The Future of LIS Education at Library 2.017
For the past six years, the San José State University School of Information and its partners have been offering virtual library conferences and mini-conferences focusing on pertinent and innovative ideas on the future of libraries. The March 2017 Library 2.0 mini-conference, “Expertise, Competencies and Careers,” was no exception. The opening keynote address in particular discussed the way in which educational institutions are equipping their students with the necessary skills to navigate the changing and challenging landscape of library communities.
The keynote presentation was moderated by current ALA President Julie Beth Todaro and featured speakers Dr. John Bertot, Valerie J. Gross and Dr. Eileen Abels. Bertot’s discussion of the changing economic, technological and sociological environment and how it affects higher education in library and information science presented a measurable set of criteria for graduate programs such as the Master of Library and Information Science online degree program at the San José State University School of Information. “How can we, as educators,” asked Bertot, “prepare graduates of our programs to handle the current fluid and dynamic environment?”
Gross focused on her new campaign to make libraries an institution of education and lifelong learning, not just an afterthought institution that supports schools. Her presentation was complemented by a number of graphics which illustrated succinctly the new motto of Libraries = Education. “Public libraries are educational institutions,” said Gross, “on equal footing with schools, colleges, and universities.” As an extension of Bertot’s focus, it can be determined that MLIS students need to be educated and trained to be educators.
Abels has been working on a project with other information professionals, examining and compiling the best skillset that educators need to provide for their students’ future in the profession. “We are educating for the future,” she reminded listeners, “not the present. LIS education needs to prepare graduates to successfully lead and shape our information future.” The project, entitled “Educate to Innovate: Re-visioning Library and Information Science Education,” listed important new skills like change management, a knowledge of research methods, project management, diversity and inclusion, copyright, and foreign languages. Still necessary in today’s job market are soft skills like critical thinking, leadership, flexibility, and understanding of social issues and social change.
Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director of the SJSU School of Information and co-founder of the Library 2.0 conference collaborated with the keynote presenters in bringing this important topic to the attention of the worldwide community. “The information profession is rapidly evolving and new career opportunities are emerging,” said Hirsh. “The Library 2.0 web conference we hosted in March on careers along with our school’s ‘MLIS Skills at Work’ job postings snapshot report can help educators with curriculum development.”
According to Hirsh, the SJSU School of Information regularly updates its courses to reflect the job market and help students “develop the expertise and competencies they will need as information professionals in the digital age.”
On June 1, 2017, the SJSU School of Information and Library 2.0 will be presenting its second mini-conference for 2017, entitled “Digital Literacy & Fake News.” The day’s presentations will begin at 12:00noon Pacific Daylight Time.
The third and final mini-conference for 2017 will take place on October 11, and focus on the topic of “Makerspaces.” The Library 2.0 website features information about these upcoming mini-conferences, as well as archives of past conferences.