Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Creative Deliverable: A Short Communication

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Creative Deliverable: A Short Communication

Article excerpt


Students enrolled in programs of Library and Information Science are often given assignments that prompt them to respond with an essay, that is, a scholarly work in writing that provides the author's personal argument. In this article, we take the position that the essay is over-represented as an assignment in the LIS curriculum and we propose an alternative: the creative deliverable.

The essay emerged as a popular genre of academic dissemination in 16th century Europe, with exemplars written by renowned scholars such as Michel de Montaigne and Francis Bacon. Today, the essay exists alongside many other genres and modes of communication. In this Information Age, arguments and ideas are more often conveyed in multimedia formats, rich with images and sound, that stimulate the receiver in myriad ways. Information tends to be packaged in smaller units that require less time and sustained attention to absorb. Also, ideas are often interactive, participatory, or dialogic. Nowadays, to make a compelling point or impression, it is unlikely that an information professional will do so only through the medium of the essay. Rather, they would utilize a website, instructional video, FAQ, PowerPoint presentation, or poster, among innumerable contemporary expressions.

To keep pace with this development, we propose that LIS educators encourage students toward fluency in a wider range of genres, under the umbrella of what we have coined the "creative deliverable." That way, during their coursework, information professionals in-training gain experience in the production of contemporary formats. In this paper, we explain what we mean by the creative deliverable; report a case study of its application in a graduate library and information science course; showcase three examples; outline important practical considerations for its use; and share the student perspective.

The Creative Deliverable

Here, by "creative deliverable" we mean that students be allowed the freedom to display their understanding of course material in an almost unrestricted range of alternative formats and genres, while retaining some key features of traditional scholarship. For instance, instead of authoring an essay, students may opt to write a short story, poem, or screenplay. Employing mediums in traditional visual arts, they can create a painting, sculpture, collage, or drawing. Learners may choose to explore the combination of text and image through an illustrated children's book, a comic strip, or a graphic novel. Other students, drawing inspiration from the domain of graphic design, may decide to borrow visual elements from our culture and present their findings and reflections in the form of a magazine cover, an advertisement, or a billboard mock-up. They may choose non-material manifestations, and develop performances such as dance or music composition. Given the proliferation of new digital arts, novice information professionals should especially be encouraged to explore and distill their ideas and reflections as an animation, video, podcast, or digital print. Social media, too, can be used to creatively display and curate students' work through existing platforms such as Instagram or Tumblr.

A Case Study from the Course Foundations of Library and Information Science

In the Fall semester of 2015 and 2016, an assignment featuring a creative deliverable was included in the course Foundations of Library and Information Science at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Foundations, for short, is a twelve-week required course that introduces major theories and concepts of library and information science. It is staffed by an instructor and two doctoral student teaching assistants, and it typically has an enrollment of 100 first-year graduate students from diverse academic and professional backgrounds.

A major assignment with a creative deliverable forms 30% of the final grade in the course. In Foundations, students were asked to generate original insights into one of three concepts that are central to our Information Age: information, Internet, or librarian. …

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