Happy New Year to all! It’s that time of the year when we look forward and back. “Top Ten”–style lists appear in our feed readers, revisiting the highs and lows of 2014 and pointing us toward what 2015 will bring.
“I Don’t Have The Time.” Have you said this in a meeting or a discussion with a colleague? Has this rolled off the tongue when confronted with an unexpected change, a new technology, or another initiative? Many of us are stretched to our limits. I applaud the folks I meet who have absorbed more and more duties as staffing patterns have changed. However, I bristle when I hear the “no time” response, because sometimes I think it’s an excuse.
Some of the most creative and flexible librarians I know have been working for more than a few years in libraries. Some of the most inspiring and influential professionals in our field have had distinguished careers and still continue to make a mark on our governance and future. I was lucky to learn about collection development, reference service, and weeding during my public library days from professionals who had worked in the system for multiple decades. These are the same folks who did not shy away from the Internet and its affordances in the mid 1990s.
I’m writing from Limerick, Ireland, where I am speaking at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Information Literacy satellite conference before heading to Lyon, France, for IFLA proper. The conversations and presentations here are thought provoking, focused on the constantly evolving definition and approaches for teaching information literacy. Why aren’t students good writers? What prevents them from doing their best work? Are devices to blame? Short attention spans? Rock and roll?
In 2012, I wrote about the San Jose State University (SJSU) School of Library & Information Science’s (SLIS) evaluation of its core courses. We’re currently putting the finishing touches on a reimagined LIBR 200 class called “Information Communities.” While colleagues reworked other core courses, I’ve partnered with Debra Hansen, one of our senior faculty and a library historian, to create an evolving, modern course that presents students with our foundations as well as an overview of information users and the social, cultural, economic, technological, and political forces that shape their information access.
Reading the new HORIZON Report for Higher Education 2014, I’m inspired as usual by the work of Educause and the New Media Consortium (NMC). This year’s study continues the direction. In fact, a new framework for presenting challenges and trends accelerating technology adoption and the key technologies for higher education makes the report even more useful for anyone and everyone involved in teaching and learning.
With my co-instructor Kyle Jones, who is currently working toward his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s iSchool, I am mining the survey data from the Hyperlinked Library massive open online course (MOOC) that we taught last fall for 363 LIS professionals. With support from the San José State University School of Library and Information Science, feedback on the broad professional development opportunity we offered is providing some unique views of how models of online learning for library staff continue to evolve.
The Librarian Shaming tumblr highlights anonymous “confessions” from our field. Some are humorous, some shocking. Some will make you think and maybe reconsider assumptions. This shameful confession perked me up when I discovered it: “I want to replace all librarians with tech people with great customer service skills and teaching ability. I want the library to have its own Genius Bar.” While a bit narrow in focus, this statement resonates on an instinctive level with me as an LIS educator.
A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities, includes this finding: “Some 90 percent of Americans ages 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an impact on their community, with 63 percent saying it would have a ‘major’ impact.” What’s intriguing is that only 29 percent reported that it would have a major impact on the respondent and respondent’s family. In other words, 90 percent of folks do not want the library to close, but many fewer would feel the negative consequences.