LIS Education, Advocacy, and the Future of Librarianship

15/04/2011 § 13 Comments

Note: I posted this a bit ago on my blog, but since it has a lot to do with how we approach LIS education as students and new professionals, I wanted to post it here too!

A lot of discussion has been circulating about the future of librarianship in response to comments made by Jeffrey Trzeciak (of McMaster University) indicating that he wouldn’t hire any more librarians, preferring instead to give certain positions to people in IT or with PhDs. I agree that in many instances you might want to consider candidates from a variety of backgrounds, but to discount librarians (especially coming from the University Librarian himself!) is an indication of how deeply our field is misunderstood. I first read about it through Jenica Rogers’ post, which I think provides a great intro to the subject and some awesome perspective on why we need advocacy as professionals (not just as a profession or as institutions.) My fellow Hack Library School editors, along with Courtney Walters and a few others, began discussing the topic via Twitter (I was at work, so didn’t get to jump in until after the fact!) If you’re interested in seeing the discussion, look for #savelibrarians. In addition, some blog posts have started going up to discuss our future as professionals–a great post in particular is Courtney Walter’s discussion of our identity crisis as librarians/info pros.

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Diversity in LIS Education

10/02/2011 § 4 Comments

This is a post I originally posted on my blog after being inspired by Micah’s post on diversity in LIS. I agree with Micah that the best way to start promoting diversity is to start talking, and I’ve already had some really great comments in response to this post. I’d love to hear what you have to say too!

A couple things have happened lately that have caused me to spend some serious time contemplating diversity issues in LIS. The first was a post made on a professional listserv I follow. One individual shared a letter she had written to Iowa legislators about a number of issues, including library funding. She mentioned that the letter included other issues, but that she shared it on the list for those who were struggling to find words when talking to elected officials about libraries. For those of you who aren’t from Iowa, you may or may not know that a lot of people here are very divided at the moment over the issue of gay marriage, and the fact that this woman’s letter included mention of her support for gay marriage was upsetting to some other list members.
One member’s response was basically, “if she wants to go against what THE BIBLE says, that’s her right, but keep libraries out of it.” I tend to stay away from angry listserv discussions (people get riled up about everything from tuna fish to book boards on the lists I follow, and most of the time I just sigh and delete the thread), but this instance was one where I felt compelled to respond and say that the list included non-Christian individuals, and that not only did that response make them uncomfortable, it took time and attention away from the library issues the list was created to discuss. I did not mention my stance on gay marriage in the hopes that I could diffuse things rather than add my own anger to the discussion (but, for the record, I’m an ardent supporter!) I also wanted to avoid belittling the author’s views, because she has most likely formed them with as much care as I have formed my own.
This angry response, and a number of others on both sides, gave me a chance to reflect on what was happening. Are these discussions we should be having on professional listservs? I think the answer can be yes, but the trick is how we approach it. As librarians and info pros, we are in charge of providing information to people and (I hope) focusing more heavily on what their needs are than what about them we don’t like. I suspect most of us do this very well, and so the list might be a place we can talk about how to provide services to diverse groups or, maybe, even to discuss our own views or how we react when confronted with a patron we find challenging. My request is that we refrain from the anger and divisiveness I saw in some of those responses and focus instead on the issues and on discussion rather than on tearing each other down. About a week later, Micah Vandegrift published this awesome diversity post on the Hack Library School blog, and it made me think that maybe now would be a good time to share some of the thoughts I’ve had on diversity since I’ve been in LIS.
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So how do I pay for all this?

04/02/2011 § 3 Comments

From Flickr user walknboston

One thing students and potential students in nearly every field stress out about is how to pay for their education, and LIS is no different. I’ve compiled a list of places to look for support. I’m sure there are some I’m leaving out, so if you know of an extra resource, please share!

Departmental scholarships/fellowships/assistantships: Your department probably has some funding lying around that students compete for yearly, and I definitely recommend giving this a look when you apply. I looked at our scholarships *after* I started, only to realize that the ones I wanted were for 1st-semester students. Ideally, you can apply for scholarships and assistantships and the like when you apply to the school, if not, write the program assistant to find out what steps you need to take to be considered! Another bonus to assistantships and fellowships, in addition to some nice funding, is great experience! You get to work closely with a faculty member and learn more about their work, gain some new skills, and hopefully get a nice recommendation out of the deal as well.

Read on for more funding tips…

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Resources for New LIS Students

19/01/2011 § Leave a comment

This post originally appeared on my blog here. The post is from August of 2010, and is a list of blogs that I’ve found to be really helpful and that I direct my fellow students to. Know of any resources I didn’t include? Add them to the comments!

After going to meet the new cohort at orientation on Friday, I’ve been thinking a lot about good resources for new students. I thought up a couple that I e-mailed to a friend who is in LISSO (Library and Information Science Student Organization, our department’s student group), then it occurred to me that other students might find them useful too!

The Infornado
This is a blog by someone who’s new to the field, and has a lot of great information. Last night in an e-mail chat I learned that he’s coordinated a project where he invites LIS students to share what they’ve learned so far in their programs (about the field and more generally). I read some this morning and really enjoyed it–so many times I found myself saying ‘yes! I’ve had that experience!’ I also gained some really valuable perspective about what other students are getting out of library school, along with some new ideas for avenues to pursue in my own experience (Micah’s other posts are worth a read too!)

Lauren in Libraryland
Lauren is currently a student in Alabama, and her blog is a fun and accessible way to learn more about her experiences in school and her thoughts on the field. I’ve always found her posts to be both thought-provoking and enjoyable to read, and its a great way to get another perspective on LIS education.

SAU Curriculum Library
This blog is written by Courtney Walters, an alumnus from our program who graduated in 2009. I love it because she provides a lot of useful information for educators about current trends and techniques, especially for those seeking to incorporate paperless teaching into their curricula. For LIS students, this blog is a great way to see how someone new in the field is using blogging professionally, and to get inspired for your own professional blog.

The Wikiman: LISNPN
This blog is a great resource, and this post in particular is one that would be great for new students. It discusses the LIS New Professional Network, which was created for those who’ve joined the field in the last 10ish years. This is a great place for students to network and to hear first-hand about the transition from work to school from others who’ve recently been there.

Stephen’s Lighthouse
This is a blog that has a pretty wide readership, and Stephen updates it very frequently. This is one of my go-to sources for learning about emerging trends in the field. It’s written in a way that’s accessible to those with or without experience with the different technologies/areas of library service/etc that he might talk about in a given day, but he’s great at staying on top of what’s new and letting his readers know!

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