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.
What should the LIS core look like in 2012 and beyond? For sure, it will always include an overview of our history and foundations. Our core values remain, even as delivery methods and priorities shift. Beyond that, I envision core courses focused on three important areas: how people access, use, and create information; how technology impacts and extends our world; and how librarians can show leadership in these two areas to serve and better their communities.
The Risk and Reward Conference (R2), focusing on creativity and innovation in libraries, was planned for September 2012 up in the mountains in Telluride, CO (where the local tourism board won the bid to host the conference). The initial placeholder webpage was mysterious, lacking a lot of details one usually finds on conference pages. As more details about R2 appeared in the spring, I was intrigued and decided to attend in spite of relatively high travel and boarding costs, using conference funds made available to me by the Provost’s office at San Jose State University. It was well worth it, and changed my entire perception of a conference experience.
If you’re looking for an exciting, community-focused project, check out LFLs. Get your library interested in sponsoring one or more LFLs or offer programming to help neighborhoods. If you’re working in a mostly digital environment, consider stewarding your own LFL in your neighborhood. The benefits and rewards will recharge you.
Site visit assignments ask students to visit a library and spend time recording and analyzing something that interests them. Sometimes they require students to pose as library users and ask reference or RA questions. They can examine things such as how items are displayed, the building’s layout, a reference transaction, or the setup of the youth services department. Reports from these visits usually include a narrative description and some critical thinking about what worked well and what could be improved. In this way, they are effectively user experience reports, though they’re not often thought of in this way.
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (ow.ly/b6Yya) recounts how Kansas State University professor Michael Wesch “rebooted” his tech-heavy teaching approach after “a frustrated colleague approached him after one of his talks: ‘I implemented your idea, and it just didn’t work…. The students thought it was chaos.’ ” Instead, Wesch, an associate professor of cultural anthropology, now stresses, “It doesn’t matter what method you use if you do not first focus on one intangible factor: the bond between professor and student.” [...]
The annual Horizon Report is a valuable guide for LIS professors and librarians to emerging technologies and trends. The 2012 report is no exception. It identifies “key drivers of educational technology adoptions for the period 2012 through 2017.” These can enhance both LIS pedagogy and library service.
In Cognitive Surplus , Clay Shirky explores three ways that society might approach incorporating and adopting emerging technologies. The scenarios include “traditionalist approval,” “negotiated transition,” and “as much chaos as we can stand.” All could easily apply to how libraries, information centers, and educational institutions might respond to emerging technologies as well.