April 24, 2018

LIS Education Q&A with Martin Wolske, 2011 Teaching Award Winner

Series sponsored by: proquest logo 200 LIS Education Q&A with Rick Block, 2008 Teaching Award Winner

To reconnect with them and catch up with their current thinking, we recently sent five questions to each of the first five winners of the LJ Teaching Award. Their thoughtful responses will be featured in this online series sponsored by ProQuest.

Our fourth interview: Martin B. Wolske, Teaching Award Winner, 2011, is research scientist and adjunct lecturer at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your current class of students?

Defining what it means to be an information professional in today’s knowledge society, to develop skills that support that role, and to set up and support lifelong learning as we unlearn today’s meaning and relearn tomorrow’s meaning.

What are the most important or urgent current issues in library education?

Job responsibilities for LIS graduates are rapidly changing—how do we prepare students for these new roles?

Increasing our student-centered educational opportunities through well-crafted service learning, practicum, internship, and alternative break opportunities.

Developing concepts surrounding information technology that not only help students understand today’s technology but to be able to assess, adapt, and utilize whatever emerges tomorrow. As important as it is to provide students with an awareness of and practice with the strategies, opportunities, and challenges of applying technology in community.

Technology is not neutral but has political qualities. How do we help our students to become more critically aware of the impacts of technology and to develop their agency for developing and championing technology tools that lead towards the building of a more just society?

Recruiting a more diverse student body and adapting curricula to reflect the more diverse populations served by libraries. But also acknowledging and challenging the white privilege that has been at the core of librarianship throughout its history and is a barrier to fully realizing the library’s potential.

Above all I believe that we need to help our students develop new models and skills for engagement. The engagement needs to move beyond multiculturalism that spices up the existing ways of doing things with novel food, music, and such. Instead, it needs how to engage across difference to seek out innovative approaches that challenge not only how we do things but also how we define and measure success. How do we truly become more inclusive?

Are there too many people graduating with an LIS degree? Are there too many library school programs?

The LIS degree informs students who go into a diverse range of employment opportunities, not just libraries. Our students often come to graduate school because they want to refine their informatics skills in support of their earlier degrees and experiences. The question is more are we matching learning outcomes across the diverse range of LIS programs with the many specializations required in the workforce? No one school can accomplish everything needed, but across schools are we appropriately matched?

Is there any significant difference between online courses and in-class programs/mixed programs? Should one accreditation of a program cover both kinds of teaching and learning?

It is good that there is one accreditation standard that all students regardless of course delivery strategy are required to meet. This is even more important as delivery strategies continue to diversify and blend. I believe that over our 16+ years of online education GSLIS at UIUC has demonstrated it is possible to offer a high-quality experience to students at a distance.

What impact has the award had on your career?

As much as anything it’s been the encouragement needed for me to spend some time doing a longitudinal reflection on the changes I’ve made to my teaching practices that served as the basis for recent presentations at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference in Alabama (October) and the Community Informatics Research Network conference in Prato, Italy (November).

John N. Berry III About John N. Berry III

John N. Berry III (jberry@mediasourceinc.com) is Editor-at-Large, LJ. Berry joined the magazine in 1964 as Assistant Editor, becoming editor-in-Chief in 1969 and serving in that role until 2006.