Managing Library Education
Managing for change is just as controversial in library schools as it is in corporations.The advances in technology over the past decades have forced library schools to educate technologically astute librarians.At the same time, many educators fear that the emphasis on technology may be eroding the concepts of service that have always been a part of the profession.The issue of incorporating technologies into a core curriculum without eviscerating the historical and ethical portion of the professional education has been debated widely.The question is how can the library schools bring technology into the program and still keep the traditional aspects which are important to the profession and to the accrediting body of the American Library Association.This paper will explore a variety of issues relating to redefining the education of librarians and address several models that are emerging from some of the highly regarded programs.
The “L” Word
The issue of technology in libraries and thus the need for librarians to be technologically literate is not the matter of much debate.What is debatable is the organizational framework within which the technological education of librarians will take place.In fact, one of the most contentious issues is whether it is librarians being educated.Tenopir (2000) points out that the word “library” has been dropped from the names of such schools as the Universities of Tennessee, Michigan, and Syracuse.The new schools are called more generic names like “School of Information.”The emphasis on information sciences, especially information technologies, is of concern to many.Wiegand (2000) worried that “LIS educators [are] so eager to drop the ‘L’ word from their program titles.”Weigand’s theory is that they are caught up in the popular hype of information sciences which focused on process at the expense of character and authority.
Thomas Childers of Drexel (1998) had little sympathy for educators bemoaning the demise of the "L” word.He blamed the library schools for failing to see that by clinging to old ways they were creating a situation where students did not want to be associated with libraries, but rather wanted to be able to compete in what he called the “hard information systems” area.Cronin, Stiffler, and Day (1993) noted that many information professionals thought the MLS degree was out of sync with the new information environment.In these writers’ view, the library schools were going to have to change not only their curriculum, but also their culture.A more entrepreneurial attitude to providing information needed to be cultivated, and more acceptance given to the ever-widening employment scope of information professionals.
The impetus for the shunning of the “L” word may come from the fact that the public perception of librarians is not always as cutting-edge technology wizards, although librarians have been in the forefront of interconnectedness since before the World...