22/10/2012 § 15 Comments
I am a librarian who serves a population of 24. Perhaps the count is 32 if one includes faculty and staff of Florida State University International Programs Study Center in Florence, Italy. The library, as the previous Student Supervising Librarian noted last year, is almost as antiquated as the 15th century building that holds it. Nothing gives me more pleasure than unlocking wood medallioned doors with skeleton keys and opening thick shutters to let the sun shine onto parquet floors and the shelves of a 7,000 volume collection.
After Topher’s excellent post on librarian perception I have been thinking more and more of the perception of the library here. The history, with all of it’s frescoed charm, is not enough to protect the library from running into a 21st century identity crisis. I think it is a problem that many libraries, even the most modern of structures and collections, that serve populations thousands of times our size, are also facing:
What is our point and purpose in this digital age?
15/09/2011 § 5 Comments
Continuing our Hack Your Program series, where current/recent students give the insider perspective on their LIS program, here’s a post from Tomissa Porath.
SLIS has been an integral part of UW’s campus for over a hundred years, and students at UW’s SLIS are proud of this fact. The two-year program is designed for the student body to get as much experience in and out of the classroom as possible, and to prepare future librarians for most of the challenges that lie within their future.
The program does have a family atmosphere to it; the “Minnesota Nice” from our neighbors to the west applies here as well. Everyone helps their fellow students out and worry when classes are missed or assignments aren’t turned in. You get to know a variety of students within your time at SLIS, and it is a great networking campus for sure. « Read the rest of this entry »
10/03/2011 § 21 Comments
Hack Library School welcomes a guest post from Julia Glassman, who has an interesting perspective on the “theory vs. practice” conversation. Julia is finishing her second quarter of library school at UCLA. She’s interested in information literacy, cataloging and metadata, and incorporating alternative media into library collections, and hopes to someday work in an undergraduate library. You can see her other publications at her website.
Last summer, I had the pleasure of visiting my sister-in-law at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz, where she was working as an apprentice in the Ecological Horticulture program. As a gardener and a sustainable food fan, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was living the perfect life: her mornings were spent in classes, learning the ins and outs of lettuces and strawberries and other tasty things, and in the afternoons, she worked on the program’s 25-acre farm. After a communal dinner in a cabin overlooking the ocean, the apprentices would retire to the large tents that served as living quarters during their six month stay.
I am very jealous of my sister-in-law. (Maybe I’d eventually get tired of the tent thing, but from here in my apartment in L.A., it sounds like heaven.) In addition to being totally romantic, though, CASFS’s apprenticeship program illustrates an important pedagogical issue that’s often talked about, but too seldom implemented: placing a premium on practical experience over classroom learning. The program consists of 300 hours of coursework and 700 hours of experience – a ratio that could provide a interesting model for the MLIS degree.
In 1972, sociologist Howard S. Becker bluntly stated in his essay “A School is a Lousy Place to Learn Anything In” that although learners in both classrooms and on-the-job training experience problems with their education, the latter “is more likely to produce educational successes” (103). Although coursework has a lot to offer students, and makes up for deficiencies in practical training, students lose out when they have to rely solely on lectures and readings to gain knowledge. (Interesting note: I first read this essay when it was assigned, for our first class session, by one of my professors here in library school.) Luckily for me, I’m attending a program that has a strong internship component – but many programs produce graduates who have little, if any, practical experience. This over-emphasis on classes leads to problems with the quality of students’ education: many courses are so broad (or so easy) that only a fraction of the material will be useful to any one student, and even when the entirety of a course is useful, if we don’t have an immediate chance to put the material to use, we start forgetting particulars as soon as the course ends. It also leads to problems in the real world, when graduates try to find jobs in a glutted market without any experience in a library. (Warning: the link will ruin your day.) Librarians I’ve talked to sigh at applications from candidates with plenty of abstract knowledge, but zero on-the-job training.