I was honored to give one of the keynote addresses at the 2013 Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) conference. There, I met many New Zealand LIS professionals and got a glimpse of how they work. I also became intimately acquainted with the integration of Maori culture into New Zealander LIS professionals’ lives. The Maori are the original citizens of the two islands.
I unpacked (slowly, slowly) my new iPhone 5S in a major moment of personal technolust. Upgrading from a quickly aging iPhone 4, the larger screen size, fingerprint identification, and enhanced camera pulled me in. It also caused me to reflect on the mobile device and its touchstone role with people in general and librarians in particular. What a history we’ve had together!
Deep in the conversations streams of the Hyperlinked Library MOOC (massive open online course), the large-scale professional development course I’m coteaching this fall for more than 300 library folk, my thoughts turn again to the concept of librarians as facilitators of learning. It becomes clear to me that as learning goes on the move, we not only must keep up with significant changes in education environments but aim to become connectors and collaborators within our users’ learning spaces.
A few months ago I suggested that one of the things preventing librarians from working at web scale might be “a lingering emphasis on collections over users.” I and others have argued that the evolution of libraries and library service will include a pronounced shift from libraries as book warehouses to libraries as centers for discovery, learning, and creation via any number of platforms. I might have been guilty of a bit of collection bashing in these discussions, and recent occurrences of collection trashing have given me pause.
“BEING ADAPTABLE IN A FLAT world, knowing how to ‘learn how to learn,’ will be one of the most important assets any worker can have, because job churn will come faster, because innovation will happen faster,” writes Thomas Friedman in The World Is Flat. I’ve invoked this “learn to learn” mantra before, but recent shifts in the opportunities for librarians and library staff to learn have brought me back to it.
An LIS student’s letter to the editor of LJ gave me pause. Krystal Taylor, studying at IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis), detailed the move her program is making from classroom-based instruction to almost 100 percent online delivery. A big-picture concern is evident: “What cost will this be to the library and information science field?” Her word for those completing an online MLS: lackluster.
A new report from Pew Internet and American Life, “Library Services in the Digital Age,” should be required reading for all in LIS education, especially those involved in strategic and long-range planning. For LIS educators, this is yet another call to action for reevaluating core and elective course content.
Are we preparing graduates for the information workplace? That’s a question I recently considered while reading Paul Fain’s article “Grading Personal Responsibility” in Inside Higher Ed (12/13/12). He describes a new initiative at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, NC, emphasizing as part of the curriculum “soft skills,” including personal responsibility, interdependence, and emotional intelligence. Are there some soft skills particularly necessary in information professions?
What keeps you up at night?
I ask this question at some of my library conference presentations as a way to break the ice and get people sharing. The answers are usually in a similar vein: budgets, ebooks, and losing relevance. We might even call those answers the unholy trinity of librarian insomnia.