Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ed Tech and the MLIS

I read Joyce Valenza's Neverendingsearch blog this morning. Joyce is my other guru, and she's been great about helping me plan the library website for my new school. I want it to be very cutting edge--though it makes me laugh now to think that I thought I could "finish" it this summer. Between researching the technologies, researching best practice websites and trying to learn Joomla to create the site, I'll be lucky to finish a few pages!

Anyway, this morning Joyce posted a Library 2.0 Manifesto that was nothing short of brilliant and inspiring. If Joyce gives me permission, I plan to use it to open a two hour workshop I'm giving in one of my classes in August. It's an overview of the read/write web, with suggestions for using classroom and library use. We'll discuss blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, a couple great resources I found and will discuss in my next post, and library websites. In two hours. I considered narrowing it to just blogs or wikis, then I realized: I'm at one of the top library schools in the country, but we've never learned how to use these technologies. I'm researching them this summer as part of an independent study, because the required tech class was too easy for me (she said, smugly). So, really, aside from mentions in class, my little workshop is the only time these technologies will actually be taught in the curriculum. That's disgraceful, in this day and age.

It's even more disgraceful because it leaves graduating students, who ought to be on the cutting edge of what's new, unprepared for the job market. At the interview for my new job (which was six hours long!), I was asked almost nothing about running a library. Instead, the questions leaned heavily toward technology: what I could do, how I'd train staff and act as technology leader, etc. The high school principal commented that they'd interviewed several people who knew "old school" librarianship, but almost no-one had the technology background needed. He said when they finally found the right person, they'd pounce. I guess I was it. Another friend who just accepted a position similar to mine said he had the same experience. The questions were all about technology, and nothing about the ins and outs of running a library.

Now, while I suspect that's partly because most people don't really know what goes into running a good library program, it also shows how the job is transforming. If the school's job is to educate students to succeed in the digital information world, the librarian's role--excuse me, media specialist--grows exponentially more important as we train students and staff to manage the infoglut in thoughtful and meaningful ways. Library schools must do a better job of preparing their graduates not only to meet these needs, but to lead the way.

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