March 24, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, May 1, 2015 Issue

“What struck me about my graduate LIS education was how amazingly easy it was. My undergraduate was much more difficult”

LIS was too easy

To be fair, Joseph Janes’s “One Size LIS Does Not Fit All” (Peer to Peer Review, LJ 4/15/15, p. 14) is a knock on nearly every educational institution for every degree program. What struck me about my graduate LIS education was how amazingly easy it was. My undergraduate was much more difficult.

My capstone course in my undergraduate career had us all look around the room and identify classmates we would hire were we in a position to, based on what they had done in the class. I remember doing that exercise with my peers in my graduate courses and had a very, very hard time finding more than a few whom I would ever hire for anything—and they all graduated with a 4.0. It made me sad about my chosen profession and its future.

I hope things are better now, but I think the American Library Association, instead of putting out statements on political arguments that it has no reason to put out a statement on, should focus on the rigor of the institutions and programs to which it lends its accreditation.

—Name withheld

Inexperienced faculty

A lot of full-time LIS faculty haven’t worked in libraries or information services in decades (Joseph Janes, “One Size LIS Does Not Fit All,” Peer to Peer Review, LJ 4/15/15, p. 14). Even worse, some new LIS faculty never even worked in libraries or archives but simply have a PhD in LIS or an area covering library literature, and they are teaching future LIS students to be librarians.

I find it strange and appalling that many LIS programs are recruiting people to teach who are without experience or skills. It is like a journalism school hiring professors who have never worked as journalists to teach future journalists. It isn’t right at all.

But, then again, there are other [instructors] who are solely focused on areas that don’t require experience as much as skills, like systems, web programming, information architecture, design, etc.

LIS programs should hire faculty who have some experiences working as a librarian, who have networks and experiences to share with students, and who can really speak about the profession. Otherwise, a ton of people who have never worked in libraries will be taking over LIS curricula only to wonder why their students aren’t prepared or can’t find jobs.

—Name withheld

Teach applicable skills

I appreciate you tackling this topic (Joseph Janes, “One Size LIS Does Not Fit All,” Peer to Peer Review, LJ 4/15/15, p. 14). I’m a current LIS student, so I see firsthand at least some of “what they’re teaching these days.”

I have found myself a little frustrated with courses that cover the use of materials that many libraries no longer use and professors who are unable to effectively use presentation software (let alone my university’s online platform) but still teach online courses. I’m also an intern at a public library, though I’d like to eventually work in an academic library. Given the choice, I’d love to see classes that revolve around the databases and catalog systems currently in use across all kinds of libraries, as well as more classes that teach advanced searching methods and other skills applicable across the field.

—Name withheld

Off the ground

Thank you to Forrest Register and Vince Edge for taking the bull by the horns and getting a new [Dothan Houston County Library System, AL] off the ground and growing (John N. Berry III, “Transformed by the People: 2015 Library Aware Community Award,” LJ 4/1/15, p. 26–29).

Director Bettye Forbus has tried for many, many years to improve the physical situation as well as resources on a very limited budget. I can remember when my children were young, and we went to the library for story time. The library building was dismal even back in the 1970s and 1980s. I did a lot of my library media graduate work in the Dothan Library also in the 1980s. The potential was always there with the staff, just not the financial or full community support. Bettye, congratulations on your soon to be retirement. You deserve it, and it is great to see you go out on this high note.

I hope to return to Dothan soon, in May, and see the new facilities. Thank you again, Bettye, for your continued efforts, Forrest and Vince for your vision, and getting the full community support for this much-needed service. It will help not only the community but will assist in the growth of Dothan….

Megan Johnson, Alabama

A great loss

I don’t remember when I met Cathie [Linz], but she was so soft-spoken and “nice” (Bette-Lee Fox, “RIP Cathie Linz: A Librarian & Romance Writer,”). I didn’t realize what a mover and shaker she was. She didn’t talk; she got things done. She did so much for the [Romance Writers of America] by spearheading and organizing Librarians’ Day.

The organization, her friends, and her fans have suffered a great loss. Godspeed, Cathie.

—Christina Dodd, author, Washington State

This article was published in Library Journal's May 1, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.