Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Envisioning Our Information Future and How to Educate for It

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Envisioning Our Information Future and How to Educate for It

Article excerpt


With advances in information technology, personal and work-related information behaviors are changing rapidly. Library and Information Science (LIS) education is being challenged, not only to keep pace, but to take the lead. Adapting to these changes and creating an iterative process for evaluating and implementing relevant curriculum focused on innovation, continuous learning, and critical engagement within a global and diverse context, will determine the success or failure of LIS education.

When we began to think about a revisioning of LIS education, we identified eight trends that impact the roles of librarians, archivists and information professionals now and in the future. Three broad categories of change include technological, demographic, and globalization. The technological changes are rapid and frequent: search tools, mobile technology, social media, questions answering services, big data, and growth of digital content are examples of technological trends that directly impact library and information science. In addition the users served are becoming more diverse, whether in local communities or reaching out across the globe. Which knowledge, skills, and abilities will be needed by information professionals to successfully lead and shape our information future?

This is not the first time that LIS education has recognized the need to rethink and reinvent itself. The Kellogg Foundation provided funding in 1994 to four LIS schools, Drexel, Florida State, Illinois, and Michigan, to test innovative approaches to LIS education. Barber (1996, p. 65) noted: "New models and approaches must be developed for organizing, searching, retrieving, analyzing, packaging, delivering, and preserving relevant information. And new types of service professionals are needed to develop and implement these new models and approaches." The results of this effort included new names for some of the schools involved, curriculum expansions, and innovative projects (Marcum, 1997) but did not lead to a widespread rethinking of LIS education.

The need for transformative change in LIS education is now more broadly recognized than was the case two decades ago, given the challenges faced by libraries and other information organizations. For example,

* The ACRL/NY Annual Symposium 2012 website notes: "Academic librarians are under tremendous pressure to adapt to changes in technology, declining budgets, 're-skilling,' and cultural or institutional expectations. Through necessity and ingenuity, some librarians are adapting by seeking out new opportunities for collaboration, innovation and creative service offerings that meet our users' evolving needs with limited resources" (ACRL/NY). The organizers of the symposium hoped to encourage academic librarians to take risks and demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit. LIS educators need to be involved in conversations about "re-skilling" so that new graduates are prepared to take on new roles and those seeking to retool have appropriate options for certificates through continuing education within LIS programs.

* The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries Working Group, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, brought together various stakeholders to begin a conversation about transforming public libraries for a more diverse, mobile, and connected society. A report was generated based on the initial meeting which took place in 2013 (Aspen Institute, 2014). Unfortunately, no LIS educators were included in this conversation.

With libraries transforming themselves, it is essential that LIS educators also transform LIS education. Marchionini and Moran (2012) identify four components that need to be re-examined: the characteristics of students who will become successful information professionals; the type of faculty needed; the curriculum; and the modes of delivery. There is no general agreement as to what is considered to be "core" to the MS-LIS degree. …

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