Magazine article American Libraries

Changing Library Education: Instructional Program Transformation Is Key to the Profession

Magazine article American Libraries

Changing Library Education: Instructional Program Transformation Is Key to the Profession

Article excerpt

I didn't intend to get involved in the ongoing debate about library education. Many ALA presidents before me, most recently Michael Gorman, have done a great deal to focus our attention on the need to more closely marry education and practice in a way that results in a well-grounded, values-driven library workforce. But as I've worked on my transformation agenda these last few months, it has become abundantly clear that underlying all that I hope to achieve is the need for strong, competitive library education programs that focus on both the history and foundation of our profession as well as the future and possibilities of libraries in our changing society.

What should library education be like in today's world? Like many things in the library and information field that are changing quicker than the blink of an eye, so is the nature of library education. You've heard it before: the tension between information schools and library schools, library schools that are in danger of closing, programs seeking new institutional homes that more closely align with the type of education provided, a new emphasis on distance education, and the disconnect between what is taught in the classroom and what people need to practice on the job.

ALA can't change library education on its own. That's something that will happen at the local institutional level. But the ALA-accreditation designation is considered the "gold standard" for library degrees. Clearly, whatever standards we adopt dealing with program accreditation have the ability to influence and change the nature of library education.

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Aside from adopting stronger and more-prescriptive accreditation standards, we can also transform library education in another arena--by working together with the Association for Library and Information Science Education; other national, regional, and state library associations; library practitioners; and current and recent library school students and graduates to develop recommendations that ensure that library school education creates a 21st-century workforce that is highly valued and compensated. …

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