library school was established at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. At present UWI serves 15 English-speaking countries through three physical campuses in Barbados (Cave Hill), Jamaica (Mona), and Trinidad and Tobago (St. Augustine), and its centres located in twelve other English-Speaking Caribbean islands and its Open Campus. (McIntosh, 2008, p. 1). The DLIS was established to educate information professionals in the English-speaking Caribbean with funding from UNESCO. The Department is located within the Faculty of Humanities and Education and its mission is to "... provide the highest standard of teaching and research to produce library and information professionals well equipped to face the challenges of the dynamic information environment and capable of managing the information needs of the Caribbean for the twenty-first century and beyond." It sets out to do this by delivering library and information studies (LIS) courses in keeping with international standards that is firmly rooted within the Caribbean context (DLIS Quality Assessment Report, 2012, p. 4)

Initially, the Department offered a single three year undergraduate degree in library studies based on the British model since this has been the pattern for the university, which was once a college of the University of London. Over the years other programmes were added such as the postgraduate diploma in 1974 which was converted to the Master in Library Studies in 1987, and is intended for persons without prior knowledge of LIS and based broadly on the typical entry level graduate degree found in North America. In 1998 the Master of Art Library and Information Studies was added as an advanced degree for students who had done the Bachelor of Library and Information Studies. The Bachelor of Education in School Librarianship was developed in 1997. …

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