In 2003, Jay Turner was a circulation assistant at the Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL), Lawrenceville, GA. He had an infant son and delivered pizza part-time to make ends meet. When the library planned to restructure, he faced losing his job because he didn’t have a college degree.
I’ve had some strange experiences teaching workshops and continuing-education courses over the last couple of years. These challenges simply don’t happen in my regular library-school classrooms. Sometimes I can easily take them as a salient reminder to me to explain clearly the “why” behind the “what” in my teaching. More often, though, I find myself worried, both for these learners and for the state of the overall pool of professional skill.
I got into a thought-provoking conversation on the Digital Humanities Question and Answer site the other day. Columbia University is planning a two-year staff-reskilling program, so that its librarians can “be the consulting arm of [the university’s] re-envisioned Digital Humanities Center.” Columbia’s is hardly the only library—hardly the only academic library, even—needing to reskill some of its existing employee complement in various ways, digital humanities only one possibility of many. Granting the necessity, how do we as a profession do this, and how should we?