Every once in a while, people complain that library school is too easy, and that because it’s too easy, just about everyone who gets in gets through. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway.
Combine this with the likelihood that just about everyone who wants to go to library school could manage to get in somewhere.
Because of this, the standards for library school graduates are pretty low on average. If everyone who wants to can manage to get into a library school somewhere and graduate, then it couldn’t be otherwise.
You might think the market being swamped would make it easier for good people to get jobs. It probably does, but it also means they’ll get paid less because libraries usually prefer the cheap to the good if they have to make a choice.
Occasionally, librarians suggest that library school should be reformed, to make it more difficult, to make it harder to get into. That’s unlikely to succeed, because a lot of library schools are cash cows for their universities that have absolutely no incentive to raise their standards of admission. Quite the opposite. Plus, they’re just easy.
However, I think I’ve finally figured out how to lower the rate of completion so that only those who are truly dedicated could make it through school. Someone commenting on the correspondence degrees post last week agrees on the dedication. Defending his online degree, he wrote, “online programs require a high degree of self-discipline, independence, and self-reliance; three attributes that are vital in the workforce.”
There’s a way to guarantee even more self-discipline, independence, and self-reliance. Turn library school into a series of MOOCs!
It could even be ALA-accredited. All you would need is about 20 core classes covering various areas of interest, and the majority of student needs would be covered. They could be free, which would allow people to become low-paying librarians without taking out student loans larger than their initial annual salary.
And if the study discussed here (found via Infodocket) is any indication, the completion rate would drop significantly. According to the study, the “average completion rate for massive open online courses is less than 7 per cent.” 6.8%, to be exact.
The highest rate of completion was 19.2%, for “Functional Programming Principles in Scala, from Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.” The lowest was for “A History of the World since 1300 by Princeton University,… which reportedly recruited 83,000 students with just 0.8 per cent reaching the end.”
If less than 20% is the best rate of completion, that’s still a lot lower than the current library school completion rate, which is probably 90% at least.
Okay, you’re thinking, this won’t work for library school. Those people who dropped out of MOOCs were probably bored by the classes. That’s just like library school!
Or they got busy with other things. That happens to library school students!
The main difference is that since the MOOCs were free, students had less incentive to complete them if they got bored or busy.
Thus, the key to making sure people who make it through library school are the most dedicated and driven – and surely those are the kind of people we want – make library school a series of free MOOCs.
Then we’ll know the people who make it through really want to be librarians.