A FEW YEARS AGO at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in Anaheim, CA, I had dinner with librarians from three large universities. The conversation turned to something they had in common: they were all moving print book collections at their respective institutions off-site to make room for student spaces. Back then, this was a big deal, and these administrators met with opposition and angst from their constituents.
Column from Michael Stephens (firstname.lastname@example.org), Assistant Professor at the School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, CA
Speaking here and there, I’ve logged a few airline miles over the years and visited some pretty cool places. A short while ago, I was coming back from the New York Library Association conference, flying from Albany to Chicago, and I was seated next to a friendly young man who asked me what I did for a living.
“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.